More than half of construction sector buyers unhappy with their online purchasing experiences; data shows it's time for suppliers to refocus their digital transformation efforts
As the construction sector continues an upward growth trajectory, e-commerce sites are failing to meet critical needs of its B2B buyers. Recent data commissioned by Sana Commerce shows a significant disconnect between buyers’ expectations and their actual customer experiences, with over half (51%) of B2B construction buyers on average reporting that suppliers’ websites were missing the mark when it came to meeting their needs.
Sapio Research on behalf of Sana Commerce found construction industry buyers are frustrated with a number of e-commerce problems. The biggest issues identified centered around usability and misinformation, with only 25% of respondents having faith in the ability of their suppliers to provide full, accurate and consistent information online and offline. Delivery and tracking challenges, payment terms confusion, overly complicated re-ordering and checkout processes, and the need for unnecessary returns are additional areas that buyers found especially exasperating.
The Perfect Storm
Today, online channels are more crucial than ever for both professional buyers and B2B businesses as pandemic-caused disruptions to the supply chain continue to plague the industry. It’s estimated that the time to build a home – from start to finish – is roughly 50% longer than before COVID. New product shortages pop up every month: from lumber to electric transformers, to a recent concrete shortage. Add a worker shortage to the mix – national industry association ABC expects a shortage of 665.000 construction workers this year – and it’s clear that excellent B2B e-commerce, including transparency on pricing, delivery and payment terms, is increasingly important.
Luckily, construction companies have been busy: in 2021, 75% of construction companies increased their investment in digital transformation because of COVID-19 disruptions. Unfortunately, yet many of those sites cause high levels of frustration for users instead of helping them.
This frustration negatively impacts future buyer-seller relationships. When asked about the effect of frequent order errors and unnecessary e-commerce returns on their jobs and how they do business, as many as 1 in 5 buyers said such problems would drive them to switch suppliers. In fact, the buyer experience is so important that buyers overwhelmingly (80%) say they would return to a supplier with whom they have a strong relationship even if it meant less favorable business terms.
“B2B construction industry buyers are understandably more demanding, more impatient, and more convenience-driven than ever before. Unfortunately, in the rush to pull web stores online, many suppliers have failed to prioritize the e-commerce customer experience,” said Michiel Schipperus, CEO at Sana Commerce. “Sellers who intend to capture their share of the global construction and building materials market – a market projected to hit $1 trillion by 2030 – should be prepared to make significant investments in their digital transformation efforts. Those who continue to ignore their buyers’ needs are putting their businesses at risk.”
Schipperus continued: “The pace of digital transformation has threatened to deem traditional construction businesses obsolete for years. As early as 2019, 70% of companies in the industry believed those not adopting digital ways of working would go out of business, while another 60% agreed the construction sector was already behind others in adopting digital technology. The time has come for leadership to get in touch with the needs of their buyers, put in place a clear digital roadmap that will meet those needs, and make smart decisions about their digital investments.”
To learn more about why B2B web stores are not meeting buyer needs, download the full The Power of Buying Relationships in an Evolving B2B World research report. A separate guide from Sana Commerce available for download – The State of B2B Buyer Dissatisfaction in the Construction Industry – focuses specifically on the digital transformation challenges facing construction suppliers. About Sana Commerce
Sana Commerce is an e-commerce platform designed to help manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers succeed by fostering lasting relationships with customers who depend on them.