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2014 State of B2B Procurement Study

Uncovering the Shifting Landscape in B2B Commerce


B2B procurement has not escaped the digital revolution—not by a long shot. But B2B suppliers have not caught up with B2B buyers’ growing digital acumen.

This is according to the 2014 State of B2B Procurement Study conducted by Acquity Group, part of Accenture Interactive. The survey of 500 procurement officers with annual purchasing budgets of more than $100,000 uncovered how B2B buyers are searching, discovering and purchasing online.

The big takeaway is that there is a gap between buyers’ digital purchasing behaviors and suppliers’ digital presence. For suppliers to reap the rewards of the clear growth in online B2B spending, they need to optimize their digital experiences and continue to add value through their online channels.

Engaging the New B2B Buyer

B2B buyers in the United States are more active online than ever before, spending more time and company dollars in the digital space.

The 2014 Acquity Group State of B2B Procurement study uncovered massive growth in online research and spending by B2B buyers across multiple devices. Study highlights include:

  • 68% of B2B buyers now purchase goods online, up from 57% in the 2013 State of B2B Procurement study

  • The number of respondents who spent 90% or more of their budgets online in the last year doubled from 2013, increasing from 9 to 18%

  • 44% of respondents have researched company products on a smartphone or tablet in the past year, compared with 41% in 2013

  • 30% of B2B buyers report they research at least 90% of products online before purchasing, up from 22% in 2013

Online Product Research and Price Comparison

  • 94% of B2B buyers report that they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product

  • 55% of B2B buyers conduct online research for at least half of their corporate purchases

  • 40% of buyers research more than half of goods under $10,000 online

  • Only 37 percent of B2B buyers who conduct research through a supplier’s website feel it’s the most helpful tool for research.

  • Buyers rely on a variety of online sources to make a purchase decision. The most popular sources include supplier websites, Google searches, user product reviews, blogs, social media and third-party websites such as Amazon Supply.

B2B Online Spending Growth

Online procurement spending is on the rise, creating new opportunities for suppliers

  • 46% of respondents said their companies will increase online purchasing next year

  • 68% of B2B buyers made online purchases in 2014 versus 57% in 2013

Mobile and Technology Adoption

Procurement officers, especially in the millennial generation, are relying more on mobile and tablet devices to conduct research and purchase business goods. In fact, mobile purchasing and research habits generally diverge among the youngest and oldest generations of workers

  • 55% of millennial workers ages 18-25 use mobile phones for procurement research, compared with 36 percent of respondents over the age of 45

  • Half of millennial B2B buyers use tablets to conduct research, while 31 percent of buyers over the age of 45 use tablets for product research

  • 44% of respondents have researched an item for their company using a mobile device

Opportunities for Suppliers to Improve the Digital Experience

For suppliers to fully capitalize on this growth, they must address several areas of their online experiences, including poor conversion rates. Sixty-nine percent of B2B buyers have abandoned an online shopping cart in the last year, for a variety of reasons:

  • 37% found a lower priced product from another supplier

  • 35% said the website page did not load properly

  • 26% said checkout process took too long

  • 22% said the checkout process was too confusing