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B2B ecommerce grows among SMEs, with demand for marketplaces growing

A survey of 250 buyers from UK businesses across a range of sectors finds that they are increasingly using B2B ecommerce platforms, with nearly six in ten (57%) making at least 40% of their purchasing online.

More than three quarters (78%) of buyers also agree that the ecommerce capabilities of B2B brands have improved over the last two years. As a result, buyers are increasingly trusting e-commerce sites not only for repeat orders, but also big-ticket purchases. Over a quarter (26%) said they are willing to spend up to £50,000 in a single transaction and nearly one in ten (8%) happy to spend over half a million.

Despite this, the research from global digital commerce platform VTEX reveals there are rising expectations among B2B buyers for further improvements in their online purchasing experience. More than half (52%) agreed that the e-commerce capabilities of B2B brands are lagging behind that of consumer brands. 

Nearly three quarters (74%) believe B2B brands could improve customer experiences by offering higher levels of personalisation. Buyers would like to see new features such as saving previous payment options (34%), options to purchase the same product from another manufacturer on the site (i.e offered more seller choice as is provided by marketplaces ) (30%) and the ability to better understand how well products fit their needs (e.g. demonstrate) (28%).

The survey findings clearly show expectations amongst business buyers are evolving rapidly, with half (48%) wanting suppliers to make major updates to the functionality of e-commerce sites at least twice a year and a third (33%) expecting updates quarterly.

Khalid Khan, Head of Sales UK at VTEX comments: “B2B sellers need to recognise that their business customers are also consumers in their personal lives,who expect the same quality of digital commerce experience within their professional environment they enjoy  when purchasing at home.

“B2B digital commerce adoption may well be behind B2C, but buyers will expect B2B sellers to reach the B2C level of maturity in a much shorter time frame. While this will place pressure on B2B sellers it also represents a fabulous high growth market opportunity.”

The research also explores attitudes towards B2B online marketplaces, revealing three quarters (74%) of buyers would like to see more sellers combine forces with third parties and provide them with a broader range of products or services via marketplaces. In fact, three in ten (30%) expressed a desire for sellers to offer options to purchase the same product from another manufacturer on their site, highlighting the growing demand and an increasing desire to ‘shop around’ for best value with business purchases.

Khan continues: “Our research clearly shows the e-commerce opportunity for B2B sellers is big, and we’ve seen those successfully embracing more personalised commerce experiences are growing their customer base and loyalty more quickly – even in challenging market conditions.

“We know from experience that providing regular feature updates can be costly and time consuming. As a modular solution, platforms like VTEX have the capability to liberate sellers from complex, rigid systems and deliver continuous, seamless enhancements giving them a competitive edge.

“Buyers increasingly demand more choice, with our feature rich marketplace capability, we empower our clients to easily add third party sellers to their store, or, alternatively push some or all of their catalogue out to external marketplaces or other VTEX sellers opening a raft of new commercial possibilities.”  

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