As the business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce market grows in China, the shopping behavior of B2B buyers is changing rapidly to demand an easier and more personalized purchasing experience, new research from Forrester Consulting and SAP Hybris shows.
The study, “Digital Transformation Made Simple for B2B eCommerce in China,” reveals that personalization, omnichannel capability, and seamless integration are the new requirements.
“B2B e-commerce is expected to develop quickly in the future, with different industries expected to form their own e-commerce models,” said Frank Zhang, General Manager of SAP Hybris in Greater China. “Businesses that fail to evolve as this trend takes hold, either by building an e-commerce platform that does not meet customer needs or by failing to build a competitive e-commerce platform, will find it difficult to compete with those that provide a personalized experience catering to the needs, habits and preferences of customers.
The study also found that online channels will become more mature and dominant in the B2B commerce landscape as insightful market sellers have grasped the urgency of planning ahead for technology investments to win more market share.
The number of Chinese B2B buyers who make more than 25 percent of their purchases online is likely to grow two-fold in three years’ time, which reveals the speed and scale of online purchase growth in the China B2B market.
B2B seller companies that emulate personalized business-to-consumer (B2C) shopping experiences are able to cater to the evolving needs and expectations of B2B buyers in China.
Like consumers in the B2C market, B2B buyers have varied preferences for online business; 83 percent of B2B buyers consider it important/very important to deliver on the same day when making work-related purchases online.
Omnichannel capabilities and visibility will also better position B2B sellers confronted with buyers’ transitioning demands. When asked what was important when it came to making a work-related purchase online, B2B buyers cited the following: looking up product information across each channel (68 percent); returning or exchanging products across channels (58 percent); being able to share unified account and order history (37 percent); viewing personal activities across channels (31 percent)
B2B sellers face multiple digital challenges on their journey of transformation.
Not only do the B2B buyers need consistent and personalized experiences, they also require cross-channel visibility, just like the consumers in the B2C market do.
When asked to select the barriers or challenges that have prevented their organization from fully implementing a B2B online strategy, the sellers reported the following: conflicts among different channel organizations (40%); employee or management resistance (37 percent); difficulty of sharing customer data among channels, countries or locations (35 percent).
The survey found that 97% of B2B sellers are already implementing, upgrading, or planning to invest within the next six months in an eCommerce platform to support omnichannel requirements.
The study suggests that B2B sellers should design the e-commerce platform toward customer experience and omnichannel enablement for differentiation.