Understanding the customer journey – and your internal team’s journey – is critical in B2B industries like manufacturing and distribution. The buyer is one of the most common personas in the digital commerce journey. His primary role is to purchase the products he is told to purchase or is responsible for. It’s not unusual to have more than one buyer at an organization, each with different products they oversee.
While he is always buying, he is not always shopping. In many cases, he is not the decision maker and is only buying what the researcher tells him to buy.
Reduction in Unnecessary Communication
The buyer is often limited in what decisions he can make and often defers to a senior buyer for approvals and purchasing direction. He’s interested in price, order status, and buying the products he’s authorized to purchase. He may interact with the researcher in addition to a senior buyer for purchasing instructions and approvals.
He needs access to the information to do his job as efficiently as possible without having to pick up the phone or send an email. While he needs proactive communication regarding orders, shipping, and price, he wants it presented in a streamlined way with all the information he’s searching for in one place, similar to a B2C experience. In fact, 73% of B2B buyers say they want a personalized, B2C-like customer experience.
Familiar Tools to Improve Efficiency
The buyer commonly reorders products that are used on a regular basis. To streamline repeat processes like this, he wants the ability to easily reorder and make adjustments to his order if necessary. He may want to revise the quantity, shipping specifications, or frequency of orders without interacting with another person. He wants a system he is familiar with where he can go in, make the necessary adjustments, and reorder those products with the click of a button.
Capabilities for Collaboration
In many cases, there are multiple buyers within an organization that are placing orders with the same supplier. It’s not uncommon that buyers purchase specific products, but each buyer is making his or her own individual purchase order. To streamline the purchasing process and improve engagement with that organization, the buyer would like the ability to create a shared purchase order where his items are still under his name, but he’s saving money on shipping and handling by placing a shared order with other buyers in his organization.
Interacting with the Buyer
What He Does
- buys the products he is authorized or instructed to purchase
- Commonly reorders products that his company uses on a regular basis
- Has a limit to what he can spend without requiring approval
- Enters orders and follows up on order statuses daily
- Is generally at his desk working and making purchases
What He Needs
- Access to order history and a way to quickly convert a previous order to a new order
- The ability to create a quick order by simply entering part numbers that are familiar to him
- The ability to switch from an online experience to a more traditional means of interaction, without interruption
- The ability to use the ordering system he is used to while interacting with your system
Where You’ll Reach Him
He spends the majority of his day making purchases from his desk and not on a mobile device.
What You Can Provide to Make His Job Easier
- A user experience that is unique to his role as a buyer, including access to the information that is relevant to him
- The ability to convert a previous order into a new order without a lot of effort
- A way to create collaborative lists that can be shared by project or by buyer
- Proactive communication about orders, shipping, and issues
- The means to punchout within his existing ordering tools to eliminate order duplication and errors
To learn more about the other roles involved in the B2B buying process and how you can improve their experience, check out our guide The People of the Manufacturing and Distribution Buyer Journey.
Senior Commerce Consultant for Perficient Digital, a leading digital transformation consulting firm. Experience includes more than two decades in digital commerce, product management, business development and marketing for manufacturing and distribution organizations. Has provided strategic leadership for global suppliers and brands resulting in innovative techniques for improving the customer experience overall, reducing cost of sales and accelerating efficiencies within complex buying and selling scenarios. Authored articles for leading publications in the manufacturing, distribution and ecommerce industries.