2020 Marketing Trends Outlook – B2B Buying Shifts to Online
B2B buying is changing. We knew this in 2019, but as we begin our journey into a new decade, it stands out in sharp relief. Businesses are moving away from traditional enterprise buying habits at a rapid pace – in search of greater speed, transparency, and simplicity.
Looking to the B2C shopping journey as a key example, there are strategic elements implemented by brands that drive customer satisfaction and should be replicated by B2B sellers, such as price transparency, free trials and demos, and the ability to compare features and functions, among others. Consider the ability to compare the features of similar products – such as sectional couches on Wayfair – simply by adding Virtual Reality capabilities to a mobile app. This feature makes the customer’s experience simple and enjoyable and therefore supplies buyers with the ability to make an informed and confident purchasing decision. For enterprise buyers, the same confidence can be achieved through product trials.
Similarly, while Amazon led the charge to deliver quick and simple online shopping options, the brand’s notorious two-day shipping model is now being replicated by other retailers including Target, Costco, and Walmart. This demand for speed extends to the B2B world as well – enterprise buyers want to implement their solutions immediately after purchase without delay.
To remain competitive in 2020, B2B companies must consider the changing needs of buyers and the increased demand for a simple yet strategic buying experience. It’s time to go digital. By offering online marketplaces that allow customers to try, buy, and renew software and other products digitally, businesses can provide B2B customers with the most convenient, frictionless buying process possible.
The Reason More Enterprises Are Shifting to Online Software Purchasing
B2B sellers should keep in mind that as a whole, the traditional enterprise buying strategy has already changed. According to a 2019 survey by Futurum Research and SAP, more than 80 percent of organizations no longer follow calendarized buying cycles, which marks an important shift in how businesses are choosing to make large software purchases.
Strategic business initiatives are driving part of the shift towards digital B2B buying as enterprises place an increased focus on the Cloud and Digital Transformation. In fact, 49 percent of survey respondents cited moving to the Cloud as the leading motivation in their shift to digital buying, and 48 percent of buyers indicated digital transformation efforts within their companies as a key reason.
What B2B Buyers Look for in a Digital Purchasing Process
With the above findings, the primary reasons behind the shift to B2B online purchasing are clear. Now, let’s examine exactly what consumers want to experience in this type of buying process. According to the research, transparency and freedom are at the top of the list, with nearly 90 percent of respondents saying product trials are an important feature in their digital buying process and over 85 percent considering one-on-one online product and video demos to be very important.
While the ability to experience the product firsthand is clearly a key factor for B2B buyers, they are also looking to have the same level of ease and pace that comes along with B2C shopping. The days of having weeks or months to shop around and test solutions are gone, with two out of three respondents citing time and resource efficiency as a primary reason for making enterprise software purchases online. As business happens at a faster rate than ever before, today’s organizations demand a fast and simple buying experience that provides access to solutions anytime and anywhere, so that they can also realize the business benefits faster.
How B2B Companies Can Deliver the Experience Buyers Want
At this point, enterprises should realize customers crave self-service options that are quick and supply a simple path to purchase. To keep up with this transformation, businesses need to embrace that customers expect digital commerce to happen everywhere and at any time.
Keep in mind that while B2B buyers want the same transparency, simplicity, and speed of the B2C buying experience, their needs are often more complex and come with a higher risk. To maintain their business in 2020, it is critical B2B sellers ensure the sense of trust and assurance buyers are accustomed to receiving is at the forefront of the digital buying journey.
As enterprises increasingly embrace the shift toward digital buying, B2B sellers should leverage the findings from the research to inform how they will deliver the types of experiences today’s buyers want. If they don’t adhere to the changing digital buying process, influenced by the ease of B2C purchasing, they will risk losing out on deals as a result of old-fashioned purchase cycles.