Why online retail can work for metal buying

Posted by Matt Yeates on Jan 13, 2020 9:00:00 AM

These days buying something online is as easy as a few taps on your phone. In an instant, you can compare prices, products, delivery options, reviews and so much more.

But imagine if you could extend this easy way of buying groceries, car insurance or the latest best-seller to sourcing metal.

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In this post Matt Yeates, Managing Director of SteelScout, reflects on how digital technologies can transform the way that businesses buy metal online.

Historically, it's been hard to buy metal online. There have been so many steps for businesses to consider; from searching for the right metal suppliers, collecting quotes, comparing those quotes, considering delivery options, assessing the quality of the supplier… the task list goes on. And when there are strict project deadlines, the whole process can start to become even more stressful.

We’ve seen transformations in how we buy goods on the web, from utilities to travel. Why can’t we apply this way of thinking to the way metal is purchased? We expect a seamless service when we’re buying consumer goods from the comfort of our home or even when on the move, but not while we’re at the office or in the workshop for industrial products.

Data by the ONS shows that online retail spend in the UK is increasing at a faster rate than brick and mortar spend. So why is B2B buying, in particular material purchasing still so far behind? What if metal buying was just as straightforward?

This is something  the teams at SteelScout and MetalHub have been exploring. In a venture backed by Tata Steel Europe, our plan is to bring metal buying into the 21st Century. We want procurement professionals, warehouse assistants or anyone who has to buy metal for their business, to have the best possible buying experience with complete transparency.

In the past ten years, the metal buying process has moved from buyers maintaining a single supplier relationship for years with very few options to find more competitive vendors, to being able to find and procure from multiple suppliers. Our aim is to make this process even simpler for the customer through digital transformation, and we’ve made strong progress over 2018 with big plans ahead.

So how exactly do we plan on doing it?

We’re giving metal buyers digital platforms that provide them with an easy way to purchase. SteelScout gives buyers the ability to get the best deal for them from a broad network of suppliers. MetalHub allows for instant pricing and the ability to compare multiple suppliers on price, delivery and availability, then buy online.

We’re already starting to see a difference:

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Creating a simpler metal procurement process doesn’t only benefit the individual buyer, it can also improve the business’s bottom line. If we can reduce the amount of time it takes to buy material, businesses can focus their staff on other higher value tasks.

It’s not just business buyers who benefit, suppliers can benefit too. In the past, many suppliers have not had additional  resource to invest in modern e-Commerce to attract and serve new customersSteelScout and MetalHub now offer those suppliers a platform that allows them to increase their exposure to new potential customers.

Our plans are ambitious, but armed with a talented team who all share the same vision as I do, we’re determined to bring positive advances and efficiency to the metals sourcing process in busy businesses.


Matt Yeates, Managing Director,



Topics: Metal Sector, Macro Trends

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