October 7, 2013, 11:23 AM

The web drives up sales for B2B companies

Forrester finds that 44% of B2B firms report larger orders via e-commerce.

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When their business-to-business customers placed orders through an e-commerce portal, 44% of companies in the United States said their average order values increased when compared with orders placed through more traditional means, such as in person or via phone or fax, Forrester Research Inc. says in a new study.

11% of companies said their average order values decreased. 24% said they remained the same and 20% said they didn’t know if average order values had changed. The percentages don’t add up to 100 because of rounding, Forrester says.

Forrester’s survey, based on an online poll of 45 e-commerce professionals from the United States, Europe and Asia, also found that 52% of respondents said the costs for providing customer support decreased when customers who placed orders through an e-commerce portal, compared with support costs for customers who placed orders outside of the portal.

In addition, 56% of respondents said they had customers that they could handle profitably only if the customers placed their own orders online without assistance from sales reps.

Another study, based on an online survey of 400 B2B companies in the United States and Europe in April and May, found that 49% of respondents said they expected to improve their financial performance by moving their business customers to an online buying system. In addition, 44% of respondents said they expected customers who used their e-commerce portals would have larger average order sizes than when they shop offline, and 43% said e-commerce would lead to a higher percentage of returning customers. This study was conducted for e-commerce technology provider Intershop Communications AG by technology research firm Vanson Bourne.

The Intershop study found that 92% of respondents said they conduct some B2B sales online, and the remaining 8% had plans to sell online. In addition, 23% of respondents said they expected to increase their amount of online B2B sales by 40% or more over the next 12 months.

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