When it comes to selling online, B2B organizations have to adapt to changing customer expectations, driven by trends such as smartphone usage, social media and the consumerization of IT, according to the multi-national 2013 E-commerce Report from Intershop. Respondents in a survey of 400 companies across six countries agreed that the world of B2B commerce is evolving fast, and B2C trends are reflected in the B2B environment. The U.S. is at the forefront of this change.
Almost one third (120) of the 400 respondents were American B2B organizations of which just under three quarters (72%) felt that B2B commerce is shifting from offline to online and self-service. Driving offline to online is not without its challenges and struggles, many of which were identified in this survey.
For the majority of American companies surveyed (63%) adopting B2C best practices is seen as a path to optimizing B2B purchasing experiences. However, organizational challenges persist. 61% of U.S. respondents said the internal organization has to adapt to meet new online goals. The same amount (61%), U.S. respondents say it is difficult to manage complex organizational structures such as different user roles, multiple business models, multiple commerce touch points and multiple data domains. This is significantly higher than the multi-national average of 48%.
The survey also revealed other challenges faced by American B2B online retailers. More than half of U.S. respondents (58%) find it difficult to provide intuitive and user-friendly interfaces for multiple touch points such as B2B online stores, mobile apps etc. This is higher than the multi-national average of 50%. Bringing customers from offline to online self-service was also highlighted as a major challenge in the U.S. (56%).
When asked which touch points respondents currently use to sell their products/services, more U.S. respondents (53%) are using self-service B2B online stores than any other region. In terms of their commerce vision, respondents want to use a combination of mobile apps and self-service for their B2B offer. 33% of U.S. respondents will integrate new touch points such as mobile apps for order entry, order history and status as well as sales rep apps and 24% will provide self-service ordering and consistent purchasing experience across multiple touch points.
This change to a more consumerized commerce approach is driven by multiple factors, from customer demand and expectations (81% globally; 88% U.S.) to developing technologies (74% globally; 85% U.S.) to the fact that business buyers engage through various offline and online touch points with their peers and use multiple information sources to make decisions (73% globally; 84% U.S.). The U.S. appears to be facing more drivers with regards to changes in e-commerce than those in
Almost half (globally 49%; 50% U.S.) of all respondents agreed that bringing business buyers from offline to online could result in a higher overall bottom line. Higher average basket values and more return customers and higher brand loyalty were both cited as major benefits by 53% of U.S. respondents.
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