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Customers today are in control of the shopping experience. They select when, where, and how they engage with brands. The ease of mobile ordering and the wealth of information from online communities have provided consumers with enough information to make a purchase without even stepping foot in a store.

In light of experiences in personal shopping, B2B buyers now expect the same omnichannel and digital engagement when they make business purchases.

Business buyers are increasingly adopting digital throughout every stage of the customer journey by setting expectations and making purchases on their own terms. They expect seamless, consistent, and convenient buying experiences as they shop in the channel of their preference.

B2B brands need to catch up and cater to those evolving needs.

Crossing the Channels

Just as in the consumer shopping journey, B2B buyers cross channels as they make purchases, so B2B sellers must provide consistent context on each channel. Some 38% of buyers exclusively use digital channels, and 32% mix online and offline channels, according to recent research conducted by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Accenture and SAP Hybris. The study also found that online is the most popular channel for B2B purchases. A total of 44% of those buyers make purchases via Web, mobile, or tablet more than half of the time.

Digitization is another major contributing factor to the increasing tendency for B2B customers to cross channels; 98% of buyers are doing at least some online research on work-related purchases that they make offline.

The rise of digital channels has encouraged most B2B customers to begin their research using either consumer marketplaces, such as Amazon or eBay (33%), or search engines (26%). So not only are B2B buyers buying online but they also are conducting their research there—which increasingly includes consumer sites.

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image of John Fisher

John Fisher is Global Head of Industry Marketing at SAP Hybris, a provider of enterprise multichannel e-commerce and product content management software.

LinkedIn: John F. Fisher