Elastic Path, Apptus survey B2B buyers to make the case for improved commerce experiences

Apptus Elastic Path B2B ecommerce
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B2B vendors can see the size of a deal shrink by 20 per cent if buyers aren’t satisfied with their experience, and nearly half are losing customers due to poor commerce capabilities, according to studies from Apptus and Elastic Path.

In an effort to demonstrate the value of automated processes and more streamlined ways to sell online, both Apptus and Elastic Path this week released the results of surveys they conducted with B2B buyers and sellers. Overall, the data suggests that many B2B companies are struggling to adapt to digital ways of selling products and surrounding them with a customer experience that leads to loyalty and growth.

In the Apttus Commercial Experience Report (ACE), for example — which was based on responses from 1,500 B2B buyers and 1,500 B2B sellers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany — buying experience was ranked five times more important than the price of a product or service. This might explain why 65 per cent said they believe automating selling processes could increase deal sizes by 10 per cent.

“Pricing’s prioritization within the mind of the customer becomes a more important factor in a long-term relationship,” the report said. “Understanding this lifecycle and the progression of buyer expectation can present considerable opportunities for coaching and supporting sales teams.”

Introducing more sophisticated technology into B2B sales will direct affect the size of those teams, however, based on data from Vancouver-based Elastic Path. In its report, Solving the B2B Commerce Puzzle, polled 300 people, 57 per cent said digitizing commerce will lead to their firm employing fewer salespeople. An even higher proportion of those at the C-suite level, or 66 per cent, said the same.

The Elastic Path research suggested avoiding digitization of commerce isn’t an option. Nearly half, or 45 per cent of respondents have lost a customer due to the quality of their commerce experience, and 80 per cent anticipate a negative impact on customer acquisition in the next year if they do not improve.

“B2B businesses know the clock is ticking, (but) many find themselves unable to move forward. It’s often not budget or lack of buy-in that stalls progress in innovation, but rather the inability to move beyond outdated systems to accommodate buyer demands — whether it’s a need for self-service online buying or human-assisted sales,” the Elastic Path report said.

B2B firms may assume consumer-oriented commerce experiences will work, but the Elastic Path report said other wise. Its authors urged companies to move beyond the 18 per cent who offer job-based purchasing, the 37 per cent that offer flexible pricing models and the 51 per cent that offer account-based buying agreements.

While commerce technology vendors are encouraging the market to invest in their applications, third-party services are also trying to improve the way B2B sales happen. Earlier this month, for example, Mastercard announced the addition of a Business Payment Service to its Mastercard Track portfolio, which it said would allow ACH/account-to-account and card-based payments.

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Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.