B2B Payments

Elevate your B2B digital transformation strategy: 3 fool-proof ways

July 27, 2023
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Digital transformation is by no means a new concept, even for legacy industries in B2B. Business leaders across domains have long understood that the key to surviving in today’s fast-moving business ecosystem and unlocking new business opportunities relies on the company upgrading and updating their business processes to fit a digital-first world.

Even so, it isn’t always clear where organizations should begin, or take their next step. Should they increase back-end automation? Upgrade the customer experience? Does that include moving everything online and transitioning away from offline processes for good? Which processes take first priority? Which of them can wait until later in the journey?

While each organization is at various stages of their digital journey, and therefore comes to the table with their own unique challenges, for many B2B organizations, implementing digital payments is a sure-fire way to upgrade the existing infrastructure to align with a digital experience, both on the customer-facing end and the back-end.

And, if implemented strategically, Deloitte predicts that organizations can unlock $1.25 trillion in additional market capitalization through digital transformation efforts.

Our latest guide takes a deep dive into the lived experiences and expertise of two digital transformation leaders:

The first perspective comes from Ankit Gupta, CFO of Nandansons International, representing the voice of second-generation business leaders. Ankit has led the transformation of payments for 8,000 SKUs spread over 200 brands, and brings firsthand experience in infusing fresh business practices and innovation into complex digital transformations.

The second perspective is shared by Jacobi Zakrzewski, Vice President of Business Architecture at Luminos Labs. Prior to his role at Luminos, Jacobi was the VP of IT at Crescent Electric Supply, a company with a history of over 100 years. During his time there, he successfully modernized their digital presence and brought a full omnichannel experience to their customers. Jacobi represents the expertise of external advisors and systems integrators who specialize in assisting organizations with navigating the complexities of digital commerce transformations for B2B companies.

In this article, we’ll highlight the biggest insights from our recent guide, offer some of Ankit and Jacobi’s thoughts, and share how digitizing payments is a strategic avenue for business leaders ushering their organizations towards digital progress and ecommerce initiatives. In the process, you’ll catch 3 fool-proof ways to elevate your B2B digital transformation strategy.


Establish a sustainable business model for scalable growth

In the realm of digital transformation, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving success, even for well-established enterprise organizations.  Complicating matters further is what Forrester coins the "shiny new toy" trap: Many companies dive headfirst into digital transformation, eager to boost their revenue streams, without first addressing their fundamental processes.

Jacobi Zakrzewski, VP of Business Architecture at Luminos Labs, remarks, "Most organizations, especially at the start of their digital journey, aren't prepared to adopt the 'cooler,' 'sexier' technologies. It's like indulging in dessert before consuming your vegetables."

Indeed, organizations that have neglected to update their IT infrastructure for 15 years must first cover significant digital ground before exploring the more exciting technological advancements available today.

For Nandansons International, a major distributor of brand-name fragrances, adopting this approach to digital transformation has allowed them to remain competitive in a crowded marketplace. Ankit Gupta, the CFO and second-generation leader of the 44-year-old business, explains, "By automating background processes and reducing manual intervention, we enhance the customer experience. By optimizing the customer experience, we differentiate ourselves from the competition and free up resources to invest in other aspects of our business."

To seize these growth opportunities, organizations must prioritize embracing digital solutions for their payment systems.

Payments play a critical role in business operations, with implications spanning across various areas within the organization. Implementing a digital payments system and automating these processes reduce manual labor, the risk of human error and free up resources for other initiatives.

Moreover, prioritizing the digitalization of payment systems establishes a solid foundation for scaling B2B ecommerce channels. As orders increase via digital channels, managing the financial aspects becomes increasingly complex. However, it's not just about back-end processes; the front-end checkout and payment experience for buyers also play a crucial role. B2B buyers’ influence has shaped the new standards of diverse payment options and seamless settlement methods, transforming the checkout process into a driver of customer satisfaction and shaping the overall purchasing experience.

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Ultimately, prioritizing digital payments positions organizations for scalable growth, facilitating the adoption of new technologies and creating a more agile operational framework. Agility becomes a crucial differentiator between successful ecommerce endeavors and those struggling to adapt. By taking this important step, organizations pave the way for future success and capitalize on the evolving landscape of B2B ecommerce.

Create a self-running revenue stream for the long-tail customer needs

Broadridge reports that 71% of organizational leaders recognize digital transformation as a crucial tool for revenue growth. Through automation, employees can allocate more time to strategic efforts, enhancing overall productivity.

Take Nandansons as a case study: When the distributor launched its first ecommerce website, a staggering 80% of purchases were fraudulent. The team had to manually review each transaction, eating at time and resources. For organizations to scale efficiently, they cannot afford to be stuck in manual underwriting or chasing down invoices.

Ankit Gupta emphasizes digital technology’s essential role in shaping the future of the business. When diversifying their customer portfolio, they saw that catering to enterprise customers demanded considerable attention and time compared to their small business customers.

To tackle this challenge, Nandansons embarked on digitizing and automating processes such as accounts receivable, underwriting and payments for new customers. Furthermore, they implemented an amazon-like self-serve checkout to elevate the user experience for the long-tail b2b customers.  This strategic approach enabled Nandansons free up manpower for the sales team to better cater to the needs of their high-volume, more complex customer needs and their customer journeys.

71% of organizational leaders recognize digital transformation as a crucial tool for revenue growth
Source: Broadridge

The impact of this is nothing short of transformative: When a payments engine runs seamlessly, the sales team gains the freedom to focus on other endeavors while the channel continues to generate revenue with little maintenance required.

For Jacobi, unlocking new revenue streams and transitioning existing revenue to online channels are two of the three key pillars guiding organizations in their digital transformation strategies. The third pillar is customer experience, and digital payments effectively address all three.

And considering that today’s B2B buyers are social media-savvy, digital natives, having a strong online channel is no longer a nice-to-have, even for legacy industries like steel or chemicals. By adopting an omnichannel approach, particularly by incorporating self-serve digital payments on an ecommerce platform, organizations can establish multiple touch points with customers and create diverse revenue streams.

Align decision makers across departments

Change management is surely one of the most challenging parts of leading a successful digital transformation.

The bottom line is, it’s just not easy to change: A recent survey of 600 manufacturing executives reports that despite the constant release of new digital technology and increasing customer expectations, digital progress is mixed at best for many companies, with only 13% of those surveyed fully digitized. Nearly 60% use a mix of ecommerce, electronic business software and paper procedures, while 31% of manufacturing companies are still using all paper.

But embracing digitalization does not have to happen all at once, nor should it. Taking a step-by-step approach holds an inherent value proposition, allowing for incremental progress and due diligence in aligning team members.

That's precisely why we've developed a platform that allows businesses to adopt a crawl, walk, run approach. With our fully customizable APIs, merchants have the freedom to choose their starting point and determine the specific areas they want to address.

Whether it's building a more robust processing engine or offering net terms to a subset of customers, Balance’s platform provides the flexibility needed for b2b businesses to embark on the digital transformation journey at their own pace.

But beyond the technological aspects, gaining buy-in from stakeholders becomes an essential initial step. After all, none of this progress is plausible or sustainable without support and a positive response internally. So, how can organizations achieve this?

“Present the changes in a manner in which the resisting party can understand essentially where the company was before, where the company is today, and where the company needs to go in the future,” Ankit advises.

For digital payments specifically, the sales team should be brought into the process as early as possible. If salespeople understand how digital payments reduce their administrative workload, and enable them to focus their efforts on more strategic tasks, like winning more complex deals, they can very well become the biggest champions in the organization for adopting this technology and taking future steps on the digital transformation roadmap.

“When speaking about digital transformation with your organization, the important message is ‘we’re doing this with you, not to you,’” Jacobi emphasizes. “That’s an important distinction to make, because change is just uncomfortable for most people.”

Maybe that means implementing digital payments today, and getting the sales and finance organizations comfortable using new technology, so that tomorrow, creating a robust, ecommerce channel is welcomed by well-versed, digitally-savvy employees.  Implementing and approaching digital payments as an iterative process will position an organization to take advantage of more digital opportunities, once they are ready.

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A final word: Elevating your org’s B2B digital experience with payments as the driver

As the number of B2B marketplaces has grown more than double in the last five years in nearly every vertical, B2B ecommerce sales hit $9 trillion, and McKinsey’s 2023 report reaffirms that about 70% of B2B decision makers are prepared to spend up to $500,000 in a single, self-serve ecommerce transaction, it is not an exaggeration to say that we find ourselves in the midst of a  digital revolution, changing the nature of business trade as we know it.

To ride the wave of this digital revolution (and not fall off the board), B2B organizations must be customer-centric, agile and aligned internally, ready to pivot and adopt the technology needed to come out on top and gain market share.  

And, by implementing digital payments, organizations can effortlessly upgrade their existing infrastructure to address all of these needs together. To learn more, download the full guide or speak to an expert today.

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