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March 24, 2016

Comparison websites: will we soon be comparing IWMS suppliers online?

You know those comfy chairs that you sometimes see in shops, very close to the fitting rooms? A great idea. “This shop manager gets it,” I always think whenever I come across one. A good friend of mine, who recently went shopping with his wife, shares this feeling. He had just settled down in the store’s leather armchair, when a woman—a complete stranger—asked him if the dress she was trying on suited her. He said it did and, relieved, the woman made her way to the register to make the purchase. Over the next half hour, several other women asked him similar questions. In fact, he noticed that his feedback and advice were much more closely followed than was the case at home. Does that sound familiar?

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After that half hour, he jokingly suggested to the shop manager that he should come back every Saturday. But laughing aside, the concept of a mystery advisor could be a useful addition to the existing mystery shopper. Not only are unbiased opinions and recommendations very effective, but people actually actively seek them out.

We all know go-to comparison websites like yelp.com and tripadvisor.com, and I am almost certain that product and service  pages containing reviews are among the most visited. Whenever I am looking for a restaurant or hotel, I always find myself clicking on the reviews. Word-of-mouth advertising is still effective, including the online variety.

Sharing and reading online experiences in the business-to-consumer market has become a natural thing. The business-to-business market has not reached that stage just yet, but my prediction is that in five years at the most, you will be checking the reviews on the internet before making all your business purchases. There are already comparison websites in existence where you can compare different software suppliers, and which feature the inevitable reviews. In a few years’ time, you will also no doubt find an overview of IWMS suppliers, and not just from Gartner.

Will your decisions then be entirely dependent on an online forum? Probably not. After all, there is a lot more to the purchase of a business application than there is to booking a table in a restaurant or shopping for new clothes. For a business purchase, it goes without saying that you must be properly prepared, aware of the pros and cons of the various suppliers, and that you may have even checked to see what other users are doing. All the necessary ingredients are there; the crucial factor for your definitive choice now depends on the people you talk to. They have to be able to make the application fit into your organization and business processes in such a way that the benefits that are promised do actually materialize.

Whoever is best able to make this happen, is the party that I as a potential buyer would have the greatest confidence in, because that “x-factor” is, in my experience, essential for a good start of any new working partnership.

So that leaves just one more question: will you review this blog entry?

Marcel Groenenboom
General Manager Planon BeNeLux & UK