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Packaging Products Blog

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Nov
07

Internet’s Influence on Packaging Buyers is Inevitable, 2016 Packaging Industry Survey Says

New packaging industry research shows just how much the internet influences packaging buyers. The research is meant to improve the online shopping experience for both buyers and suppliers, with the intention of closing the gaps between buyers’ expectations and suppliers’ services provided online. To accomplish this, the survey set out to find out about the process packaging professionals use on the internet while finding information about suppliers or products, comparison shopping and other important factors of the buying process.

A 2016 survey called Online Buying Behavior of Packaging Buyers from Fontys University of Applied Sciences, which involved over 450 people from 21 countries, asked packaging professionals about their purchasing history using the internet over the past year. The findings focus on 227 of these people who answered 20 questions about using the internet to facilitate a packaging purchase. This blog will focus on the survey findings of Demographics and Internet Usage.

Demographics, or the nature of purchases, is the first aspect we will look at pertaining to the internet’s influence on packaging buyers. Those surveyed were asked about the type of product they were seeking and had the following choices; packaging materials/containers/supplies, packaging equipment/machinery, automation/controls/related components, contracted (external) packaging services/solutions provider (out sourcing), packaging consulting services (including engineering, packaging design), or other. More than one answer was accepted and packaging materials and suppliers came in first for the most sought after, with buyers seeking a good amount of equipment, machinery, automation and related components as well.

The survey also concluded 43 percent of packaging buyers bought for the first time or bought something less than once a year, which is up from the 27 percent from last year’s survey. However, the survey didn’t account for precisely what those people were buying. It could be packaging professionals who were buying materials for less than $1,000. Budgets varied between less than $12,000 and greater than $6 million, with the majority spending between $12,000 and $124,0000 (52 buyers) or between $125,000 and $1.2 million (38 buyers).

Continuing with demographics of online packaging purchases, the survey looked at how far the buyers looked for possible vendors or suppliers. They chose from locally (within 100 miles), regionally within my own country, internationally and globally, with regionally within my own country leading by a long shot (50 percent). The survey shows budget influenced these purchases in that those with budgets over $125,000 searched out of the country, possibly to find cheaper materials, find better quality products or services, or both.

The length of the buying process averaged 3.9 months and 74 percent of packaging buyers, which is the majority, bought in four months or less. Eleven percent of those buyers surveyed said they needed anywhere between six months to two years to complete their purchases.

The next aspect of the internet’s influence on packaging buyers is internet usage during the four stages of the buying process. The majority of buyers used the internet in the first two steps of the process.

Lastly, utility of information sources vs. buying stages were measured, showing buyers depended on web searches, supplier websites, emails from suppliers, and relying on friends or colleagues the most to identify appropriate suppliers and vendors. A few important declines of usage to note are the use of press articles in trade journals, trade associations, online communities, blogs and offline events all went down 10 percent, while the use of online forums or communities to validate and short-list vendors also went down by 10 percent. The use of trade associations or industry intermediaries to identify appropriate suppliers or vendors went down by 9 percent from last year. The most popular types of information buyers were seeking online were product/services information (89%) and pricing (72%).

The next survey will take place in 2017, when more solid trends can be determined.

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