Last week over 900 commerce, digital and marketing executives from America’s leading manufacturers and distributors came together at B2B Online to develop the tools they need to power innovative, forward thinking, omni-channel experiences for their customers. The event elevated and reinforced the need for B2B companies to act fast and differentiate, as buyers now expect consumerized experiences when making professional purchases.
Personalization presents a set of unique challenges for B2B companies, particularly because B2B customers tend to ‘procure’ rather than ‘shop’ for goods.
A recent news item just placed Amazon.com Inc.’s revenue above the gross domestic products of oil-rich Algeria and Qatar. And Amazon’s footprint is set to grow even larger as the largest U.S. online retailer makes a big push into B2B commerce. In addition to its “Back to Business” campaign, Amazon just announced its own delivery service for businesses that seeks to undercut UPS and FedEx on price.
Forrester estimates that B2B eCommerce will reach $1.2 trillion and account for 13.1% of all B2B sales in the US by 2021. For B2B companies, this means the right ecommerce strategy can drive their growth and give them the competitive advantage they need, but there are numerous variables in play to get it “right”. Personalization as a component to this strategy is in itself a broad mandate that has multiple layers and approaches.
In this “Age of the Customer”, as Forrester has labeled it – buyers are more empowered than ever before. B2B companies have the biggest challenge in adapting as transparent pricing and omni-channel has quickly become the norm, and the B2B buyer expectations are being set not just by the status quo but by direct competitors as well as best of breed companies raising the bar on customer interactions and experiences.
In a global B2B survey conducted by Avanade, 56% of purchasing decision-makers within companies report that they will (and do) pay more for products/services if the customer experience is better than with less expensive retailers.