Why Buyers Are Underwhelmed by B2B E-Commerce Personalization (And How To Fix It)

Buyers Are Underwhelmed By B2B E-Commerce Personalization

Customer experience has long been, and continues to be, a top priority for B2B businesses on their journey toward digital transformation. As part of this shift toward digital, B2B organizations face a complex challenge: the need to ensure both consistency and quality across the online and offline purchase experiences. Yet, despite organizations’ best efforts and sizable investments in digital and e-commerce, buyers themselves remain less than impressed with their online purchase journeys.

According to recent data from Sapio Research on B2B purchasing, nearly 20% of B2B buyers today feel that the customer experiences they’re having online are inferior to those they’re having offline.

2022 B2B Buyer Report, The Power of Buying Relationships in the Evolving B2B Online World

The report, commissioned by Sana Commerce, examines the state of B2B buyer experiences through the lens of the most knowledgeable and trustworthy source: the buyers themselves. Among the most critical findings? A mere 1 in 4 buyers feel confident that organizations always offer accurate information across their suppliers’ online and offline channels. And if those data points speak to anything, it’s that the B2B space has lots of room to grow in the eyes of its own customers.

So, what does the reality of B2B purchasing look like from the buyers’ perspective?

B2B buyers today make over 428 business-critical purchases every day, spending an average of $3 million a year online. Most of them turn to a supplier’s e-commerce site as the channel of choice when placing these orders. Unfortunately, however, 1 in every 5 of these buyers face order errors every time they buy (citing inaccurate data, like incorrect inventory, product, shipping, and pricing information), as the primary hurdle. As many as 94% report customer experience issues of some kind in the B2B buying process. Perhaps most notably, buyers reported a massive gap between expectations and reality when it comes to online personalization capabilities in B2B.

With this kind of friction-laden online experience plaguing B2B customers, the obvious question at hand becomes: how can organizations battle this frustration on the buyer side? And, importantly, what’s the cost of not doing so?

During a global pandemic, inaction could cost companies their business. Faced with thrive or survive, Pepco leveraged Sana Commerce’s integrated ERP and e-commerce solution, to launch a new go-to-market strategy in 2020. Integrating e-commerce and ERP assured a streamlined process and a seamless B2B buyer experience.

Sana’s ERP-integrated approach was invaluable in helping Pepco pivot from being a 30-year old distributor of fuels, industrial supplies and HVAC to a critical manufacturer and distributor of products in high demand, like hand sanitizer via an online store.

B2B buyers today know what they want. They know what they expect. And they are willing to walk away from even their top suppliers if they aren’t getting it.

An overwhelming 62% of B2B buyers feel their expectations of suppliers’ websites are only somewhat, very little, or not at all met. Unsurprisingly, as a result, 4 in 10 B2B businesses currently face resistance to their online channel from customers. But when asked about the features, functionalities, and benefits buyers do want to see from their B2B e-commerce experience, they were clear about what they want to change, and how suppliers can improve their online offering.

Half of B2B buyers surveyed agree that offerings like better product quality, improved reliability and more trust in suppliers’ reputations, competitive pricing and delivery terms, and high-quality customer service would be the top factors leading them to purchase (and re-purchase) from top suppliers. Among the B2B buyers facing personalization challenges in particular, there is a long list of factors that would guarantee the level of personalization buyers actually want.

In addition to simplified navigation and fast checkout, B2B buyers want to be able to see product availability for items they regularly purchase. They want to be able to see and purchase based on their customer-specific pricing, return and delivery terms, and 28% even want to be able to interact with a chatbot that knows their order history. It’s clear then, that B2B buyers are not just frustrated. They’re demanding better and demanding more. Fortunately, Sana Commerce’s ERP-integrated platform, Sana Commerce Cloud, is designed to simplify the complexity of B2B purchasing: leveraging B2B organizations’ ERP data (such as customer data, product information, and pricing specifications) to power both feature- and information-rich customer experiences that are user-friendly, streamlined, and reliable. 

As we head into 2022, organizations simply launching a B2B e-commerce solution and waiting for the orders to flow in, without a fixed focus on customer experience, will quickly learn that they’re not doing enough. Consistently poor experiences online will continue to push buyers away rather than allowing the e-commerce channel to serve as an additional revenue stream for B2B businesses ─ threatening to render sizable investments in e-commerce a waste for organizations who are unable to get their online customer experience up to par, and soon.