Younger B2B buyers prefer email as the primary form of communication. They want to do as much of their business buying online as they can.

B2B buyers are still traditional, even old fashioned, in how they communicate online with sellers. But as older purchasing managers retire or leave the workforce in other ways, a younger generation of digital-first B2B buyers may prefer no contact at all, except online.

Today, 55% of business buyers still use email as their primary means of communicating with buyers, according to a new survey from Digital Commerce 360 and Forrester Research. Email is followed by live chat with a real person (45%), call center (38%), sales rep (35%), automated, non-person live chat (23%), social media (20%), company (19%), and a virtual appointment with a sales rep (17%). Respondents could choose multiple answers.

Younger business buyers want to keep business on the web

But the Digital Commerce and Forrester survey of 150 B2B buyers also shows that the purchasing managers and teams doing the corporate buying of goods and services for their respective organizations also are younger managers. It found that 7 of 10 buyers see online buying as more convenient and prefer to do so when ready to buy. In fact, 76% of all buyers agree with the statement: “I find buying from a website to be more convenient than buying from a sales representative when purchasing product or services for work.”

75% of survey respondents also agree with the statement: “I prefer to buy online rather than from a sale when I’ve decided to buy.”


In a study last year based on a survey of 14,000 B2B buyers, Forrester Research found that young buyers far more than their older peers preferred digital and self-service purchasing methods over traditional in-person options.

Among B2B buyers, those born in 1981 or later “now hold the keys to decision-making for the majority of purchases,” Forrester says. It defines as young buyers millennials and the Gen Z generation, or those born between 1981 and 1994, and older buyers as Baby Boomers and Gen X, those born between 1946 and 1980.

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