The results are found in Electrical Wholesaling E-Commerce Audit, which reportedly analyzed the websites of Electrical Wholesaling magazine's top 200 companies. Supporting the audit findings, the hybris 2012 State of B2B E-Commerce survey found that the majority of B2B procurement specialists (88 percent) prefer vendors that offer e-commerce over those who do not. Many buyers, however, indicated that the quality of the B2B e-commerce experience is inferior to that of B2C, limiting its effectiveness.
"The demand for quality online shopping has moved beyond the consumer marketplace and into B2B sales," said Steve Kramer, hybris executive vice president for sales in the Americas. "B2B purchasing professionals want a quick and simple online buying experience. This audit shows a huge opportunity for improvement among businesses in the electrical wholesaling sector."
Buyers want content available on any device (PCs, tablets, smartphones), Kramer says, and electrical wholesalers should amplify the effectiveness of traditional channels like print catalogs and over-the-counter sales. With only two in three wholesalers taking full advantage of e-commerce capabilities, many are missing an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by delivering an integrated customer experience.
Buyers can't see or feel products through an e-commerce platform, so B2B websites must make up for this by providing detailed descriptions and product information. According to the audit, three in five websites showed a list of dimensions and other specifications, but only one in four allowed the customer to enlarge the main product image. To provide the information buyers need, websites must have high-resolution product images, offer full technical specifications and downloadable PDF manuals when applicable. Product reviews are also helpful, but are largely unavailable on wholesaler websites.
Although advanced search functionality is a staple of most B2C e-commerce offerings, many B2B sites only offer basic search functions. According to the audit, 98 percent of sites allowed customers to search by product code, but only 48 percent enabled customers to search by product attributes like size, brand or price. Customers expect online checkout to be quick and easy, and B2B customers typically want the option to pay via credit account or credit card. Of the sites where the information was available, 96 percent allowed B2B customers to pay on a credit account or credit card. Only half of those that did not require a customer log-in made it clear that the checkout process was secure. An e-book, E-Commerce Checklist for Electrical Wholesalers, is available, click here.
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