2020's digital B2B transformation was just the start
B2B digital transformation is accelerating payments innovation. Although we can’t entirely predict the future, we can be certain that businesses will not abandon their recent ecommerce investments once the pandemic ends — nor will customers revert to pre-pandemic purchasing behaviors and expectations.
There are several areas in which B2B payments will continue to expand, even if a coronavirus vaccine is widely distributed.
B2B buyers are unlikely to abandon the level of convenience that online shopping offers. However, an increase in e-commerce activity also brings a greater potential for fraud, and companies will be ramping up fraud mitigation and prevention efforts as a result, including working to thoroughly vet customers being acquired through digital channels. Additionally, more than a quarter (27%) of accounts receivable (A/R) teams currently rely on in-house credit assessments, which can easily overlook customers with bad debt risk. In-house assessments are inefficient when compared to third-party solutions, and create the potential for delayed onboarding.
More than half of A/R teams (56%) take four or more days to onboard a new customer. Organizations can strengthen fraud prevention efforts and protect the customer experience through fast, reliable third-party sources for credit assessments.
B2B companies will continue to adopt more advanced omnichannel strategies. A consistent buying experience is a top priority for A/R teams across all channels (39%). But to achieve it, every customer transaction on every channel should be integrated into the back-office system to enable a view of buyers in context. For example, pricing, negotiations, payment terms and credit extensions should remain consistent regardless of the channel — in-store, online, through an app, etc. Building on to existing digital transformation strategies and interconnected B2B processes through low- or no-code integration options will reduce time to deployment and make omnichannel seamless.
Niche B2B marketplaces have earned a position in many companies' selling strategies. To ensure marketplace sales evolve from transactional to repeats requires a solid customer and payments experience. Going forward, B2B marketplaces need to continue innovating with the payment experience to attract and retain both buyers and sellers with value-added payment options offering flexible payment terms, invoicing, immediate funding and simple onboarding processes. It should be just as fast and easy for customers to make purchases via a B2B marketplace as it is on Amazon or Alibaba. Beyond purchasing, niche B2B sellers must also remember that B2B customers do not fit into a single mold. To accommodate ever-changing B2B buyer expectations, technology partners can help merchants gain more control over the buying experience to refine the marketplace payments process for specific customers.
While the events of 2020 fueled new customer expectations, accelerated digital transformation allowed B2B companies to react and deliver. But customers’ changing expectations are not going to disappear and will remain an integral part of the customer experience. To support these changes, B2B companies that continue to focus on refining their digital experiences, and lean into digital transformation and automation to deliver purchasing experiences, will exceed expectations and stay ahead of the competition.