May 30, 2021

B2B Buyers Now Making More Rapid Procurement Decisions

3 min
COVID-19 accelerated digitalisation by three to four years—introducing new B2B buying trends and expectations post-pandemic

63% of B2B Buyers Make More Rapid Procurement Decisions Compared to Pre-Pandemic

According to ARPR, an award-winning tech PR agency that’s twice been named Small Agency of the Year, both sides of the procurement field—CIOs and IT sales professionals—are closing key deals more quickly. In its 3rd Annual Tech Marketing Data Report, ARPR surveyed 75 tech sales representatives and 99 enterprise, startups, and growth-stage CIOs and CTOs. “We’re now looking beyond the initial wave of changes”, the agency said, “to the longer-term impacts of the pandemic”. Here’s what they found. 

Key Takeaways from the Tech Report

Digital methods of marketing and making procurement decisions are now the status quo. In ARPR’s study, 75% of CIOs and CTOs said that IT and innovation are now incredibly important to their company’s future. Some might write this off as wishful thinking, but company budgets show otherwise. Overall, 63% of respondents reported that their IT budgets increased slightly or significantly during COVID-19, and 91% stated that they liked or somewhat liked virtually discovering products as opposed to attending lengthy, potentially expensive trade shows. 

Additionally, only 36% of tech companies increased product pricing in 2020, and almost 30% decreased their costs. During the pandemic, a majority of sales leaders (68%) instead focused on developing flexible pricing and contracts to meet company demands. Almost half (49%) said that they reduced the length of their sales cycles slightly or significantly as a result of the pandemic-fueled digital transformation. 

Communication Remains Key 

With increased IT budgets and faster approval cycles, procurement decision-makers now turn to digital sales processes to find immediate information. In searching and purchasing new SaaS products, buyers now turn to vendor emails, online media articles, search engines, webinars, whitepapers, online reviews, and vendor blogs. 

According to TrustRadius, 87% of buyers now want the ability to self-serve most or all of their purchasing experience, while Google states that more than 80% make supplier choices based on their experience with a vendor’s website. Only 20% of B2B buyers, according to McKinsey, aim to return to in-person sales, even in fields such as pharmaceuticals and medical products. Companies cite ease of scheduling, travel savings, and safety concerns as key factors for shifting their buying behaviours.  

In addition, 73% of decision-makers in B2B research are millennials between 25 and 39. As such, live chat gained a 31% increase in traction during COVID, and 80% of business purchasers now expect a real-time response. “[Buyers] are now empowered to drive innovation”, said Anna Ruth Williams, ARPR founder and CEO. New technology means that “they can find [data] exactly when they need it”.

As procurement decisions speed up, companies are upgrading their digital sales and support. From personalised emails to SEO-optimised whitepapers and blog articles, tech companies are building better digital funnels to serve procurement professionals. “The pandemic has permanently changed our economy”, said Renee Spurlin, APRR senior vice president of analytics and digital marketing. “[It’s changed] everything from when and where people work to how companies make decisions”. While trade shows and travel-heavy itineraries will still stick around to some degree, she suggests, the new ways of doing business are here to stay. 

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Jun 13, 2021

How Covid-19 Shook Up the Who's Who of American Retail

3 min
We check out the new Digital Commerce 360 Top 500 analysis report to see how Covid-19 shook up the who's who of American retail

According to the new Digital Commerce 360 Top 500 analysis report, the massive shift in ecommerce habits due to COVID-19 resulted in a windfall for the US’s largest retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Target.

The study found that the top 500 companies generated a combined total of $849.5 billion in online sales in 2020, representing a 45.3 per cent increase YoY, the largest jump since Digital Commerce 360 began tracking the statistic in 2006 and more than double the median growth of 18.0% seen over the last decade.

Although retailers of all sizes saw an uptick from online sales, in large part, throughout the pandemic, customers looked to familiar big name brands to fulfil much of their essential needs. Demand for items began to spike as manufacturing in Asia was forced to shut down, causing supply chain shortages. As large retailers tend to hold more inventory, this became a crucial differentiator for customers, says Digital Commerce 360.

Combined, Walmart Inc., Inc. and Target Corp. added $265 billion in US revenue to the $791.70 billion U.S. ecommerce market in 2020, accounting for a third of the market.

Considering the need for people to stay busy during lockdowns as well as the requirements of homeschooling, it’s not surprising Joann, a crafting company, showed the fastest online growth of Digital Commerce 360’s top 500.

  • In 2019, the bottom 100 of the top 500 registered the fastest growth while the top 100 showing the slowest growth rate. In 2020, however, the analysis showed the opposite, the top 100 largest companies grew at a rate greater than that of the whole, and the top 10 on the list enjoyed a growth rate even faster than the top 100.


  • In 2020, collectively the top 10 grew web sales 52.5%, almost five percentage points faster than the top 100 and accounted for 62.8% of Top 500 sales, up from 59.9% in 2019.


  • Who made the top 10 was shaken up some. For example, Walmart made it into the second spot, both Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. crept into the top 10 for the first time, landing at No. 8 and No. 10 respectively

Segments of retail that enjoyed fueled courtesy of COVID included toys and hobbies, jumping an average of 24 spots in the rankings and food and beverage merchants moved up an average 23 ranks. In contrast, apparel retailers dropped an average 15 positions in the Top 500, whereas jewellery retailers fell an average of 10 spots.

Although Digital Commerce 360 attributes some of the growth to stock positions and the ability of large retailers to manage supply chain issues, even the largest internet retailer experienced disruption. In March of 2020, during the first save of the US pandemic, even the Amazonian giant found themselves running into meeting customer commitments and delivering orders on time. Order cancellations and extended lead times became commonplace. For a time, Amazon stopped fulfilling orders for items considered “non-essential”.

Despite the issues, Amazon maintained its spot as the top online retailer in North America by a large margin, representing 35.7% of all Top 500 sales. Although it should be noted that the share is down from the 36.7% it saw in 2019.

At the outset of the pandemic Etsy, a solely ecommerce company focused on handmade, vintage items and craft supplies, was expected to perform poorly. However, as supply chain shortages for face masks caused a sudden need for cloth masks, many began to turn to Etsy, tripling its stock value by June. 


You can check out the new Digital Commerce 360 Top 500 analysis report here.

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