Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales

Online first: how B2B buyers are searching today

B2B buyers are rethinking their research methods – away from classic sources such as catalogues or trade shows and towards online searches. Find out here what this means for sellers.

young female professional

B2B decision-makers are increasingly searching online

One of the most important tasks within B2B procurement has always been the search, selection, review and development of suppliers. The ultimate goal is long-term collaboration. To achieve this, suppliers have to be identified who meet the requirements of the product or service needed as best as possible. In this respect, nothing has changed in 2022 – but the way in which buyers search for these sellers has changed.

In the past, buyers turned to traditional research methods such as catalogues or trade shows, but today that has changed, with the Covid pandemic giving a major kick to digitalisation. The Internet, with websites from suppliers, as well as business networks and special B2B platforms such as wlw.de, EUROPAGES or Mercateo have long outpaced others when it comes to serving as a research source.

Surveys clearly show the transformation

In 2017, according to a wlw survey on the role of platforms and marketplaces within procurement departments (German), direct contact (59.4 per cent) with suppliers was the most important research method within B2B purchasing departments. But this was followed closely by online shops (53.4 per cent) and marketplaces (45.9 per cent), and was far ahead of trade shows (36.9 per cent) and industry directories (27.8 per cent).

Today, the table has turned. Your typical B2B buyer’s business research behaviour is increasingly becoming similar to their private research behaviour. They are using product information, case studies and customer reviews, are evaluating websites and often using Google. The modern buyer is acting like a B2C consumer and often only gets in touch with a salesperson when they are already in the middle of the decision-making phase.

As the report The digital transformation within B2B purchasing departments (German) from 2019 shows, only 15 per cent of those buyers surveyed purchase the majority of their products offline. And social commerce is increasingly gaining importance. In a survey (German) from 2020 among decision-makers and persons responsible for projects in B2B companies, only 15 per cent likewise said that the topic of offline purchasing will be rather unimportant in 2025. And because a change of generations is currently taking place within purchasing departments, turning more and more millennials into decision-makers, this tendency towards online research will become even stronger.

 

Infografic users of platsforms and marketplaces

Suppliers have to adapt to remain in the business game

And what does this mean for sellers? First, they have to be visible online. Whether via ads with the big-name search engines, via relevant content on the company website or via a well-maintained profile on business networks such as LinkedIn or XING, or on B2B platforms like wlw.de and EUROPAGES.

On top of that, more today than in the past, the goal is to show the company’s competence to create solutions instead of simply providing product information. Leading suppliers in a certain field who rest on their laurels and do not change with the times will have to reckon with being left behind by the competition.

Leading suppliers in a certain field who rest on their laurels and do not change with the times will have to reckon with being left behind by the competition.

Ivalua, a provider of spend management solutions, is convinced that procurement organisations will push ahead the digitalisation of their procure-to-pay processes much faster in the post-Covid era than before the pandemic and will want to take the collaboration with suppliers to a new level. Profiting will be sellers whose IT or e-procurement solutions are already able to achieve this. But, more than others, small-scale suppliers often have a hard time with electronic tools. To overcome this, there are web EDI portals that can help and for which no direct electronic connection is necessary. In this case, the supplier can download the job details for a small fee from a platform.

Good times for suppliers searching for new partners

The chances of being able to position a company on the market are better than ever, due to the current phase of raw material and product shortages. And new suppliers will certainly be highly sought after in future too. After all, to ensure realistic scenarios such as a renewed flare-up of a pandemic or political conflicts do not leave buyers high and dry, they have to keep their supply chains as flexible as possible and, when needed, be able to rely on the right substitute suppliers. And such new partnerships need to be built up today.

During this search for partners, aspects such as social responsibility and sustainability play a role, also due to the German supply chain law (German) slated for enforcement in 2023. Companies that are well set up in this respect will be more competitive than ever, even in the higher-price range.

 

Leading suppliers in a certain field who rest on their laurels and do not change with the times will have to reckon with being left behind by the competition.

Ivalua, a provider of spend management solutions, is convinced that procurement organisations will push ahead the digitalisation of their procure-to-pay processes much faster in the post-Covid era than before the pandemic and will want to take the collaboration with suppliers to a new level. Profiting will be sellers whose IT or e-procurement solutions are already able to achieve this. But, more than others, small-scale suppliers often have a hard time with electronic tools. To overcome this, there are web EDI portals that can help and for which no direct electronic connection is necessary. In this case, the supplier can download the job details for a small fee from a platform.

Good times for suppliers searching for new partners

The chances of being able to position a company on the market are better than ever, due to the current phase of raw material and product shortages. And new suppliers will certainly be highly sought after in future too. After all, to ensure realistic scenarios such as a renewed flare-up of a pandemic or political conflicts do not leave buyers high and dry, they have to keep their supply chains as flexible as possible and, when needed, be able to rely on the right substitute suppliers. And such new partnerships need to be built up today.

During this search for partners, aspects such as social responsibility and sustainability play a role, also due to the German supply chain law (German) slated for enforcement in 2023. Companies that are well set up in this respect will be more competitive than ever, even in the higher-price range.

 

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