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E-commerce is expected to account for at least one-eighth of global B2B sales next year. With this in mind, how can B2B companies make the online buying experience easier for buyers? Here’s what respondents to a report [download page] by Episerver had to say.

Of the 700 global enterprise B2B decision-makers surveyed for the report, 44% say that one of the top three ways (from a list of 11) that B2B companies can make it easier for them to do business online is for vendors to have pricing on their website. Historically, this has been a “must-have” that buyers have complained is often lacking.

Close behind,  41% of respondents to the Episerver survey cite self-service functionality as a top-3 improvement, and 37% point to easy scheduling with a salesperson.

Respondents also cited improvements associated with personalization, such as one-click re-ordering, suggested complementary products, remembering login details and biometric login.

The good news is that many of these areas have a fair degree of overlap with the technology that B2B e-commerce professionals have been implementing. A separate study by Elastic Path found half of B2B e-commerce vendors surveyed have implemented technologies that improve the self-service checkout experience. Additionally, they have implemented technologies to improve personalized buying experiences (aligning with easy tech integration and suggested complementary products, as cited by Episerver’s sample) and requisition or job-based purchasing (aligning with approval workflows).

Email Remains the Preferred Communications Channel

As part of the research process, Episerver found that 43% of B2B decision-makers say they like to learn more about a business via email. This preference for email does not stop at the research stage. More than half (54%) of respondents say they want to communicate more frequently with vendors through emails.

While that may warrant a double-take from sales professionals, this might make more sense when compared to the channel they want less communication through – being the phone. That being said, less communication via phone does not extend to text or SMS messaging, as more than one-third (35%) of respondents say they are happy to receive this form of communication from B2B companies.

Other Content Channels Used for Research

Even though buyers claim they have less time for research, the vast majority still say content plays an important role in their purchase decision making.

So aside from email, what are their preferences? In the US, respondents say they prefer to research through channels like collaboration software (30%), peer review sites (29%), industry analysts (29%) and peers/word-of-mouth (26%).

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that behaviors do vary across markets. For example, in Australia, the preferred channel for research is peer review sites (49%). While more German B2B decision-makers prefer email to research, they also turn to peers or word-of-mouth (34%) as well. Lastly, although the UK tends to align with US decision-makers, more say they look to industry analysts (35%).

To read more, download the full report here.

About the Data: Report results are based on a survey of 700 global respondents employed full-time in a decision-making role at an enterprise B2B organization.

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