Millennials have grown up and are now moving up the corporate ladder. As they start filling decision-making roles (within buying departments), they are set to redefine the B2B retail landscape. Vendors must adapt to the evolving needs of their younger customer base…
By 2020, not only will they make up the largest proportion of the workforce, but by the same year Millennial spending power will overtake Generation X. As a result, their influence in the businesses they work in is constantly growing. So much so that 73% help decide what their companies purchase, and over 30% are the sole decision makers in their business’ buying process.
As B2B buyers become increasingly young and tech savvy, their demands and buying habits change. So, vendors must adapt to the evolving needs of their younger customer base. A key part of this, for example, is a establishing a strong online presence.
Many B2B brands are reluctant to invest in an online platform. However, Millennials have grown up with the ability to browse and shop digitally so they expect nothing less as B2B buyers.
Think B2I to make life easy – a seamless experience is essential
Once distinctly separate, wholesale and consumer retail are slowly moving towards each other as the industry shifts to a B2All or B2I (Business to Individual) approach. More and more vendors are understanding that “B2B buyers are people too” and their experiences as consumers are set to define their demands as purchasing professionals. In fact, 80% of B2B companies state their customers’ expectations are higher due to their experiences as consumers. This is every bit as true for Millennials. In light of this, B2B sellers would benefit from looking at what’s propelling their B2C counterparts to success.
The trend is obvious, Millennials seek a seamless experience when shopping online. They disregard sites with errors, slow loading pages and long checkouts; and they favour smooth-running web stores where products are easy to find and convenient services are offered.
In order to meet these expectations, B2B vendors should strive to simplify the purchasing journey as much as possible and eliminate friction. Innovative suppliers are implementing features aimed at facilitating the sometimes complex B2B buying process: popular options are fast reordering, a completely online quoting process and a simple online credit application. These tools are helping merchants stand out in today’s crowded marketplace. Streamlining the path to purchase is also possible by directing browsers to items they are likely to be interested in: B2B web stores should leverage customer information to make personalised product recommendations and facilitate their search.
Millennials carry out many of their everyday activities through their mobile phones: they use them to arrange transport, order food, communicate with their peers and keep up to date on news. As a consequence, sales conducted on mobile are quickly increasing, causing consumer retailers to create mobile-friendly web stores.
B2B vendors should do the same. As buyers, Millennials like to browse on the go – they might want to look at vendor websites during meetings, while traveling, or order materials online while they are at a worksite. That’s why all product information, images and other content on B2B online stores should load quickly and smoothly on mobile devices. Afterall, mobile browsing influences 40% of revenue in leading B2B organisations. B2B merchants must deliver a flawless experience across all devices, not just desktop.
Millennials were born in the age of information. The abundance of data available to them means they like to research independently and prefer not to pick up the phone and order through a sales representative. This is why merchants should consider leveraging the booming phenomenon of customer reviews and let their previously satisfied customers do the work.
Analysing customer reviews is a crucial step in the Millennial online buying journey. In fact, 93% of these individuals are likely or very likely to read product reviews before making an online purchase. Mobile devices are the preferred research tool with just 1% of Millennials researching offline before buying.
These trends and behaviours are certain to affect Millennials in their purchasing habits as professionals. Consequently, B2B businesses should make customer reviews a core component of their product pages in order to provide credibility and encourage Millennials to buy.
As Millennials grow into their senior roles a new generation of decision makers is being born, they are reshaping the B2B industry with their creativity and desire to innovate. Therefore, B2B sellers must take this demographic’s needs into consideration if they want to remain competitive. The digital natives seek speed, simplicity and independence in all their experiences – including shopping. So, the successful B2B retailers will be those who embed these characteristics into their sales strategy.
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