Today’s B2B buyers have fewer constraints than those of 10 years ago. To decrease costs, even enterprise companies are streamlining their purchasing processes, including increased online purchasing without the traditional purchase order or invoice.
In “B2B Ecommerce Growing; Becoming More Like B2C,” I explained that B2B buyers are looking for an ecommerce experience that is comparable to buying consumer goods. That expectation will grow in 2016. B2B buyers often make purchases on B2C websites when products are available, so the opportunity to sell to businesses exists for B2C online merchants. Interestingly, 82 percent of B2B buyers have made B2B purchases on Amazon’s consumer site, versus on Amazon Business, according to research firm Forrester.
In a recent survey of enterprise buyers, Forrester found that 32 percent of respondents made half or more of their work purchases online. Fifty-three percent expect more than half of their business purchases to be made online in 2018. The rate of online business purchasing is likely even higher among smaller companies that don’t have rigid purchasing rules.
Reasons for switching to online purchasing include the convenience of being able to purchase 24 hours a day and the speed of completing the transaction. Even if purchases are not made online, business buyers use websites extensively for product research. Sixty-three percent of respondents researched at least half of their work purchases online. While 70 percent of respondents start their research on a search engine rather than a manufacturer or distributor website, the majority make their purchase on an industry distributor website (30 percent) or a manufacturer site (26 percent).
Read more: How to Attract B2B Buyers to Ecommerce