The value of digitising B2B procurement is understood and shared by professional buyers all over the world. However, traditional methods of sourcing by tender and direct transactions have not disappeared. B2B Online, Mirakl and Oracle asked buyers about their practices according to their generation – the results are fascinating. There is a real difference between the “Millennials”, born between 1977 and 1995, “Generation X”, born between 1965 and 1976, and the “Baby Boomers”, born before 1964. With a particular insight highlighted by the authors of the study: in 2020, the Millennials will represent almost half of all buyers. History is on their side…

 

Across all generations: a picture of the digital world

From the outset, the study is very clear about this: digital platforms (marketplaces, e-commerce or e-procurement) are likely to bring benefits that no one disputes. The 200 buyers in the survey – from companies with sales in excess of $500 million and located in North America, Latin America and Europe – had nothing but praise for the transparency, fluidity, services, accessibility of products and personalisation promised by digital technologies.

In terms of usage, however, the authors note that practices are still heavily rooted in tradition: calls for tenders, for example, come in second place – and they even make first place if buyers are asked not about their practices but about their preferences.

For B2B Online, Mirakl and Oracle, the resistance of what they call “traditional practices”, stems partly from the fact that they remain overwhelmingly preferred by Baby Boomersand partly that the digital solutions available in B2B are often not up to expectations.

The Millennials – the leading advocates of digital procurement – make no secret about their disappointment with customer experiences that are often far inferior to those offered by B2C.

For each generation: specific expectations about the digitisation of BtoB procurement

The merit of the study is also that it surveys its respondents with great precision, enabling the authors to differentiate the use values that each group attributes to the digitisation of B2B procurement.

For the Millennials, digitisation must be a source of transparency, flexibility, personalisation and offer services that often have a technological appeal, such as augmented reality or sophisticated payment systems.

Generation X, looks primarily for process fluidity to save time in processing and find the desired products quickly. The accent is less on the customer experience and more on efficiency.

For the Baby Boomers expectations are more vague, although there is a sense of a change in scale: Baby boomers expect volume benefits from digitisation. For them, digital means greater diversity in the products available and greater richness in the services on offer.

To find out more about the B2B Online study: click here