Study: B2B Exchanges Need to Supply More Services

Online business-to-business (B2B) sellers need to provide more comprehensive services in order to cement customer loyalty, boost revenue and create value for B2B e-commerce, a study released Thursday by Jupiter Media Metrix found.

The study, which was released in Boston, Massachusetts at a B2B forum sponsored by the research group, said that over 80 percent of companies would be “strongly influenced” to trade online with suppliers that offer such services as collaborative product design and supply-chain inventory applications.

Moreover, 54 percent of firms would treat sellers as “preferred vendors” if they integrated services that helped simplify routine contact.

In fact, Jupiter said that the chief concern of B2B companies in the coming months should be to strengthen the quality of buyer-seller relationships, rather than reducing transaction costs.

“Closer working relationships will bring new efficiencies that will ultimately result in cost savings,” said Jupiter analyst Jon Gibs.

Slow Adoption

Many industry analysts have long argued that one of the main drawbacks of the current B2B marketplace structure is its heavy reliance on generating transactions.

As a result, many B2B buyers have been slow to move online and will remain hesitant for the next 18 months, said Jupiter.

“At present, supplier strategy means going online only to meet the few buyers already there,” said Gibs.

Take Advantage

However, the report said that suppliers could use this downtime to reposition themselves as industry leaders and implement collaborative services geared towards their customers’ profiles.

Such a move will create a greater level of buyer sophistication on the Internet that will lead to stronger loyalty and higher revenues, Jupiter said.

Motivating Buyers

Since online initiatives are costly, Jupiter said it is imperative that suppliers create a spending blueprint that “reflects an understanding of buyer motivations.”

Specifically, the report advised companies to research and study the top buyers, implement buyer training programs, move existing buyers online and attract new business through the exchanges.

“Future supplier plans include bold new collaboration applications that will help buyers get with the program,” said Gibs. “By investing in programs buyers really value, suppliers may finally experience the market expansion they’ve been waiting for.”

To compile data for its study, Jupiter surveyed over 400 purchasing managers from U.S. companies with revenues greater than US$500 million about their interactions with online suppliers.

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