Industrial BTB Sites Are Lacking, Survey Finds

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Industrial suppliers' Web sites often are difficult to find and don't provide prices and other information that buyers seek, according to a survey released yesterday by ThomasNet.com and Google.


Though industrial buyers increasingly turn to the Internet when searching for products and services and where to buy them, they find the information lacking, with 70 percent of buyers expecting to find detailed information on product applications and uses but only 53 percent of sellers' sites providing it. Also, 58 percent of buyers seek computer-aided design drawings, but only 13 percent of sellers make them available online.


Seventy-four percent of buyers expect to find product prices on sellers' Web sites, but only 23 percent offer them. The lack of information extends to shipping costs, with 67 percent of buyers looking for this information but fewer than 17 percent of suppliers providing it.


Ensuring prospective buyers can find suppliers' sites when they embark on an online search also needs to be addressed, according to the research. Though 55 percent of industrial suppliers say they devote a major portion of their marketing budgets to their companies' Web sites, only 32 percent advertise them on search engines or industrial destination sites. However, more than 80 percent of buyers consider these tools their most important for researching and comparing products and services.


Other findings:


· 68 percent of industrial sellers plan to increase spending on their Web site, and 78 percent plan to redesign their site in the next year. But only 46 percent anticipate spending more to promote and drive traffic to their new and improved site.


· 97 percent of buyers who researched or compared products online took one or more kinds of further action either online or off, including: 56 percent requested a quote; 59 percent issued a purchase order and 86 percent recommended or selected a new supplier or new product or service for their company based on their online experiences.


ThomasNet.com, a leading Web site for industrial procurement, and Google surveyed more than 900 industrial purchasers and suppliers for the study.


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