Dave Brittain, Senior Manager from Amazon Business UK, discusses digital change in B2B purchasing
Since the digital shopping revolution of the 90s, online purchasing has predominantly been favoured by end consumers, but it is easy to understand why B2B purchasing is of increasing importance to businesses too.
Most consumers know that online shopping is (often) a more convenient, cost-effective, time-saving solution and for companies, the same is true. In fact, the latest analysis in the Hackett Report shows that global companies can reduce their purchasing costs by around a quarter through digital processes. Cost reduction is clearly a big driver for businesses in itself but there are other factors at play.
We are also seeing a surge in millennials occupying buying positions. In fact, according to a recent study by Merit, three quarters of employees involved in decision-making processes in their companies are between 20 and 35 years old. Millennials have grown up being exposed to shopping apps, comment functions and product reviews, and so they’ve become accustomed to the benefits of online shopping from an early age.
Naturally, they are bringing their B2C customer experience into the B2B world. They are innately drawn to B2B marketplaces where they can question processes that cost time and money and instead focus on innovation, digital transformation and positive change.
So, what are some of the main benefits of digitised purchasing?
Convenience, efficiency and viability
B2B marketplaces, like Amazon Business, reduce the need to spend time researching products, selecting suppliers, and working on accounting and invoicing – which frees people up to focus on other (potentially critical) areas of the business.
From an operational and logistical perspective, companies can assign specific authorisations and centrally manage their approval processes. Some platforms even provide features that are specially tailored to companies, such as purchase on account or volume discounts.
It’s great to have a choice and B2B marketplaces offer this in abundance with access to international products – and language barriers don’t have to be an issue. In fact, Amazon Business provides automated product translations to make the process as smooth as possible, which means shopping in Italy or Spain has never been so easy!
Purchasers who use these business marketplaces now have access to millions of products from different countries, at the click of a button. This means they’re getting a wider selection, faster deliveries and more competitive prices than they might from traditional suppliers.
Having said that, purchasing is only one side of the coin and suppliers (whether large or small), naturally want exposure to global markets to maximise sales opportunities, so there is a benefit to both sides.
The improved procurement processes that come with digital shopping create capacity for purchasing managers to perform other important tasks and potentially evolve into different areas of the business.
A recent ProcureCon study predicts that in future, the purchasing manager will fulfil the roles of consultant, intermediary and data scientist. This new way of working could enable the business and employees themselves to work more efficiently by streamlining operations and reducing the need for more staff.
And so embracing digital purchasing will not only attract millennials but provide increased capacity for employees to focus on their personal development which naturally leads to higher satisfaction levels.
With analogue procurement becoming a thing of the past, it’s up to businesses owners to make the most of e-commerce, as they maximise the benefits of an increasingly digital world and translate them into unique opportunities.