Chicago—Nov. 8, 2013—hybris, an SAP company and commerce platform provider, recently commissioned and presented an exclusive study entitled Online and Mobile Are Transforming B2B Commerce. This research, conducted by Forrester Consulting, is a comprehensive global study that explored what impact e-commerce has on how business-to-business (B2B) companies sell their products and services.
The report found that a fundamental transformation is happening in how businesses are acquiring and retaining customers in this market. In fact, U.S. B2B e-commerce revenue more than doubled that of business to consumer (B2C)—with $559 billion annually in sales, according to a different Forrester Research report, Key Trends in B2B e-Commerce for 2013. The research also showed that B2B players that fail to embrace online and mobile as leading channels risk losing market share in the short and medium term, and sustainable competitive advantage in the long term.
“B2B companies must implement effective e-commerce strategies sooner rather than later or risk losing customers to competitors who are already doing so,” said Brian Walker, senior vice president of strategy at hybris. “By recognizing the potential and market value of selling online, B2B businesses will come to find that e-commerce is a goldmine for retaining customers and building loyalty.”
Overall, the Online and Mobile Are Transforming B2B Commerce research yielded three key findings:
- Selling online and on mobile devices represents a significant new opportunity for B2B companies.
- B2B companies that wait too long to implement e-commerce assume a big risk.
- Self-service tools are changing the way in which B2B customers interact with companies.
B2B customers are also B2C customers and have become accustomed to performing consumer product research online. This has transformed how they expect to research business purchases as well. To underline this point, the study showed that “50 percent of B2B companies currently selling direct to business partners online indicated that their end-user B2B customers are using either consumer websites or B2B versions of consumer websites to purchase products or services for their companies.”
This trend toward increased online buying was picked up in another part of the study, which noted that “69 percent of B2B companies currently selling direct to business partners online expect to stop publishing their print catalogs altogether within the next five years.”
In addition to researching and making purchases online, the study also showed that B2B customers are increasingly using mobile devices to buy online. Furthermore, Forrester’s research indicated that B2B companies already selling online report that more than half of their customers use smartphones to research and make purchases, and more than half also use tablets to make business purchase decisions.
“Mobile is emerging as a valuable channel for B2B commerce. Companies must develop strategies for customers to have a seamless buying experience whether shopping online, or via mobile devices and tablets,” said Walker.
It’s Easier to Influence and Build Loyalty with Online-Only vs. Offline-Only Customers
Forrester found that online-only customers are more likely to add additional items, order products in bulk and make repeat purchases than offline-only customers. B2B companies surveyed also indicated that cross-selling and upselling strategies, and building loyalty are much more effective online than offline.
Forrester’s research also shows that B2B customers are now demanding more from their online shopping experience. Specifically, they want more flexibility when buying online—including access to online and mobile customer service tools 24 hours a day.
“B2B e-commerce enables customers to have complete control of their shopping experience, and customers demand technologies that support research, buying and customer service on their own time and terms,” said Walker. “B2B companies must offer a world-class experience akin to B2C throughout the customer lifecycle to stay ahead of the competition in both revenue and customer loyalty.”