May 31, 2013, 10:18 AM

B2b e-commerce is poised for growth

More than a third of business buyers plan to spend more online next year, a report says.

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More than half, 57%, of business buyers have purchased goods for their companies online, and 37% said they expect to spend a bigger proportion of their annual procurement budgets online next year, according to Acquity Group LLC’s  2013 State of B2B Procurement Study. The digital marketing firm based its findings on an online survey of more than 200 business buyers with annual procurement budgets of $100,000 or more. Acquity fielded the survey in March and April.

Of business buyers who shop online, 58.5% said they’ve made a purchase of $5,000 or more via the web. Of those buying online, the survey found that:

• 8.7% said they spend 90% or more of their annual budgets via the web.

• 31.9% said they spend 50%-89% of their budgets online.

• 30.9% said they spend 11%-49% of their budgets online.

• 28.5% said they spend 10% or less of their budgets online.

Among all respondents, 71% said they’d consider starting ordering online or increase their web spending if it were easier and more convenient to browse and make b2b purchases online on e-commerce sites. 71% also said they might leave an existing supplier if the new supplier had identical pricing and made searching for products and ordering easier. Many b2b buyers negotiate contracts that provide them with a tailored set of pricing terms. Those buyers may need to first request a price quote and route the quotation to several managers before placing an order, which can make the purchasing process more complicated than on a b2c e-commerce site.

“B2b suppliers need to give their buyers a reason to go to their sites,” says Robert Barr, senior vice president of Acquity Group. “Buyers are consuming content and shopping on a wide array of devices on consumer retail sites and they’ve come to expect the same experience in their business purchasing.”

That might be why 44.9% of respondents said they’ve used AmazonSupply.com—a site Amazon.com Inc. launched a little more than a year ago that sells office equipment and industrial supplies to businesses—to make a purchase. Buyers age 18-35 were more likely to turn to AmazonSupply.com. The survey revealed 63% of buyers in this age range had shopped the site. AmazonSupply.com carries more than 750,000 SKUs, features two-day shipping, offers business buyers lines of credit and the option to place orders by phone.

“Corporate buyers are comfortable and willing to make major purchase online, and many are already doing this, but not on suppliers’ web sites,” Barr says, adding that manufacturers could sell online themselves instead of through a venue such as AmazonSupply. “With online spend expected to rise in the next year, suppliers who don’t invest in e-commerce and multichannel initiatives will miss out on revenue gains from this channel.”

U.S. companies and government agencies will purchase $559 billion via the web in 2013, Forrester Research Inc. predicted in its first estimate of the b2b e-commerce market released last year. The study gave no percentage growth figures.

The Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 taking place next week in Chicago includes a full content track about b2b e-commerce. The track, entitled “How manufacturers and wholesalers can harness BtoC tactics,” takes place June 6.

 

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