The results from the 2018 Avionos Study(1) speak for themselves. 90% of the procurement officers surveyed say that they make more online purchases today in comparison to last year. Scott Webb, President of Avionos, reveals the importance of the generational factor in this major development. "As millennials move into positions of responsibility, B2B suppliers are having to reconsider their relational approach in order to maintain their economic position, in relation to stakeholders who grew up in a digital environment". The study goes beyond alerting B2B suppliers to the importance of transformation. It details three essential conditions to stay in the game.
E-commerce success factor no. 1: The user experience
Almost all procurement officers surveyed by Avionos rank a user-friendly portal among the most important criteria when listing a supplier. Even more remarkable is that 83% of respondents prioritise the quality of the online experience even if the price is (moderately) higher.
The significant proportion of millennials on the study panel and the fact that this digitally-raised generation are gradually gaining the upper hand, to the detriment of the baby boomers, is naturally accentuating this trend. Influenced by their personal use of technology, millennials clearly have difficulty envisaging a B2B purchasing experience that is not digital, intuitive and simple.
E-commerce alone is no longer an option for B2B. Today, you must be able to offer a portal which makes searches, selections and transactions easy.
E-commerce success factor no. 2: Wealth of content
The ability to manage the online process is therefore a minimum requirement. Of course, it is not only the content itself that makes the difference — it is also the suppliers' ability to constantly adapt to changing needs. Content is not limited to the product catalogue and services. Almost 8 out of 10 B2B procurement officers say that they begin with a Google search. This is because they find interesting and constantly updated content, which helps them to make their decision.
To attract and retain procurement officers' attention, the Avionos study suggests diversifying and updating the content available on supplier websites. Detailed product specifications, high-quality images, videos and case studies are essential is order to set yourself apart and develop your listing.
In other words, the success factor involves thinking about marketing not only as a means of encouraging sales but also as a means of strategic transformation and differentiation.
E-commerce success factor no. 3: Agility
Agility involves equipping yourself with the means to continuously adapt your offer, dialogue and how you promote your assets to instantly meet changing perceptions and priorities, as well as the emergence of new requirements. There are two aspects to agility: surveying and listening to customers and simplifying migration by developing a Cloud strategy.
Succeeding in E-commerce goes beyond creating an effective commercial website. It is about transforming the customer relationship, being mindful of expectations, taking a proactive approach and having a wealth of content across multiple channels. Tailored, fresh and distinctive content must demonstrate the supplier's sincerity and continued commitment across all platforms.
(1)The 2018 Avionos Study surveyed 160 American BtoB procurement officers in March 2018. Generation X procurement officers (aged 36–53) made up 49% of the panel, while 43% consisted of millennials (aged 18–35) and 8% were baby boomers (aged 54–72).