GlobalNetXchange was set up in February by Sears and Carrefour in partnership with software vendor Oracle. Sainsbury joined as a junior partner, along with Metro of Germany, in March. Both Sainsbury and Metro are understood to have committed to spend about £30m on the venture and each will own about 5% of the new business, which will probably be floated in 18 months. Sainsbury will now be able to buy, sell, trade or auction goods and services with more than 50,000 suppliers, partners and distributors worldwide. In a recent demonstration of what the site can do, Sainsbury held an online "reverse auction" for mild Cheddar cheese. Companies who met Sainsbury's standards were asked to bid, and given a password. Over four hours they bid lower and lower until one "won" the right to supply Sainsbury for three months. The demonstration has been dismissed by some analysts as "artificial", but it does give some indication of what will be possible. WorldWide Retail Exchange followed, set up by companies who didn't fancy being junior partners in GlobalNetXchange but wanted an exchange where all members were equal. To date, members include Ahold from the Netherlands, Auchan and Casino from France, Safeway, CVS, Albertsons, Target and K-Mart from the US, and Tesco, Kingfisher, Safeway and Marks and Spencer from the UK. Each has a 5% stake and any new members will be offered a similar equity investment. The venture is expected to cost about £60m, with the costs spread according to the equity stake. The technology behind the WorldWide Retail Exchange will be handled by an alliance between IBM, i2 Technologies and Ariba. Transora turns the grocery exchange scene on its head, in that it is set up and run by suppliers, not retailers. With a powerful membership made up of 49 of the largest fmcg manufacturers in the world, Transora may allow its members to regain some control over the retailer/supplier relationship ­ if they can persuade the retailers to use it, rather than the ones they are setting up themselves. Members so far include Coca-Cola, Kraft, Nestlé, Cadbury Schweppes, Procter & Gamble, Heineken and Unilever. The members have agreed to spend US$250m to fund the project, with a product catalogue and procurement system due to be up and running by the end of the year. The other interesting aspect of this exchange will be the chance to watch arch enemies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi trying to work together. Wal-Mart has its own exchange, which it has been running on a limited scale for 10 years, and now has turnover of $150bn and global coverage. The US giant pioneered new interworking practices between retailers and manufacturers and will no doubt continue to set standards and lead the way. Efoodmanager is a European exchange that will concentrate on fresh food ­ initially fruit and vegetables but with seafood and dairy products to follow soon. It will attempt to position itself as the truly European exchange with all trading done in several languages ­ English and German to start with but with French, Italian and Spanish introduced soon. Chief executive Jan Stenger claims to have 1,000 companies registered to use the site. Each of 25,000 product categories has been given a predefined name in each language to avoid translation errors. Freight services and financial services are among extras that will slowly be added to the exchange's offering. In the US, RetailersMarketXchange (RMX) shows that exchanges aren't only for the multiples and big guys. It has been set up by oil company Chevron Corporation, which runs 700 c-stores and supplies 6,500 branded independents, McLane Company (a subsidiary of Wal-Mart) and Oracle to provide an exchange service for convenience stores, small business retailers and their suppliers. The RMX marketplace will be brought to the UK if suitable retailer/supplier relationships can be established. {{FEATURES }}