In “Your Buyers are Ready for Ecommerce, Are You?” blog post we talked about the changing expectations of today’s B2B buyer. In this blog post, we explore that buyer with the introduction of a new decision maker – the millennial.

Millennial B2B buyers for ecommerce

Survey results from B2BecNews indicate that 70% of manufacturers without an ecommerce site will implement one in the next two years. While the differences between millennials and every other generation are widely talked about, manufacturers entering into a digital transformation must take the time now to understand the specific buying habits of this demographic to set themselves up for future success.

Based on Pew Research Center’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, millennials now make up more than one-third of the workforce. By 2025 millennials are predicted to represent a 44% share of the U.S. workforce. Not only does this group make up the largest generation in the workforce, but millennials are also quickly assuming the role of the researchers, buyers, and decision makers within businesses. In fact, according to B2B buyer research from Merit, 73% of millennials are involved or influence product and service purchasing decisions, with approximately one-third indicating they are the sole decision maker.

Why is this significant?

Millennials grew up digital, and that has shaped a very different view of commerce than other generations. Millennials are accustomed to global, 24/7 self-service models presented by top brands in the B2C world and expect to find information and be able to purchase anywhere, anytime, and from any device.

When it comes to B2B purchasing, the buying process should be no different. So where does this digital-savvy generation differ from previous generations in their approach to purchasing?

Digital-first research

Millennials start the buying process with extensive online research. The Merit report found 85% of millennials turn to social media, vendor websites, and search engines as a primary form of research. They read reviews not only on the product, but on the company, and prefer video to written documentation. Eighty-two percent also say they use mobile phones as part of the research process.

Straight to the source

Another key difference is that millennials prefer to work directly with the manufacturer versus past generations who are happy working with third parties. A report “A Brand New Day in B2B Commerce,” research from Forrester and Internet Retailer, found that 43% of B2B buyers want to buy directly from the manufacturer versus the distributor. Not only that, 20% say they are willing to pay slightly more to do so.

It’s not just about your product

A socially conscious generation, millennials want to know what a company cares about, whereas older generations tend not to focus on company values. The Merit research further found that 80% of millennials like companies whose causes align with their interests in social issues and that makes an impact on their final purchasing decisions.

Regardless of your industry, understanding the purchasing process of your buying audience and adjusting your approach to meeting those needs is imperative. Just as important is having a commerce solution that makes information easily accessible and allows buyers to place an order when they need it. Our Guide to Commerce for Manufacturers explores these concepts in detail and address four key areas where a digital transformation must occur to build better customer experiences:

Customers: Learn to adapt to evolving buyer expectations
Sales: Master increasingly complex distribution channels
Operations: Improve and integrate marketing operations
Employees: Enroll team members in the digital transformation



Tags: B2b, B2b Commerce, solutions, manufacturers, millennials