By Matt Rouse Best Practice Business Strategy Complex Spend 28th January 2016

Procurement and the secure serenity of seamless engagement

There are various types of shopper in the world. Looking across the spectrum, we start with ‘the browser’ who is happy to stroll from store to store comparing, contrasting and weighing up all of the options. Time is no object to them, they enjoy the challenge and the victory in finding their perfect prize.

At the other end of the spectrum is the ‘decisive buyer’ who simply doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with decision making. For them, it is a case of ready, aim, fire and onto the next thing. These people know exactly what they want, or simply realise that they have a need and and want it met.

I’m sure we can associate ourselves, our friends and loved ones somewhere along this spectrum. But do consumer purchasing styles translate into the commercial B2B arena? Are the behaviours of a ‘browser’ similar to the highly diligent, detail-orientated and difficult to sell to procurement professional?  Is the ‘decisive’ buyer’ represented by the typical business user that needs the item to unlock inefficiencies or create greater value in typically short timeframes.

The answer is really one of intent and purpose. The reality of buying is based on the level of engagement you have with the product, the need it will fulfil and the speed in which it is required.

Smart purchasing does not have to be difficult

If presented with a summarised result of a ‘browser’s’ wanderings, there’s no doubt that ‘decisive buyers’ would be happy to make a judgement call over a shot in the dark. It is not the buying which is a problem to them, it is the cost of the time and the monotony of the research which causes them pain. That is why the idea of seamless engagement is so appealing to time-stretched, under-pressure procurement departments. The luxury of having time to browse, even for those that enjoy that side of the job, is rarely afforded to modern businesses these days.

Being able to catalogue complexity and represent all of the options in one place through inputting simple search criteria means faster, more meaningful results in one place. In shopping terms, it would be akin to the buyer entering an empty store, stating their exact need (not necessarily the product itself) and being presented with all of the solutions instantly. Features, benefits, capabilities, possibilities, limitations, adaptations and price, all in one place.

But We have a question?

The thing about ‘browsers’ is that they don’t limit their investigations to simple browsing! They like to question shop assistants and find out more than just what it says on the box. Can this product interact with other equipment I already own? Does it come in different colours, sizes and speeds? Where can I buy refills and what do they cost? Is there a warranty and can I have a discount?

Let us take you back to the perfect shop scenario where all your ‘search matches’ are lined up in front of you. Imagine if there was a shop assistant behind each one and by the magic of seamless engagement and cataloguing complexity you could get all of your answers.

Seamless engagement is a seller’s market too…

Hard pressed procurement departments stand to save considerable time and money through this seamless engagement, that is plain to see. But what about the sellers, where do they stand to gain in this new world of buyer and seller interaction? When sellers make it easy to transact with them through cataloguing, and provide control to the buyer through fixed pricing, repeat purchases become inevitable and sales volume increases exponentially.

So whose responsibility is it to drive this relationship forward? Both parties benefit from this seamless engagement but in the typical B2B environment, it is a buyer’s market. The brunt of the responsibility therefore falls to the seller. By providing a simple and easy to use catalogue, with a powerful enough engine to manage the most complex of products, their prospective buyers will be bathed in the secure serenity of seamless engagement.

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