In addition to the speed and convenience of online purchasing, buyers visit sellers’ websites to research the companies and their products, Forrester Research says in a new report.

Business product sellers take heed: Your customers want to find the widest product choices and most credible product information on your websites, and they are increasingly prone to using smartphones to research work purchases.

In fact, well over half of company buyers (61%) use smartphones to research work purchases, behind only laptops (76%), according to a new study from Forrester Research Inc. Those numbers are up significantly from last year’s study, when 55% of buyers said they used smartphones for such research and 69% said laptops. A trend away from use of desktop computers are fueling those share increases, with the percentage of buyers researching work purchases on desktops dropping to 43% from 52% last year, according to results of the Q1 2017 B2B Buy-Side Online Survey that Forrester produced in association with B2BecNews.


In addition to changing preferences for devices used for online research, today’s B2B buyers have shifting reasons for where they start the purchase process and where they finish, Andy Hoar, Forrester’s vice president and principal analyst for B2B e-commerce and author of the report, said yesterday during a webinar hosted by B2BecNews and sponsored by CloudCraze, a provider of e-commerce software.

“What is happening with B2B buyers is they are becoming more digital, using more devices, doing more pre-research and expressing more preference for doing things in a self-serve capacity,” Hoar told webinar attendees. That doesn’t mean everyone is going to buy everything online, he said, “but where people start highly correlates with where they finish.”

Buyers begin their research for work-related products and services on websites where they find the broadest product selection (38%), the most credible product details and information (24%) and that are the easiest to use (22%), according to the survey.

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Not every company can claim the biggest product catalog. But there are ways to show up on websites with a vast selection, namely by selling on online marketplaces, including NeweggBusiness and Amazon Business, Hoar noted.

But there are other factors besides selection in play that determine where buyers finish the process and make the online purchase. Survey respondents make their final purchase on websites that are the most credible source of product details (26%), the easiest to use (17%) and offer the fastest delivery or shipment (15%).

Over the four years of the Buy-Side Online Survey, the top reason buyers have given for purchasing on a particular website has been that it’s the most credible source of product information. Not surprisingly, that behavior can favor a brand manufacturer, Hoar said. What is surprising is that only 7% of buyers said having the broadest product selection is a key factor in the final purchase decision, a significant gulf compared to the starting point for most buyers.

One thing is certain: Online purchasing will continue to grow. The study notes that 64% of buyers research half or more of their work purchases online, up from 53% a year ago. And 38% of respondents to the latest survey said they make half or more of their purchases online, up from 32%. Forrester projects that at least 55% will do so by 2020.

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