"In a marketplace with more than 18 million items from 700 suppliers, data standardisation is required to ensure market transparency."
Mercateo is Europe‘s leading e-procurement platform for business customers. Companies can order from a wide range of products, including office material, IT and industrial supplies as well as business and warehouse equipment on www.mercateo.com. The range covers both general business supplies as well as specialist supplies through hard to find special requirements. Mercateo’s customers include companies of all sizes, from listed corporations to SMEs to freelancers as well as numerous public organizations.
What is unique about Mercateo‘s business model is the combination of the ever growing product portfolio and a modular e-procurement system with catalog hosting, personalised views and product labelling, the digital ApproveNow process as well as electronic interfaces to connect customers‘ internal SRM and ERP systems. Besides Germany, Mercateo is also present in ten other European countries and has more than 300 employees in total. In recent years, sales increased to more than 135 million Euros, with an average growth rate of 25 percent.
Already in 1999, the original idea of the founders of Mercateo was to establish a marketplace on the Internet without its own stock, in which indirect materials are sold.
The advantage for the customers: They can cover all their business needs through a single platform. Advantage for suppliers and manufacturers: An additional, spatially unlimited distribution channel is available to them. Thanks to the electronic handling both sides also save on transaction and process costs. The idea has now become reality. Today, more than 1 million businesses use a range of more than 18 million items from 700 suppliers. One of the challenges was that many suppliers offer identical products. These duplicates had to be identified in order to produce clean results from a mass of unstructured data. This can only be done by standardising manufacturers numbers, order units, item descriptions and numbers, EAN etc. Identical items could thus be identified. But how to proceed with similar items, for instance from another manufacturer?
In order for purchasers to keep an overview of a search result of 3,000 different types of copy paper, the properties of a product are extracted by Mercateo's own unique search tool and are represented to the client as a filter to restrict or refine the search. These litle "programs", so-called Mercateo keyword XML (MKX), include all relevant information required to create the search result, the categorization and linking to broader and narrower terms, e.g. copy paper, white, A4, 80g/m2. The collaboration with major customers, however, required a uniform standard for comparison of evaluations. Therefore the keywords were extended by the ECLASS numbers. This addition allows customers to consistently produce their own procurement profile across all suppliers with ECLASS. Thus, the purchase negotiations can be focused on the key categories. It does, however, not only benefit large corporations. Medium-sized companies too can now use ECLASS via Mercateo, for example to find out for what product range a framework agreement is really worthwhile.
Readability: Generation of uniform procurement profiles across all suppliers
Liability: Compliance with legal requirements, public procurement and warranty regulations
Manageability: Sorting management allows for displaying and hiding assortments according to ECLASS categories
Diferent procurement processes: Hazardous substances and environmental labels
Pricing: Specifying different tax rates and customs fees
Internaionality: Multilingualism, customs tarif codes
Electronic catalogs: Categorization of ECLASS facilitates the creation of electronic catalogs, for example about BMEcat