How B2B “End User Buyers” Are Engaging in Online Commerce

October 28, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

B2B | Brand Loyalty & Purchase Habits | Content Marketing | Digital | Mobile Phone | Retail & E-Commerce | Tablet | Video

IntershopForrester-B2B-End-User-Buyers-Supplier-Decisions-Oct2014“B2B end user buyers” have various procurement policies in place, such as approval/authorization procedures (76%) and reimbursements policies (57%), but 3 in 10 report a lack of concern for such policies and say that they will buy the products and services they want anyway. That’s according to a commissioned study [download page] conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Intershop, which looks at “nonprocurement business professionals who purchase products and services for work-related activities.”

The study yields some intriguing data points, highlighted below.

  • Half of end user buyers don’t see reimbursement policies as being a significant barrier to their making online purchases themselves.
  • Some 55% report that the percentage of work purchases made online has grown over the past 18 months, and 44% say that their average purchase size online has also increased. This aligns with recent research indicating that B2B buyers are increasingly researching and making purchases online.
  • End user buyers are using a range of payment forms. While an invoice/PO to their organization (87%) is most popular, almost 6 in 10 use a personal credit/debit card (58%).
  • End user buyers are, unsurprisingly, more comfortable using desktops or laptops to make purchases (almost 9 in 10 indicating comfort) than tablets (69%) or smartphones (51%).
  • When making online purchases, technical brochures and spec sheets (61%) are considered the most helpful content form, followed by instruction manuals and how-to documents (46%) and videos (38%). For more on the top content types by stage of the purchase journey, see the MarketingCharts Debrief on reaching and influencing B2B buyers and decision-makers.
  • Pricing (73%) and technical information/specifications (64%) are considered the most useful forms of information when making online purchases.

In fact, pricing emerges as a key influencer of supplier choices. When asked to cite the top 3 attributes of a supplier they consider when making purchases for work, respondents pointed to the following:

  • “It carries the brands/products that I trust” (35%);
  • “It is cheaper” (28%); and
  • “It provides the right technical information” (28%).

It’s obvious that buyers will gravitate to the marketplaces that sell the products they trust, but the importance of pricing comes into further light when respondents’ loyalty was analyzed. Indeed, asked what makes them buy again from a supplier they had purchased from before in an online channel, respondents were most likely to say that this decision was based on the supplier having lower prices than other suppliers (57%). This was the top response, closely followed by having had a good experience with the supplier in the past (54%). Both outweighed attributes such as a supplier having the best product quality (45%) and having a website that is easy to use (42%).

Overall, the study’s authors recommend that suppliers “offer a consumer-like experience,” while noting that Chinese respondents tend to be more comfortable making purchases over mobile devices and see more value in technical information and social content.

About the Data: In this study, Forrester conducted an online survey of 1,580 end users with experience buying B2B products and services online in Australia, China, France, Germany, the UK, and the US. Survey participants were manager level and above from
organizations with more than 500 employees across all industries. The study began in July 2014 and was completed in August 2014.

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