CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
December 16, 2017
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Industrial purchasers are embracing e-commerce

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What was once the sole province of consumers has migrated to the realm of industrial purchasing, according to the results of a recent surveyed sponsored by UPS.

Buyers of industrial supplies are increasingly turning to e-commerce in their purchasing activities, according to the results of a new survey. Sixty-three percent of the 1,500 industrial supplies purchasers surveyed for the "2014 UPS B2B Purchasing Insights Study" said they now make purchases online. The survey was conducted by UPS Inc. and the research firm TNS.

Half of the purchasers surveyed said they spend at least 50 percent of their annual budget with e-commerce suppliers. In addition, 37 percent of survey respondents said their experiences with vendors' e-commerce sites are better than their experiences with the consumer sites they used for personal purchases.

Respondents identified a number of benefits to online purchasing of supplies. When asked about those benefits, 64 percent of the respondents cited knowing shipping costs prior to making an order, while 63 percent named the ability to see real-time product availability. The same number (63 percent) cited the ability to view purchase history and the estimated delivery date when ordering.

Despite the growing adoption of e-commerce for industrial purchases, buyers still place a high value on traditional services, such as post-sale support. In fact, 68 percent of respondents said that they would be somewhat or much more likely to do business with a new supplier if its website featured after-sales service. In addition, 53 percent of buyers noted the importance of certain aspects of the returns process, such as receiving a preprinted return-shipping label with the original delivery.

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