Why do professional B2B buyers prefer to buy online?

by Elliot Infelta on Jul 04, 2020

In progress of more than 15% per year, B2B e-commerce surprises with its crazy growth. Few anticipated it, including the companies themselves. And yet, the need to adapt quickly to this evolution is real, because the expectations of professional buyers have changed profoundly over the last decade. Buying online is now seen as simpler and faster than going through a salesperson/physical contact.

The growth of B2B e-commerce in a few figures

  • 34% of B2B purchases are made online
  • A growth of more than 15% per year (and even 19% in 2019)
  • 4 out of 5 B2B buyers systematically inquire online before any purchase
  • According to FEVAD, nearly 60% of the B2B purchasing process is done online before any meeting with a physical interlocutor.
  • Internet-based business-to-business purchases are likely to exceed 1000 billion € This year

As you can see, more than one in three business-to-business purchases are already made online. And at this rate of growth, the year 2020 should be the sign of the arrival of e-commerce on the top step of the podium in the share of sales channels used in B2B.

Would traditional salespeople then have anything to worry about? We would be tempted to think so in view of these ever more impressive figures. In any case, almost 80% think that their profession will change profoundly by 2025.

However, this e-commerce trend is not driven by suppliers but rather by buyers . FEVAD explains this by the fact that B2B buyers are evolving their profession and their process because their own consumer mentality evolves over time.

The B2C e-commerce sector is growing. So much so that B2B buyers who are primarily B2C buyers in their daily lives tend to appreciate (demand?) more and more simplicity and immediacy in their purchases.

Buy online then appears to be a less expensive, less restrictive, and faster solution.

The reasons why B2B buyers prefer e-commerce

First reason: simplification of the purchasing process

Previously, a B2B buyer had the greatest difficulty comparing the product or service offers available to them. Compare was synonymous with waste of time and therefore money . Meeting with several salespeople each time a new need arises is far too complex and too time-consuming.

Without an e-commerce site, business-to-business purchases often take place in the same way: B2B buyers place orders from the same suppliers year after year, without any element of comparison, with negotiated prices or “loyalty advantages”. It seems simpler on the surface, but it's quite the opposite. The time saved by avoiding comparison is often lost due to a cumbersome and complex purchasing process.

Likewise, a B2B buyer who buys online is subject to less psychological pressure from suppliers. Even though e-commerce is full of techniques to make you spend more and more often, you won't have salespeople in front of you to put pressure on you to sign. SO, purchasing decisions are more considered .

Finally, the purchasing process is simplified because it no longer requires a physical or telephone appointment. With e-commerce, the need to travel, meet with a salesperson, or make a phone call and then sign a sales contract disappears. B2B buyers act with more autonomy.

Second reason: lower costs

The second reason is cost reduction. Optimizing procurement costs is nothing new for B2B buyers. The latter have always used advanced optimization solutions, but e-commerce makes them even more interesting due to their immediacy.

Indeed, being able to know the stock status of a given product in real time from thousands of suppliers around the world makes it possible to drastically optimize the costs generated by storage .

With e-commerce, B2B buyers can react more quickly to fluctuating demand, and adapt their stock more precisely .

Third reason: saving time

Professional buyers know: buying takes time. As proof, it’s a profession in its own right! Without e-commerce, comparing offers and services around the world was an extremely costly task in terms of time and therefore money. B2B buyers then often rely on local suppliers, without necessarily taking the time to check if more attractive prices were available elsewhere.

With e-commerce, comparing products and services from thousands of suppliers around the world becomes child's play. The Internet allows B2B buyers two essential things:

  • Have a comprehensive price comparison
  • Being able to contact any supplier across the world quickly

Sourcing then becomes faster and more complete.

The Covid-19 crisis: a springboard for B2B e-commerce

The Covid-19 crisis which has swept the world is a real growth accelerator for companies which have been able to take the turn towards e-commerce. Still perceived by many B2B merchants as a complicated and expensive way of doing business, it is today proving to be an opportunity to maintain business continuity in times of crisis.

During the coronavirus lockdown, B2B online sales increased by more than 50%. Much more than the 19% growth recorded last year. Proof of this is that B2B buyers are increasingly using e-commerce to carry out their missions.

To conclude…

In 2025, 70% of B2B purchases will be made online according to FEVAD, against 34% today. This is more than double in 5 years. B2B merchants, if you are still hesitant about implementing an e-commerce solution that allows your customers to purchase online, you have been warned: expect to lose 35% of your sales in the next five years.

At Huggii, we are convinced that part of the growth of your business will come through e-commerce. This is why we support you in implementing a solution. e-shop and purchasing platform turnkey, in your image, and affordable.