More B2B buyers are researching products and are opting to buy online. And it’s fairly simple to understand why: lower prices and the belief website offer “credible” product details, recent research has found.

Forrester Research interviewed more than 100 businesses earlier this year for a study it conducted with Internet Retailer. Among the findings, 30 percent of B2B buyers said they make half or more of their work-related purchases online, and 56 percent said they expect to buy that much online three years from now.

Moreover, 24 percent of respondents said they shop online because it offers the best prices, while another 24 percent cited the Internet as having “the most credible source of product details,” the survey found.

Indeed, online research is becoming a popular choice for B2B buyers, as 74 percent said that they opt to learn about products for their business via the Web. Additionally, 45 percent of B2B buyers surveyed said they typically start their research for work-related purchases on websites because they find the broadest selection of products online.

The most popular technological tool to conduct the research and make purchases was laptops, cited by 80 percent of respondents. Desktop computers and smartphones rounded out the top three device options for B2B buyers, cited by 51 percent and 45 percent of respondents respectively.

A similar Forrester survey from earlier this year, “The New and Emerging World of B2B Commerce,” also found that more B2B buyers were making the switch from in-store shopping to online.

B2B companies are preparing for the fact that more of their B2B customers are shopping online, Andy Hoar, a Forrester analyst explained in his blog about the second survey. Specifically, Hoar said that more B2B firms are actively preparing for a reality where 50 percent or more of their total customer base will be buying online from them within three years.

“B2B customers are actively optimizing their channel preferences for convenience, delivery speed, and price – all in real time,” Hoar said on his blog. “They’re also using a variety of direct and indirect buying channels and forcing B2B companies to actively serve a broad set of online and offline channels – all simultaneously.”

More B2B choices

For B2B buyers making the shift to online shopping, there’s good news: more options are becoming readily available. Last week, discussed the increasing growth of Amazon and eBay’s wholesale options.

For example, Amazon Supply, the website offshoot of Amazon’s regular site, has grown from a beta site with more than 500,000 products to a wholesale-distribution giant of 2.2 million items in its inventory in just two years. Additionally, in the fourth quarter last year, eBay reported that its Business & Industrial sales were growing at an annual rate of 17 percent, compared with 12 percent overall for

Whether B2B leaders want to conduct research or are ready to buy, it’s clear that it’s easier than ever for businesses to enjoy the joys of “one click” shopping.

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