Industry experts – and consumers – were waiting for RadioShack’s fall, something many saw as a long time coming. When the electronic retail chain’s bankruptcy filing finally came, few were surprised. But many experts blamed RadioShack’s failure as a sign of e-commerce pushing out traditional brick-and-mortar sales.
But others suggest something difference: RadioShack deciding to close shop could be indicative of consumer demand for online expertise, something the defunct retailer once capitalized on in-person.
It’s a revelation that has major implications for the B2B space, according to a recent report from Apttus. In the traditional B2B procurement process, buyers would depend on physical or phone interaction with a sales representative. But recent studies show that B2B buyers are increasingly going online to research products long before they are ever contacted by that product’s sales rep.
According to Apttus, RadioShack exemplifies how suppliers need to take advantage of online services like blogs, or risk being left out in the cold. What’s more, suppliers must also offer buyers a way to purchase those products instantly and on the supplier website.
Research suggests that Apttus may be on to something. Data show that B2B buyers must gain a personal connection with a brand for a successful transaction – often even more so than the traditional consumer. A recent CEB Marketing Leadership Council survey found a 64 percent purchase rate when such a brand connection was made between a buyer and supplier.
CEB’s research agreed with Apttus that suppliers must capitalize on buyers’ online shopping habits. According to the report, “today, customers typically learn on their own through digital channels. Using a simple search, customers can easily identify the leading suppliers in a field and evaluate if any can meet the customer’s needs. Suppliers have responded by focusing their B2B brand messages on customers’ business outcomes to convey superior business value. Only after establishing the benefit to the customer does the message present the supplier’s features.”
While some firms in the B2B space are catching on to the surprising needs of their buyers – earlier this month eBay partnered with online B2B auction site Proxibid to give buyers the B2C online shopping experience – reports say B2B buyers are increasingly turning towards major online e-commerce sites like Amazon to do their business shopping, meaning suppliers are losing out on a large piece of the market unless they go digital.