With a majority of US online consumers heading to Amazon to search for products or find inspiration, it stands to reason that B2B product buyers might do the same. Per a report [download page] from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, close to half (49%) of US B2B product buyers surveyed head to Amazon Business to search for B2B items.
However, while US B2B buyers are searching on Amazon Business and the site commands an estimated 15% of their buying budgets, it’s not necessarily where buyers are starting their purchasing journey. The largest share of US respondents say they most often start their journey in-store or at a vendor’s warehouse (26%), while fewer start on Amazon Business (16%).
When looking for inspiration, the wider survey, which included respondents from the UK and China, indicates B2B buyers have a preference for online channels. Along with suppliers’ online portals or apps (50%), half of the respondents say they get their inspiration from marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba, while Amazon Business is also a key source for US and UK buyers.
How the Pandemic Factors Into Preferences
Wunderman Thompson’s survey reveals that nearly all US respondents have switched suppliers for all (55%) or some (41%) business purchases during the pandemic. And, while the report does not specify if these respondents switched to online vendors, other research has shown that although the pandemic threw many aspects of B2B into turmoil — notably the B2B exhibition industry — one area that has been positively impacted by the pandemic is digital selling.
The report does point out that the reasons B2B buyers have switched suppliers since the pandemic aren’t specifically related to the pandemic. Indeed, some of the top reasons for switching suppliers among all respondents were related to pricing, including payment options (30%), better bundled discounts (29%) and better contract terms/pricing (25%). Research from early 2019 shows that pricing was a reason for switching B2B sellers well before the pandemic.
There is some indication that although US B2B buyers may have embraced making purchases online during the pandemic, spending through online channels is likely to decrease post-pandemic. This will have at least some impact on Amazon. While 36% of US buyers currently prefer to buy through Amazon Business, only 31% believe they will do so post-pandemic.
Likewise, some 43% of US B2B buyers anticipate using suppliers’ online portals or apps after the pandemic. This is compared to the 47% who currently do so.
Online Often Outperforms In-Store in Ease
Close to one-quarter (23%) of respondents say that they have switched vendors due to a bad online experience. Nevertheless, when asked which channels they find easiest for various factors in areas such as finding the item they want, ratings and reviews, finding inspiration and checkout, most respondents consider online to be the easiest. However, for customer service, warranties, researching products and repairs the largest share of total respondents find it easier to engage in these activities in-store.
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 1,008 B2B purchase managers, procurement managers, purchasing clerks, agents, purchaser and C-level executives in the UK (201), US (202) and China. Respondents were ages 20+ and part of the final decision-making process for buying products for their company.