Most buyers 'prefer e-procurement over traditional means'

15 June 2021

Nine in 10 (91%) procurement professionals prefer e-procurement over traditional purchasing, according to a survey.

Amazon Business’s report found 85% of buyers were forced to move more procurement online because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But 96% of those said they anticipated continuing to do more purchasing online, even after pre-pandemic business functions resumed.

The survey, including 250 US B2B buyers across government, education, healthcare, and commercial industries, found the pandemic had accelerated efforts to digitise procurement. Two-fifths (38%) of buyers made more than 50% of purchases online in 2020.

Regarding the top actions in response to the pandemic, 50% said they had more fully digitised their purchasing process, 45% had streamlined the purchasing process, and 34% had committed more spending to a specific supplier.

More than half (56%) of SME businesses said they had more fully digitised their purchasing process. This compared to 42% of enterprise commercial companies (organisations with an annual revenue of more than $250m).

The report concluded smaller organisations had to play “catch up” with large enterprises after the pandemic forced a shift to remote work.

Online product comparisons or product videos were overwhelmingly cited by buyers as more important than traditional phone calls or viewing products in a store.

The top priority for buyers in 2021 was increasing efficiency, cited by 40% of respondents. More than a third (34%) said reducing costs was a top priority, with education, government, and healthcare sectors ranking it more of a priority than commercial industries.

The study said consumer pressure to prioritise social and environmental issues was also important to buyers in all industries. Also, business buyers had now come to expect the same fast, convenient, and personalised digital buying capabilities they had become used to at home.

After increased efficiency, the top priorities cited by buyers were improving sustainability in purchasing (39%), supporting local businesses within the community (37%), and increasing diversity among suppliers (35%).

Eight in 10 (83%) said their companies planned to increase purchasing budgets reserved for black and minority-owned businesses in 2021, with almost half (48%) of those planning to increase budgets by 20% or more.

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