A recent survey of 700 B2B commerce decision makers finds that buyers want more online pricing among other website features, while many ecommerce businesses deal with channel conflict and a company culture resistant to change.

B2B buyers have pretty big ecommerce expectations for B2B sellers these days.

But even as buyers’ digital wish list for more tools and features from sellers grows, delivering on those expectations is a challenge for many companies, says a new survey from B2B ecommerce technology and services provider Episerver.

Many companies also have challenges that must be met and overcome before expanding ecommerce.

The global survey of 700 B2B ecommerce executives, including 300 from the United States, finds that 84% of respondents say increasing digital expectations from customers and partners “represent the top external threat to their business.”

B2B ecommerce also is gaining ground quickly. By 2025, 72% of sellers expect the “majority” of business revenue will come from ecommerce sites they own and operate. “Like consumers, business buyers expect interactions with companies to be effortless and do not care why something doesn’t work the way it should—only that it doesn’t work—even if they struggle with the same challenges at their own companies.”

Buyers want pricing details

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B2B buyers have a “do-it-yourself” mentality toward ecommerce, the survey finds. Pricing on an ecommerce site is the top feature that 44% of B2B buyers said they want from sellers, followed by self-service functionality (41%), easy scheduling with salespeople (37%), one-click reordering (33%), product recommendations (31%) and stored log-in details (26%). “One way to deliver the digital experience customers expect is through self-service options,” the report says. “While this type of hands-on interaction takes significant investment, it shows how internal digital agility impacts external agility.”

B2B sellers are scrambling to add on the new web purchasing features that B2B buyers want. For example, 36% of survey respondents expect to add personalized content in the next 12 months, compared with live chat (33%), product recommendations (26%) and apps (24%). “People are out of patience for businesses not catering to their in-the-moment needs, whether it is logging into a website, using a self-service portal or personalizing content without reminding a company what they have bought before, or what information they have already provided,” the survey says.

Many B2B sellers have ambitious plans to scale their ecommerce operations to attract and retain more buyers. But many companies also have challenges that must be met and overcome before expanding ecommerce, Episerver says.

Channel conflict and resistance to change

For example, 54% of survey takers say “channel conflict” is preventing them from selling online. 57% of companies also say they have a culture resistant to change and adoption of digital technologies, according to the survey. “Respondents remain concerned, however, about channel conflict,” the survey says. “B2Bs can create new revenue sources by selling directly to customers—circumventing distributors and retailers—but risk alienating partners who contribute to a large portion of their profits.

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Other survey findings include:

  • 51% of marketing, information technology, operations, merchandising and retail say web analytics and business intelligence applications are their “most-likely” digital experience investment.
  • For 59 of companies, the top internal weakness holding back B2B ecommerce progress is legacy, in-house software.
  • 43% of respondents prefer to hear about B2B companies via email while phone calls were the least-wanted communication option.
  • 60% of companies say they are likely to use artificial intelligence to replace employees for human workers for marketing by 2022.
  • 50% of decision-makers say they lack funding to execute digital transformation programs in their organizations

91% of respondents say B2B sellers care about their experience or are providing a better experience when a site is personalized to them.

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Digital Commerce 360 B2B News is a publication of DigitalCommerce360.com, whose titles also include Internet Retailer. Contact Mark Brohan, director of B2B e-commerce research, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @markbrohan.

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