One-third of B2B buyers start their online buying journey with user-friendly Amazon Business or Google, forcing online B2B sellers to upgrade their ecommerce sites, a new study from Avionos finds.

More B2B buyers are starting their online purchasing experience with Amazon Business or Google because those sites deliver the ecommerce experiences the new generation of B2B buyers expect, says a report from Avionos, a provider of digital services for commerce and marketing.

Of the 150 B2B buyers Avionos surveyed in November 2018, 33% said they turn to Amazon Business or Google to begin their purchasing journey, compared with 32% for a supplier’s website or portal. Of those buyers starting their B2B buying process online, 30% are making more purchases through Amazon Business. In comparison, 22% have increased their purchases through supplier sites, the report.

Gen Xers and millennials set the pace

ScottWebb_Avionos

Scott Webb, president, Avionos

“Gen Xer’s and millennials are becoming a larger percentage of B2B buyers,” says Scott Webb, president of Chicago-based Avionos, said in an interview. “Suppliers that create compelling, searchable websites without skimping on the (traditional) features B2B buyers expect, and remember their customers’ needs can compete with the likes of Amazon Business and Google.”

Creating a digital B2B experience that appeals to today’s new breed of B2B buyer starts with rich product content and real-time capabilities, the report says. Lack of product content and specifications can hinder site search, making it harder for buyers to find the right product to meet their needs. It can also prompt them to jump to a competitor’s site. 84% of B2B buyers surveyed say product content has stopped them from completing a purchase with a supplier, the report says. Specifically, 46% of B2B buyers say a lack of product content is the leading contributor to not finding the products they need; 32% blame poor site site mostly on incorrect product content.

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“B2B buyers expect a similar search experience to that of Google when searching a suppliers’ site,” Webb says.

Problems with sellers’ ecommerce sites, such as a lack of comparative product pricing or visibility in fulfillment, also cause online B2B buyers to start the purchasing process on onlin marketplaces. Leading website problems cited by respondents in the Avionos report include non-comparative pricing (41% of respondents); inability to compare product options (40%); difficulty researching products (35%); lack of visibility into delivery and fulfillment (32%).

B2B goes way beyond B2C

One misstep suppliers should avoid when eliminating problems is focusing on adding bells and whistles common to B2C sites that consumers love, but are not necessarily high priority for B2B buyers, such as one-click checkout, the report says.

“Buyers want the latest information about their order at any given time, whether it is a pricing change, back-order status, what portion of their order has been fulfilled, or when the entire order will ship,” says Webb. “For B2B buyers, pain is not being able to access the data they need to stay informed about their order every step of the way.”

Other online features B2B buyers prefer include contract pricing (46%); convenient ordering options (43%); and an easy-to-use website/portal (43%). Online B2B buyers also want to see a reputable brand name (42%); visibility into orders (41%); inventory guarantees (41%) and 24/7 customer service (39%).

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While the competitive challenges B2B marketplaces pose for  suppliers are expected to grow in the foreseeable future, B2B suppliers should not forget they have the tools to fight back. The key, Webb says, is moving online many of the services performed by sales representatives, such as pricing, inventory availability and shipping and fulfillment.

“B2B suppliers provide unique value,” Webb says. “Providing more self-service features online can free sales representatives to be more consultative. It all comes back to providing a digital experience the buyers want and knowing the buyer’s needs and expectations.”

Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.

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