The report details how B2B buyers are frustrated by the purchasing experience. Inefficient processes, inaccurate invoices and slow onboarding are the biggest issues. Poor processes like slow onboarding lead to abandoned sales and a lack of scale. It takes an average of 2.6 days to onboard a new customer. Slow payment system integration is a leading culprit. Invoice troubles cause costly manual rework and delayed payment.
The B2B musts
In a perfect world, payment methods, including trade credit and credit cards, are available, along with a fast, frictionless and omnichannel onboarding and payments experience or a quick integration into an ERP. It must be customized for the buyer, as their invoicing requirements often differ from those of other buyers. That means offering more than credit cards, which come with transaction limits, high processing fees, surcharges and increased strain on procurement and accounts receivable departments.
You better offer trade credit. Five out of six buyers want to pay that way, with 61% saying it’s their preferred method. A similar percentage want trade credit for larger purposes. Here’s the kicker: 45% said they’d buy more if offered trade credit, especially with flexible terms.
Include integration with ERP platforms – 80% say it is extremely important that sellers offer it. While you’re at it, also provide customizable purchasing controls.
An optimal B2B system drives loyalty
It takes some effort to deliver that, but the technologies are available. Accomplish it, and there are significant rewards.
“If you provide customer service with trade credit, payment terms, and options, they’ll stick around,” Spear said. “It’s something we’ve spoken about for a while. People are moving from brand loyalty to experience loyalty.”
Consider why people switch to Amazon. It’s easy. While B2B isn’t at that level yet, Spear said the idea is beginning to permeate. More than 70% of B2B buyers are more loyal to a business offering their preferred payment method.
Spear estimates the COVID-19 pandemic compacted five years of digitization into 18 months. As the workforce suddenly lost concentration, it had to eschew non-digital processes. Paper became tough to push. Add in inflation and supply chain issues, and many companies are now paying much closer attention to how effectively they deploy working capital.
Business identity theft a growing concern
A rarely mentioned but critical topic affecting business is the surge in business identity theft. Spear said it begins with easy access to publicly available information on websites. Fraudsters can easily mimic legitimate businesses and register for lines of credit everywhere.
In an increasingly digitized marketplace, Spear said there’s a perfect storm where businesses don’t know much about the customers they acquire online, and more bad actors are impersonating legitimate firms, either by creating close impersonations of actual companies or by “reviving” dormant but technically operational ones. Spear estimates one-third of all inbound credit applications via the Internet are bad actors imitating legitimate businesses.
“The fraud rates are much lower via traditional sales channels – typically where a salesperson is involved,” he said.
Crossing the divide to the mainstream
Spear believes B2B is finally crossing the technology chasm to drive a better customer experience. He’s beginning to see a few RFPs for B2B payment and invoicing systems.
“It’s an indication that you are in the majority because that’s how the majority procures things.”
AI can help detect fraud and default risk in unique ways, including potential bad debts. Struggling firms often make partial payments in round numbers. That’s a significant red flag. Software can be quickly trained to find other problem areas.
It can also be used to suggest the health of a company. Its LinkedIn posts can be analyzed for job openings, which are a key indicator.
“Hiring data is forward-thinking,” Spear said. “If a company is stressed about their position, they’re probably not thinking about filling open positions; they’re likely pulling things back.
“You can see a world where AI platforms can sync data from these feeds, whether it’s X, LinkedIn, Facebook or the company’s website. Things like press releases… using all of that.”
Last week, TreviPay launched Universal Acceptance, a solution that expands and accelerates supplier access to TreviPay invoicing and payment technology. Suppliers who accept Mastercard can extend net terms, trade credit financing, and SKU-level invoicing to business buyers.
Suppliers can provide approved buyers with a net-terms card for purchasing, offering credit card checkout, and the auditability and purchase controls of trade credit. TreviPay’s platform automatically delivers invoices directly to the merchant’s buyer. It can now be implemented directly through the original API integration to the seller’s point of acceptance or Mastercard’s global acceptance network.
Tony is a long-time contributor in the fintech and alt-fi spaces. A two-time LendIt Journalist of the Year nominee and winner in 2018, Tony has written more than 2,000 original articles on the blockchain, peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, and emerging technologies over the past seven years. He has hosted panels at LendIt, the CfPA Summit, and DECENT's Unchained, a blockchain exposition in Hong Kong. Email Tony here.