The empowered B2B buyer
The Internet has caused upheaval in B2B sales in recent years. The old model of buyers reviewing products in catalogues and then contacting sales reps for more information is fast disappearing. Now buyers want to go online to research possible solutions, review competitive offerings and compare pricing before making contact with a sales rep.
B2C shopping experiences have led the way
These new expectations of B2B buyers are being driven by their personal experiences as consumers in B2C markets where vendors have rushed to provide a sophisticated and seamless shopping experience. B2C consumers can now search for products, read reviews and experience standard pricing whether they are shopping online, from a desktop, by telephone, mobile or in a bricks and mortar store. It’s this expectation of a seamless “Omnichannel” shopping experience that has set a new bar for B2B sales organizations to follow.
Forrester Consulting survey uncovers specific buyer expectations
So what exactly do B2B buyers want in terms of sales and delivery of products and how are B2B sellers responding? Forrester Consulting surveyed 930 B2B buyers across multiple countries to find out. The findings provide an important list of must-do’s for any B2B sales organization looking to meet the needs of today’s more demanding buyers:
1. Enhanced fulfillment capabilities
Almost 80% of buyers surveyed emphasized the importance of fulfillment:
- Flexible delivery options: next-day delivery, buy from branch/ship direct or reserve online/pick up from branch.
- Provision of estimated time of arrival and the ability to track and trace products online, regardless of channel or delivery options chosen.
2. Inventory visibility
Transparency of product availability either in store or across any channel was seen as very important by over 70% of B2B buyers.
3. Improved online experience
B2B buyers also voiced a clear desire to buy online:
- Buyers want to view product information, analyze activities, see account history, take delivery, and return and exchange products across all channels online.
- Self servicing accounts, store locators and the availability of personalized product recommendations and reviews were also considered a high priority.
4. Consistently low pricing
Motivated repeat purchasing for 80% of buyers and transparency on shipping fees, duties and taxes was also seen as crucial.
5. Personalized and rapid customer service
This was considered important for supporting the purchase journey.
6. A broad selection of products
With a credible source of product information, this approach would make one supplier preferable over another for over 80% of respondents.
But how important overall are these improved buying experiences for the B2B buyer? Well, according to the Forrester survey, 75% of buyers would purchase again from the same supplier because of their omnichannel capabilities. Now that’s pretty significant!
How are B2B vendors responding to these demands and what technology challenges are they facing? To find out, read the full report by Forrester Consulting: ‘Building the B2B Omnichannel Commerce Platform of the Future’.
The above information is based on the Forrester report, ‘Building the B2B Omnichannel Commerce Platform of the Future’ – Copyright ©2014 Forrester Research Inc.
For more information about the changing business landscape and the omni-channel experience, download the SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.
For a detailed look at how the digital age is affecting business, download the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.
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