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Corporate Buyers Expect Online Spending to Increase

Acquity Group’s 2013 State of B2B Procurement Study discovers 40 percent of corporate buyers spend at least half of their procurement budget online, but many suppliers lack the online capabilities they demand.

The study surveyed corporate buyers with annual budgets in excess of $100,000 on their purchasing habits and preferences.

Findings revealed 57 percent of corporate buyers have purchased goods online, and 37 percent expect to increase the amount of their budget spent online in the next year.
The majority of corporate buyers are comfortable making major purchases of $5,000 or more online. In fact, 59 percent of respondents are currently making major purchases online with varying frequency:

  • 27 percent make a major purchase of $5,000 or more once per month
  • 30 percent make a major purchase 2-4 times per month
  • 23 percent make a major purchase 5-11 times per month
  • 22 percent make a major purchase 11 or more per month

However, many B2B suppliers are missing out on this online revenue, especially among purchasers with budgets in excess of $500 million. Only 13 percent of business buyers with a budget of $500 million or more purchase directly from a supplier’s website, even though 50 percent of buyers in this budget range spend 90 percent of their budget or more online. This means they’re spending 37 percent on third-party websites, such as Amazon Supply.

"B2B suppliers have a significant opportunity to increase their revenue from eCommerce,” said Robert Barr, Senior Vice President at Acquity Group. “Our study revealed corporate buyers are comfortable and willing to make major purchases online – and many are already doing this, but not on suppliers’ websites. With online spend expected to rise in the next year, suppliers who don’t invest in eCommerce and multi-channel initiatives will miss out on revenue gains from this channel.”

Best practices for B2B companies
For the 63 percent of respondents who do not plan to increase online spend in the next year, the main reason is they do not see any major advantages to ordering electronically, suggesting that B2B companies need to offer more compelling content, research tools and in some cases, fully functional eCommerce capabilities on par with popular consumer brands.

“B2B suppliers need to give their buyers a reason to go to their site,” said Barr. “Buyers are consuming content and shopping on a wide array of devices on consumer retail sites, and they’ve come to expect the same experience in their business purchasing. B2B sellers can take steps to drive more traffic to their online channel – reducing overhead costs, increasing efficiency and growing revenue – to get ahead of competitors.”

The vast majority of respondents (71 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that the amount of their budgets spent online would increase if it was easier and more convenient to browse and purchase items from suppliers’ websites. When choosing between two suppliers who carry the same product at the same cost, 71 percent of respondents indicated they would purchase from the supplier with easier electronic search and purchase processes, despite loyalty to a current supplier.

Respondents said they would be more likely to make a major purchase of $5,000 online if a site featured:

  • Increased security (51 percent)
  • Free delivery (39 percent)
  • Customer service representatives available via phone (37 percent)
  • Improved online customer service or live chat features (30 percent)
  • Better sources for research online (29 percent)
  • Faster delivery than a catalog order (24 percent)
  • More customer friendly design (21 percent)

In addition, 28 percent of respondents would be more likely to make a major purchase of $5,000 or more using a mobile device if suppliers offered easy-to-use mobile optimized sites.

“The most important takeaway for B2B companies is to think omni-channel,” said Barr. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand for more robust, user-friendly online offerings, and we are about to reach the tipping point. B2B companies must act quickly, or risk being left behind.”

The Acquity Group 2013 State of B2B Procurement Methodology
As a provider of digital marketing, interactive design, and eCommerce solutions, Acquity Group works with many global B2B companies to increase profits, efficiency and customer loyalty through eCommerce capabilities. Acquity Group completed this study to help chief marketing and IT officers in B2B companies gain a better understanding of how buyers research and purchase goods for their organizations.

The study surveyed 207 buyers with annual procurement budgets of $100,000 or more across a wide range of industries. The survey analyzed buyer behavior and preferences across a variety of areas, including research habits, loyalty trends, purchasing frequency and channel, and customer service needs, as well as feature and offering preferences. Respondents were further broken down based on demographic qualifiers, including age, budget and industry. Response percentages were evaluated on a quantitative scale to assess actionable metrics for B2B companies.

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