As consumers increasingly turn to digital channels throughout the buying journey, business-to-business (B2B) manufacturers have the opportunity to create positive direct-to-consumer (D2C) experiences—and reap the benefits.

To capitalize on this opportunity, manufacturers need to identify changing consumer preferences and develop an agile web strategy that responds to ever-evolving consumer needs.

Siteimprove partnered with Adobe and Capgemini to survey 3,025 U.S. consumers to discover what key elements currently distinguish B2B and D2C digital experiences—and what consumers expect from online experiences and brand relationships. These expectations include website performance, seamless and intuitive navigation, brand building, availability of information, and accessibility and compliance. Building digital brand equity through these means will be an integral step for B2B manufacturers looking to establish direct connections with consumers.

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Introduction

Learning about today’s digital consumer

After years of steady growth, online shopping exploded in 2020, largely due to COVID-19. Yet analysts anticipate the ecommerce boom will persist. In the US, ecommerce was already on a steady trajectory of 13 to 15 percent year-over-year growth and it accounted for $600 billion in sales last year alone, according to eMarketer.

Beyond the sales impact, the pandemic has also presented a strong case for creating positive web experiences throughout the buyer journey. Almost overnight, buyers turned to online retail, including manufacturer websites, to explore, research, and purchase just about everything. In fact, according to numbers from McKinsey, many traditionally “in-person” shopping categories saw the largest growth – rising by as much as 35 percent in some cases.

In this new digital ecosystem, B2B manufacturers have a clear opportunity to integrate direct-to-consumer (D2C) strategies that capitalize on changing online behaviors. The digital customer journey looks different. It leverages unique product research strategies, requires a tailored user experience, and includes additional technological barriers that can make or break a brand’s digital success. Understanding and addressing each of these new challenges will be key to capitalizing on this rapidly evolving ecosystem in the months and years to come.

The age of the digital consumer is here—so what comes next?

While some B2B manufacturers were prepared for this opportunity, most found themselves identifying the right branded web strategy for the first time. Savvy manufacturers looking to capitalize on the opportunity now have a new three-fold challenge:

To overcome these challenges, manufacturers must better utilize the consumer data points they already own and apply best practices to move beyond traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores and accelerate their journey toward digital-first consumer strategies. Those who are able to move quickly and meet evolving expectations stand to gain considerably, not just at the bottom line but also in intangible ways such as brand equity and consumer sentiment.

  • Identify the buyer journey preferences that will “stick” moving forward

  • Create a prioritized list of strategies to meet shopper needs

  • Execute those strategies effectively to strengthen consumer relationships and build valuable brand equity.

To overcome these challenges, manufacturers must better utilize the consumer data points they already own and apply best practices to move beyond traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores and accelerate their journey toward digital-first consumer strategies. Those who are able to move quickly and meet evolving expectations stand to gain considerably, not just at the bottom line but also in intangible ways such as brand equity and consumer sentiment.

Survey says:


To design a winning digital presence, start with knowing your consumers

To identify the insights that will drive the next phase of the digital consumer revolution, Siteimprove partnered with Adobe and Capgemini to survey 3,025 U.S. consumers. These consumers represent a wide range of online shopping behaviors and frequencies. All respondents included in the survey reported shopping online at least once per month, with nearly 80 percent shopping online two to four times per month.

The following report identifies many of the key trends that will define the future of digital web strategies – and separate the manufacturers who will see rapid success in their new digital ecosystems.