Survey targets key issues in MRO purchasing and management

WW. Grainger, Inc., recently conducted its third annual survey to identify issues of importance to the purchasing decision makers of maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) products.
By Staff February 1, 1999

WW. Grainger, Inc., recently conducted its third annual survey to identify issues of importance to the purchasing decision makers of maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) products. The survey was designed to probe the attitudes and behaviors in industries that represent significant users of MRO supplies.

A total of 600 telephone interviews were conducted, with the number divided about equally into four groups as defined by SIC codes: Construction (Division C), Manufacturing (Division D), Transportation, Communications, and Utilities (Division E), and Institutional Services (Division I). The sample population was also divided about equally into three employee size ranges: 10-99, 100-499, and 500+.

The survey showed that the telephone remains the most common (82%) and most preferred (52%) means of ordering MRO supplies. But in 1998, in contrast to 1997’s survey, more companies had contact with their suppliers in person.

Purchasing decision makers prefer business-to-business vendors (as opposed to retail outlets) for a variety of reasons, including knowledgeable technical support, availability of industrial-grade products, large inventory in stock, and better price. Retail stores rate highest only in convenient, nearby locations.

Several other key factors were revealed by the survey.

– Consistent availability of products is, by far, the No. 1 criterion for evaluating the performance of MRO suppliers.

– Only 8% of companies currently order MRO supplies via the internet.

– The most common strategy for improving MRO supply management is product standardization.

– A written guarantee of cost savings would compel many large companies to at least consider outsourcing some MRO functions.

– Most large companies have at least passing familiarity with the term integrated supply.