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'Addressing the need of improved digitalisation in Germany

'Digital services and AI offer great potential for increased efficiency and customer satisfaction'

A new study by ECC KÖLN and dotSource shows: the relevance of the online channel in industrial procurement is growing. Investments in the digitalisation of procurement processes are also increasing, but a comprehensive automation of processes is not yet evident. Digital services and the use of AI offer great potential for increased efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Photo © Nikoleta Vukovic |

New technologies, services, and systems are entering the trading landscape and reshaping industrial procurement. Even though personal contact remains paramount throughout the B2B procurement process, the online channel is gaining ground. Around 80 percent of the surveyed manufacturing companies expect that German industry will increasingly purchase through online channels in the near future. Accordingly, six out of ten companies plan to invest more in the digitalisation of their internal procurement processes next year, despite ongoing challenges such as price increases and labour shortages. These are the findings of the three-part study series "From Catalogs to Clicks: New Paths in Industrial Procurement" conducted by ECC KÖLN in collaboration with the digital agency dotSource, which surveyed 308 employees from manufacturing companies in Germany. Overall, the potential for digitalisation in procurement is rated very high: 84 percent are convinced that the entire daily business could be digitised.

'However, there is still a need for catch-up in implementation: while individual processes such as the digitisation of delivery documents or digital inventory and cost control are already implemented in some companies, a consistent digital capture and execution of procurement processes is not yet evident. Furthermore, almost half of the respondents complain about general uncertainties in the procurement processes,' commented Christian Otto Grötsch, founder and chairman of the board of directors of dotSource SE, on the study.

Gap between offering and requirements
It is clear: With the growing relevance of online commerce in industrial procurement, expectations for digital channels along the customer journey are also rising. Providers can particularly score with a diverse payment offering (72%) and detailed information on availability (68%). Furthermore, a customer portal in this context is considered particularly relevant ─ both from a company (78%) and a procurer's perspective (79%).

'In order for a customer portal to streamline processes efficiently and contribute to a positive customer experience, it is important to carefully examine the services offered. While self-services are highly relevant for procurers, they are often less prioritised by companies. In addition, the requirements for such portals vary depending on the size of the company, which is why providers should keep an eye on the different target groups," said Dr. Kai Hudetz, Managing Director of IFH KÖLN and founder of ECC KÖLN .

AI in procurement is relevant
More than half of the respondents (55%) find the use of Artificial Intelligence in procurement interesting, especially if it optimises processes and relieves employees. The top 3 applications of AI for the respondents include the automatic booking of incoming payments (80%), master data management (78%), and digital invoice recognition (76%).

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