Systems Integration

Survey sez, suppliers still lag on Internet response


Oct 03, 2006

SEVENTY-EIGHT percent of engineers prefer to contact suppliers and manufacturers via the Web or email, according to the fifth annual Engineering Trends Survey conducted by research firm GlobalSpec. Ninety-one percent use the Internet to find components and suppliers and 90% get product specifications online.

But in spite of the near-instantaneous feedback enabled electronic communication, 40% of those engineers still wait between three and seven days for answers to their queries. Five percent say they wait even longer.

     Engineers Prefer to Contact Suppliers Online
Courtesy of GlobalSpec

Seventy-eight percent of engineers prefer to contact suppliers either via the Web or email. The number desiring phone contact has dropped steadily over the last three year. (Courtesy of GlobalSpec Inc.)

Why the disconnect? Suppliers haven’t caught up with the engineers and techies in terms of feeling comfortable with the Internet.

“Although our research shows that engineering, industrial and technical professionals are foregoing traditional media for online resources when searching for products and services, some suppliers still have a lingering comfort level with traditional marketing methods,” says Guy Maser, GlobalSpec senior vice president of marketing. “The Internet is relatively new for these companies, and while we are seeing improvement in the level and frequency of response to online inquiries, there is still a lag between the needs and expectations of the engineer and the response from the supplier.”

Lack of comfort with the technology isn’t the only thing holding back suppliers. “They may be unaccustomed to receiving these proactive email and Internet inquiries, and their sales and marketing teams may not yet be aligned to optimize these leads, or may be feeling overwhelmed,” says Maser.

That feeling of being overwhelmed may account for the fact that only 25% of engineers surveyed say they actually receive requested information more than 95% of the time, and an additional 38% say they get it between 80% and 90% of the time.

The good news is that suppliers are getting better. The 45% of engineers who have to wait more than three days for a response is down from 51% last year.