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September 13, 2000

Online drinks: beating dotcom misery and thriving in new eCommerce environment

The agreements suggest that one of the main paths of development of eCommerce will be in supply chain management, rather than in sales to consumers. Despite the current atmosphere of uncertainty in the US online market, drinks companies are showing that eCommerce still has the potential to revolutionize the supply of branded and unbranded goods in the US marketplace.

By CBR Staff Writer and have announced new business ventures.’s alliance with B2B company will create a larger virtual marketplace and increase product-specific expertise. has already signed agreements with seven of the top ten US distributors of alcoholic drinks, allowing it to serve potentially 89% of the US beverage alcohol market, worth over $100 billion. Similarly,’s partnership with roasters handling over 60% of the coffee consumed worldwide, aims to offer a number of value-add services through its website. Services such as real-time futures market quotes and information on physical prices could fundamentally change the supply chain dynamics for the market and serve to reduce costs for participant companies.

These developments point to a wave of change in the online marketplace – the use of true cost-saving online platforms that redefine supplier-customer relationships and are responsible for key strategic alliances. It is these alliances, initially among larger, leading companies, that will filter down to smaller players and help streamline the supply dynamics of the US market.

Such alliances are not limited to the drinks sector. The main opportunities exist in food, where already some of the largest food players in the US (McDonalds, Cargill, Tyson Foods and Sysco) have banded together to form an electronic Foodservice Network (eFS) to ease sales and purchases to the foodservice industry.

This increasingly shows that one of the main development paths of eCommerce will be in supply chain management, rather than in sales to consumers, where companies such as Peapod,, Shoplink and have all experienced difficulties in the past six months. As trading for commodity goods increasingly moves online, however, the example serves to show that eCommerce also exhibits considerable potential to revolutionize the supply of branded and unbranded goods in the US marketplace.

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