Buyers Turning to Web for Info

Study shows suppliers offering more information online have edge

New York  February 22, 2002  Buyers are increasingly showing a preference for suppliers that offer more information online, according to the results of a new study.

For its latest Industrial Purchasing Barometer (IPB) Study, Thomas Register compared the results of research it had conducted over the past four years to evaluate the impact of the Internet on industrial purchasing.

The latest research found that 91 percent of buyers surveyed reported contacting suppliers' Web sites for information in place of making phone calls directly to suppliers. Moreover, 90 percent of buyers expect to find suppliers' pricing information, order information, shipping information, guarantees, component capabilities, catalogs, size, dimensions and drawings/pictures online.

The survey indicated that the availability of supplier information online is increasingly becoming a factor in purchasing decisions. For example, 80 percent of buyers said they were likely to consider an alternative supplier over one that does not have the information they need available immediately online.

In addition, 77 percent of buyers surveyed indicated that suppliers who provide detailed information about their products or services online "show me they want my business."

The Internet is affecting the way that engineers select suppliers, too: 66 percent of engineers surveyed said they would pick a new supplier over one they already use if the new supplier provided online, and in the desired format, the CAD information needed for a project.

Additionally, the study confirmed that the Internet has increased purchasing speed. While in the past buyers might have spent a significant amount of time on information gathering and conducting personal communications with potential suppliers, today buyers frequently do not contact potential suppliers until they are at the point of issuing a request for quote or placing an order, thus shortening the buying cycle.

Thomas Register conducts studies among a random national sample of manufacturing, engineering, wholesale trade, distribution and government buyers. It institute the monthly IPB Barometer to monitor changes in industrial purchasing.