While most think of traditional commerce models as being business-to-consumer (B2C) with purchasers being end users, the combination of e-commerce and relentless global competition has changed the business-to-business (B2B) buying landscape as well.
“Today’s B2B consumer is no longer a purchasing agent or procurement manager who negotiates pricing through face-to-face sales meetings,” says Roadmap 2.0’s consumer section author David Schneider, supply chain consultant and founder of We Are The Practitioners –David K. & Schneider Company LLC. “Instead, the business consumer is the receptionist, it’s the office manager, or it’s the project engineer.”
Schneider calls it Death of A Salesman, a reference to Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1949 play. “Willy Loman? Forget him, he’s been dead for a long time,” he says. “And between now and 2030, the whole act of sales is going to continue to change drastically. We already see this today, but it’s going to change even more over the next decade because the Internet provides multiple, different and easy ways to compare and purchase supplies.”
Outfitted with mobile devices and corporate credit cards, any employee can now buy whatever their operation or workplace needs. And it’s more than just replenishing paper, staples and other office supplies.
“Computers, printers, hardware, casters, pallet rack, cameras, software, cleaning supplies—the phone or the mobile device has become the purchasing department,” Schneider continues. “It’s not uncommon these days for an operations manager to solve an immediate need by connecting via tablet to the Internet and placing an order while standing on the plant floor.”
Further, with an anticipated explosion in the growth of small, service-based businesses, particularly among the iGen demographic, this trend will only grow between now and 2030, adds Schneider. He points to a recent survey on entrepreneurs and small business conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics and America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), noting that the report found:
- iGen is the “Entrepreneurial Mindset Generation” of adults, with 61% saying there is more job security in owning your own business, 38% having worked for a start-up, and 26% have lived entirely off the income from a business they started.
- 49% of Millennials plan to start their own business in the next three years.
“Small businesses that are going to be owned by one, two or maybe three people, and those people think like traditional, end user, B2C consumers—not like multi-layered, departmentally divided businesses with purchasing departments. We’re already seeing a convergence between B2C and B2B buying habits, and it’s going to continue,” he concludes.
Want to read more about the convergence of B2B and B2C buying trends? The consumer section of Roadmap 2.0 starts on page 28. Download the free report here.