Meeting B2B buyer expectations with a comprehensive e-commerce site along with excellent customer service and delivery programs is still a challenge for many manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers, says new research from B2BecNews.
In many ways, B2B buyers still find many e-commerce sites lacking, and many sellers have yet to implement the advanced self-service and personalized tools buyers want.
For example, fewer than 10% of buyers rated their experience using B2B e-commerce sites in the past six months as excellent, compared with 45% as good. More important, 35.1% and 10.8%, respectively, listed their experience as only average or fair/poor, according to a survey of 111 buyers in diverse industries that range from automotive and computers to industrial and medical supplies.
Many B2B e-commerce sites also still don’t offer many of the advanced e-commerce features buyers want. For example, another recent B2BecNews survey, of about 150 manufacturers, reveals that many manufacturers are still working to deploy more sophisticated e-commerce features—and to use social media to market and communicate with customers.
Less than half of all manufacturers (43%) in that survey have a website that’s optimized for mobile, only 21% have deployed an app and only 34% have links to social media. Manufacturers, it seems, also are slowly deploying more sophisticated purchasing and order management tools that business buyers need for making more custom purchases.
The manufacturers survey also found that only 43% of them offer bulk pricing tools on their B2B e-commerce site and only 38% have deployed features that let business buyers request a quote or negotiate pricing. Even fewer manufacturers, at 28% and 20%, respectively, have e-commerce tools that enable customers to configure orders or automatically reorder parts and supplies.
Distributors overall are embracing B2B e-commerce faster than manufacturers, according to the manufacturers survey and a separate B2BecNews March 2018 survey of more than 120 distributors.
About 60% of distributors have an e-commerce site compared with about 40% of manufacturers, according to the B2BecNews distributors and manufacturers surveys.
But like many manufacturers, not all distributors are deploying the most advanced e-commerce features buyers want. For example, business buyers with very complex and specific products want to integrate their core back¬end supply chain and financial systems directly with a distributor’s for faster and easier ordering. Buyers also want tools that let them configure products, do negotiated or bulk pricing or automatic product reordering.
Today, only about 44% of distributors can integrate their e-commerce systems with a customer’s enterprise resource planning software or applications for managing supply chains and financial systems, and less than 20% have a product configuration tool or the ability to customers automatically reorder products.
“What’s happening is that buyers are ready to buy, but it’s the suppliers that are holding them back,” says Brian Beck, senior vice president, e-commerce and omnichannel, at B2B web design and development firm Guidance. “About one-half of manufacturers still don’t have an e-commerce site and those companies that don’t are missing out on a superior opportunity.”
Sign up for a complimentary subscription to B2BecNews, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is owned by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes DigitalCommerce360.com, Internet Retailer and Internet Health Management. Follow Mark Brohan, director of B2B e-commerce research, on Twitter @markbrohan.
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