A recent study conducted by Manutan Belgium* highlights the desire of buyers to optimise their buying process in order to save time and be more efficient. The vast majority of those surveyed believe that they could save around 10 hours of work a week with more effective buying processes. This compelling figure, often accompanied by hidden costs, confirms that this is a major challenge for purchasing departments today.
From buying processes…to hidden costs
Today, there is a rapidly increasing number of ways to place orders. Although email remains the preferred solution for 31% of respondents, the following are also used:
- For 19% of respondents, automated e-procurement solutions enable them to save time and be more efficient.
- For 18%, B2B retail sites offer user experiences that are becoming increasingly similar to B2C websites.
- For 10%, the telephone, in particular, allows buyers to get advice directly from experts.
These findings highlight the various processes used even within the company itself, depending on the site or subsidiary. Moreover, this extends into other areas. For example, local suppliers may sometimes be favoured over contracted suppliers, despite having negotiated discounts with the purchasing department.
These purchases made outside of the buying process, also known as "ad hoc purchases", have far-reaching consequences — purchasing departments have no visibility over them and buyers waste time researching products or placing orders. Furthermore, the price of products fluctuates and often ends up being higher and there is often an impact on product quality. In short, the final bill is high for all stakeholders involved, both for purchasing departments and the company as a whole.
Buyers' criteria today
According to the study, purchasing professionals think that they spend too much time looking for a product that meets their requirements, comparing prices, having their selections validated internally and finally placing the order itself. Many stages can be optimised, particularly the selection of a suitable supplier or partner.
In order to optimise their time and processes, two thirds of the buyers surveyed prefer to work with targeted suppliers who are thoroughly familiar with their requirements and to limit the number of suppliers as much as possible. Their primary criterion when selecting a supplier is their reliability and the quality of their products. Of course, price is also an important, but not necessarily a decisive factor.
A new consideration has recently been added to this list of criteria, regarding the supplier's ability to support their customers in the optimisation of their buying processes. In this sense, certain suppliers are now able to analyse their customers' purchasing habits in order to identify areas for improvement even within their processes. A good example of this is Savin'side®, a methodology developed by Manutan which scrutinises various aspects of a company's purchasing process such as supplier rationalisation, digitalisation of transactions and logistics optimisation with a focus on making savings.
*Study conducted with 359 purchasing professionals.