For many, the course of the ongoing pandemic has reshaped the way we do business indefinitely. Challenging the flexibility of companies and driving innovative solutions, the expectations of the B2B buyer have also shifted.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has transformed many aspects of business, and some changes are here to stay. Advanced digitisation has moved businesses online, and hybrid working solutions are likely to remain. In this new normal, shifts are already being made across different industries.
According to a recent study, the number of organisations willing to hire 100% remote workers has risen over the course of the pandemic. We are also likely to continue seeing more businesses investing in employee wellness even after Covid-19 has run its course.
While the pandemic has affected internal operations and customer-business relationships, how has it changed the B2B industry?
This pandemic has been a defining moment for many industries, some having had to realign their strategies in different ways. The B2B space is among the most affected sectors due to significant shifts in consumer behaviour. As a result, there have been many adjustments to serve them better that have now become industry standard.
Most B2B buyers have had to change how they operate, and consequently vendors have had to make rapid shifts to accommodate these changes. Those that do not adopt these new solutions risk facing a decline in B2B sales.
The Shift Online
The number of consumers choosing to use the available online vendor channels has increased from an initial 29% to 37%, and this number is likely to rise. The future of the economy will be defined by digital transformation. B2B customers fell in love with the convenience of choosing products online and are not likely to forfeit this option when purchasing from businesses.
Initially, most B2B transactions and other significant operations were offline until Covid-19 struck. The presence of the pandemic has seen the industry change from offline operations to online.
Scanteam recommends that businesses prepare for future transitions by adopting better digital systems. Even small business with limited resources must invest in e-commerce and solutions to better serve their B2B customers.
Changes in B2B Behaviour
Highlighted below are the digital aspects that have caused changes in buyer behaviour and consequently in the B2B industry.
With the ongoing changes in the B2B sector, shopping via online channels has provided a better chance for buyers to shop anytime. They can visit websites at their own convenience and buy what they need with few obstacles. They also have the advantage of comparing the quality of different products available through the provided specifications.
Access to Information
B2B purchasing is procedural and does not follow similar steps as B2C. The buyer, in this case, has to compare prices before they make the actual purchase, enabling them to maximise their budgets.
Furthermore, moving from one store to another to obtain different quotations can be challenging for a B2B buyer. A lot of time can be spent consulting with the attendants about the products and their prices, unlike online, where websites are optimised to streamline the purchasing process.
Online vendors have developed better websites that are compatible with mobile operating systems. A B2B buyer only needs a smart device to access the services they need. When making purchases on these websites, their experience affects whether they will continue these services or switch to a different provider.
The B2B buyer experience begins with the site they visit. For the average internet user, speed is an important factor; when a site takes longer to load the required page, chances are that the buyer will not complete their journey.
However, this has been a different case with pre-existing e-commerce sites which have worked on their site’s loading speed already, making them reliable to visitors. This has helped to build trust with B2B buyers for online purchasing.
Historically, there have been only a few payment options available for completing online transactions. The pandemic, however, has introduced cashless culture. Buyers do not have to use physical money to make purchases anymore with multiple digital options available.
Additionally, they can opt for various methods that not only include credit or debit cards, but also cryptocurrency payments. These options are also secure on verified websites, hence guaranteeing B2B buyers’ safety when completing purchases.
The majority of the B2B buyers love interacting with vendors, even online, because it gives them a chance to get to know the products better. From this interaction, they can also specify their needs. As B2B vendors already have experience in this area, they are able to incorporate this with online purchasing culture.
Post-covid, B2B buyers admitted to having made more transactions with the online vendors than the physical stores, about 70% acknowledging that when shopping online, they get better bargain prices alongside an easy selection process. Almost 80% testified that impacts from the pandemic have led them to change their purchasing behaviour.
B2B buyers have also changed their spending behaviour, the majority of them increased their spending, attributing to growth in revenue globally in the industry.
Furthermore, more changes are expected due to continuously developing technology that allows for more innovative inventions that work to the benefit of the consumer. Although the effects of the pandemic were serious, they pushed forward new and advanced solutions for businesses. There are expectations that more positive change will arise to further improve the B2B sector.