How BigCommerce, Codal, and Balance are bringing in the next phase of B2B ecommerce
What happens when an ecommerce veteran, digital agency leader, and a payments expert get together?
In the midst of NRF 2022, retail’s largest annual conference, Dan Fertig, VP Agency Partnerships at BigCommerce, Keval Baxi, CEO of Codal, and Bar Geron, CEO of Balance sat down with Ryan Bloms, Director of Partnerships at Codal.
This power team examined every aspect of the platform-agency-payment solution partnership and how it is transforming B2B purchasing. And they made one thing abundantly clear: bringing B2B ecommerce closer to the user-friendly experience of B2C will drive online growth and improve the experience for everyone involved in the B2B buying journey.
Read on to learn everything they discussed.
A seamless user experience for B2B buying, selling, and beyond
The transformation of B2B commerce in the past decade is astonishing– online channels are no longer a “nice-to-have”, but rather critical to business success. BigCommerce’s research found that ten years ago, about a quarter of B2B business was done online. According to Dan Fertig, by the end of 2023, “nearly two-thirds of businesses will [have] some form of online sales and online transactions.”
As a result, the focus on facilitating online transactions is increasing. Dan compared the stark contrast to the attention the B2B sector has received in the past. He explains that there has been significant innovation in checkout for B2C, largely due to the expiration of Amazon's one-click checkout patent. This has led to the growth of new payment options such as BNPL, stored cards, and recurring billing in the B2C checkout space, which was previously lacking in the B2B sector. But all of this is changing now.
While focus traditionally has been on the user experience of the end buyer, the next iteration of B2B will reward those who actively consider the seller experience and build their technology accordingly. “Everyone says today's B2B buyer is the 30 year-old millennial,” Dan says.
People neglect to [remember] that today’s B2B seller is [also] the 30 year-old millennial. They don’t want to have to log into an ERP to run a promotion or facilitate transactions.
Simple, end-to-end integrations, like Balance’s BigCommerce B2B checkout, address the needs and preferences of both the tech-native buyer and seller. Investing in both the user experience for the merchant and the checkout experience for the buyer will be a key differentiator among successful online businesses and those that fall behind.
Digital transformation doesn’t have to be painful– or lengthy
In the past, digital transformation was a much lengthier, labor-intensive process. While it can be a daunting task to take on, tech players in the B2B ecommerce space are removing those barriers to entry.
“Pre-Balance and pre-BigCommerce, the traditional path was to build out a custom [ecommerce] portal,” Keval Baxi explains. “Alongside that was eight to ten different third party tools, everything from ERP to order management to payments that needed to be operated once the portal was ready. The whole process would take 18-24 months, sometimes longer, and by that time, [some of] the technology was already outdated.”
Prioritizing user experience for all parties involved in the B2B commerce process is Codal’s focus today, resulting in a much faster turnaround time. “If you can make everyone's life a little bit easier,” Keval continues, “with the functions of BigCommerce and Balance, you can get to market substantially quicker.”
This is certainly true for Codal, whose collaborations with Balance and BigCommerce have enabled their enterprise customers to take their ecommerce sites live in a mere 6-10 weeks. It’s truly a win-win for their business customers: a more friendly user experience for all and a much quicker digital transformation that is painless to keep up-to-date.
Helping B2B trade move online has been Balance’s mission from day one. “After raising almost 100 million dollars and 350 million dollars in [credit] facility, we are positioned to support ecommerce in self-serving B2B transactions online,” announced Bar Geron.
It’s a massive force to bring what we know from the B2C space and transform B2B payments into a consumer-grade experience.
What’s more, these capabilities are not far out of reach, nor do they take a long time to implement– Balance’s BigCommerce integration can be installed and ready to use in a matter of days.
Translating trust– the essential ingredient
Personal relationships have always been the hallmark of B2B commerce, and the underlying element is trust. In this next phase of B2B digital transformation, it will be critical for businesses to translate that trust into the online sphere to maintain relationships with existing customers and attract new ones.
What does that look like today, and what are the challenges?
“The merchant is challenged with the need to facilitate different payment methods. [You have] those paying with credit cards, but then you have some paying with net terms, then there are those who mail checks because that’s how they’ve always done business,” Bar comments. “With these different channels, you are receiving payments at different times of the month and require a large team to manage everything, including the relationships.”
When it comes to the role of a payment solution, the emphasis should therefore be on a solution that can manage all of these moving parts and instill trust by doing so. “With Balance, the online buyer no longer needs to [accommodate] the preferences of the merchant and the merchant gets paid instantly and easily,” Bar continues. “This is infinitely scalable, and the buyer has all the same flexibility from the offline space.”
B2C ecommerce works because consumers have trust in brands. With B2B, trust has existed for decades offline. Now, it’s the job of the merchants to translate that into an online experience.
“B2B ecommerce platforms and solutions bring the handshake into an online buying experience that facilitates the same level of trust in transactions,” explains Dan. “I (as the buyer) log in, they (merchants) know exactly how I prefer to pay, and know exactly what my credit limits are. It’s not typically how we think about the buzzword of ‘personalization’, but it's bringing the personal experience into an online, trusted transaction.”
For BigCommerce brands using Balance, that trust element comes built-in: “The buyer doesn’t need to call their account representative and ask their credit balance to figure out if they can make their next purchase,” Dan continues.
There is no making a purchase but then only having the order shipped 10 days later once the invoice has been received.
As a result, merchants can not only improve the experience of procurement but speed up the entire transaction lifecycle.
B2B in 2023 and beyond
As B2B transactions move online, business buyers will seek out simpler, easy-to-use purchasing experiences. Knowing this, “it’s not a bad time to be thinking about [digital] improvements, streamlining the buying process, and [freeing up] cash flow,” says Dan.
Whether you are ready today or you want to evaluate for tomorrow, there is no harm in understanding the value proposition, comparing it to existing customers’ experiences, your team’s experiences, and assessing what other industry leaders are doing.
For Codal, 2023 will see the release of an accelerator model, enabling businesses to launch a beta site within 10 weeks through BigCommerce, complete with the Balance checkout and other integrations such as ERPs or inventory management.
“This will be our go-to for the B2B merchants that are [still] apprehensive about selling online,” Keval says. “These merchants have limited time and capital to invest, and [this is an opportunity to] test if it works, and then scale if it's successful.”
Finally, a word about growth: Many B2B businesses are focused on improving day-to-day operations, maintaining existing customers, and reducing their bottom lines. While these will always be important to business success, Bar challenges B2B merchants to think bigger and bolder with their digital transformations.
“Let’s not forget that in B2B, you can always grow. This year, there is a huge opportunity for that growth. B2B customers are looking for alternatives,” he says. “If they find you online, if you're available and you have the simplicity and ease of use to do transactions, you're valid.”
In today's market, gaining an advantage is as simple as taking action. By incorporating new technologies, updating your online sales strategies, both new businesses and established companies can achieve sustainable and significant growth. All it takes is taking that first step. Learn more about Balance on BigCommerce here.