B2B buyers increasingly prefer self-service eCommerce for procurement. In addition, younger buyers are familiar with eCommerce: almost half of B2B buyers are millennials. They are as comfortable using eCommerce to make business purchases as consumer retail purchases. While there will always be a role for the traditional B2B salesman, many buyers won’t consider sellers who cannot provide flexible self-service eCommerce that integrates with their backend eProcurement platform.
B2B eCommerce Should Mean Mobile eCommerce
The evolution of B2B sales towards self-service goes hand-in-hand with a parallel development: the prevalence of mobile eCommerce. The buyers who prefer eCommerce also expect to use their phones to research and make purchases. And it’s not just the personal preferences of individual buyers. Forward-thinking enterprise organizations have been quick to adopt mobile workflows and processes. Internal apps are built with mobile in mind, and the expectations of mobile users shape platforms.
Enterprise mobility is pervasive, including procurement and enterprise resource planning: all modern spend management and eProcurement platforms provide mobile-friendly interfaces. Buyers want sellers to integrate with their internal platforms, both technologically via punchout and automation, and in terms of the experience they offer. Moving between a mobile-friendly eProcurement platform and an unresponsive and poorly optimized eCommerce store is jarring, to say the least.
Mobile Search Is as Important as Sales
The proportion of B2B eCommerce transactions taking place entirely on mobile is still low compared to the consumer retail space. However, it is growing and will continue to do so, but search and discovery on mobile are more important. According to Google, 90% of business buyers research purchases on mobile devices. That means a huge proportion of new buyers first experience a potential seller through a mobile search.
Furthermore, most B2B buyers consider only a small number of brands and make only one visit to a buyer’s site. As a result, buyers have a limited opportunity to make a good impression, and today that means making a good impression on mobile.
A B2B brand without a mobile-optimized presence may not even get the opportunity to make an impression. This is because Google preferentially ranks mobile-friendly sites in mobile search results. Therefore, if buyers search for your products on a mobile device, a lack of mobile optimization may push your brand below its competitors.
Mobile eCommerce Is Less Expensive Than It Once Was
Mobile eCommerce once meant expensive native mobile applications and similarly expensive integrations with buyer backends, but that is no longer the case. Instead, most consumer and enterprise eCommerce applications have responsive front-ends, and a managed service provider can provide punchout integration. In addition, emerging web technologies, such as Progressive Web Apps, can provide a similar experience to native mobile applications, and they work on any device with a web browser.
Over the next few years, there will be a sea change in B2B sales. The salesman’s role will decline, and B2B eCommerce — particularly mobile eCommerce — will become the standard.
About the Author: Brady Behrman is the CEO and founding partner of PunchOut2Go. As an entrepreneur with experience and a proven track record in building technology businesses that focus on client success innovation, Brady and his team help organizations of all sizes worldwide adapt to the ever-evolving, complex B2B Commerce & eProcurement technologies.