B2E – When B2B Business Buyer Habits follow B2C Consumer Shoppers
There used to be a clear divide between B2B and B2C, requiring specific approaches to marketing that catered to each faction. However, things have changed drastically, with business buyers now shopping in the same manner as ordinary customers. It’s what we at PARTsDB call the emergence of B2E, or business to everyone.
Managed services company Avanade recently conducted a global study that analysed the changing buying patterns and processes of business buyers, coming to the conclusion that the ‘consumerisation’ trend in Australia has shook things hard enough to wrestle away control from the seller. Now, enterprise buyers shop just the way regular consumers do, essentially turning trade into retail.
Applications in the Auto Industry
For PARTs users, the main thing to remember is that today’s auto parts business user is not so different from the average shopper browsing through e-commerce websites. The only difference is that the “trade” user is doing this during work hours for auto parts.
In the old days, mechanics, counter jockeys, and other key figures in a business in the auto industry normally transacted with sales personnel for B2B orders. However, with the growing dominance of online shopping, these people now expect to go online and have a rich user experience with access to plenty of data and assistance, just like any other retail customer.
Ultimately, this means that for a online B2B site or e-commerce store to be successful, it must provide a rich, convenient user experience, looking and feeling like a customer-centric site, albeit with more information geared towards business buyers.
According to Jeyan Jeevaratnam, Australia’s Avanade country manager, organisations are waking up to the reality of consumerisation, which has blurred the lines in how product/service information is presented to businesses and consumers.
He adds that the old B2B and B2C purchasing models are slowly disappearing, forming one complex structure of B2E instead. And while the rules aren’t as clear cut compared to both B2B and B2C, businesses that capitalised on this change reap the rewards of having longer, more profitable relationships with customers from both sides of the spectrum.
According to Avanade’s results, some of the methods in which Australian businesses are addressing this shift include investing in new technologies, such as mobile (79 percent), CRM systems (57 percent), mobile apps (54 percent), and social media (50 percent). In addition, close to 70 percent of Australian respondents expect technology to replace direct human interaction in the purchase process.
Many companies in Australia have successfully met the demands of the new business buyer, with 50 percent of businesses pouring more resources into customer sales and support, and 32 percent investing in automation in the sales process.
Incentives for PARTs users to adapt to this change are compelling. Avanade’s survey shows businesses are already seeing positive results, with as much as 62 percent of businesses reporting an increase of their customer base, another 60 percent reporting a spike in revenue, and 43 percent reporting stronger customer loyalty.
The key to adapting to the shift of B2B and B2C to B2E is understanding that your product/service content and user experience should be geared towards real, actual people, and not so much a split focus between retail and trade factions.