Mobile transforms B2B commerce

Selling online and on mobile devices represents a significant new opportunity for B2B companies.

A new study by Forrester Consulting concludes that B2B players who fail to embrace online and mobile as leading channels risk losing market share in the short and medium term, and sustainable competitive advantage in the long-term.

Fifty per cent of B2B companies currently selling direct to business partners online indicated that their end user B2B customers are using either consumer websites or B2B versions of consumer websites to purchase products or services for their companies.

This trend towards increased online buying was picked up in another part of the study which noted that 69 per cent of B2B companies currently selling direct to business partners online expect to stop publishing their print catalogs altogether within the next five years.

Forrester’s research also shows that B2B companies already selling online report that more than half of their customers use smartphones to research and make purchases and more than half are also using tablets to make business purchase decisions.

“Mobile is emerging as a valuable channel for B2B commerce. Companies must develop strategies for customers to have a seamless buying experience whether shopping online or via mobile devices and tablets,” said Brian Walker, senior vice president, strategy, at hybris, which commissioned the study.

Forrester found that online-only customers are more likely to add additional items, order products in bulk and make repeat purchases than offline-only customers. B2B companies surveyed also indicated that cross selling and upselling strategies and building loyalty are much more effective online than offline.

B2B customers are now demanding more from their online shopping experience, adds the study. Specifically, they want more flexibility when buying online – including access to online and mobile customer service tools 24 hours a day.

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