ECI Software dives into the six key characteristics defining today's business-to-business buyers to help you build stronger relationships and boost profits.

In today's fast-paced digital age, the habits, preferences and expectations of business-to-business buyers have evolved dramatically. They're online, they want things done quickly and they want the ease of B2B ecommerce.  

For distribution CEOs aiming to stay ahead, understanding these changes is vital to keeping existing customers and attracting new accounts. If you know what buyers want, you can offer them exactly that. And when they're happy, they buy more. That's more cash in your pocket!  

This guide dives into the six key characteristics defining today's B2B to help you build stronger relationships and boost profits. 

1.The importance of restricted roles

In the age of personalisation, one size no longer fits all. Restricted roles in B2B ecommerce platforms are akin to VIP rooms in exclusive clubs. By segmenting customers and showing them specific content, products or pricing, distributors can ensure that each client receives an experience tailored to them.

What do they do?

Unlike a B2C customer, B2B buyers typically make purchases based on pre-negotiated contracts or special pricing agreements. When these buyers log onto a distributor’s site, they expect to see the pricing they agreed upon.

The advantages

Just like a perfectly tailored suit, every client feels valued receiving an experience tailored specifically for them. Customisation streamlines the purchasing process for buyers and enhances your ability to upsell or cross-sell products.

2.Multiple decision-makers: The group effort

B2B purchases often resemble a committee decision rather than an individual choice. According to Forbes, a B2B buying group consists of six to 10 decision-makers. The 2022 B2B Buyer Behaviour Survey conducted by Demand Gen Report concludes that 31% of B2B buyers are increasing the number of team members involved in the purchase process proving that group decision-making must be accounted for when selling to B2B buyer groups.

The players

From procurement managers and department heads to executives and tech experts, these decision-makers play crucial roles. Each brings a unique perspective, ensuring the purchase fits various needs within the organization.

The implication

This group decision-making process means longer deliberation times, but it also emphasizes the importance of catering to varied needs and ensuring all stakeholders are accommodated.

3.The power of procurement controls

We all know money management is paramount for B2B transactions. With procurement controls, businesses can keep an eye on every penny spent. This level of control ensures that spend management is transparent and enforceable for today’s savvy B2B buyers.

Punchout- The digital checkbook

Punchout technology allows a buyer to shop directly from a supplier’s website, but it integrates the shopping data back into their procurement system seamlessly. It streamlines purchasing and embeds real-time tracking and reporting that blends ecommerce and budgeting.

The advantage

Every transaction with procurement controls is logged directly into the buyers’ procurement system, ensuring that data is consistent and up to date. The integration allows organizations to set budget limits, offering an automated way to manage and control expenditures. For B2B buyers looking for efficiency and accountability in their purchasing process, procurement controls are a must-have.

4.Scalability: The vision for growth

Every ambitious dealership envisions growth. As your business evolves, so do your ecommerce needs. This vision requires tools that grow alongside your business, scaling to support the changing requirements.

More than just a feature

Scalability in ecommerce software is a distribution necessity. As dealers expand product lines, enter new markets, or need additional functionalities, the software should seamlessly handle the increasing demands.

Why it’s crucial

When purchasing new ecommerce software, businesses aren’t just catering to their current needs; they’re forecasting their future growth. Distributors that look for scalable solutions are promising that as the buyer’s business expands and flourishes, the software will remain a consistent ally, accommodating growth and saving money.

5.The modern buyer’s approach

Today’s B2B buyer is meticulous, armed with research, and keen on making informed decisions. They invest time in conducting extensive research before making an informed decision on purchasing.

An era of informed choices

Because of the ease of the internet, B2B buyers are 57%-70% through buying research before contacting sales. Thirty-two percent of B2B buyers are using more sources to research and evaluate purchases. This research involves comparing products and services, evaluating potential suppliers or vendors, product quality, pricing, reliability, reputation, and long-term value.

What this means for distributors

Transparency, authenticity, and value delivery are crucial in a knowledge-driven buyer era. Nine of 10 B2B buyers say online content has a moderate to major effect on their purchasing decisions. B2B buyers also have a 31% increased reliance on social media for vendor insights. Get visible where buyers are researching. The buyers' journey now begins long before your sales team is contacted.

6.The nuance of longer sales cycles

While impulsive purchases may define the B2C market, B2B transactions are marathons. For significant investments, business decisions can span months. For EvolutionX, B2B ecommerce solution, the sales cycle could be three to six months.

The journey’s phases

The decision-making process begins with careful evaluation, negotiation, and consensus-building among various stakeholders. This is where consideration of the modern buyer’s approach becomes crucial for businesses that hope to gain leads. After initial research, B2B buyers may go through multiple stages including vendor shortlisting, proposal evaluation, negotiations, and final contract agreement.

Implications for distributors

Patience and persistence are key. Distributors must provide continued value and engagement throughout the sales cycle, nurturing leads and addressing customer concerns as they arise.

The B2B ecommerce buying landscape is becoming increasingly intricate, influenced by technological advancements, and driven by well-informed decision-makers. For distributors, staying attuned to these shifts is not only beneficial - it’s essential for long-term success.