Buyers online. They are conducting research and gathering information so that they can make a purchase. Will your company show up when the buyer conducts an online search? If your company doesn’t rank on the first page of the search engine results it is unlikely that your company will be found by the buyer. (Page one of a Google search results page garners 92 percent of all traffic from an average search.)
A study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) Marketing Leadership Council found that the average customer progresses nearly 60 percent of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging with a sales rep. Customers are able to do this by going online and using websites, blogs, and social media.
If you think that this trend does not apply to the supply chain and logistics industries, think again. The 2014 UPS B2B Buyers Insight Study focused on industrial supplies buyers. The study found that 68 percent of buyers research supply purchases via supplier website, and 52 percent use search engines. Furthermore, respondents reported that being able to access information about products online and being able to make purchases online is more important to buyers than sales representatives and printed catalogs (Chart 1).
The UPS study also pointed to a harsh reality – buyers will go outside of existing relationships to make an online purchase. Specifically, 34 percent of respondents said that they have gone outside of their existing supply base to make an online purchase.
Having a strong online presence is an essential component to your business strategy. The UPS study sums this up nicely:
“Be in the right place when buyers are looking: Having a superior supplier website with stellar functionality means little if buyers can’t find the site or don’t know it’s available. Making sure products and supplier information can be found easily by search engines (SEO), and being visible when buyers search for products (SEM), are essential strategies for retaining and increasing customer base.”
An increasing number of companies within the logistics and supply chain industries are optimizing their online presence. These companies will be found buyers when the buyer is in the research phase. If your company isn’t found when the buyer is in this stage, your company will not be in the running when it comes to decision time. To be competitive and acquire customers it is critical that your company get online.
Kate Lee is Director of Research and Strategy for Fronetics Strategic Advisors