A new generation of online buyers is racking up huge tabs, but many B2B websites are now creaking and groaning under the pressure to keep up with the buying habits of those under 35, the so called Generation Y.

B2B Procurement Disruption

Much of the buying in companies surveyed by marketing firm Acquity Group is done by those over 35, a 200 person survey found, but those under 35 spend much more online. Data from the 2013 State of B2B Procurement Study shows Generation Y spends 131% more online than their older counterparts at companies with budgets over US $100,000.

Only about 18% of those surveyed said they were under 35, but that group was much more likely to spend their budget online, and much more likely to base that online spending on price or website ease of use over loyalty. In other words, the next generation of buyers sees the customer landscape much differently than those currently in control of most budgets

Online Buying Habits

Acquity interviewed buyers mostly from companies in the manufacturing, government, retail and financial sectors who had purchasing budgets of at least US $100,000. Nearly half of those companies had fewer than 500 employees, and about 12% of those surveyed had between 1,000 and 5,000 employees. Another 12% had between 5,000 and 15,000 employees, so most were pretty big outfits, and nearly all had centralized or mostly centralized buying departments.

Some more details about those in the survey were:

  • 34% bought from a supplier website, but 43% said they did not participate in electronic purchasing.
  • nearly 50% of those surveyed had budgets over US $1 million.
  • 35% said they spend just 1-2 hours researching buys of US $5,000 or more.
  • 37% plan to spend more online next year.

Furthermore, nearly 70% of respondents said they would spend more online if it were easier and more convenient to browse and purchase items from a supplier's website. That does seem high, and the question was worded very specifically, but it points to the fact supplier websites often don't keep up with buyer expectations. That's especially true with younger buyers who have been more exposed to online buying throughout their entire lives.

So, as Gen Y moves up into the ranks of company buying departments, more suppliers will be expected to share the attributes of popular shopping websites like mobile responsiveness and personalization. Let us know in the comments if you've seen similar trends within your company, and why you think that is or isn't happening.