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BRUSSELS: UPS says a study of over 700 purchasing managers in France, Germany, Italy and the UK shows 65 percent are already bypassing industrial distributors and purchasing direct from manufacturers.

With an additional 30 percent thinking about going direct, UPS thinks industrial distributors "must embrace the full potential of e-Commerce channels and offer a superior buying experience" if they want to maintain their market positions.

UPS survey of purchasing managersThe survey, conducted by TNS, shows that more than 50 percent of European industrial buyers are sourcing and buying online with 42 percent spending more than half of their budget this way. Additionally, 75 percent of respondents say they would shift spending to a distributor with a more user-friendly website and better customer service.

The TNS findings indicate that UK industrial distributors perform better than other countries on returns and online purchasing, suggesting they are utilizing e-Commerce more so than other countries in Europe.

"Once price and quality standards are met, buyers are willing to explore vendors that better fit their needs, whether because of a more convenient website, a better service offering or simply quicker answers to product questions," said Scott Aubuchon, vice president for Marketing, UPS Europe: "To maintain their market position, distributors must adapt their selling model and provide excellent service."

A further 78 percent of respondents also expect their distributors to offer them more on-site, post-sales services - such as installation, repairs and maintenance.

The TNS research also suggests UK customers are starting to recognize the benefits of industrial e-commerce with 51 percent choosing to research a new supplier online. And with 52 percent of customers "very" or "somewhat likely" to convert to a manufacturer for supply, UPS says industrial distributors must also be aware of the serious threat from manufacturers and 3rd party websites.

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