Your B2B eCommerce Website & The Importance of Content

By
Sarah Leung
January 8, 2016

There’s no getting around the fact that content is critical to the B2B purchasing process. As more wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers offer a B2B eCommerce website to allow their customers to place orders online 24/7, the ability to access high quality, detailed content online is more important than ever. In a recent webinar given by Internet Retailer, Oracle, and Forrester B2B eCommerce analyst Andy Hoar, one of the main themes the panel touched upon was a key shift in B2B buyers’ decision-making processes––a shift from searching for the lowest price to prioritizing the highest quality content. In an annual Forrester survey of B2B buyers, analysts found that while last year, price was typically the largest influencing factor in making a final purchase on a B2B online site, “credibility of content” came out on top this year. Nearly a third (31%) of B2B buyers surveyed chose content as the number one reason why they typically make a final purchase decision on a B2B eCommerce website. This emphasis on content makes sense. B2B purchase decisions are much higher stakes than their B2C equivalents, and buyers want to back up those decisions with information––product specs and descriptions, reviews, inventory levels, and pricing. In fact, it’s partially due to this content credibility and availability that more B2B buyers are making purchases directly from the brand or manufacturer, rather than distributors and other channels. According to Forrester, 45% of buyers prefer to buy a product directly from the brand/manufacturer, and 62% say that the brands that manufacture products often have the best information about that product available online. Many B2B eCommerce websites, however, aren’t able to answer this call for content. According to Accenture’s 2014 State of B2B Procurement Study, “only 37 percent of B2B buyers who conduct research through a supplier’s website feel it’s the most helpful tool for research,” signaling an overall sense of dissatisfaction with the depth and breadth of the content available on most B2B websites. Many buyers are forced to rely on a wide variety of online resources to make a decision, using search engines, blogs, social media, and third party marketplaces like Amazon Business. With 74% of buyers in Forrester’s survey indicating that they want product information available online and across all other channels, wholesalers, brands, distributors, and manufacturers all need to place more emphasis on content quality and availability in order to improve the overall customer experience and to make their B2B eCommerce sites both the starting and ending point for each and every purchase. Customers want a single view of all their account activity and content that’s tailored to their preferences, like personalized product recommendations, customized product catalogs and relevant pricing. Businesses who are able to provide the content that can effectively influence a purchase decision will have a key competitive advantage.