The New (and Improved) Buying Process For Metalworkers

March 4, 2020 2:11 pm

If you think metalworkers are behind the times of technology, hate to break it to you, but you don’t exactly have your finger on the pulse. A recent survey conducted by Practical Machinist and SME paints a different picture.

And just to cover the bases in advance, the research wasn’t simply composed of 18-year old respondents; the age range of the 583 respondents was all over the board.



If you want to keep telling yourself that machinists aren’t technologically savvy, we beg to differ! Why does this matter? Our motive is much more than just proving this point wrong. Machinists’ considerable internet presence is forcing manufacturing distributors to reshape their business models to catch up with the new buying process of industry metalworkers.


Where metalworkers gather information on new equipment

80% of our ­­respondents use internet on the shop floor, whether that be on their mobile devices or a laptop.

­­Contacting a sales representative to schedule a demo, is being swiftly replaced by YouTube video reviews and Instagram posts. The research phase has become extremely independent. 67% of respondents admitted they do not contact a sales rep until their independent research phase is complete, and by complete, we mean the brand and, in many cases, the product, has already been selected. Now, when the interaction with a sales rep occurs, the consideration phase is over.


The new buying process   

The consideration phase, or when a potential customer takes interest and is open to a product or service, has become a very intimate experience that involves only the user and their device.


When participants were asked where their search for new metalworking equipment, tooling or software begins, a firm 66% claimed this phase begins online. It’s this online behavior by machinists we find particularly interesting.



Would you be surprised to know 92% of respondents used at least one of the below online resources to purchase cutting tools?



93% of respondents are on social media and 80% say they are frequent social media users on more than one platform. Both the beginning and end of the metalworking buyer experience is online, whether that be a social media platform of sorts or Amazon. Machinists and the internet…the pair are in cahoots.

Can you relate to this information? Where does your research phase begin and end? Let us know in the comments if you identify with the results of our survey or if your reality differs from the realities of our respondents.

About the Metalworking Trends Report

Practical Machinist and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) collaborated on this survey of the U.S. metalworking industry.

The purpose of this research is to gain insights from within the industry regarding perceptions of business conditions, the business environment and the changes that are impacting the industry at an individual company level.

For more information about the status of the metalworking industry download the report here.

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