What buyers want: Easier search, purchasing processes online

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While b-to-b buyers are spending more of their procurement budgets online for major purchases, including technology, they say they would spend even more online if the search and purchasing processes on vendors' websites were easier. Those are some of the key findings from a recent survey by Acquity Group, an e-commerce and digital marketing company. Acquity's “2013 State of B-to-B Procurement Study” was based on an online survey of 207 corporate buyers with annual procurement budgets in excess of $100,000, conducted in March and April. According to the study, 57% of respondents said they have purchased goods online, including technology products, and 37% said they expect to increase their budgets for online purchases in the next year. “B-to-b suppliers have a significant opportunity to increase their revenue from e-commerce,” said Robert Barr, senior VP 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.” Of those respondents with procurement budgets of $500 million or more, only 13% purchased directly from a vendor's website, compared with 37% in that spending range who purchased from third-party websites such as Amazon Supply. Among all respondents, 71% said they would purchase products online from vendors with easier electronic search and purchase processes, regardless of loyalty to their current suppliers. Also, corporate buyers said they would be more likely to make a purchase of $5,000 or more online if a website offered increased security (51%); free delivery (39%); customer service reps available via phone (37%); improved online customer service or live chat features (30%); better sources for research online (29%); faster delivery than a catalog order (24%); and friendlier design (21%). In addition, 28% of respondents said they would be more likely to make a purchase of $5,000 or more using a mobile device if suppliers offered easy-to-use mobile-optimized websites. “B-to-b suppliers need to give their buyers a reason to go to their sites,” Barr said. “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.” He said some of those steps include providing more compelling content and research tools and, in some cases, fully functional e-commerce capabilities.
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