We just wrapped up a phone blitz chatting with small and medium welding companies across the country to get their take on the current state of sourcing and procurement and what they think the future will look like.
The Current State: A Few Surprises
Sourcing and procurement are still primarily accomplished using phone and email with just a few people saying they use online shopping. Those that do shop online (usually for non-welding items) love it and tell us that they rarely go back to the phone/email unless they need help with parts or a technical challenge. A couple of people told us that they have pivoted their office supply purchasing (paper, pens, etc.) to Amazon, but they said they don’t trust welding products they can find on Amazon. Most businesses are aware that they get a discount from distributors that is unique to their company.
The Future: Wants, But No Vision
Welding companies told us that they want order desks to possess a wealth of product and procedural knowledge and that preventing downtime is the biggest concern. Most people said they wished for more automation in the ordering process, however, many said they didn’t know what an automated system would look like.
The Knowledge Gap
Several welding companies told us how frustrating it is that distributors don’t have the level of knowledge they expect. Some people said that they must scour the internet for information on their own and call in with a part number because they feel the order desk is more of a call centre and will be unable to help. Others have switched distributors to find a better person to work with. One person we chatted with has mostly given up on speaking with someone local and is instead reaching out to advanced welders on social media (Instagram) to ask technical questions.
The Need for Speed
When we asked what they don’t like about the current process, almost everyone responded the same way. They want faster response times and better communication from distributors.
ClearSource, Sourcing & Procurement Faster
By helping to automate portions of the ordering process we are doing our part to speed up business, free order desk staff to learn more about the products they sell, and give distributors more time for customer service.
With ClearSource, buyers of welding supplies can search by brand, specification, part number, and much more for all the information they need on a product. Our data comes straight from the product manufacturers, so you know it’s correct.
Buyers can choose multiple distributors to get quotes from. Distributors’ order desks are still responsible for pricing. Once a quote is chosen it can be completed online without needing to call the order desk.