B2B Consumerization and Gen AI Needed to Unlock Potential of Buyer-Supplier Ecosystem, Experts Say

b2b payments, shipping

While B2B payment services have previously prioritized buyers, there is an increasing focus on providing value to suppliers, including accelerated payments. 

According to Matt Clark, president and chief operating officer of Corcentric, this is the result of significant progress made to digitize B2B payments and embrace card-enabled transactions in recent years. 

But as much as significant headway has been made, there is still a long way to go to strengthen buyer-supplier relationships, Clark told PYMNTS last January, pointing to headwinds stemming from the fragmentation among the providers as well as the friction created by the range of different approaches aimed at addressing the same processes. 

Education is one way to tackle the challenge, he noted, especially when it comes to getting CFOs and other executives to recognize the merits of adopting a platform-based and holistic strategy.

“Being able to get in and create a network effect in a specific vertical because they’re all using the same suppliers, they’re all dealing with the same types of purchases,” can significantly improve cash flow management, he explained.

On the supplier side, Scott Simpson, senior vice president at Capital One Trade Credit, said the ability to retain and attract customers in today’s fast-paced digital world will require reimagining the B2B accounts receivable (AR) process through the lens of consumer-driven insights. 

“As consumers, so much has changed around the purchase experience,” Simpson told PYMNTS in a recent interview. “But for businesses, that same experience is often stuck in the same manual processes as 20, 30 years ago.”

Basically, it will take considering B2B buyers as “consumers” and shifting focus from simply attracting and maintaining customers and generating revenue sales to help B2B suppliers stand out from the competition, Simpson added.

Generative AI: From Hype to Real B2B Benefits

Technology is also playing a critical role in reshaping interactions between buyers and suppliers, especially during challenging economic times.

In fact, digital solutions such as automation have emerged as transformative tools, breaking down traditional barriers in the B2B journey and facilitating smoother transactions for both buyers and suppliers.

Per findings from a recent PYMNTS study, 93% of chief financial officers reported reduced days of delay in how invoices are tracked when automating accounts payable (AP) processes, with all CFOs seeing the need for AP/AR automation. 

Businesses are also leveraging the game-changing capabilities of generative artificial intelligence (AI) to clear back-end bottlenecks and streamline B2B eCommerce. 

As Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO and co-founder of eCommerce search and discovery process solution Constructor, told PYMNTS last month, “wrongly tagged items were a really difficult problem to solve — at least in the past. But the advent of generative AI has proven to be a really good use case when applied to this area.” 

He added that generative AI’s ability to generate novel attributes, rectify inaccuracies, and refine search criteria and outcomes, holds the potential to reshape product data management in the B2B space, leading to heightened efficiency and enhanced commercial customer experiences. 

That said, Finkelshteyn pointed to the need for companies to thoroughly assess generative AI’s impact and substantiate its actual value to ensure that it is driving the anticipated key performance indicators. 

This scrutiny, he noted, is what will differentiate generative AI from “being a hype cycle that eventually ends, to … being something that leads to actual, very real benefits across the marketplace.”