We decided to run this survey with a cross-section of end-users from the Water Industry to ask them about how they find, select and stay with suppliers when making aftermarket purchases. For brevity, when we refer to suppliers in the article, we’re including manufacturers, distributors, and third-party sellers.
Supplier Discovery: How End Users Find New Suppliers
In this article, we will look at the first of these; supplier discovery. Namely, how do end-users in the Water Industry tend to look for suppliers? Are there tried and tested means that they stick to or does this change every time?
Online Presence is Key
When we asked users how they search for suppliers, there were two methods that were used far more than any other: 26% of users told us that they use web search alone and the same number said they rely on networking.
The Biggest Challenge for End-Users
The other interesting finding we had around supplier discovery was that end-users cited finding reliable suppliers as their biggest challenge.
This issue was even more important than other challenges such as planning product needs, sourcing inventory on time, meeting project timelines, or managing cash flows.
Making it easier for end-users to find their suppliers when it comes to aftermarket purchases has the potential to remove one of their biggest challenges. With end-users spending up to 64% of their time on their biggest challenge.
5 Things Suppliers Can Do to Increase Their Visibility
Bearing in mind that more than half of end-users are either using web search or networking to find new suppliers, these are the key areas to focus on.
1. Improve SEO
Web search is so important in the Water Industry because of the lack of an aggregated portal. Although it can take time to see results, once it is properly set up, it will bring in recurring leads with no ongoing acquisition costs. There will be an initial investment of resources to set everything up, including adding the right content and keywords to the website, then using articles and blogs which include the same product names and skus from the site to validate the content, improving SEO.
2. Exhibit at Water Industry events
Trade shows and industry events are good places to meet potential customers. Having a presence presents huge opportunities for making key contacts and raising brand awareness. The Water Industry relies on long-term relationship building and an ongoing presence in front of potential customers is a must.
3. Have a content strategy
This means creating articles, infographics, or other content that educates and provides immediate value. A solid content strategy is a powerful tool but also takes time to develop and start seeing results. Consistency is key, which means having a plan in place and resources assigned in order to make it a success.
4. Use paid ads
This route is more expensive but, with the right keywords, can prove very effective and provide a fast-track to results. When looking for the best places for paid ads, industry publications or associations, Google Ads, or trade show sponsorships may be the most effective.
A quality E-commerce solution solidifies online presence for suppliers, making it easier for customers to find them and affording a significant advantage over competitors.
We found that when suppliers add a self-serve portal for customers, 65% of them will choose it over traditional methods like email and phone for ordering parts.
However, building an E-commerce solution also means promoting it so that it will appear in search results and be found by target customers.
How to begin to implement a digital roadmap
Implementing a digital roadmap is a gradual process, that’s why we recommend focusing on one item at a time, assigning resources, and measuring results. It’s important to consider available time and resources and desired outcome before deciding on the strategy. For example, boosting short-term results requires a different strategy to overall brand building.
Building a web presence and implementing an E-commerce solution can seem daunting in the manufacturing sector. It's important to choose the right tool from the start that will cater to the specific business needs in the long term.
Connectivity and effective marketing to the installed base list, automating manual processes around parts purchases and growing aftermarket sales should be prioritized as the most effective methods to stay ahead of the competition.
We hope these insights about supplier discovery have been valuable. Next week, In part 2, we’ll share our survey’s findings on supplier selection and how end-users choose one supplier over another.
An easy-to-use and implement software for manufacturers that includes simple part identification and self checkout for lower value aftermarket parts, remote maintenance and troubleshooting for more complex sales, and process automation for receiving orders or purchasing from vendors. In other words, a fully integrated aftermarket solution for equipment manufacturers who want to grow their aftermarket sales and automate important processes.