4 ways to differentiate your B2B ecommerce checkout
So you have an ecommerce store. You have your product pages, search functions, and up-to-date stock information. You’ve determined your pricing and your traffic is growing. All seems to be working well. But you aren't seeing conversions the way you would like to.
According to a PYMNTS report, 67% of B2B buyers have switched to purchasing from vendors that offer a more ‘consumer-like’ experience. With increasingly sophisticated expectations for a checkout on par with Amazon or Paypal, the buying experience is not something that merchants can afford to put on the backburner. And the right B2B payment solution will ensure that.
Below, we’ve put together a list of effective ways to make sure your online checkout isn’t stopping you from growth. We’ll cover everything from offering embedded financing and preferred payment methods, to the actual checkout process and the customer experience. We’ll also touch on how the checkout and the after-purchase processes, like reconciliation, play into the success of your checkout.
1. Net terms
It's not only common, but expected for b2b companies to offer customers time to pay for their orders. That's why net terms or trade credit solutions are so important to B2B ecommerce – they enable merchants to extend financing to buyers. The B2C equivalent is Buy Now, Pay Later, or BNPL.
The difference is that B2B transactions are typically of much higher value. So merchants have a lot on the line if a buyer pays late, or worse-case scenario: never pays. To protect against that, merchants need to determine a buyer’s creditworthiness, which is usually done through a slow and tedious application process.
Luckily, now that’s all changing. BNPL for B2B, a once underserved segment, is becoming crowded with players as it establishes itself as a major payment trend. But what you should look out for are the ones that can bring consumer-like ease and convenience to your checkout flow. According to a Wunderman Thompson report, 32% of U.S. B2B buyers stated that an easy checkout experience was the most important thing when it came to online purchasing.
When a B2B customer is ready to complete their purchase, the experience should be nothing short of:
- Letting buyers opt in for real-time net terms in no more than a click
- Presenting buyers with a payment schedule, whether that’s net 15,30, or 90
- Seamlessly approving them for the terms selected
No buyer wants to wait days or weeks to know if they can get payment terms. They have their own buying cycles that are time-sensitive.
They want to know upfront that when they shop with your brand, they’re going to get to choose the flexible payment option that best suits their timeline and cash flow needs.
We all live in an age where ecommerce shopping accounts make our lives easier. Saved payment details and shipping information make all the difference between a one minute checkout and a five minute one. B2B buyers also want to be able to check out quickly.
Amazon is the perfect example of the kind of level of convenience we all have come to enjoy. So why should B2B purchasing be any different?
On the other hand, if you pre-approve existing buyers and even offer pre-approval for B2B payment terms to new buyers – they never have to deal with the hassle of applying for credit with you again.
So all they have to do is log in to their account and get terms at the click of a button. It becomes a lot easier to build loyalty when you incentivize potential and existing buyers with added perks.
In consumer shopping, even where we have gotten used to a high level of convenience, we still expect to be able to do everything as fast as possible.
Now imagine taking something as tedious as credit qualification and making it fast and seamless. It puts your brand on a different playing field than your competitors.
3. B2B Payment methods
According to the same Wunderman Thompson report, the top reason ecommerce buyers switched suppliers was due to lack of B2B payment options, followed by poor discount options, and a bad checkout experience. Each business buyer has a preference of how they want to pay for their goods. And even if they’re transacting online, they want the traditional payment methods they have had access to in the offline space of business payments.
Why? It depends on things like the value of the transaction, internal AP processes, and cash flow constraints. Limiting your customers’ payment options can have a major impact on their own internal accounting and financing needs. As a merchant, one of the keys to your success online is by offering multiple digital payment methods and payment types.
While paying with paper checks is still commonplace in the industry, credit cards are the most common payment method you see in the B2B checkout. This is a great example of the disconnect between B2B payment preferences and ecommerce offerings.
It can be helpful to start considering a provider to offer ACH automated clearing house). ACH a type of electronic funds transfer that is not an ecommerce consumer payment method, but it is incredibly common in business-to-business transactions. What’s more, it can still be delivered in a consumer-like way. Traditionally, ACH could complicate the payment process, because they are charged in batches and it can be difficult for suppliers to immediately see what charges they’re related to, so merchants might avoid offering this payment method. Digitizing to ACH online payments systems can make it as easy as a consumer would pay via credit card payments. This payment processing option gives buyers that same ease. And the merchant side? The processing fee is significantly lower than wire transfers, and automation removes the effort of applying the funds to the correct invoice.
4. Digital invoicing
A lot of attention on invoicing is on alleviating the problem of reconciliation on the merchant’s end. Manually searching for payments and tracking down individual invoices is definitely a real hassle for those in the B2B ecommerce space.
But it’s not a one-sided problem. Buyers face a lot of administrative overhead with accounts payable as well, which can lead to late payments. And it makes sense – manually sorting through invoices doesn’t fare well when optimizing for precision and speed.
Digital invoicing is a win-win for both workflows, and luckily many payment services today offer it. Instead of waiting days or weeks to receive a faxed or scanned invoice, your customers can get their invoices instantly via automation sent at the time of checkout, just like we as consumers get confirmation emails after making a purchase. B2B buyers can immediately review the payment terms they selected, the payment method, and all relevant order information.
Ultimately if they don’t have to rely on paper-driven processes, it doesn’t only help build trust, but it's also a lot easier to follow up and manage multiple payment gateways when there is a digital trace.
For manufacturers, distributors and other B2B companies making the move to sell on ecommerce platforms, it can feel like there is a list of hundreds of things to get done. The checkout might seem low in priorities, but investing in the right payment processor to offer more b2b ecommerce payments and better financing conditions will, in turn, ultimately help you grow your ecommerce channel and increase conversion rates and repeat purchase orders.
Talk to our team to learn more about how Balance’s payment platform can help you transform your checkout from a point of friction into a revenue channel.