The internet has been used for years (Roberts & Zahay, 2012, Guillén & Suárez, 2005). Despite the dot.com wave going bust in the last decade, there is still constant pressure in both business-to-consumer (B2C) and for business-to-business (B2B) activities to go online. Literature discusses several aspects in this context including digitalization, internet of things (IoT), big data, social media for business, Industrial 4.0, the digital age and digital distribution (Da Xu et al., 2014, Guillén, & Suárez, 2005, Liu & San, 2006, Lee et al., 2015, Hajli et al., 2017). However, there are limited studies on B2B and the current internet competency from the organizational buying behavior (OBB) perspective (Hajli, N., et AL, 2017, Deeter-Schmelz & Kennedy 2004, Kennedy & Deeter-Schmelz., 2001, Kennedy & Deeter-Schmelz., 2001).
The purpose of this research is exploring and understanding the reasons why internet use in B2B is less than that in B2C marketing. It does so by focusing on how buyers perceive internet channels within OBB in Thailand’s printing industry.
The research considers three questions related to the behavior of B2B buying centers:
• perceptions about internet channels
• perceived alternatives to traditional activities in the online space
• the boundary of online channels as related to buyer-seller activities
The research collected data from eight companies (five buyers and three sellers). It is 17 semi-structured interviews, a detailed study of websites and gathered observations of five seller factories using the case study methodology.
The research found that despite individuals using a substantial number of internet channels for their personal activities, internet use for business in the printing industry in Thailand was low and only a few activities like e-mailing and gathering information were done via internet channels. The rest of the activities were carried out in traditional ways. The printing industry in Thailand still prefers to use face-to-face interactions for business dealings. Both the buyers and sellers prefer this to the impersonal internet. Based on factory observations it concludes that access to the internet at work is still limited to only few buying centers. An analysis of the data collected also shows that the participants had apprehensions about using the internet for business activities because of the complex technical nature of the printing industry.