Busting the five biggest B2B
e-commerce myths

The tide has turned: in-person sales are no longer the lead to success they once were. Although they’re of course still important, the main driver to B2B sales growth success in 2022 is digital, and e-commerce channels are the key purchasing gateway for many corporate buyers.

Yet several misconceptions persist across multiple B2B sectors – from financial services and insurance all the way through to managed print solutions.

Many B2B companies told researchers for McKinsey & Company’s latest B2B Pulse report that “customers aren’t ready” and “e-commerce is an immature space for businesses like ours”. The evidence suggests otherwise, and there are five key myths that need exposing.

Myth #1: most B2B companies don’t offer e-commerce

In fact, nearly two thirds (65%) of B2B companies use e-commerce, which is defined as fully executing a sales transaction online. This is up from 53% in early 2021. And despite a relaxation of pandemic lockdowns allowing face-to-face interactions to resume, B2B sellers are now more likely to offer e-commerce channels than in-person selling. As a percentage of all revenue channels, e-commerce and in-person sales currently tie in the top spot each with an 18% share.

Myth #2: B2B buyers prefer face-to-face interaction

Research shows that two-thirds of corporate customers actively opt for digital or remote in-person engagement, at every stage of the purchasing journey. Online chat has become a mainstay, and video conferencing demand continues to increase.

Myth #3: only a basic e-commerce site is required

The majority of B2B companies implement e-commerce as a full-service channel, held to the same or higher standards as other channels and offering the same or better levels of excellence across everything from product and service availability to pricing, shipping and personalised recommendations.

Research also shows B2B companies work hard to make sure their e-commerce channel is enticing, and approximately 40% have produced an e-commerce channel that is likely to be more attractive than offline options.

Myth #4: e-commerce is only for repeat or low-ticket items

Any concerns that business buyers may have had about completing major transactions online have disappeared – in a recent McKinsey report it states a majority of corporate decision makers are happy to spend over £50,000, 35% are comfortable spending £500,000 or more in a single transaction, and 15% will make purchases worth more than £1 million online.

Myth #5: digital marketplaces are a next-level ‘nice-to-have’

In reality, it’s the opposite, and B2B buyers see e-commerce as an essential element in the purchasing mix. The percentage share of B2B buyers who say they’re happy to purchase on digital marketplaces is 60%, in line with the proportion who buy from supplier-branded websites.

The takeaways are clear: B2B companies that don’t lean into e-commerce are at risk of being left behind, and the whole journey is important, not just the transaction. E-commerce is an ecosystem, and needs to be designed accordingly, capable of handling high-value transactions.

If you are interested in trading online as a B2B business and would like to discuss the options available, from strategy to platforms and digital outreach campaigns, then book in a consultation with one of our team here.

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