Why ecommerce platforms are prioritizing B2B payments
Taking commerce online involves a lot of moving parts. The CRM, the ERP, the platform, the integrations—everything needs to connect in the most strategic way to enable B2B ecommerce growth. And B2B payments are not an exception to that.
Which is why B2B ecommerce platforms like Adobe Commerce, are prioritizing the investment in strong payment integrations. We asked Sophia Kelly, Head of Adobe Commerce, Americas, at Gorilla Group, to share her insights on the most important digital experience expectations and how those expectations will influence the future of B2B payments.
What do payments have to do with digital transformation?
Before Gorilla Group, Sophia worked at Adobe Commerce on the Digital Experience Growth team. She’s helped hundreds of businesses move from legacy and cumbersome platforms to a robust, digital-first solution.
The journey that merchants now need to take with payments is one that will require a similar shift. “Improving the payment and checkout experience is definitely becoming more top of mind,” says Sophia.
For example, a payment option that handles more complexities than what you can get out-of-the-box with native Adobe capabilities, allows merchants to continue doing business in a way that they would normally have to do manually through the phone or email. “The ‘I trust you, pay us later’ kind of an option needs to exist in a digital manner,” Sophia points out.
The tools and offerings that will truly make the difference will be about translating those offline experiences, seamlessly online. That’s why the Adobe Commerce platform focuses on relating the personal experience that’s existed in the B2B world for so long, to a technical capability.
According to Sophia, “the whole purpose of translating anything to a technical or digital world is to make the human experience better.” She always likes to say that “on the other end of a digital experience is just a human experience. That's all. As a buyer, am I getting frustrated or is it easy? Does it feel that you as a business have invested the time or money to create the right experience for me?”
Those kinds of questions can easily be brought up at the point of purchase, where Sophia agrees that businesses simply can't have an experience where payments aren't being supported correctly.
“A manufacturing business that has been around for the last 100 years has undoubtedly pushed their industry forward–their legacy and mission is to innovate,” explains Sophia. Only now, they need to channel that innovation through their digital experience.
They no longer can afford to have something clunky. “They cannot have people pushed off their site or realizing that: ‘we may have had a multi-decade relationship with you and wished to continue it, but another distributor has simply done a better job making the investments to provide me a better experience, so now I have to order from them’,” says Sophia.
And that is where extended third-party capabilities and integrations become critical in giving businesses more options to differentiate their online channel and invest in keeping long term customer loyalty.
The flexibility that comes with the right technology
A common denominator between sales and payments is that both have existed in a certain way in B2B for a long time. So digitizing that process comes with a certain level of anxiety and fear. Ultimately, for B2B companies that have been running on manual interactions, automation and self-service can seem like a threat to their jobs.
When, in fact, digitization is not about reducing human talent, but about giving businesses the right tools and technology to solve their biggest needs. For some businesses, it might be about loyalty and customer acquisition. For others, it might not be about sales at all, but simply improving the current experience for existing customers.
And payments can come in to service any one of those requirements. If it is about the experience side, rolling out a consumer-like checkout can keep buyers coming back. If it is about overhead and A/R management, automating invoicing and reconciliation can significantly cut costs.
Future-proofing, although it has become a buzzword, is really all about the adaptability to business needs. That is where the conversation around any kind of ecommerce solution should be.
Sophia says that one of the most important questions for merchants to ask themselves is: Am I investing in technology that allows me to keep growing?
Digital experience as a strategy
Breaking habits is hard. But sometimes resisting change does more harm than the initial difficulty of getting started. The digital experience is a great example. Some businesses, especially those that can bank on decade-old sales relationships, might see the digital experience as fluff.
But it is not a coincidence that Adobe–a company that made Photoshop a verb, the original champion of brand creative digital experience–is one of the major leaders in the B2B space today.
Sophia explains that businesses who care about online B2B payments are the ones “investing towards a future where the experience of the brand is most important.” Yes, you can be doing a great job maintaining the customer relationship. But, at the end of the day, if one company shows they care more by investing in a better online experience, customers take notice.
So the importance of frictionless online payment and all of the technology that has to happen to create that, is about more than just improving what businesses have today. For any kind of innovation, merchants need to ask themselves how to go beyond basic functionality and more towards experience.
Businesses can choose to stick with payment via purchase order because that might work well enough for their existing buyers. But what happens when you want to add a new payment method for a new segment of customers?
Looking at the future of B2B payments
Now more than ever, there are a lot of B2B capabilities out there. The question is which ones are going to make innovation the easiest. Balance partners with ecosystem leaders that have similar goals to ours–helping merchants plan ahead in order to be in a position to benefit from new growth opportunities in the future.
And as platforms like Adobe Commerce continue to invest in elevating every aspect of the digital storefront, the B2B payment experience has to closely follow.