Last updated: The anatomy of a B2B buyer

The anatomy of a B2B buyer


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A recent article argued that while B2B e-commerce tends not to attract the column inches of B2C, it is actually a more lucrative and faster growing industry. It pointed to the consumerization of B2B – the effect of buyers’ consumer experiences on their B2B expectations – as a disruptive force to traditional B2B structures.

But if the lines between B2B and B2C are converging, what do buyers expect? A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper, commissioned by Accenture and hybris, examined the changing needs and expectations of 930 B2B buyers across Canada, France, Germany, the US, and the UK at organizations with at least 1,000 employees. It helps us paint a picture.

Buying habits are changing

We know that customer journeys are changing and becoming more convoluted – but again, we often consider this within a B2C context, thanks to the proliferation of touchpoints and devices that are shaping consumer needs. However, this is also becoming true in B2B.

While B2B buyers traditionally searched print catalogs or spoke to sales reps, the shift to digital commerce is gathering speed:

  • Nearly a third (32%) of B2B buyers now start their journey on the supplier’s website, while a quarter start with a search engine
  • More than half (52%) expect to make one out of two of their purchases online in three years’ time

 Brand loyalty is big in B2B

Again, when we think of brand love, we think of B2C. But digital experience and engagement are key drivers of B2B brand loyalty – alongside more prosaic considerations, such as cost and product quality.

Put simply, B2B suppliers who provide their customers with strong omnichannel capabilities can expect more active and more loyal customers who spend more:

  • 80% of buyers noted the importance of credible product details and information, as well as an easy-to-use website
  • Three-quarters (75%) of B2B customers would buy again from the same supplier because of omnichannel features

There is no “average” B2B customer

Finally, when we discuss the consumerization of B2B, the most important factor is the individuality of each specific buyer.

Just like consumers, buyers demand convenience, ease of use, and flexibility – buying on their own terms:

  • Almost 78% of B2B customers say fulfillment options are important or very important
  • 74% of buyers want to look up product information across any channel (74%)
  • 64% expect to return or exchange across different channels (64%)
  • 72% want self-service access to accounts and orders

Every digital moment matters.
Are you making the most of them?

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