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Small Businesses, Air Transport Innovations Dominate This Week in B2B 

There’s no business like a B2B business. 

And successful business-to-business (B2B) strategies — and the companies deploying them — are characterized by agility, innovation, and a focus on delivering value to customers while embracing the power of technology and collaboration.

After all, today’s technologies offer more opportunities to optimize processes, improve accuracy, and uncover insights than ever before, helping drive better decision-making and business performance.

At PYMNTS, the top themes we heard this week were around small business innovations, the ways firms are tapping data to optimize operations, the use of air transport to hedge against land and sea supply chain disruptions, and the latest ways businesses are chipping away at the $250 trillion cross-border payments marketplace. 

Big Moves in Small Business

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the soul of commerce and Main Street, and for the first time in a while, there is some good news to report around their growth and prospects. 

That’s because PYMNTS Intelligence found that Main Street SMB growth exceeded GDP for the first time in two years. 

On Tuesday (April 9), JustPaid launched a billing platform application programming interface (API) that helps businesses automatically track product usage and generate invoices; while the same day, Spendesk announced it had acquired Okko to integrate procurement and spend management for mid-sized businesses into its existing spend management platform.

Also on Tuesday, data management firm PRGX unveiled an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered accounts payable platform. Sticking with the AI theme, Kyriba on Tuesday added AI features to its platform to helps chief financial officers, treasurers and IT leaders optimize their liquidity.

On Wednesday (April 10), Nav added a “credit health experience” to its financial health platform for small businesses. 

And Mimo on Thursday (April 11), launched a financial management platform for SMBs and accountants. The company’s solution is designed to help SMBs and accountants pay invoices, make or chase international payments, and manage cash flow, without having to use multiple apps and spreadsheets, bundling these processes into a single tool. 

Also on Thursday, Nuvei launched a service that enables merchants to access its Invoice Financing solutions directly within their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

Sticking with the SMB theme, additional PYMNTS Intelligence in the study “Main Street Health Survey Q4 2023: eCommerce Protects Main Street SMBs’ Bottom Line in a Cooling Market,” created in collaboration with Enigma, found that, among Main Street SMBs that make sales through online channels, 40% do so at least in part because it enables them to expand to more markets.

Raina Khumush, director of marketing and digital at the recently revived Buybuy Baby, noted in an interview with PYMNTS that the company is using its digital channels to reach more customers than can be served by its 11 stores (where it once had more than 10 times that). That said, the in-store experience remains key to the company’s business strategy.

Cross-Border Payments and Air Cargo

Airwallex on Wednesday launched the Borderless Visa Card for businesses in Canada, letting Canadian businesses make payments anywhere Visa is accepted. 

A day earlier, on Tuesday, PYMNTS covered the realities shaping the $250 trillion cross-border payments landscape, noting the same-day news that cross-border payment platform dLocal announced it was partnering with payroll and payments platform Papaya Global to drive global workforce payments.

And you can’t cross borders, or state lines, without taking flight. 

During its latest earnings call, Delta Air Lines reported that the company saw corporate travel demand accelerate, with managed corporate sales growing 14% year over year during the quarter. 

And elsewhere in air travel and transport, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association of the world’s airlines, reported Monday (April 8) that this past February — the latest on record — was the third consecutive month of double-digit, year-over-year demand growth for the global air cargo market. Against this backdrop, PYMNTS dug into the impact the double-digit growth of the air cargo market could have on the dynamics between shippers, carriers, freight forwarders and other commercial players within the global supply chain’s complex ecosystem.

Getting in on the travel fun, on Tuesday Mesh Payments also added a guest travel solution to its global travel and expense (T&E) management platform.

Data Drives Success

There is more data being generated today in the B2B arena than ever before. And with J.P. Morgan Chase’s launch of its media platform last week, the value of using this data to power analytics is top of mind — particularly for B2B players. 

That’s why PYMNTS unpacked the benefits firms are finding when they trade traditional operating models for ones powered by real-time data. That’s because real-time data fuels data analytics and machine learning algorithms, enabling businesses to gain valuable insights into market trends, customer behavior and operational performance. 

As we covered, in a business landscape where uncertainty reigns supreme, and far-ranging supply chain disruptions can happen out of the blue, the ability to leverage leading, versus lagging, indicators is becoming more valuable than ever. 

“What businesses want is certainty, understanding what the future might look like,” Alek Koenig, CEO and founder of Settle, told PYMNTS for the “AI Effect” series. 

And PYMNTS reported on how, with the recent announcement during Alphabet’s annual Google Cloud Next conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday of several new, business-focused AI updates to Google Workspace, the impact of AI software for B2B applications is top of mind for companies. 

What Firms Should Watch Out For

On Wednesday, Deutsche Bank Global Head of Embedded Finance Solutions Matthaeus Sielecki told PYMNTS that embedded finance is transforming verticals as far-flung as retail and logistics.

And on Thursday, Provi CFO Kevin Price told PYMNTS about how an analytics focus helps move the CFO role from bookkeeping to a true business partner for the series “Day in the Life of a CFO.”

Also on Thursday, Andy McHale, senior director of product and market strategy at Spreedly, told PYMNTS that online platforms offer advantages to all stakeholders — and they can offer an optimal payments experience.

On the cybersecurity front, PYMNTS dug into why traditional social engineering methods including business email compromise (BEC) attacks and malware injections remain a critical risk for businesses to protect against.