Study: B-to-b buyers wait for suppliers to meet them online

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While 70% of b-to-b buyers say moving online is a top priority, they continue to wait for their suppliers to meet them on the Internet, according to "Getting Procurement Agents to Buy Online."

The study, conducted by Jupiter Research, marks the first time the online research company polled b-to-b buyers about their appetite for working online.

According to the study, a key reason buyers are not moving online is that suppliers' online efforts are lagging. Nearly 60% of the respondents said the chief barrier to buying online is that their preferred vendors do not transact via the Internet. While buyers were aware of the cost benefits of online procurement—such as quicker product searches and reduced cycle times—these advantages are not enough to lure them to the Internet without the security of knowing their existing suppliers are online.

Another 55% said a simple lack of knowledge about Net markets was keeping them from moving their procurement activity online.

While a majority of buyers want to move online eventually, only around 20% of their transactions will be conducted on the Internet by 2002.

"Sometime before 2003 there may be a wake-up call and a mad rush online among both buyers and sellers," said Jean-Gabriel Henry, a senior Jupiter analyst. Henry said that for the next couple of years both buyers and sellers must take pains to educate themselves about how to conduct business on the Web.

In some cases, sellers are already online, but their buyers are unaware of this because of a lack of promotion, education and training.

Henry said the fundamental problem is that suppliers are too busy chasing new markets, when they ought to be cultivating online relationships with existing customers. "It's much sexier to go out and get new markets," Henry said. "They don't ring a bell when sellers bring their existing buyers online."

Jupiter said buyers will be more willing to find new suppliers and trading partners online. About 85% of online b-to-b transactions will be made between existing buyers and sellers, compared with 95% of transactions offline, Jupiter analysts predicted.

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