5 key takeaways from our B2B e-commerce buyer research


Earlier this year, we surveyed 500 procurement professionals and business buyers from across the UK and Europe. The resulting data was analysed and used as a basis for our groundbreaking research report, The Definitive Guide to B2B E-commerce Buyer Demands in 2024

The report is bursting at the seams with data and insights concerning B2B buyer expectations when shopping for their businesses on websites, mobile apps, digital marketplaces and other online platforms. And while we strongly recommend that every B2B merchant check out the full report, below are five of the most significant learnings to get you started.

1. 93% of B2B buyers now use online channels for their procurement needs.

The overwhelming majority of B2B buyers now use online procurement channels, highlighting the prevalence of e-commerce in business trade. The phrase ‘moving online’ no longer covers just how significant e-commerce has become for buyers and sellers. B2B trade isn’t moving online – it’s already there.

Almost three quarters of buyers now make more than 50% of their purchases online. These are not insignificant purchases. According to McKinsey research, 70% of B2B decision-makers are prepared to spend up to USD $500,000 on a single e-commerce transaction.

And it’s not just transactions that are taking place online. According to MasterB2B 69% of B2B buyers find researching suppliers online on their own more effective than interacting with a sales representative during the discovery process.

With 38% making daily purchases for their businesses and more than half purchasing at least several times per week, it follows that it’s easier to make frequent, repeat purchases in digital self-serve environments than it is to call up a sales rep and place an order – which only 18% of buyers say that they do.

As increasingly sophisticated B2B e-commerce platforms become available, buyers are migrating more of their purchasing online. Gartner predicts that 80% of B2B transactions will take place on digital channels by 2025, but it won’t stop there. A future where all but the most complex of B2B transactions happen online might arrive sooner than you think.

B2B buyers are making highly frequent purchases. They’re making daily orders on the same websites, marketplaces and apps. They’re ordering the same things over and over again, meaning functionalities like easy repeat purchases and one-click checkouts are critical for a high quality buyer experience. 

Whether you like it or not, B2B e-commerce is here to stay and the opportunity for merchants – both for success and failure – is massive.

2. 98% of B2B buyers face challenges at the checkout.

Speaking of failure… we were stunned to learn that nearly every single B2B buyer faces some kind of issue when trying to check out online. In fact, only 2% say that they experience no challenges whatsoever.

Challenges at the checkout come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but by far the biggest concern for B2B merchants is the 55% of buyers who say that they often face a poor user experience (UX) at the checkout.

Now, we know that UX is a broad term, but we defined it in the survey as the speed and complexity of the checkout process. B2B buyers expect a streamlined online experience equivalent to that which they get from e-commerce purchases in their personal lives, but are instead asked to fill out lengthy forms on slow websites that are prone to crashing.

For many buyers, friction is introduced at one of the very last moments, with payment challenges causing issues for a combined total of 73% of B2B buyers. Around a third agree that payment terms functionalities need to be improved in online (32%) and offline checkouts (30%).

In order to win and retain loyal customers, sellers must create buyer journeys that are optimised for online platforms. They must minimise friction and take steps to address the key challenges that buyers have identified, ultimately closing the gap between expectation and reality.

And if they don’t? B2B buyers aren’t afraid to abandon purchases in favour of the competition. More on that below.

3. 83% of B2B buyers will abandon an e-commerce purchase if no payment terms are offered.

Let’s get one thing straight: merchants that are not offering payment terms at the checkout are alienating swathes of potential buyers. In fact, 83% of B2B buyers say they will abandon an e-commerce purchase if payment terms are not available.

However, there are several reasons why a B2B merchant may have not yet found an effective way to offer trade credit online:

  1. It can be risky. The anonymity and scale of e-commerce means that it can be difficult to know which buyers can be trusted to stick to their payment terms.
  2. It can be complex. From credit scoring and fraud detection, through to financing, payment processing, insurance and collections, trade credit is made up of several complex components.
  3. It can put pressure on cash flow. Offering credit off their own balance sheet can have a significant negative impact on the cash flow of a merchant.

In recent years, digital trade credit solutions such as those offered by Hokodo have emerged as a safer, simpler and more sustainable way for merchants to offer payment terms. With Hokodo providing the financing and handling every step of the trade credit management process, buyers get the credit they deserve while sellers get paid upfront and the freedom to focus on their growth goals. Everyone wins.

Payments have emerged as one of the most important aspects of the B2B e-commerce buyer experience. Recognising changing buyer demands, a small number of innovative merchants have elevated payments from a dusty back-office process to a key position in their e-commerce strategies – but most leave much to desire.

4. 79% of B2B buyers agree that payment terms are critical for the success of their business.

B2B merchants who want their fair share of e-commerce success must invest in their payment terms strategy in 2024. With the vast majority of respondents in agreement that payment terms are critical for success, it’s clear that trade credit is not a ‘nice to have’ that businesses can take or leave but a crucial lever that most rely on for their very survival. 

“It simply would not be possible for a small business like mine to pay for goods before having had a chance to sell them,” said Mark Walter, the Owner (and main buyer) for The Greenhouse, a plant and lifestyle retail shop in Rye, England. “The flexibility that payment terms give to ease cash flow pressures therefore form a critical role when selecting which suppliers to use. It would be no exaggeration to say that some decisions to purchase goods are ultimately decided on the credit terms offered.”

5.  B2B buyers want a reliable supply of high quality products that can be delivered quickly and paid for at a later date.

Obviously, we had to ask our pool of buyers what features are most important to consider when choosing an e-commerce supplier or vendor. The vast majority of respondents agreed that the top 3 considerations are:

  1. Quality of product or service
  2. Delivery speed
  3. Availability of payment terms

Ultimately, B2B buyers want a reliable supply of high quality products that can be purchased online, delivered quickly and paid for at a later date. It really is that simple!

Right. If you want to learn more (and there’s a LOT more to learn) you’ll have to download the report. Go on, you know you want to.

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