Growth of Online B2B Research as a Form of “Window Shopping” Forces Suppliers to Take Control

Business-to-business buyers rely heavily on research, historically in catalogs and over the phone, to determine the best purchase for their company. But with modern eCommerce developments providing access to more product information than ever, there’s been a significant shift in the way procurement officers are making company purchases.

According to Acquity Group’s 2014 State of B2B Procurement Study, there’s been a 36 percent year-over-year increase in the number of buyers researching at least 90 percent of products online, jumping from 22 percent in 2013 to 30 percent 2014. This growth indicates more buyers are moving online as the range and quality of information available on the Web increases.

While 83 percent of company buyers say they use supplier websites for online research, only 37 percent cite this channel as the most helpful research tool, leaving the door open for buyers to shift their attention to third-party websites offering more accessible, informative content.

This doesn’t mean, however, that procurement officers are not already purchasing from supplier websites. In fact, 48 percent are still ultimately turning to them for online purchases. This illustrates a buyer preference for shopping directly from the source, but also a gap in the availability of information and ease of use. As younger buyers without established vendor relationships enter the market, suppliers must optimize their online content to provide buyers with as much information as possible and stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

To read more about the findings in Acquity Group’s 2014 State of B2B Procurement study, click here.

The second annual B2B Procurement study from Acquity Group, part of Accenture Interactive, examines how the shift to The Web has impacted the B2B buyer’s search, discovery and purchase processes in 2014.

The study surveyed 500 buyers with annual purchasing budgets of $100,000 or more about their online purchasing habits and preferences. Inquiries ranged across areas including research, loyalty, frequency of purchase, customer service, and online offering and feature preferences. Buyers’ preferences and behaviors were also analyzed based on demographic qualifiers including generation, budget and industry. Response percentages were further evaluated on a quantitative scale to assess actionable metrics for B2B distributors and suppliers.

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