The Internet of Steel: Why Metal Trading is Going Digital

photo of stainless steel pipesAlmost everyone is online nowadays, so it’s no wonder why the e-commerce industry is booming. The U.S. retail e-commerce industry received $127.3 billion in sales for the 2nd quarter of 2018, a 15.2 percent increase from the same period in 2017.

The most common items sold online are clothing, gadgets, and food, but niche industries that you won’t necessarily think of are also taking advantage of online marketplaces. One of these is the metal trading industry.

The Popularity of Digital Sales in Metal Trading

According to Reuters, steel industry sales reach $900 billion a year, although there isn’t an exact figure for its online sales yet. With these many consumers, ranging from contractors to automobile manufacturers, streamlining the process of acquiring metals will be beneficial for both sides.

This is why the digitization of steel trading has become increasingly popular among customers. Wasatch Steel, a Utah-based steel supplier, summarizes the benefits of going online, saying, “You can request for a quote online, order your steel products online—and get real-time accurate pricing.”

Drivers of Digitization in the Steel Industry

The steel industry has been slow in implementing new digital technologies, but it has been slowly catching up because of some key shifts in steel manufacturing. First, mobile technology now contributes significant productivity gains to steel shops. Mobile technologies streamline manufacturing processes like maintenance.

Automation has also seen a more widespread application in both production and support functions. Labor costs are on the rise while expenditure for robots and automation are getting cheaper and more accessible. Manufacturers are looking for efficiency and reliability that they can get for a cheap price, and that’s what automating the steel manufacturing process does.

The digitization of the metal trading industry, one that’s known for its slow technological uptake, just goes to show how reliant the world is on technological advances. Other businesses, even niche ones, may need to keep up unless they want to face possible extinction.