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So, you want to buy steel online in India for your construction, engineering, and infrastructure development projects, but are wondering where to start?
Do you contact the top steel manufacturers and procure steel from them directly? Or is it advisable to contact local steel wholesalers and suppliers and purchase from them (for discounted rates and ease of transportation)? Why not try an online steel marketplace? The options are numerous and deciding on the best buying option can be daunting. This online steel buying guide will help you get answers to common questions, share tips and strategies, and help you in making an informed business decision.
Steel buying guide (online) in India
The uses of steel metal are numerous. It is used in automotives (vehicles), home appliances (refrigerators), medical devices, cutlery and utensils, construction projects (buildings, dams, bridges), tools (screws, hinges), and more. Not surprisingly, the growth of the steel sector in India and worldwide has been scaling with new demand for steel across industries.
How (and where) to buy steel online?
The first thing you must understand about purchasing steel online and offline is that there are different kinds of steel metal available in the market and there are multiple ways to procure them.
Some of the reliable ways to buy and sell steel online and offline are:
- Steel marketplaces:
There are websites, b2b platforms and online marketplaces where you can buy and sell steel. These online platforms allow suppliers/sellers to list their products and prices and get direct enquiries from buyers. Though these platforms verify the seller profiles to keep the marketplace authentic and reliable, it is recommended that buyers personally check the credentials and reliability of the seller/supplier.
- Direct manufacturer (and allied wholesalers/distributors):
This is a given. As a steel buyer, looking for the best prices to buy steel online, you can always visit the website of the manufacturer, fill in the enquiry form, negotiate with the sales representative, and buy steel as per your requirements. Buying from top steel manufacturers directly comes with lesser risks though it limits your options of supplier selection.
There are also authorised distributors and wholesalers at the state/city/district level to make the procurement and purchase process more convenient and efficient.
Buy steel online India: Process and tips
Before you place an online steel order and make a purchase, let us look at some key points to keep in mind.
- There are different types and grades of steel available, each suitable for specific projects. Know your needs before you buy.
- If you have an extensive requirement with delivery timelines spread across months, consider selecting multiple suppliers to minimise risks.
- Procurement process improvement should be a continuous activity. Review existing vendor/supplier relationship and revisit your terms of contract.
- Understand that quality comes for a price. As such, though pricing is important, don’t compromise on the quality of steel purchased for price.
- Online steel rates in India are dynamic and affected by multiple factors including exports, taxes, location, inflation etc. Always check for the current day price before initiating discussions with suppliers.
With that, let us take a closer look at the process of buying steel online and some strategic tips to keep the steel buying process hassle-free.
1. Define your requirements
The first step in any buying process is to define your requirements. What type of steel are you looking for? What is the quantity of steel required? What are the delivery schedule timelines? How will the steel be transported to its destination? What’s the project budget? In short, what purpose will be served?
For instance, if you need to build agricultural equipment and machinery like harvesters and tractors, use hot rolled coils (HRC) for its strength and formability. It is also suitable for building railroads, guardrails, and in shipbuilding. It’s malleable and affordable.
Pro tip: It is a smart business practice to have the procurement manager collect requirements from different departments at regular intervals. This will allow procurement to negotiate better prices, delivery dates, and terms with suppliers.
2. Make quality the key deciding factor
Steel has a number of applications. For instance, steel sheets application can be seen across the food industry (stainless steel in making kitchen utensils), construction (cold rolled steel for building steel sheds/garages), agriculture (galvanised steel for greenhouse equipment), pharmaceutical, shipping and other sectors. What matters here is the quality of steel being procured.
As such, when you buy steel online, always ask for certificates from authorities. All steel suppliers/manufacturers will have some of the common certificates which means that the quality of steel they are selling has been quality checked and tested, is safe for use, and adheres to the established standards.
Some of the certifications for steel you can look for are:
- BIS Certification (Bureau of Indian Standards) I.e., the National Standards Body
- ISI mark for industrial products (Indian Standards Institution)
- ISO certification/seal of approval (International Organization for Standardization) e.g., ISO 9001:2015 for quality management
Pro tip: When looking for certificates, check the dates. Also ask for other certificates (if applicable). With development in the technology space, many steel manufacturers are adopting lean technology to make the steel manufacturing process agile, effective and of the best quality.
3. Buy steel from reputed brands only
A key element to the online steel buying guide is to find and buy steel from authentic, reputed brands only. Whether you are buying directly from the manufacturer or through a local wholesaler/retailer, the idea is to buy from known brands. These manufacturers can be expected to follow the prescribed guidelines and procedures, perform quality assurance tests, and ensure that you are getting value-for-money on your online/offline purchase of steel metal.
Not all steel manufacturing brands are the best for all types of steel. Some specialise in a type of steel. There are manufacturers who are known for selling quality corrugated roof sheets, whereas there are others who are leaders in steel channels. Also, not all manufacturers have their market spread across all regions. Nor do all sell small order quantity online. Check on these details before purchasing.
Pro tip: If your project requirements are varied, you may consider working with different manufacturers. While this will require multi-level coordination from your end, it will also ensure that you get the best quality of steel by type for your project. Alternatively, connect with us at nexProcure to find all your diversified steel requirements in one place.
4. Check for prices
How much does TMT bars cost by kg/tonne in India? What’s today’s price for hot rolled coils? What’s the price of steel coils?
Whether you are buying steel online or offline, it’s given that you will enquire about the price of steel. Here are some key points to keep in mind when you buy steel online:
- Steel prices change frequently
- Based on the city/state you are buying from, the rates will vary because of additional taxes (e.g., GST)
- Steel can be bought by kg, tonne, and per piece
- All steel types have sizes and the rates vary based on the size e.g., TMT bars come in 8mm, 10mm, 16mm, 20mm, etc. And the rate changes based on the size
- Cost of steel will change marginally between brands, wholesale and retail prices
- Always check for daily steel prices in India, and steel price in the last 3 months
- There are packaging and transportation/freight charges added separately that impacts overall price of steel
In addition to these key points on steel pricing, also check for the payment terms when buying steel, i.e., advance payment, full payment, credit options, etc.
5. Additional support available
Support and guidance in purchasing steel can refer to many things. It can refer to prompt response to customer queries, after sales support, guidance on buying the right type of steel, support for availing business loans for purchasing inventory, logistics and transportation support – in short, the ability of your vendor/supplier to add value to the entire buying experience.
In general, most suppliers will be able to provide customer support and value-added services in some form or the other. Email, phone, and messaging channels are the most preferred form of communication. This gives customers the option to connect with the supplier through different channels based on need and accessibility.
Closing thoughts: The online steel buying process
The rise of eCommerce business in India has had the online buying process effortless. While it has enabled B2B and B2C audiences to save time, money, and effort, it has also led to critical questions on security, quality, credibility etc.
So, when you check online steel rates in India to buy steel, the rules are the same. Verify, validate, and ensure all the important checkboxes are ticked. Also, remember, buying steel is not a one-time activity. Infrastructure development, construction, and engineering projects are long-term projects. So, it’s imperative that you trust your steel supplier in terms of quality, prices, and meeting scheduled delivery timelines.
As a best practice, work with 2-3 suppliers to mitigate risks and consider using demand aggregation for steel procurement for efficiency and cost advantages.