Since 2020, dramatic changes in the global economy, ongoing supply chain disruptions, the growth in the number of employees working remotely, and B2B buyers’ increasing preference for purchasing digitally have forced many companies to alter their procurement process.
A recent survey conducted by Futurum Research on behalf of SAP, reveals that 57% have make major changes as to how they approach procurement. Futurum surveyed 1,000 B2B decision makers ranging from small to enterprise-level companies across nine major industries.
The study found procurement teams are being asked to do more in less time. Indeed, 40% of respondents say the number of procurements they handled each month has increased significantly, while 39% say procurement timeframes have grown significantly shorter. In addition, 67% of respondents say it’s frequently or always more difficult to procure the solutions they need in a timely manner.
Not surprisingly, the changes have prompted 78% of respondents to say they are looking to streamline the procurement process, while 27% say their current procurement process never or only occasionally operates as efficiently as it did previously. As a result, procurement teams will need to find a way to stay ahead of requirements and up to speed on a range of software solutions, the report says.
Another aspect of the procurement process B2B buyers are rethinking is by relying increasingly more on digital tools and channels to make a purchasing decision, as opposed to working with a sales representative. According to the report, 54% of procurement professionals say they’d prefer to purchase online and 20% say they prefer to purchase through a partner as opposed to engaging with a sales representative. In addition, 62% of respondents say meeting with sales representatives can be conducted online, or by email or chat.
When it comes to purchasing a software application, procurement professionals place a great deal of emphasis on digital demos and trials prior to making the final purchasing decision. Online video demos are viewed as critically important by 38% of respondents, and as very important by 45% of respondents. Self-directed online product demos are viewed as critically important by 33% respondents and as very important by 49% of respondents.
In comparison 30% of respondents consider online product demos with a sales rep to be critically important and 50% consider them to be very important. In-person product demos with a sales rep were seen as critically important by 31% of respondents and as very important by 48%.
Aside from procurement professionals growing preference for software demos, product trials are taking on greater importance too. Free product trials without data retention at purchase are seen as critically important by 39% of respondents and as very important by 46% of respondents. Free product trials with data retention at purchase are viewed as critically important by 31% and as very important by 50%. Paid trials/proof of concept trials are considered critically important by 29% of respondents and as very important by 49% of respondents.
Digital marketplaces are becoming increasingly popular with procurement professionals. Currently, 77% of respondents indicated they are using a digital marketplace in some capacity, with 91% of respondents located in the Asia-Pacific region saying they use online marketplaces.
By 2024, 54% of procurement professionals say they would prefer to be purchasing online, either through a digital marketplace or a vendor’s web site. When asked to cite their reasons for purchasing through a digital marketplace, 44% of respondents cited access to multiple Vendors, 41% cited price comparisons, and 41% said product descriptions. Respondents could list more than one reason. Customer reviews (38%), feature comparisons (35%), online trial/test (35%), online chat (35%), vendor contact information (34%) and online demo (32%) were the other leading reasons cited.
Within the next 18 to 24 months, 51% of respondents expect to have a spending limit per purchase through a digital marketplace of $250,000 or more, 35% expect to have seat/user limits of 5,000 or above, and 16% expect to purchase 50% or more of their enterprise software through a digital marketplace
Futurum says it expects the combination of information, reviews, comparisons, and one-stop-research and procurement will appeal to many organizations looking to add impartiality and transparency to their procurement process.