COVID-19 radically changed the retail landscape. In fact, data shows that the pandemic accelerated the shift to eCommerce by five years. For those in the consumer space who already had a plethora of straightforward eCommerce and digital payment integrations to choose from, an otherwise challenging transition to the digital age was made easy. But what about B2B retailers? It can be intimidating to tackle the layers of infrastructure and the number of stakeholders required behind the scenes to make B2B payments seamless, but it can’t be disregarded. By focusing on a few key priorities, major companies like Alibaba and Amazon have entered the B2B space with competitive offerings and lucrative results. Implementing a truly seamless B2B checkout experience helps retailers compete for the best kind of customers – sticky ones.
Friction-free finance, facilitated by embedded payments, means making the payment experience almost vanish for a customer. The most explicative example of embedded payments is in the B2C space, like Uber, where there is no interaction between the customer and the payment after initial app set up. Amazon comes close, with one-click ordering. Now, unsurprisingly, B2B buyers who require an assortment of payment options, including net terms and easy reconciliation, are beginning to demand that their purchases be transacted with the ease and convenience of an Uber or Amazon payment.
The processes that enable B2C embedded payments tend to be more straightforward because they are usually performed by a single stakeholder (a consumer) using a single payment method (a credit card). In contrast, any given B2B transaction may involve numerous stakeholders (the purchaser, the budget owner, the procurement group, the accounts payable team and others) and a variety of payment options (net terms, purchasing cards, and credit cards, among others). Add to that, each of those B2B purchasing stakeholders has unique needs and preferences that must be met, and each payment option comes with a distinct set of procedural and technological integrations to be managed.
Navigating that complexity is difficult, but B2B leaders aren’t scared of a challenge. According to a recent McKinsey & Company survey, ninety-six percent of the 3,600 B2B leaders surveyed reported shifting their go-to-market strategy because of the pandemic. B2B retailers can win the checkout war by adapting their strategies and focusing on a few key priorities:
• Choice and control are key. Customized terms and lines of credit demonstrate that you respect a business’s unique preferences. A dedicated and custom payments and invoicing network creates loyal customers. A recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by TreviPay found that most merchants offer at least two payment terms and more than half of respondents offer installment plans. No matter the robustness of the offer, the end-to-end experience must be custom, quick and seamless to drive instant purchase decisions.
• In keeping with this need for choice, when embedded payments allow buyers to receive invoices daily, weekly or monthly and make payments on terms that they control, they can enable improved cashflow at both ends of the B2B transaction. The same Forrester Consulting study found that more than 90% of surveyed global decision-makers expect that better payment options for B2B customers will improve customer satisfaction, speed up transactions, free up internal resources, and increase business success.
• Another priority is the ability to incorporate data in digital payments, like purchase order numbers and invoices, to support efficient reconciliation at month end, including integrations into common enterprise resource planning platforms. This is critical to move to 100% digital accounts receivable.
• As more customers are acquired online and as globalization advances, there is a growing risk of business identity theft and other forms of digital fraud. Working with a partner with sophisticated fraud detection capabilities and maintaining a strong track record for risk decisioning in-house is key.
Those who don’t acclimatize to digital payments and invoicing preferences will fall behind consumers’ rapidly shifting expectations. B2B buyers will quickly take their business to retailers with the most efficient and effortless payment integrations. While the backend seems daunting and requires more professional expertise and diligence to enable, the investment is essential if B2B retailers and marketplaces intend to compete with the big players, win loyal customers, improve cash flow and drive bottom line results.