The Purchasing Behavior of B2B Buyers

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by Ayaz Nanji

More than two-thirds (68%) of B2B buyers now purchase goods online, up from 57% last year, according to a recent report from the Acquity Group.

Moreover, the number of B2B buyers who spent 90% or more of their budgets online in the last year doubled from 2013 levels, from 9% to 18%.

However, though there is more online spending, many customers are not going directly to the websites of B2B suppliers: Less than half (48%) of B2B buyers surveyed purchase goods online directly from suppliers, with the rest opting for for third-party websites and other purchasing channels.

Among third-party websites, Amazon Supply is the most popular: 17% of buyers use it regularly to make purchases, and 38% use it at least once per quarter.

Below, additional key findings from the report, which was based on data from a survey of 500 procurement officers in the United States across a wide range of industries with annual purchasing budgets in excess of $100,000.

Product Research Behavior

  • 94% of B2B buyers say they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product.
  • 40% of buyers research more than half of the goods they purchase under $10,000 online. For larger corporate purchases of more than $5,000, 34% spend over three hours researching products.
  • Popular online sources for information on products include supplier websites (83% of buyers use), Google searches (77%), user reviews (42%), and third-party websites such as Amazon Supply (34%).

Sales Rep Involvement

  • Only 12% of buyers want to meet in person with a sales representative when making a purchasing decision, and just 16% want to discuss their purchasing options with a sales representative over the phone.
  • 71% prefer to conduct research and purchase on their own with access to a sales representative via the phone or online chat if needed.

Mobile

  • 44% of respondents have researched an item for their company using a mobile device.
  • 24% have made a purchase for their company using a mobile device.
  • 55% of Millennial buyers (age 18-25) use mobile phones for procurement research, compared with 36% of respondents over the age of 45.
  • 50% of Millennial B2B buyers use tablets to conduct product research, compared with 31% of buyers over the age of 45 who do so.