Clicks, bricks and mortar

Seven years is a long time in the fickle e-commerce industry, but does TRADEeasy have the right combination of clicks and bricks?

For a company, which claims to be deliberately low key and to have been slogging away quietly in the woodworks since 1993, the TRADEeasy launch party was certainly a slick, snazzy, back slapping affair.

TRADEeasy claims to be one of the earliest (and quietest) players to utilize the internet to provide supply trade management for traders, and to build an international trading platform û "TRADEeasy has been in the industry since 1993, the time when I-trade/e-commerce was still a remote term for most companies worldwide," says Joseph Yu, the company's chairman. boasts over 10,000 seller and 60,000 buyer members, with an average of 50,000 trade leads per month.

When asked how intends to differentiate itself from other platform providers, Danny Yip, CEO of TRADEeasy confidently replied that, "Companies like Commerce One, as I understand it, are platform software providers. They do not aim to provide a total solution." Instead, TRADEeasy prides itself on having a bricks and mortor business model. " is not an internet driven business model nor a traditional offline business, it is a unique, proven business model that integrates our solid online and offline businesses," he continued. "We do not believeátechnology on itsáown will change the whole international trade pattern."

Included in their total solution are online marketing, web-based MRP, supply chain management, back office administration, settlement and fulfillment needs. The website also aims to provide trade news, internet community tools and a B2B2R2C (business to business to retailer to consumer) shopping mall. "We are also different because we have real revenues, in 1999/00 we had a gross revenue of HK$3 million, for 2000/01, we predict that it will increase to HK$90 million."

On theápayment front, has an alliance with TradeCard, which is collaborating with Thomas Cook for payment services, as well as the Bank of Bermuda and "We are also talking to HSBC on that front," Yip added. And on the subject of trade finance, has an alliance with GE Capital, and is also said to be in talks with But that's news to

Gerry Ma, VP in charge of marketing and corporate development at says, "Because of our business model, if TRADEeasy were to approach us, trade members that require finance will have to be trading with an open account. This is because we provide loans based on account receivables." This is rather a tall order for SMEs looking for trade finance, considering that open account trading is still very much the domain of large exporting and importing companies in Europe and is yet to take off here. In addition, open account trading necessitates complete trust between trading partners, also a key issue that remains unresolved where the internet is concerned.