July 28, 2021

UPS study on “The dynamics of industrial purchasing in Europe” shows how a new wave of buyers, who prefer for example to conduct their research on social media rather than contacting a salesperson, is transforming the industrial model traditional.

“With the rise of famous ‘millennials’ 2 in the workplace, we are entering a new era where long-established standards are now being challenged,” said Abhijit Asha, vice president of marketing and business. UPS’s European strategy. “Not only do these young tech-savvy customers want their orders delivered quickly, but their decisions are also influenced by the availability of additional after-sales service and support offerings. Other trends identified in our first European study in 2015 was confirmed, with face-to-face activities giving way in particular to online interactions. ”

Four major dynamics that are transforming the industry

The UPS study identifies four major dynamics transforming the industry.
Demographic changes. This year, 38% of respondents were millennials (10 points more than in 2017). This growing generation of buyers is less true to tradition and often prefers to conduct their research on social media rather than contacting a salesperson. Millennials also tend to consider new players like sustainability and after-sales service at the expense of traditional factors like quality and price. However, despite their growing influence, these buyers are still more restricted in the products and quantities they can buy compared to the more experienced baby boom generation.
New modes of acquisition. Buyers, especially millennials, continue to transform spending patterns by now buying directly from nf94 mask manufacturers, and especially on online marketplaces. Thus, over the past two years, European distributors have seen their market share drop to 29% (-17%), while those of manufacturers and online marketplaces have increased by 5% and 19% respectively.
The evolution of international sourcing. International supply is growing strongly. Millennials would buy almost half of their products there (far more than baby boomers or Gen X shoppers). Respondents are also willing to pay more for faster cross-border service: 26% of respondents would like their orders to arrive in 2 days, and 81% would sometimes need same-day delivery.
An after-sales service in full transformation. After-sales service remains an essential ingredient in any business transaction. Although this trend holds true for all generations of buyers and product groups, the need for a better customer experience drives 87% of millennials to consider changing their contacts in the next three or five years.
For manufacturers, online marketplaces and distributors, the message is therefore clear: in 2019, industrial purchasing requires more analysis and customization capacity than in the past. Knowing the buyer (his age, profile, online preferences, etc.) is therefore more important than ever and this trend should increase with the introduction of younger people into the buying process.

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Habits by country

The survey also made it possible to analyze habits by country in France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.
France – Compared to their European counterparts, French industrial buyers are the most likely to go directly to manufacturers (51% of sales) and to go to online marketplaces (20%). Specifically, millennials are the age group that buys the most online, indicating that this dynamic is expected to increase further. Although local buyers like those in other markets that returns are the most important aspect of service, they are also less fond of on-site service than others. Finally, France is the only country in the study where industrial buyers turn even more to salespeople for their product and supplier research instead of going through other channels.
Germany – German industrial buyers pay the most attention to price (63%) and quality (60%) of the entire European sample and make these elements major factors in choosing their suppliers. Local expectations for speed of service are also higher than the European average: 58% of respondents want deliveries in 1 to 2 days for national shipments and 37% expect the same for international orders (compared to 46% and 31 % respectively in Europe). Finally, it is also in Germany that respondents face the least restrictions from their employers in the choice of their suppliers, which may explain their higher levels of satisfaction with these partners.
Italy – For most scores, industrial buyers in Italy are in the European average: they work online, with a preference for websites and mobile applications. Like their German counterparts, they use online marketplaces for about a quarter of their purchases. In contrast, Italian buyers place more value than others on sustainable after-sales service solutions: 57% and 49%, respectively, consider disposal and recycling solutions to be important in their purchasing decisions (against 47% in both cases in Europe). Finally, in Italy, we also attach great value to relationships: 26% of orders placed by buyers of all age groups are made in person or during the visit of UK- Of all the European markets in our sample, the UK is where we work the most online. More than elsewhere, UK buyers use websites and search engines and rely less on salespeople to find their suppliers. The web and mobile applications are also used much more there than in other markets: 25% of UK buyers mention their supplier’s website as their main purchasing channel, compared to 18% of their Italian counterparts. In contrast, face-to-face transactions are slightly less popular, and online marketplaces are also used the least in the UK. Finally, although the British international supply volume is within the European average, buyers look to the United States more than those in other markets. In addition, the tendency to source internationally is much more pronounced overall among millennials.
(1) The UPS study on “The Dynamics of Industrial Purchasing” is based on responses obtained through more than 2,500 interviews with global procurement professionals aged 22 to 70 in charge of purchase industrial equipment, products or supplies. The European part of the survey was carried out in four countries (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom) and compared with the results obtained in the United States and China.
(2) Millennials or “Generation Y” (38% of the overall study sample) are defined as individuals aged 18-37, Generation X (42% of the sample) as individuals between 38 and 53, and baby boomers (21% of the sample) such as those aged 54 and over.
(3) Social Selling: In a B2B environment, social selling represents all the practices that consist of using professional social networks for sales development. Often, a lot of social selling comes down to using the social network LinkedIn and to a lesser extent twitter.
(4) Lead Nurturing: The Lead nurturing is a procedure of maintaining or strengthening a marketing relationship with prospects who are not yet ripe for a share sale or for which the action failed because too early. Lead nurturing will help nurture and educate prospects through the use of newsletters, the creation of white papers and other webinars, for example.

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