Over the past decade, the ecommerce industry has experienced tremendous growth and innovation, with the emergence of various technologies and services designed to help businesses sell products and services online. Some of the most notable ecommerce platforms that have been launched in recent years include Shopify (2006), Magento (2008), BigCommerce (2009), Salesforce Commerce (2016), and Adobe Commerce Cloud (2019).
The proliferation of these ecommerce platforms also came with the development of various payment options like Stripe, Google Wallet, and Apple Pay. As these platforms and payment options became available, ecommerce sales saw significant growth, going from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $3.3 trillion in 2019.
Meanwhile, according to McKinsey, digital payments penetration increased to 89% in 2022. So not only have payment apps and integrations enabled brands to scale their online channels, but the use and preference of online payments among consumers has only continued to grow.
But can the same now be expected for B2B ecommerce? Are payments a magic wand solution for growing sales? They can certainly help—but capitalizing on ecommerce takes a solid understanding of what payments really mean from your business. Let’s dig into what B2B ecommerce payments are, the benefits, results you can expect, and key questions to ask yourself as you consider technology integrations.
What are B2B ecommerce payments?
B2B ecommerce payments refer to the process of making and accepting business payments for goods and services purchased through an online platform. While digital wallets, credit and debit card usage are the go-to for B2C ecommerce transactions — businesses have their own payment methods and preferences, many of which have yet to be digitized. These include:
- Purchase orders
- Trade credit
- Wire transfers
Most are not commonly accepted forms of payment online for businesses. If they are accepted online, what and how they are offered depends greatly on the specific merchant, whether the customer is a returning or new buyer, the cart order value, and other factors.
Which is to say that what B2B customers can expect at the time of payment is far from standardized or consistent. In order for B2B ecommerce payments to really take off for businesses, the experience, optionality, and convenience of paying online has to be significantly improved.
After all, according to Wunderman Thompson Commerce’s B2B Future Shopper report, 90% of global B2B buyers expect a similar experience buying on a B2B site as they do on a B2C site.
What features should I look for in an ecommerce payment integration?
Below are payments features that you should look for in an ecommerce payment integration before you make a final choice:
- Compatibility with your ecommerce platform
- Security measures to protect customer financial information
- Available payment options
- Fees, including transaction and monthly fees
- Customer support
- Integration with other business tools (e.g. CRM, accounting software)
But that’s not all. To deliver B2B payment options in a truly digital, branded, and seamless way, merchants should look for a solution that:
- Extends net terms to new and existing customers, instantly and within the same checkout experience
- Offers payment methods on a transaction by transaction base—meaning that customers can pay differently for each transaction
- Empower companies to brand the financing as their own
- Enables full reconciliation and invoice matching
When all of these capabilities are unlocked within an ecommerce experience, merchants are empowered to cater to the modern B2B buyer and their increasingly sophisticated expectations.
How important are payment integrations for scale?
Ecommerce presents a cost-effective way to reach customers and boost cash flow—which couldn’t be more critical in today’s economic environment. When you add payments to that mix, there are a number of ways that channel can from 0 to 100:
Easy onboarding: In the B2C world, we can buy from most vendors just with an address and credit card.
In B2B, there is an industry standard of offering net terms. To provide buyers with a fast and effortless onboarding process, on-demand financing that doesn’t involve long cycles of approvals and paperwork is a key differentiating factor in growing online adoption.
The long tail: Not all customers are purchasing high-priced products.
It may be challenging for a business to provide capital to these customers, who are often referred to as the "long tail" of the market.
However, it is important to note that this segment of customers can greatly benefit from a low-touch, low-cost channel like ecommerce. Ecommerce payment solutions that cater to this segment can offer a lot of value by providing an efficient and convenient way for these customers to make purchases. In fact, according to Payments Journal, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) see a typical 40% financing rejection rate, sparking a pent-up need for alternative solutions.
Development: Unlike legacy technologies that can be costly to maintain and customize,
payment integrations reduce the need for expensive custom developer work, which can be a big win for your bottom line.
Time: Integrations speed up implementation, so merchants can go to market faster than with custom solutions.
And the quicker merchants can open the door to online sales, the better position they are in to get ahead of the competition, boost loyalty with customers, etc.
The bottom line is that payment integrations not only help businesses save money and streamline processes, but enable your ecommerce store and payment stack to truly work in lockstep.
Are there competitive advantages to B2B payment options online?
The B2B buying process is inherently more complex than in B2C. Paying for a product can involve months of emails, calls, and meetings and involve multiple internal stakeholders (typically 6-10). Buyers often have to complete multiple tasks and make various decisions during the purchasing process, so they appreciate suppliers who make it easier for them to navigate this process.
Research from Gartner found that customers who received helpful information from suppliers were more likely to have a positive purchasing experience and to make larger purchases without regret.
To succeed in the B2B market, it's important for suppliers to provide customers with a payments experience that is tailored to help them complete their purchasing tasks. This is where payment options and choice are so important.
By focusing on this, suppliers can increase their chances of winning business and building long-term relationships with their customers online.
Our integrations help you do B2B ecommerce payments better
When ecommerce companies leverage one of Balance’s pre-built ecommerce integrations, they win for two main reasons:
- Internally, ecommerce payment integrations allow merchants to easily offer tons of value, without the internal development and expertise needed. It’s a matter of a few lines of code and that’s it. Once live, merchants can boost AOV, reduce DSO, and take full advantage of the 3 trillion dollar ecommerce opportunity.
- Externally, a payment experience that accounts for your customers’ preferences and needs, sets your brand apart.
No matter which ecommerce platform you use, Balance helps you grow. Reach out to our team to learn more.