Twice a year, ThomasNet releases their Industry Market Barometer which is a survey that helps to get a better idea on how different buyers and sellers are feeling about their businesses and what they are doing to overcome challenges. This particular survey asked nearly 3,400 buyers and sellers of industrial goods a series of questions to gauge their success moving forward.
The majority of those surveyed are from small companies—fewer than 100 employees and less than $10 million a year in revenue. What was found in the survey is that there is a growing optimism toward things and that they are anticipating more demand for their goods.
Two groups, specifically, that emerged in this survey are the “Outperformers” and the “Optimists.” The “Outperformer” is someone who had growth in the second half of 2010 and had anticipated more growth by June 2011. The “Optimists” anticipated growth by June 2010, but experienced a steady or declining growth in the second half of 2010.
Across the entire industrial marketplace, 45 percent of industrial companies are continuing to grow in comparison to 18 percent who aren’t. In every region and every sector of business, these numbers are true.
This growth can be attributed to two things: a heavy reliance on customer retention and service and utilizing their websites and the Internet to market their company.
The IMB revealed that 68% of respondents found customers cutting back or closing shop to be their top challenge. To try and prevent this from being a challenge in the future, 31% of companies are hiring customer service positions.
Demand is up, according to these companies. Thirty-seven percent of respondents anticipated hiring new employees through June 2011. Of those companies, 43% are hiring skilled trade workers and 36% are hiring engineering staff. Demand is, as these numbers would show, up and that is something that will convert into jobs.
Many more companies are realizing the need to move online and market themselves there. By utilizing their own website and a directory such as ThomasNet, companies are finding an increase in revenue growth. Of all IMB respondents, 76 percent reported that their website made a contribution to growth from July to December 2010.
Over half of the “Outperformers” revealed that their website opened up new sources of business which resulted in new revenues.
There are still things that need to be to make the online experience more worthwhile. Buyers are looking for websites that include product comparisons so that purchasing is easier. More importantly, they want to see the prices and product information to ensure that the product they are getting is exactly what they want.
The economy is obviously hurting and companies are hesitant to hire. However, what the IMB shows is that there is growth in the industrial sector and companies are beginning to add people to ensure that they can reach the demand presented to them by their customers.