UPS Study Reveals Broad Use Of E-Commerce For Industrial Purchases

ATLANTA, May 1, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A shift is underway for distributors of industrial supplies andthe e-commerce experience they provide to their customers. In 2013,more than 63 percent of industrial supply buyers said they madepurchases online, with half of those purchasers spending at least50 percent of their annual budget with e-commerce suppliers.

This preference for e-commerce purchases offers potential growthopportunities for distributors of industrial supplies by reachingbuyers who are using the web to expand beyond their existingsupplier base. Distributors of e-commerce websites are opening newroutes for customers, with 34 percent of survey respondentsclaiming they made online purchases outside of their existingsupplier base in the last year.

UPS, a global logistics leaderand TNS, a global marketresearch expert, surveyed 1,500 industrial supplies purchasers inthe U.S. to gain a deeper understanding of their perceptions infive key areas of the purchasing process: researching and selectingsuppliers; the purchase transaction; suppliers' websites; shipping,delivery and returns; and post-sales service and support.

The vast majority of respondents said their experience withvendors' e-commerce sites are the same (56 percent) or better (37percent) than the consumer sites they use for personal purchases.However, that doesn't indicate complete satisfaction regardingtheir experience with either B2C or B2B sites.

Even though industrial supply purchasers are embracinge-commerce, traditional purchasing capabilities are stillimportant, along with best-in-class product quality, purchasevisibility and delivery speed. Survey findings show B2B onlinepurchasers still want access to traditional customer methods, suchas catalogs and access to a sales representative. Post-salessupport was particularly important to respondents, with 68 percentindicating they would be somewhat or much morelikely to do business with a new supplier if their website featuredpost-sales service and support. In addition, 53 percent of buyersstated aspects of the returns process are important, such asincluding a pre-printed return shipping label with the originaldelivery.

"Sales representatives and other methods are still in demand,but the study shows B2B and B2C purchasing habits are becoming moresimilar," said Brian Littlefield, industrial distribution directorat UPS. "The findings underscore the need for industrial suppliers'e-commerce sites to offer a positive customer experience, much likeB2C companies. With more than a decade of experience in the onlineretail space, UPS is particularly well-positioned to assist ourindustrial supply customers with implementing a competitive rangeof services, as they look to enhance their customers' onlinepurchasing experience."

Visibility in online purchases andshipping

When evaluating purchasing decisions, buyers of industrialsupplies identified several benefits to purchasing online. Of thosesurveyed, 67 percent think the ability to make an online purchaseis very or extremely important. When asked about the benefits ofmaking purchases online:
  • 64 percent cited knowing shipping costs prior to making anorder
  • 63 percent selected the ability to see real-time productavailability
  • 63 percent said the ability to view purchase history, as wellas the ability to see the estimated delivery date whenordering

How can industrial suppliers be more competitiveonline?

UPS can help industrial supply distributors with a completeportfolio of services to effectively compete and make their onlinepresence comparable to leading online sites. The company offersspecialized solutions to help suppliers manage services that arethe backbone of great e-commerce sites, including:
  • Contract logistics, including inventory management
  • Shipping, visibility and returns solutions
  • Online service and support solutions

For more information on the survey findings and to download awhite paper of the complete survey results, click here.

Survey Methodology: TNS conducted this online survey with 1,501industrial supplies purchasers in the U.S. during December2013.

UPS (NYSE:UPS) is a global leader in logistics, offering a broadrange of solutions including transporting packages and freight;facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technologyto more efficiently manage the world of business. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries andterritories worldwide.  The company can be found on the web at ® and its corporate blog can befound at To get UPS news direct, visit

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