Companies usually sell to consumers online but trade with other businesses through catalogues, telesales and salespeople out on the road. That is changing with a huge rise of B2B ecommerce.
What is the size of the B2B eCommerce market?
It should not come as a surprise that the size of the B2B ecommerce market is increasing. Forrester Research found that in 2015 B2B e-commerce companies generated $780 billion. This is part of an upward trend, and it is predicted that B2B ecommerce revenues will continue growing and will be worth $1.13 trillion by 2020.
According to Forrester:
- 74% of B2B buyers will research at least half of their business purchases online.
- 93% of business buyers prefer to purchase online when they’ve decided what to buy.
- 56% of business were expected to make at least half of their work-related purchases online by 2017.
What does a B2B ecommerce customer look like?
It is very important to start by understanding B2B customer type. It is reasonable to assume that the decision makers are older, more senior occupants of the C-Suite. However, a study by Google with Millward Brown Digital shows that B2B e-commerce websites also need to focus on the people researching buying decisions which means those ever online, millennials. According to this study, almost 50% of researchers were aged between 18-34.
So how important are those researchers? According to the study they are very important. While 64% of the C Suite respondents had sign-off, so did 24% of the non C-Suite. When it comes to influence the non C Suite are even more important. More than 4/5 Non C-Suite employees influence decisions.
What is also very important to understand that the B2B customers do not exist in a vacuum. They are almost certainly a B2C customer as well. Their expectations of how a B2B website should work will have been set by Amazon, Tesco, Argos, John Lewis and more.
What does the B2B ecommerce buying journey look like?
According to Google, B2B researchers do an average of 12 searches before engaging on a specific brands site. Around 71% of them start with a generic search, such as a category search like ‘laptops’. Therefore, if you are just optimising search engine for your brand name you are notably missing out. Also, according to Google, 42% of B2B researchers use a mobile device during the purchasing process, nearly half of those (49%) are using a mobile device at work. 48% watch at least 30 minutes of video as part of their product research.
Are companies shifting from selling B2C to B2B?
According to Big Commerce, a lot of retailers have found themselves selling B2B rather than planning for it. Many companies have become both B2B and B2C. They cite the example of FlexFire LEDs. Looking at their customers reviews it feels like an 50-50 split between home owners and businesses. However, 80% of their revenue comes from B2B.
What are the best payment options for B2B customers?
B2B customers are not so different to B2C as they are looking for similar things including finance options, buy now pay later or even cryptocurrency payments. Payment options need to be tailored to the B2B customer. 47% of respondents in the Forrester Study said the ability to pay with credit cards, PayPal, the possibility of credit terms and different finance options were most critical to the user. Payment by purchase order, however, accounts for the majority of B2B online purchases. Therefore, an option to sign in as an account holder and to be sent an invoice can be important B2B ecommerce functionality.
What are the best delivery options for B2B ecommerce customers?
Business customers buy from Amazon and Argos just like everyone else hence they expect, as a minimum, similar levels of flexibility in delivery. According to Forbes, B2B ecommerce customers say that delivery options need to include:
- just-in-time delivery,
- automated replenishment,
- partial delivery,
- multi warehouse shipping,
- returns management.
Will technology eventually replace sales jobs and catalogues?
Neither the salesperson nor catalogue is dead. But they need to be joined up and enabled by technology. There are large expectations amongst B2B customers that salespeople will know and understand their history and requirements regardless of where orders are placed. Ecommerce customers are expecting the same personal service as they received from visiting a store. According to Gartner, by 2020 business customers will manage 85% of the relationship with a supplier company without even talking to a human being.
The same applies to online stores where B2B customers don’t want to be treated like a stranger. When they pick up the phone and speak to a member of the sales team, they expect their needs and requirements to be understood without repeating the content of every call they have made. This is where personalisation is important, both in the customers interaction with the website, the way in which they are sold to and the avenues available when they come to pay or finance the product.
Don’t miss this opportunity to grow your business. Offering an additional payment method to your customers will boost your revenue. Offering payment flexibility is proven to bring in more orders at higher values. A finance option will also help to distinguish you from your competitors. Simply sign up and start offering finance to your business customers today!