The study, from full-service e-commerce agency PushON, surveyed 500 key business decision makers from up and down the country and found that, although the majority of B2B customers (78%) actually prefer to shop online, 22% have to travel to purchase goods in-store because online retailers do not offer clear product imagery or effective customer service.
When asked why they shop for business products in-store rather than online, product visualisation came out on top, with 81% of B2B customers stating they are able to clearly see what products look like in real life. Over half (55%) also prefer instore customer service and the ability to speak to a member of staff for advice.
Over half (55%) of those surveyed expressed a strong desire for B2B e-retailers to invest in the same innovative technologies B2C ecommerce businesses are currently investing in. This includes the implementation of Augmented Reality (AR) to help them better visualise products online (29%), and an increase in Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools such as chatbots to give them the option to speak to someone in real-time, should they need to (26%).
Sam Rutley, managing director at PushON, commented: “Although B2B retail is suffering a similar fate to B2C, in that customers are increasingly preferring to shop online, B2B ecommerce undoubtbly has a long way to go if it’s ever going to achieve the same results and levels of customer experience as B2C ecommerce.
“Many B2B customers prefer the in-store experience over online simply because they can see products in real life and interact with an expert, which clearly demonstrates that B2B ecommerce isn’t providing these services well enough yet, if at all.
“This, coupled with the specific desires of customers for investment in AR and AI technologies proves just how far behind B2C ecommerce B2B is.”
For the full report from PushON click here.