A recent Manutan Benelux study (1) of more than 1000 B2B buyers showed that the expectations surrounding speeding up the buying process are far from being met. This is the case both in France and across the whole world. 66% of respondents from Belgium and 68% of respondents from the Netherlands thought that there were still opportunities to save time. The obvious solution for 37% of respondents was to standardise the automation of the order process. System-to-system automated orders are well ahead of emails or marketplaces and therefore demonstrate the results of digitisation in the Benelux Union. Would the result have been different in France? Absolutely not: There are no borders in the race for digitisation and the advantages of automation.
An issue that goes beyond borders: Productivity in order processing
While all businesses are committed to finding ways to simplify order processing, no one expects to be able to do so with the volumes that are currently being processed. This is the case both in Benelux and the rest of the world, as 72% of Belgian and Dutch buyers think that the number of orders placed per year will remain constant at best, while three-quarters of these buyers believe that there will be no decrease in the number of products ordered. Productivity levers therefore need to be identified elsewhere in the processing procedure. Moreover, ways to save time and increase reliability need to be found, not only when selecting products and choosing the right time, but also when ordering, invoicing and charging etc.
One solution makes all the difference: Order automation
If we focus solely on Benelux, we see that up to now, the most popular order process among buyers is recourse to a marketplace, with a little over a quarter of survey respondents saying that they have used this process. Order automation takes second position, slightly above the simple email order system. This dynamic clearly favours automation, the utilisation ratio of which has doubled in the space of three years between 2015 and 2018. This preference is becoming an increasingly popular answer when buyers are asked about their "ideal process" for 2021. The popularity of automated order processing has gone up to 37%! Another interesting fact is that the more you order, the more you see that automation is the solution. This result can also be seen on a global scale, where 48% of the most advanced businesses say that they are reliant on the automation of the buying process (2), and that this will lead to a radical overhaul of current practices.
With order automation comes a new customer/supplier relationship
The automation of the order process is only being developed where there is a close relationship with the supplier that has stood the test of time. Trust is the pre-requisite for converting the benefits of order automation into a genuine optimisation of the TCO (3). The principle results in a verifiable pricing framework, automated linking of the information systems of the two partners and a specifically-developed monitoring process which enables the customer to stay in control at all times. More automation also means more management! Automated ordering optimises the way in which the customer organises their purchases as well as the resources available on the supplier's side, ensuring maximum benefit to both human relationships and customer service. By making the best of both worlds (virtual and real), it is no surprise that automated ordering has gained unanimous support!
(1) online study conducted from 2–12 February surveying 1087 buyers and procurement officers in industry, construction, logistics, transport and services with Novio Research.
(2) 2018 Jaggaer study
(3) Total Cost of Ownership