Invensys study describes buying habits of online customers

FOXBORO, Mass., Feb. 12, 2002 — User satisfaction with e-commerce sites for industrial automation products, services and systems is good-to-outstanding, Invensys reports following a new study.

However, significant issues remain to convert visitors into repeat buyers. These were some of the key findings of a study commissioned by www.iastore.com, the primary e-sales portal of Invensys Process Systems, a unit of Invensys plc.

“The study revealed that establishing and maintaining stronger e-customer relationships continues to be a challenge for automation suppliers,” said Karen Turner, director, e-commerce operations, Invensys Process Systems. “While significant inroads have been achieved and the number of customers buying online steadily increases, companies have not restructured their purchasing processes to accommodate online buying. Increased customer acceptance will require vendors to pay greater attention to user needs and develop seamless interfaces with customers’ procurement processes.”

Management Insights Inc., an independent research firm, conducted qualitative, in-depth interviews with e-commerce users to determine their satisfaction levels and on-line purchasing requirements. The study also explored barriers that keep frequent site visitors from buying.

Key findings include:
Overall, users rate their automation e-commerce experience as good-to-excellent. There are two distinct types of e-purchasers: Casual buyers who infrequently order replacement and spare parts, and power buyers that enter large orders many times per day. Casual buyers want strong search capability, a simple, intuitive purchasing process, and more product information. Power buyers need advanced features and functionality — such as configuration, order status, and available-to-promise capabilities — to improve their performance and productivity.

Most visitors will use automation e-commerce sites for specifying, configuring and pricing, but will not buy. Most frequently mentioned reasons for not purchasing include:

* No purchasing responsibility
* Company prohibits on-line purchasing
* Need access to preferred pricing agreements
* Require faster configuration capability

“The study made it clear that early adopters were attracted to e-commerce for its efficiency, speed, and productivity benefits,” said Turner. “However, we have found that our customers’ companies have complex automation buying processes. Vendors must seamlessly integrate with this process to accelerate adoption of the on-line channel.”

Turner said based on the survey results, www.iastore.com recently introduced new features to strengthen the company’s e- customer relationships. “On-line configuration and product search were simplified and enhanced, order status and the TeamBuySM shared shopping basket were improved, and we have added more information to product catalogues,” she said.

With more than 300,000 part numbers, www.iastore.com provides the Internet’s broadest selection of industrial automation systems, software and services. These include control and I/O, field measurement and instrumentation, processing equipment, valves, I/A Seriesr systems and software, I/A Series SCADA systems, safety systems, power supplies, drives and learning services. Users can search for Invensys brand products such as Foxboro, APV, Action Instruments, Triconex, Powerware, Gestra, NAF, Schmidt, Eckardt, Wonderware, P&W, Eurotherm, Simulation Sciences, and Esscor. Products can be configured on- line and purchased in local currencies. The site also offers on- line order tracking and personalized extranets.

Invensys plc (www.invensys.com) is one of the global leaders in automation and controls. Headquartered in London, England, Invensys operates in all regions of the world through four divisions – Software Systems, Automation Systems, Control Systems and Power Systems. With over 75,000 employees, the Group supplies products and services ranging from advanced control systems, remote diagnostics and energy management for process plants, factories and commercial environments, to electronic devices and networks for residential buildings, as well as complete power systems for the industrial, telecommunications and information technology sectors.


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