B2B buyers want a B2C experience when it comes to navigating the e-commerce elements on their suppliers' websites, Internet Retailer reported.
The report from Internet Retailer took a look at research from Forrester Consulting and concluded that B2B buyers not only want that experience, but are increasingly expecting it as the norm. By having a B2B interaction seem more like that of an everyday consumer, it fuels the "transition of product discovery and buying behaviors from offline to online and mobile environments," the report said.
In the survey from Forrester, which included procurement and non-procurement business buyers from enterprises around the world, 49 percent of respondents said they'd prefer having work-related purchases be made through the same format they make personal purchases through. The study was based on results from 930 B2B buyers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany. Of those respondents, 32 percent said they begin research for a product on a manufacturers' website and 25 percent said they find products using general search engines. The report also said that 52 percent of those surveys expect to make half their purchases online during the next three year period when online business is expected.
"Key factors B2B buyers now expect when making work-related purchases online fall into three general categories: Fulfillment capabilities, inventory visibility and convenient services," the report said. "Key features B2B buyers want regarding service convenience were managing their account and orders on the seller’s web site (72 percent) and downloading product information or safety sheets (70 percent)."
Respondents said factors like next day delivery was a major feature B2B buyers expect, as 72 percent ranked that important or very important. Having real-time inventory information available online was ranked similarly by 77 percent of respondents. InternetRetailer said the Forrester report also referenced in survey from late 2013 that said when it comes to shopping online, 83 percent of respondents said having a clear indication of delivery dates was ranked as important or very important and 71 percent placed the same value on having the ability to view in-store inventory products in real time.
In another report, Internet Retailer also looked into the growth in the B2B space, suggesting that it will "mimic the growth and development seen in B2C channels," according to Forrester Research.
"To keep up, B2B companies need to follow the lead of Amazon with easy-to-shop e-commerce sites and enter mobile commerce," the report said. "In a world where customers research and buy via several traditional and non-traditional channels, companies engaged in business-to-business e-commerce need to offer an Amazon-like, customer-friendly model"
As the trend of the B2B experience to look more like B2C continues, research shows e-commerce buyers may benefit from perks more commonly implemented in the B2C industry. That shift may come from the desire of B2B buyers wanting more convenience and speed from sellers' websites, which directly correlates how quickly a B2B buyer is able to complete a transaction.
"Forrester predicts that B2B companies will see growth in e-commerce similar to retail’s increase in the last decade in the number of web shoppers and ways in which they shop. For example, B2B e-commerce may soon include sites covering such areas coupons and deals, comparison shopping and loyalty programs," InternetRetailer reported.
That growth must come with a mindset change from B2B buyers, however, as B2B sellers are demanding a more seamless experience.
"If today’s business-to-business sellers want to capture newly empowered business buyers, their B2B web sites need to stop looking like B2B sites. It’s time to replicate the features, functions and visual appeal of business-to-consumer e-commerce sites," Internet Retailer cited from another Forrester Consulting report.