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Study warns that digital B2B economy held back by tech and logistical issues

A worrying 61% of B2B buyers expressed dissatisfaction with the functionality of supplier sites

The limitations of the digital-first economy have been laid bare by a new B2B survey showing that 89% of companies in the UK and the US find buying more complicated offline than online.

Conducted by Wunderman Thompson Commerce, the eye-opening results show that for all the hype currently being lavished on the digital-first economy, much groundwork still needs to be done to deliver a truly omnichannel shopping experience.

The B2B Future Shopper report surveyed over 600 B2B buyers in the UK, US and China, observing that 52% of firms have experienced some degree of frustration with online buying.

A worrying 61% of B2B buyers expressed dissatisfaction with the functionality of supplier sites, with 60% concerned at slow loading times and 32% struggling to find the products they are looking for.

Further compounding these issues is a question mark over the speed and convenience of online shopping – its supposed trump card – with 41% of B2B buyers pulling out of purchases over annoyances at the speed of delivery.

Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “What’s clear is that digital capabilities in the B2B sector have not kept pace with the demands of B2B buyers. As the hangover of the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact businesses, and Brexit red tape plagues supply chains, cost savings are less of a driving force for B2B buyers than they once were and have been usurped by customer satisfaction.

“Buyers want a digitally-capable supplier, [which] offers them the ability to dip in and out of the digital and physical channels at will. Businesses not capable of delivering this omnichannel shopping experience not only risk frustrating their customer but losing them altogether.

“Suppliers need to take stock and fast-track the digital transformation of their offering before the gap between online demand and fulfilment widens and customers rightly look elsewhere.”

Despite serious misgivings, B2B buyers ultimately remain receptive, with 49% of purchases currently being made online, and 93% conceding that the pandemic has permanently shifted their purchasing behavior.

Far from turning their backs on the digital economy, most are embracing it, with 78% of buyers demanding an improved mobile experience and 20% willing to dip their toe into augmented-reality functionality, having been impressed by the strides taken by consumer-facing sites.

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