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China's B2B buyers want personalisation

News, 04 December 2015

BEIJING: As business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce grows rapidly in China, a new study has found that there has been a corresponding change in the shopping behaviour of B2B buyers, who demand an easier and more personalised service.

This was a key finding in the Digital Transformation Made Simple for B2B eCommerce in China report by Forrester Research and SAP Hybris.

The research firms interviewed more than 560 business decision-makers at B2B e-commerce vendors as well as 200 decision-makers at B2B e-commerce buyers, including some from multinational companies and state-owned enterprises.

It emerged that B2B buyers, like consumers in the B2C market, have varied preferences for online business and visibility and omnichannel capabilities rank high.

More than four-in-five (83%) of B2B buyers consider it important or very important for companies to deliver on the same day while more than two-thirds (68%) say it is important to be able to look up product information across each channel.

Other service options cited by B2B buyers include returning or exchanging products across channels (58%), being able to share unified account and order history (37%) and viewing personal activities across channels (31%).

Meeting these requirements is becoming more important because the study also found that the number of Chinese B2B buyers who make more than 25% of their purchases online is likely to double in three years' time.

However, some B2B sellers are facing challenges when trying to provide consistent and personalised experiences and they reported three main barriers that have prevented their organisations from fully implementing a B2B online strategy.

They pointed to conflicts among different channel organisations (40%), employee or management resistance (37%) and difficulties with sharing customer data among channels, countries or locations (35%).

Charlie Bai, principal analyst of Enterprise Architecture at Forrester Research, urged B2B sellers to improve their technology platforms to cater more for the demands of B2B online buyers.

"B2B sellers must accelerate their digital transformation via technology platforms to deliver a more personalised shopping experience and meet challenges from buyers with evolving demands and expectations," he said.

Data sourced from Forrester Research SAP Hybris; additional content by Warc staff