Pittsburgh Technical Council

Evaluating the Best and Worst Digital Experiences of Nation’s Top B2B Manufacturers

Evaluating the Best and Worst Digital Experiences of Nation’s Top B2B Manufacturers

Article Published: November 2, 2015

A new study reveals that when shopping online, B2B purchase managers and procurement decision-makers rank price as the most important website attribute followed by shipping/inventory information and site response time. Yet, an underwhelming 24% of the nation’s leading B2B manufacturers include price information on their sites. This according to the new 2015 XConnect B2B Analysis produced by Siteworx, a leading digital experience agency, and Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management.

Data shows that many B2B manufacturer websites fail to meet buyers’ device-specific expectations. Specifically:

· Tablet users rank the ability to download documents as most important, yet only 11% of B2B manufacturer websites reviewed in the report provide this capability on tablets.

· Smartphone users prioritize shipping/inventory information, yet less than a third of B2B manufacturer websites provide the ability to track products once they have been ordered.

XConnect assesses the quality of B2B manufacturers’ digital experiences. The study is based, in part, on a survey that asked Manager- and Director-level or higher purchasing and procurement decision makers to rank the importance of a supplier’s digital presence across seven attributes: product information; price/shipping/inventory information; aftercare services; usability; shortcut features; site response time; and brand presence. The study then reviewed the attributes against 36 websites of industry-leading B2B manufacturers, the majority of which are featured on IndustryWeek’s 50 Best US Manufacturers listing.

“This data serves as an eye-opener to all B2B manufacturers,” said Siteworx President and CEO Ken Quaglio. “Shifting B2B buyer demographics in addition to the influence of mobile mean companies have to innovate to keep up with increased expectations around the customer experience. In today’s marketplace, companies sell ‘everything-as-a-service,’ which means leaders have to make the necessary investments to deliver exceptional online experiences that differentiate them from the competition.”

The report finds that B2B manufacturers score poorly in attributes that are the most complex and that require the most investment to implement, such as price and shipping. However, they do well providing information in areas buyers care less about, such as news and events. The one exception was the ability to submit product ratings and reviews, which like price, is a complicated task that requires heavy investment.

“The collaboration on the XConnect B2B Analysis gave Syracuse students real-world business experience that will make them stronger, more effective leaders after graduation,” said Dennis Taussig, faculty advisor/mentor at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. “They gained exposure working alongside C-level executives and co-produced innovative research that presents new thinking around B2B customer experiences for manufacturers. The value of a partnership like this extends well beyond the classroom.”

B2B manufacturers with the strongest digital experience and aptitude for meeting customer expectations show the greatest digital maturity.

· Top quartile performers adopted responsive website design at a rate of four to one compared to their lower quartile peers.

· Top quartile firms also embraced mobile apps at a higher rate than the lower quartile companies.

In a subjective assessment of website content, such as website description and corporate boilerplate, the Index reveals companies doing a satisfactory job providing differentiated messaging for audience segments, which is a key engagement tactic. 

To see the full list of results, please download a free copy of the research report here.

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