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  • Supplier e-commerce sites ‘failing’ B2B buyers

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    B2B suppliers are failing buyers, new research has found, with 52% of e-commerce sites not fully meeting expectations. Difficulty finding relevant products (32%), none or not enough product images or videos (30%), and an inability to talk to someone or ask a question (28%) were identified as the top frustrations with underperforming sites.

    The research also highlights an increasing volume of order errors, with 37% of buyers reporting errors with online orders at least on a weekly basis, and 11% reporting errors daily.

    The survey, conducted by Sapio Research on behalf of Sana Commerce, found accelerated digital transformation in the B2B buying space, with more business being conducted online than ever before. E-commerce platforms have seen the largest increase in usage since the outbreak of the pandemic (58%). In fact, two thirds (66%) of companies are spending more online now than they did prior to the pandemic, by an average of 45%. The research shows that companies are now spending an average of £3.6m online each year, with 428 business-critical orders placed each day.

    However, as more purchasing has moved online, order errors have disproportionately soared, suggesting that many suppliers didn’t have the scalability needed for this widescale shift. 37% of B2B buyers have reported errors with online orders at least on a weekly basis, equating to £1.3m in orders being affected by errors per company, each year.

    This compares with just 28% experiencing weekly errors in 2019. As a result, 46% of respondents are finding their productivity and efficiency levels affected while they contact the supplier to fix the issue, and 46% are experiencing delays in the already problematic supply chain. When asked what they believe to be the reasons behind these order errors, 38% of B2B buyers cited suppliers displaying incorrect inventory (38%), incorrect product information (37%), and incorrect shipping information (35%).

    Survey respondents were also asked what was important to them in the buying process, and four in five identified the relationship between themselves and the supplier, with almost half classing it as very important. In fact, 84% said they would be more inclined to buy from a supplier they had a great relationship with even if the terms of sale were not as good as a competitor. Yet, despite the obvious importance of relationships it seems that many suppliers are still getting it wrong. 39% of B2B buyers identified supplier relationships as a customer experience challenge, coming only behind delivery and tracking (44%).

    Commenting on the research findings, Michiel Schipperus, CEO at Sana Commerce said, “A look at B2B buying experiences in 2021 highlights the importance of sustainable supplier relationships, which don’t end after the purchase is made. However, as purchasing has rapidly moved online, it seems that many suppliers have failed to meet expectations and let their buyers down.

    “Reliability – in data, service, and information – is evidently a crucial part of a good relationship, and this is a shortcoming that seems to be causing high volumes of order errors that are not only costly to the bottom line, but also to the buyer-supplier relationship. To eradicate these problems, suppliers should ensure their e-commerce sites are fully integrated with their ERP so they’re able to provide buyers with real-time, accurate information to inform their purchasing decisions.”

    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien