A lot has been said on the differences between B2C, B2B, and DTC sales. From the types of relationships that are built to the tools that are most effective for driving success in the sector. However, less has been said on how B2B can leverage one of the most talked about tools currently making waves in B2C and DTC circles: augmented reality.
Research shows that a large majority of consumers are interested in using 3D and AR for shopping, with 60% saying they would pay more for products they can experience in 3D/AR prior to purchase. 3D and AR enabled shopping boosts confidence in purchase, allowing buyers to confirm that the product they are looking at on a screen is in fact what they are looking for.
The fact that B2B buyers are also consumers is often overlooked, and the psychology of purchase decisions and the benefits reaped from tools that influence decisioning can be extended into the B2B realm. $57 billion in sales revenue is expected to be influenced by AR product visualization in 2025; that same level of influence can and should be applied for more successful B2B sales efforts.
Here are four reasons AR is an important tool for B2B sales.
Why AR Should Be Used for B2B
The Stakes Are Higher
For most consumers, a vast majority of purchases are not big decisions. The decision to purchase sits with one or two people, without a protracted approval process, and a variety of purchases are made on a daily basis. Businesses, on the other hand, generally have a more complicated path to purchase as well as a dedicated and time sensitive need for a purchase. For that reason, making a purchase is a more heavily weighted decision.
Where a consumer can make an impulse purchase, the B2B sales process can last anywhere from a week to a year, and include approvals for projects, budgets, and purchase orders. Further, any purchase must add value to the business; value that the B2B buyer must prove to justify the expense. As a seller, it is important to help the buyer make decisions quickly and provide all pertinent information to prove the value that will be contributed after purchase. Augmented reality is an effective tool for facilitating more effective sales meetings, quicker purchases, and happier customers.
AR Helps Build Trust
B2B sales rely heavily on relationship building, and 80% of B2B purchases are impacted by a client’s customer experience. As in any relationship building scenario, trust is a key component. Trust in the fact that the seller is truthful in what they can help the buyer accomplish, trust in the product’s performance, and that what they see during the purchase process is what will be delivered.
As more and more sales meetings shift to a digital only approach, building that trust becomes even more important, but also challenging. The prevalence of bringing samples to a client’s office or having an onsite visit has drastically reduced. According to research from McKinsey, three in four B2B buyers now prefer video conferencing, which means sellers are in need of new ways to effectively showcase products, and in many cases, standard photography and video will not cut it.
As an example, a firm sells pergolas and awnings for commercial buildings. Due to the nature of the product, solutions are highly customizable and require detailed specifications to ensure the perfect fit. With traditional sales tools, sellers are limited to showing various options and how the product could look in the buyer’s space. This leaves room for subjective interpretation and unmet expectations; risks that neither the buyer or seller want to take.
If instead, the seller is equipped with a 3D configurator and AR, buyers are able to see the features and options available as they would truly appear, and then view the model at scale in the space the product is needed. As a buyer, the ability to see and compare options in an immersive setting with true photorealistic fidelity is incredibly valuable. For the seller, 3D and AR provide a more concrete way to convey the style, performance, and quality of their product. As an additional benefit for both, this experience can be replicated for both in person and virtual meetings.
AR Accelerates the Buying Timeline
When trust is established with a vendor, buyers are able to make quick, confident decisions around purchase. Established relationships also lay the groundwork for future purchases, and often remove obstacles present during the first purchase.
Particularly with products that affect the buyer’s own customers, decisioning around a purchase can take time. Buyers must determine if the purchase is a value add for the experience they are providing to their customers. AR provides an effective and efficient manner to showcase the value in a tangible way. A restaurateur designing an outdoor seating area will want to ensure that the space matches the ambiance of the restaurant, or they may need to balance the desire to offer a shady spot with not obstructing a view that patrons enjoy.
The ability to see the pergola options at scale with the exact materials that they would choose delivers a confidence that even the most robust product drawings cannot convey, allowing for quicker decisioning.
AR Reduces Sales Costs
Sales is a key driver in the success of a business, but in many cases it is also one of the more expensive functions. 30% of operational business leaders surveyed indicated that they had seen cost savings since implementing augmented reality as a sales tool.
Increased efficiency in the sales process, enhanced presentations, and dynamic, easily transported 3D product samples all provide significant contributions to reducing the overall cost of doing business.
AR’s ability to build trust and confidence among buyer’s has not gone unnoticed. $2.7 billion was spent by businesses on AR for retail showcasing in 2020. Don’t wait to see how your competitors leverage this technology; become the category leader by delivering the best buying experience in the market.