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A Digital Commerce 360 and Forrester survey shows that younger B2B buyers predominantly comprise the teams doing the corporate buying of goods and services for their respective organizations.

There is a youth movement underway in U.S. business digital commerce, and the mandate from younger buyers to B2B sellers is clear: “We want more — and not less — ecommerce.”

Today’s purchasing manager and procurement team are increasingly led by younger employees who demand more digital interaction with their suppliers, survey data shows. B2B buyers are still traditional, even old-fashioned, in how they communicate online with sellers.

Older purchasing managers continue to retire or leave the workforce in other ways. As they do, a younger generation of digital-first B2B buyers may prefer no contact at all, except online.

How do business buyers primarily communicate with sellers?

Today, 55% of business buyers still use email as their primary means of communicating with sellers. 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%)
  • Virtual appointment with a sales rep (17%)

Respondents could choose multiple answers.


However, the new Digital Commerce 360 and Forrester survey highlighted an important dynamic. Younger B2B buyers predominantly comprise the teams doing the corporate buying of goods and services for their respective organizations. It also found that seven in 10 buyers see online buying as more convenient and prefer to do so when ready to buy.

B2B buyer insights

76% of all buyers agreed with the statement: “I find buying from a website to be more convenient than buying from a sales representative when purchasing products 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. It defines older buyers as Baby Boomers and Gen X, those born between 1946 and 1980.


“Generational shifts in the workplace are turning the business buying process on its head,” says Amy Hayes, vice president and research director at Forrester. “Lack of understanding about millennial and Gen Z buying behaviors can adversely affect providers’ ability to reach, engage, and ultimately win these buyers over.”

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Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week. It covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact Mark Brohan, vice president of B2B and Market Research Development, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @markbrohan.