A new study released by Forrester Consulting shows that B2B buyers are now demanding more omni-channel capabilities when it comes to making purchases. The study, “Building The B2B Omni-Channel Commerce Platform of the Future,” discovered that B2B buyer expectations have shifted as a result of B2C customer experiences, which are often simple, transparent and efficient.
“B2B buyers’ prior experiences with B2C digital commerce are creating high expectations for those buyers when making online B2B purchases,” wrote the authors of the study. “Today’s B2B customers, similar to B2C consumers, are fundamentally transitioning their product discovery and buying behaviors from offline settings into online and mobile environments.”
More than 70 percent of respondents in the study said that inventory transparency is important when it comes to making purchases. Approximately 78 percent of buyers said that the fulfillment phase is important as well, highlighting the ability to track and trace purchased products, regardless of how they were bought.
“B2B buyers are no longer satisfied with fragmented, pieced-together, hit-or-miss digital experiences,” wrote the authors of the study. “They expect an omni-channel experience where they can view the product information, analyze activities, see account history, take delivery and return and exchange across all channels.”
About 87 percent of study respondents said that in order to serve today’s customers, they need to improve their omni-channel capabilities. Nearly 86 percent said that being an effective omni-channel company was critical to their long-term success.
The Availability of B2B Products and Services
Over time, B2B sellers have been working to accommodate buyers in new ways. The “2013 E-Commerce Report” by Intershop shows that companies are turning to new technology and mobile capabilities to provide an enhanced customer experience. About 98 percent of companies use a website as a sales channel, 51 percent use a mobile site or app, and 48 percent utilize a catalogue.
“Organizations that develop their B2B commerce channels now and offer a consumer-like experience will be well placed to compete in their markets,” wrote the authors of the study.
The researchers also went onto say that offering a more B2C-like experience can be beneficial. This may involve incorporating intuitive search and navigation, online order approval, and self-service account management.