As the year comes to a close, we can all agree that changes in buyer behaviors and the selling landscape have been profound. The question is whether the rate of change will slow down or accelerate in 2021 and beyond.
Even before COVID-19, B2B sales teams have been slowly doing away with onsite sales meetings and consolidating inside and outside sales. The emergence of digital tools to enable and guide sales activities also streamline B2B sales operations.
How Has The B2b Buyer Changed In 2020?
Buyers changed how they interact with sellers, leading to the emergence of new purchase habits and the growth of B2B eCommerce. All this means that B2B buyers now expect digital experiences that match or exceed past, in-person ones. Consumer behavior also influences how B2B buyers approach online purchases: self-service, personalization, omnichannel experiences aren’t just a nice-to-have; they’re now expected. What’s more, economic slowdowns and uncertainties drive B2B buyers to reduce waste – they’re looking for personalized, flexible, and agile purchasing options.
These factors and more are forging a new landscape of a brand new buying and selling environment for B2Bs. Here are the top biggest changes in shopping behaviors and purchase patterns and their impact on B2B businesses.
1. The Big Shift To Digital
Over the past year, we’ve seen how a drop of in-person sales was quickly replaced by digital. Despite the economic toll taken by many businesses, the majority will maintain spending on digital marketing and increase their investment into digital transformation next year. According to McKinsey, over 80% of B2B respondents plan on retaining their digitals selling models in 2021, demonstrating strong confidence in these new selling methods.
2. Intuitive User Experiences
Google’s Ipsos survey revealed that websites are a deciding factor for many B2B buyers, with over 82% of B2B buyers believing the website experience impacts their purchase decision.
However, well-designed websites won’t keep customers engaged with your store anymore. Brands must keep on top of accessibility requirements mandated by ADA regulations and consider progressive web applications to ensure fast loading speeds and responsive design.
3. Heightened Expectations
Lines between B2C and B2B continue to blur. B2B buyers look for convenience they’re used to as consumers while also looking at B2B-specific requirements such as corporate account management, personalized product visibility, customized prices, and payment options.
What’s more, past experiences matter, as 70% of B2B buyers predominantly take company reputation and past experiences into account when deciding which company to do business with.
4. Self-service Options
Customers want more control of their purchase experience, from performing independent research to directing their buying journeys.
According to Gartner, B2B buyers have little desire to interact with sales reps. Instead, they are looking for helpful information in terms of relevant product data and the ability to get a quote, order quickly, and track their purchases online.
5. More personalization
B2B buyers are looking for personalization, and 69% of them are willing to pay more to get it. That’s because business purchases are complex, and customers look for tailored product catalogs, pricing, and recommendations. They also want to manage and track their orders without contacting the support team.
As the length and complexity of buying cycles increase, B2B buyers expect more accurate information and more confidence in their purchase decisions.
6. Omnichannell flexibility
B2B buyers already use in-person and digital channels interchangeably, so they are a welcome addition to the customer experience. For digital commerce vendors, omnichannel uncovers new opportunities to meet buyer needs.
In the post-COVID world, business buyers will adapt agile and customized purchasing schedules and expect the same from their vendors and suppliers. According to HBR, brands will be looking for more agility and flexibility in their purchase processes to build resilience and better manage future crises.
7. Rise of The Marketplace
Businesses are forming new experiences and expectations when making purchases, driving up B2B marketplace demand.
Organizations large and small prefer to purchase on B2B marketplaces for lower prices, better selection, and shopping efficiencies. Last year, iBe research predicted that B2B marketplace sales will reach $12 trillion and account for 30% of all B2B eCommerce sales – a mere 7.5% today.
8. Spending with caution
Even though B2B tech spending is expected to stay the same or increase, the same cannot be said about physical products.
As a whole, business buyers are becoming very strategic and deliberate in their purchase decisions. According to Forrester, over 38% of businesses have prioritized cost reduction, further driving interest in technologies that improve efficiencies in all areas of operations.
Brands Must Keep Up With The B2b Buyer… Or Else
As digitally attuned millennials are thrust into more decision-making and purchasing roles, they will look for more convenience, control, and ease of use. The good news is that today’s digital commerce technology makes it possible for brands to reach wider markets, eliminate excess costs and inefficient processes, while still offering the buying experience these customers demand.
With so many B2B buyers rushing online to research and conduct purchases in 2021, we can expect another great year for B2B eCommerce. All this makes it an excellent time to start selling online.