Manufacturers that sell online to other businesses can learn something from bedding manufacturer Tempur Sealy International Inc. The company scored the highest overall in a study of how well manufacturers are providing what online buyers want on business-to-business e-commerce sites.

Tempur Sealy excels in providing what online business buyers say is most important to their purchasing decisions—product pricing—as well as other online features including access to shipping status and available inventory, according to a recent study of 36 online B2B companies from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management and digital consulting firm Siteworx.

But most companies in the study, or 76%, fail to provide sufficient product pricing information.  

The XConnect B2B Analysis study, conducted on behalf of Syracuse University and Siteworx by Amplitude Research in the second quarter of 2015, surveyed 1000 purchasing managers and directors, asking them to rank the importance of features on their suppliers’ e-commerce sites. The survey divided the information buyers want into several categories: products, price/shipping/inventory, after-purchase services, site usability, site response time, the familiarity of a supplier’s brand and web site “short-cut” features to more quickly complete transactions. The study also polled buyers on the features they expect to have on smartphones and tablets.

After determining the most important features cited by respondents, the study reviewed the B2B e-commerce sites and mobile commerce sites or apps from 35 manufacturers and one distributor.

advertisement

The study found that nine of the 36 reviewed companies excelled in providing pricing information and also scored well in providing other features buyers want. As a result, the study ranked those nine companies among the top overall, listed here in descending order:

Tempur Sealy International Inc.

Colgate-Palmolive Co.

Keurig Green Mountain Inc.

advertisement

W.W. Grainger Inc.

Western Digital Corp.

Rockwell Automation Inc.

IDEXX Laboratories Inc.

advertisement

Deluxe Corp.

Mettler-Toledo International Inc.

(The study notes that it included Grainger as the sole distributor in the study because of its reputation for providing highly useful B2B e-commerce site features. A distributor of products and materials that companies use to maintain, repair and operate their facilities, Grainger received the IR Excellence Award for the top B2B e-commerce site earlier this year from Vertical Web Media LLC, the publisher of B2BecNews, B2BeCommerceWorld.com and the business magazine Internet Retailer.)

In addition to product pricing, the study found many manufacturers deficient in providing features B2B buyers want on mobile devices.

advertisement

For example: While B2B buyers who use tablets cited the ability to download documents as “most important,” only 11% of the reviewed manufacturers offer that capability through tablet computers. And though B2B buyers who use smartphones cite as a priority information on shipping status and available inventory, less than one third of the manufacturers provided access to that information through mobile phones.

Nonetheless, the study also found that nearly all manufacturers in the study provided many of the other online features and content that business buyers expect, including an easy-to-use site search feature and clear product descriptions.

Following are the percentages of manufacturers that provided the following features that B2B buyers cited as important to their purchasing decisions when ordering on desktops, tablets and smartphones:

Desktops:

advertisement

Product pricing displayed, 24%;

Product specifications, 95%;

Easy to search for and find products, 97%.

Tablets:

advertisement

Ability to download documents, 11%;

Where-to-buy feature if product not available for online purchase, 65%;

Easy to search for and find products, 97%.

Smartphones:

advertisement

Product pricing, 24%;

Shipping/inventory information, 32%;

Easy to search for and find products, 95%.

“This data serves as an eye-opener to all B2B manufacturers,” says Siteworx president and CEO Ken Quaglio. “Shifting B2B buyer demographics in addition to the influence of mobile mean companies have to innovate to keep up with increased expectations around the customer experience.”

advertisement

Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a twice-weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly business magazine Internet Retailer. Follow B2BecNews editor Paul Demery on Twitter @pdemery. 

Favorite