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65% of surveyed organizations report B2B ecommerce is “broken” at their organization.

B2B buyers, especially the growing numbers of digitally first buyers, have big expectations regarding the ecommerce experience from B2B sellers.

Those B2B buyers are delivering the message loud and clear: “We want an excellent digital user experience.”

And while sellers hear what buyers want, many organizations are having big problems with a range of ecommerce issues delivering a better web experience, says a new study of 400 companies by Zoovu, an artificial intelligence and ecommerce applications developer, and Forrester Research.

Aligning the B2B ecommerce experience

The study finds that B2B buyers now expect B2B experiences to align with the consumer experiences of their personal lives: quick, convenient, and personalized. Sellers know this, but they have, in large part, yet to digitally transform their selling motions. Their ecommerce operations are stuck without a meaningful way forward in a status quo that is hurting business, the survey says.

65% of surveyed organizations report that B2B ecommerce is “broken at their organization.” They cite a lack of an effective product data strategy for making products available and discoverable online as the primary factor behind this sentiment, including:

  • 83% of respondents said their product data was incomplete, inconsistent, inaccurate, unstructured, or outdated.
  • 81% said that an insufficient ecommerce platform amplified the problem of poor-quality data. The most common shortcomings were a lack of tools, an inability to manage product complexity, scale, and/or collect customer data from online buyers.

The research also shows that because of these challenges, B2B companies are forced to limit the amount of product discovery their buyers can engage with online. Not even half (44%) of respondents said their buyers have access to some form of self-discovery to evaluate products online.

The survey also revealed a significant opportunity to accelerate digital transformation within direct and indirect sales environments.

83% of surveyed companies say their corporate revenue required some degree of human interaction, whether it was traditional customer service/sales, assisted ecommerce where buyers turn to the sales team towards the end of their process, or digitally enabled selling, which uses digital tools to enhance traditional analog sales channels.

Other findings from Zoovu, Forrester

Aside from an inability to easily add more products into their ecommerce environments, B2B executives ranked additional challenges with their existing platforms as:

  • Customer frustration (35%)
  • Lower conversion rates (29%)
  • Increased cost of sales (28%)
  • Lost revenue (27%)
  • Increased customer churn (25%)

Meanwhile, 73% of B2B buyers expect the same convenient online experience they get from buying consumer products. And B2B businesses ranked their ecommerce priorities for 2024. The top initiatives include:

  • Providing more automated and personalized guidance to online buyers (80%)
  • Improving demand generation (75%)
  • Improving the ability to collect and use zero-party data (73%)

Incorporating AI into the B2B experience

More than three-quarters (79%) of respondents said they are looking to AI to improve the customer experience. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed said they’re counting on AI to reduce the cost of sales and services. 71% of executives say they’re expecting AI to increase revenue.

“This research shows how essential it is for B2B businesses to invest in structuring and enriching product data to make their solutions more discoverable, wherever their buyers are,” says Zoovu CEO. James Novak.

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Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week. It covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact Mark Brohan, vice president of B2B and Market Research Development, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @markbrohan.