PROS global survey: Two-thirds of B2B buyers have experienced vendor challenges with COVID-19

PROS, a provider of AI-powered solutions that optimise selling in the digital economy, has announced the findings of its recent survey on digital purchasing trends and vendor preferences as a result of COVID-19.

The ‘COVID-19 B2B Buying Trends Report’ reveals that B2B buyers are more likely to purchase from vendors that offer digital self-serve purchasing channels, are quick to respond to buyer inquiries, provide personalised and consistent pricing and offer a transparent view of inventory.

Procurement and purchasing leaders have steadily been shifting purchasing from traditional reliance on sales reps to self-serve ordering through digital channels, and according to the survey, COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated this shift. Key findings from the survey indicate:

  • Since the start of COVID-19, 37% of businesses are primarily purchasing through digital channels – up from 29% prior to the outbreak and expected to continue rise to 40% post-pandemic
  • Only 1/3 of buyers stated that most of their vendors were well-prepared and had already enabled digital channels
  • The top three challenges identified by B2B buyers in working with their vendors were (1) slow and inefficient responses, (2) inconsistent, highly variable pricing and (3) a lack of transparency into inventory

Additionally, according to the survey, vendor preferences have changed for three quarters of companies as a result of COVID-19:

  • 70% of buyers reported that current conditions are compelling them to shift their vendor preferences due to challenges in working with existing vendors – 19% of which said they were shifting preferences “a great deal”
  • Competitive pricing (40%), supply availability (39%) and better digital purchasing experience (35%) are top drivers of change in vendor preferences
  • 2/3 of North American buyers would switch to a company that offers personalised real-time pricing

“Our survey confirms purchasing professionals are quickly moving wallet share to vendors that can offer competitive prices, personalised digital experiences and transparency into inventory across digital self-serve channels,” said PROS Solution Strategy Director Valerie Howard. “B2B companies need to ensure their digital channels are delivering on these buyer expectations or they’ll risk losing market share to competitors that do.”

The global study, conducted by Hanover Research on behalf of PROS in June 2020, examined the expectations of 210 procurement and purchasing leaders from 11 countries on what drives business buyers to select certain vendors, what causes them to switch to new vendors, and what they value in the purchase experience. The respondents work for businesses across a variety of industries, including industrial manufacturing, IT services, oil and gas, chemicals and healthcare.

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