27% of B2B customers use digital services during purchase process

Diva research project aims to form a better understanding of B2B customers’ purchase behavior in the digitalized world and thus some questions in Diva survey were formulated to evaluate customer’s purchase related decision-making online. B2B decision-makers were asked whether they had made the purchase decision online, i.e. before contacting a sales representative related to a purchase. Results show that 27 % of B2B customers had used digital services (e.g. websites, social media, mobile apps) during their last purchase experience with a company and out of these respondents 18,5 % made the purchase decision online. 15 % of these B2B customers also completed the purchase online.

We took a look at the factors that explain purchase decision-making online using logistic regression analysis, and results show that educational level and occupation explain purchase decision-making online while demographics factors such as gender and age have no effect on online decision-making. Educational level has an impact on purchase decision-making online implying that those with higher educational level are more likely to make the purchase decision online. Similarly, occupation also impacts purchase decision-making online and top managers are more likely to make the purchase decision online compared to middle management level, officials and employees.

Besides sociodemographic factors, satisfaction with the B2B digital services positively impacts purchase decision-making online. On the other hand perceived ease of use and usefulness had no impact on purchase decision-making online. Ability, implying B2B customer’s impression about the competence and capability of the company, was found to have a positive impact on purchase decision-making online. Quite surprisingly integrity, reflecting customer’s impression about the reliability and credibility of the company, had a negative impact on purchase decision-making online among B2B customers. This implies that customer are more likely to make the purchase decision online when a company is perceived as competent. However, when a company is perceived as reliable, customers are more likely to make the purchase decision by conventional means than online, for example contacting the well-known sales representative. Ability and integrity together impact on perceived trustworthiness of the company and trustworthiness, in general, is identified as one of the key factors impacting on customer’s willingness to conduct purchases online.

Heli Hallikainen, Project researcher
Tommi Laukkanen, Professor
University of Eastern Finland, Business School