A new study published by Accenture, "Was it an illusion? Putting more B in B2B," produces the somewhat surprising results that businesses hoping to succeed in an online, e-commerce environment, must put service first.
"The findings in our study were counter-intuitive to what we would believe to be the case in BwB which is that price matters first," said Stephen Dull, Accenture partner and author of the study. "You can't compete in B2B if your only differentiator is price or any of the four Ps of marketing (price, produce, promotion, and place of distribution), for they are mere commodities. Focusing your attention on the customer is where companies will rise above the noise."
The key finding in the study emphasizes that the single most important buyer preference is brand, followed by service, price, and variety. The study also finds that customer satisfaction online is lower in a B2B (Business to Business) environment than it is in the B2C (Business to Consumer) environment, and that this is symptomatic of a general failure to identify and respond to the demands of the business market.
Although anticipated market trends indicate that online buying will become a major force in industry, results of this study show that less than half of all businesses currently purchase goods online. A lack of marketing is seen as a major factor in the low success rate among B2B providers.
The study also reveals that B2B is much more complex than B2C, and the conclusion is that it is worth the time spent to set up a B2B environment that is easy to use and understand. "B2B is about many things, however, speed at the cost of getting it wrong is not one of them. E-Right is more important than e-Speed in B2B," according to Mr. Dull.
Accenture polled nearly 1,000 purchase decision makers for this study, specifically screening for participants who conduct transactions online. This study is a follow-up to an early Accenture study, "Beyond the Blur: Correcting the Vision of Internet Brands," which was released in November 2000. Executive summaries of both studies are available for downloading.