Business-to-business (B2B) suppliers are expanding their e-commerce platforms and overall omni-channel capability to provide better purchasing experiences for business buyers.
This was the key finding of a new study entitled "“Building The B2B Omni-Channel Commerce Platform Of The Future,” conducted by Forrester Consulting in North America, France, Germany and the United Kingdom on behalf of Accenture and hybrid.
According to the study, 52 percent of business buyers expect at least half of their purchases to be made online in three years’ time.
The study also found that consumer shopping habits are influencing how B2B purchasers expect to buy from suppliers. Already, nearly half of business buyers (49 percent) prefer making work-related purchases on the same websites they use for personal purchases.
Consequently, the study also found that 83 percent of B2B suppliers surveyed are either in the process of implementing or upgrading their e-commerce suite or planning to do so within six months.
“Business buyers are coming online with high expectations across the board,” said Brigid Fyr, managing director for North America omni-channel commerce, Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital. “With three out of four buyers stating they would buy again from a supplier with an easy-to-use website, sellers have a large opportunity for growth by focusing on making the entire purchasing experience as easy as ordering a book online or downloading music onto a smartphone.”
When asked to cite the top features or functions they would most like from suppliers in the selling process, most business buyers chose enhanced search functionality on their website (60 percent), followed by showing ratings and reviews of products and services (58 percent) and improved personalized product or service recommendations on their website (50 percent).
Additionally, nearly seven out of 10 business buyers (69 percent) prefer to use direct, instant online forms of payment, such as credit cards or payment systems, rather than purchase orders and invoices.
In the next 18 months, nearly half (48 percent) are planning to improve search functionality on their website, and four out of 10 (42 percent) are planning to enhance personalized product or service recommendations for their business customers. Already, 86 percent of B2B sellers allow customers to use credit or debit cards when making a purchase, and 79 percent allow online payment services.
Importantly, B2B sellers are also beginning to look beyond e-commerce and omni-channel to the technologies that will drive the future of their businesses. When asked to identify the areas in which their companies would invest in the future, nearly two-thirds of sellers (62 percent) cited automated pricing options, while the use of wearable computing in distribution centers to increase the efficiency of the supply chain process was cited by nearly half (49 percent).
"For many B2B suppliers, this will require significant integration efforts – of back-end and fulfillment systems, as well as with their call centers and popular social media platforms,” said Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer at hybris.