The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing global B2B firms to eCommerce channels and marketplaces, and the payments and processes that go with them. B2C firms adapted to digital years ago, but B2B was slower to adapt.
That changed with the pandemic, however, as more businesses began migrating to digital channels to keep their operations functioning in a rapidly changing world. Since the beginning of the global health crisis, B2B buyers and sellers have reported more of a preference for making purchases and interacting with business partners online.
In fact, 66% of B2B company representatives believe that digital-enabled sales interactions are more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions, according to the Global B2B Payments Playbook, a PYMNTS and Worldpay B2B Payments collaboration. Among those same representatives, only 48% said that was also true in the period before the COVID-19 pandemic.
See the study: Global B2B Payments Playbook
Successfully Transitioning to Digital Commerce
As they move into the digital sphere, B2B firms still have much to catch up on. For example, compared to B2C sites, B2B sites need to become more user-friendly, easier to navigate and more likely to provide useful features like product recommendations or discounts. PYMNTS data shows that 11% more B2C sites currently allow users to rate products or write reviews than B2B sites.
Another step companies must take to successfully transition to digital commerce is bridging the gap between the multiple systems they use to manage the moving parts of the order-to-cash (O2C) process with their eCommerce platforms. Companies looking to digitize their B2B payments must also make sure these solutions can integrate with other parts of their payments flows, allowing them to seamlessly send all the necessary data.
Allowing any disconnection can lead to costly errors and frustrations that could slow down invoices or payments, eliminating the speed and transparency granted by digital solutions. Connecting the eCommerce platform with other systems in the ordering process is critical for businesses taking this next step into the eCommerce world.
Focusing on Improvement of Workflows and Technologies
“The pandemic has provided a clear focus on improvement of [the] workflows and technologies [that] process B2B payments, driving a move toward more diverse methods and channels of B2B payments — especially real-time payments,” Eric Bushman, vice president of solutions engineering at Worldpay B2B Payments, told PYMNTS.
“These additional B2B payment methods and channels also drive the push for enterprises to engage with payment processing platforms [that] may have traditionally focused more on the B2C market and [have] platforms [that] provide value-added solutions, such as reporting portals with advanced analytics and reconciliation features, improved focus on [the] security of payment method account details, targeted solutions to improve payment acceptance rates, a focus on omnichannel acceptance and enhanced integration with ERP and financial systems,” Bushman added.
The B2B eCommerce world has been growing steadily as firms work to match B2C transactions’ speed. The ongoing pandemic has accelerated this growth, however, with firms tapping virtual marketplaces to finalize more sales as they adjust to the new digital normal. B2B companies that have yet to implement the digital payment tools their clients and partners have come to expect must work quickly to do so or risk losing business.