I was having a chat with Mark Pemberton at The Heath in Runcorn the other day. Mark’s business, Global MSDS Ltd, won the Chemicals North West “Product Services Supplier to the Chemical Industry” Award in March this year.
As you might guess, Global MSDS creates safety data sheets and labels for companies around the world. Chemical safety data sheets have been around for a very long time (although labels have changed recently). It wasn’t the product that interested me so much as the business model Mark had adopted.
There are many ways to skin a cat (horrible expression really) and many ways to deliver the same product to the marketplace. At the end of the day every business is looking to satisfy a need. That need can be satisfied in many ways which is one reason why competition isn’t always obvious.
Mark’s competition tends to create the documentation for their customers and their customers tend to be large corporations with significant needs. Small companies find it difficult to afford such services yet still have the need.
The Internet has changed the way we think and act. These behaviours are now so familiar to us that businesses can adopt them. We are familiar with web based systems, with PayPal and with buying tokens (coins or gold) and getting more for our money the more we buy. We also have an expectation that information is free.
Mark’s business model takes advantage of all these behaviours. Added into the mix is the movement of the chemical industry to the Far East and ever tightening margins and markets within Europe. So Global MSDS provide the information for data sheets and labels free of charge. The software to create the documentation is web based and can be accessed anywhere in the world. The documents are paid for by tokens which are bought through PayPal. The more tokens you buy the cheaper each document is.
The use of intelligence-based rules to reduce authoring time and the need for expertise is backed up by an experienced technical centre. The operation is based in the Far East, enabling Global MSDS to deliver a high quality product at a very competitive price, while retaining a healthy margin. As Mark explained it is all about building a strong foundation.
This all sounds very simple but of course these things rarely are. It’s about knowing what’s going on in your market place, about adapting your business and your business model as the market place changes and keeping ahead of the game.