The 2014 UPS B2B Buyers Insight Study found that buyers consider online research essential to the supplier selection process.
Industrial supplies purchasers were asked to identify their preferred method for researching industrial products. The majority of respondents reported that a supplier’s website (68%) and search engines (52%) are their preferred methods.
Similarly, respondents were asked to identify the importance of specific attributes when deciding which industrial supplies vendors to purchase from. Reponses show that having a website that includes product information and provides the ability to order online is essential:
- Having the product catalog or product information on the website was reported to be “very important” or “extremely important” by 78% of respondents;
- 74% of respondents said that the ability to make purchases on the supplier’s website was “very important” or “extremely important;”
- 70% of respondents reported that the suppliers website overall was “very important” or “extremely important.”
Off-line resources including having a sales rep and a printed/hardcopy product catalog were also identified to be important, but to a lesser degree – 58% and 54% respectively.
The study report notes that: “it is reasonable to infer that many buyers consider online research essential to their supplier selection process.”
Comfort should not be found in existing relationships. The study found that 34% of buyers have gone outside their existing supply base in order to make an online purchase.
Having a website is not something that is nice to have. Having a quality website is critical to your business. The report makes this clear:
“Since buyers expect to increase their online purchases in the future, and a clear majority prefer to research supplies online, having robust e-commerce and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies are essential for suppliers seeking to add or potentially retain customers.”
Take a look at your company’s website and ask yourself these questions:
- Is the website visually appealing?
- Is the content optimized for SEO?
- Is the content on your website quality content?
- Is the website easy to navigate?
- Does your website have e-commerce capabilities?
- Does your website show real-time product availability?
Most importantly, ask yourself if your website makes your customer’s life easier.
Kate Lee is Director of Research and Strategy for Fronetics Strategic Advisors