B2B web stores are driving buyers away, according to new survey

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: B2B web stores are driving buyers away, according to new survey.

B2B buyers want to keep shopping online, but B2B ecommerce capabilities are not keeping up with the complex needs of B2B buyers. A recent Sapio Research survey of 1,000 B2B buyers commissioned by Sana Commerce found a surprisingly high rate of errors for B2B online orders, and B2B buyers getting frustrated by inaccurate, impersonal user experiences on B2B web stores.

According to the new 2024 B2B Buyer Report from Sana Commerce, B2B buyers are making purchases online more than ever before. Two out of three B2B buyers prefer to place their orders online through suppliers’ websites, and 79% prefer to place repeat orders online. B2B ecommerce has even become the norm for complex and high-value orders: 58% of B2B buyers want to conduct these transactions online.

But even though B2B online buying has entered the mainstream, B2B sellers are facing a big threat: too many buyers are having a bad experience with B2B web stores. And buyers are willing to jump ship because of it. The survey revealed that 74% of B2B buyers said they would switch suppliers if another B2B web store offered a better experience. This issue is particularly pronounced for US buyers, where the percentage spikes to 91%. 

“B2B suppliers have prioritized scaling their capacity to handle rising order volume over the past two years. However, this emphasis on speed and capacity has brought forth additional challenges, heightening the stakes for suppliers," said Sebastiaan Verhaar, CEO at Sana Commerce. “Buyers now demand specific criteria like real time pricing, stock level and product information for consistent adoption of B2B web stores as an integral part of their business.”

Additional insights revealed in the survey include: 

Is B2B Headed for An Errorcalypse?

Eighty-four percent of B2B buyers say that an easy, accurate online web store experience is important to them – but too many B2B sellers are not meeting this expectation. According to the survey, 68% of B2B buyers are discouraged from ordering online because of order errors. The data revealed that B2B buyers are experiencing order errors on 33% of their total online orders, indicating a noteworthy surge from 2019 (28%), despite the advancements in automation.

Here are a few of the biggest reasons that are holding buyers back from placing B2B orders online: 

  • 31% of buyers said lack of accurate delivery time information
  • 29% said lack of accurate pricing information
  • 28% said lack of accurate information on stock levels
  • 28% said lack of product information 

B2B web stores are part of a company’s brand reputation, and can often make or break a customer relationship. When B2B buyers have a bad experience with an online purchase, it’s likely to affect their overall relationship with the seller. Eighty-seven percent of B2B buyers said that a bad buying experience would impact their supplier relationship to some extent. 

Web Stores Must Adapt or Risk Buyers Jumping Ship

Ordering from a B2B online store shouldn’t feel like a crapshoot. If B2B customers can’t get accurate, reliable information on pricing, in-stock inventory, and delivery timelines, they will be likely to lose trust in the seller – and take their business elsewhere. 

The survey found that 86% of B2B retailer buyers are willing to switch suppliers if another B2B web store offered a better experience vs manufacturers (78%), distributors (75%) and wholesalers (68%).  

B2B Buyers Share Their Non-Negotiables for Web Stores

Instead of order errors and inaccurate delivery dates, B2B buyers want to see a higher level of transparency, product details, and personalized information from B2B web stores. The B2B Buyer report found the following insights for what B2B buyers want now: 

  • 55% of B2B buyers want to see their personalized agreed prices
  • 49% want to see their personalized agreed payment rules
  • 47% want to see their personalized agreed logistical rules
  • 40% want accurate information on stock, pricing, and delivery dates
  • 37% want access to order status, order history, and outstanding invoices
  • 35% want a full product range catalog available 

These are just a few examples of the advanced features that B2B buyers are demanding from the online purchasing experience. Giving buyers more of what they want – with personalized details and better accuracy and transparency on pricing, delivery schedules, and product status – can help B2B sellers retain more customers and drive bigger revenue gains. 

The report is based on research conducted during the summer of 2023 by SAPIO Research on behalf of Sana Commerce. SAPIO Research surveyed a group of 1,000 professional buyers from manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and distributors across the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany, Australia and the Netherlands.

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