A decade has passed since Dow Corning launched XIAMETER®, the self-serve Internet window of convenience in buying silicones for customers, the company, without a shade of doubt, claims to have made a good success of it all over the world, including in India. "In India, nearly 30% of Dow Corning's selling of silicones is done through XIAMETER® and though this is a moderate success, this mechanism holds great potential for a growing country like India," said Mr Jeroen Bloemhard, vice-president, XIAMETER®. Mr Bloenhard made no bones about China's big success in this: "China initially started on a small, doubtful note in buying silicones through this online channel, but suddenly made a leap to achieve 90% of buying through XIAMETER®. India, for sure will make more progress in this aspect because of the big advantages in buying silicones through this window", Mr Bloemhard told Samuel Joseph, Editor of The Indian Textile Journal, during an informal chat at the office of Dow Corning India Pvt Ltd in Kanjurmarg, Mumbai.
XIAMETER® is ideal for those customers who simply need high quality standard silicone products at market-based prices. Mr Bloemhard categorically clarified that the speciality silicone-based solutions that Dow Corning offer and what XIAMETER® has been presenting to the customers are one and the same. "XIAMETER® is only a window to make the procurement easy. There is no dilution of product quality in one or the other. Both the traditonal and Internet windows provide the same solutions. But with XIAMETER® one can be assured of market-driven price and hence very competitve. Besides, product and application information for XIAMETER® isavailable online with technical support obtained via email and telephone," he explained.
The benefits of XIAMETER® are many and tangible, and its various advantages keep the customers hooked onto it. "However, since silicone products are more of application-based intermediates, we sell mostly though various distributors. It needs workshops and educational kits to propogate the features of silicone-based products and usually our distributors are well equipped to do this. It takes time to impress upon the mins of customers the necessity and importance of such products. So mostly we leave it our distributors, who are well-versed about the products," said Ms Aparna Khurana, sales leader (India & South Asia), Dow Corning India Pvt Ltd.
Speaking about the evolution of XIAMETER®, Mr Bloemhard enumerated three stages; the first stage at the launch when it was a purely commodity model, with not much flexibility, then followed in 2009 when distributors were added with flexibility in order volumes and more conveniences; and the present stage of maturity when the model is more mature, and easily manageable & self-sufficient. Over 4,000 products are available through the XIAMETER® web-enabled business model. Dow Corning has always been deep in research to explore new areas in application. Said Mr Bloemhard: "Dow Corning has been expanding its product portfolio to include a variety of silicone fluids, emulsions, resins, coatings, antifoams, mold-making & liquid silicone rubbers, modifiers, primers and catalysts. The new products are widely used as performance enhancers by industries including personal care, textile, energy, construction and automotive. The products have established their credibility in durability, stability, adhesion and weather resistance."
The continuity in research has been keeping Dow Corning's dual strategy of branding highly effective, and new products have been sprouting periodically for the newly emerging markets in countries like India. But what edge does XIAMETER® have for the customer in this Dow Corning's dual brand strategy?
Said Mr Bloemhard: "The XIAMETER® business model provides customers self-service functionality and options such as tiered volume quantities and also transparent pricing, credit term choices, ability to track orders real-time and other procurement activities. This model also enables customers to purchase high quality, standard silicones at market-based prices online and more efficiently. This gives an edge in the marketplace and the Dow Corning brand delivers higher value innovative solutions, customised formulations and high-performance products."
According to Ms Khurana, the local distributors also carry many XIAMETER® products, and can offer more customised & personal services besides order flexibility. "The model has the facility to plan ahead your requirements, say for the next 6 to 8 months. And also you can track, stagger and be flexible working on even holidays from your home. This flexibility lends the customer a competitive edge n fulfilling the requirements. Better inventory management and effective just-in-time concepts can be put into use in this model," said Ms Khurana.
Dow Corning provides performance-enhancing solutions to serve the diverse needs of more than 25,000 customers worldwide. A global leader in silicones, silicone-based technology and innovation, Dow Corning offers more than 7,000 products and services via the company Dow Corning and XIAMETER® brands. More than 50% of Dow Corning's annual sales come from outside United States.