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Buyers Seeking More Choice?

The Vendor Perception Study results are currently being analyzed (the report will likely appear in late August timeframe). One thing that seems to be suggested by the data and analysis is that buyers want more choice. In part, this is a direct result of merger and acquisition activity in the industry meaning that many of the larger and historically well known vendors have been subsumed by a single brand. Recently, that has been Ion of course but in the past it was others such as Sungard (now FIS) and Brady to some extent.  In part, I feel it is also due to digitalization, the cloud/SaaS and the need for more agile platforms that support rapid business change and more analysis and increased efficiency in the supply chain. The major trends seem to be suggesting that buyers are seriously exploring a greater pool of products and vendors than they did in the past.

Another piece of data that supports this assertion has been the conversations and briefings we get from vendors across the business – especially since the lockdown and work from home environment emerged. Almost all vendors we have talked to have pointed to increased interest especially in more modern platforms and certain types of functionality. It’s not just CTRM but Commodity Management that many seek with more emphasis on the supply chain, operational risks and, increased effectiveness and optimization. In those discussions, the vendor has often also told us how buyers are insisting on having a wider choice of vendors and products involved in the procurement/selection project from the very start. Now, as we begin to see press announcements emerging announcing wins for various vendors as well as remote implementation successes, it is proof that the activity is real and that the buyers are taking solutions from a broader cross section of suppliers. In recent weeks, we have seen announcements from Eka, Contigo, Gen10, Brady, Igloo and others that reinforce the point.

When looking at the VPS data, we are able to separate out the buyers as a group and they were able to list more than 75 different vendors that they were aware of as a group. This is considerably more than in the past when the diversity of vendor names mentioned lay largely with the consulting respondents and not with the buyers. Furthermore, it seems that when asked who is a leader in any category, there is a broader set of suggested vendor names than ever before and, more importantly, those saying None or Don’t Know appears to have risen suggesting less certainty now than in the past. Yes, the same vendor names are largely still the most well known of course but the challengers for that leadership perception are more than ever and have much stronger support. Vendors like Enuit, Pioneer, Molecule, Fendahl, and others are more widely known and well thought of than ever we have seen in the past.

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There is yet another indication from that VPS data and that is buying criteria. For the first time since we did the VPS survey, buying from a well known vendor, is now placed dead last and is perceived as the least important buying criteria by all groups and in all geographies. In the past, buying from a well known vendor ranked in the middle ground and so that represents quite a shift in buying habits.

There is more evidence and it will be covered in detail in the final report but it does seem as if for now at least, buyers seek greater diversity and choice when looking for a solution. Luckily, there are still more than 100 vendors to chose from.