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Kevin Parker, editorial director of Processing magazine, has been writing about process industry, automation and information-technology markets for more than 20 years.
The on-going evolution to better, Internet-based pump buying
Google “buy pumps,” and you wind up in the ladies’ shoe department. But google “buy industrial pumps,” and online marketplaces pop-up for hydraulic, fluid, progressive-cavity and other type pumps heavily used in process industries.
These online marketplaces include Grainger Industrial Supply, Pumpbiz.com, eBay, Alibaba, UseEnco, Yahoo, PumpExchange and Pump-Flo. It can be a little overwhelming, especially if a potential pump purchaser doesn’t quite know what type pump to buy or who makes a pump matching those specifications, assuming they were known.
One website, PumpScout.com, says it stands apart from these traditional directory services. What makes this web service different? Founder and CEO Justin Johnson says it’s because both buyers and sellers are “fully engaged.”
Before forwarding a quotation request, PumpScout.com asks pump buyers to input specifications for flow rate, total head or pressure, and application details. PumpScout then automatically matches those details with pump manufacturers’ catalogs, finding buyers the pump needed. In generic terms, think of it as a product configurator married to a lead-execution engine.
In addition, each lead is qualified by PumpScout.com staff. As any sales rep can attest, this lead qualification is key.
A decade’s disintermediation
For a manufacturer like Price Pump Co., which manufactures centrifugal and air-operated diaphragm pumps, traditional online directories mostly garnered general catalog inquiries. As would be expected, Price’s reps and distributors wanted to focus on qualified buyers; they didn’t want to waste time calling on a lead that wasn’t really a lead at all.
For pumps and other highly engineered products, it’s not always enough to simply want to buy one. Given a mostly indirect sales model and complex taxonomies, with overlapping pump technology categories further matrixed based on application, industry and even region, it’s understandable that manufacturers and distributors may not want to prematurely engage with potential buyers lacking insight into what’s actually wanted.
Compounding the challenge, production facilities are generally believed to have less engineering resources today than in the past. Online resources have helped to some extent, and their role as communication tools for small and medium-size process industry plants will become increasingly important.
Web services like PumpScout demonstrate the direction things are moving, giving buyers information about pump types and applications while delivering high quality leads to manufacturers.
“PumpScout is a great partnership for Price.” says Jestin Plowright, Price Pump sales & marketing manager. “The tools and processes that the PumpScout team has in place ensure that we get highly qualified leads for the pumps we sell in the applications that we sell them.”
Pumps and numbers
The “pump type guide” at PumpScout.com gives readers a quick overview of about 40 basic types, grouped by centrifugal or positive displacement and their numerous sub-categories. You’ll find other supporting information about pump types and applications in an “expert advice” section, adding further value to a transaction.
Dozens of leading manufacturers use PumpScout to connect with thousands of potential buyers visiting the website every month. Many of those website visitors ultimately get a quote — and purchase — from one of the manufacturers featured on PumpScout.com.
“Based on time spent in the industry, I know the challenge of using specification services and the half-day it can take to call-out a pump for a given industry application. I know the challenges of working with distributors,” concludes Johnson. “If folks are looking for a pump used in chemical, food & beverage or pharmaceutical applications, make sure to visit PumpScout.com to save a ton of time and connect with the right manufacturers to get quotes — fast. Sure does beat the alternative of making ten phone calls, spending time on hold and being otherwise frustrated with the traditional process.”