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Workflow Automation, Flexible Financing Top This Week in B2B Innovation 

It is a testament to the business-to-business (B2B) landscape that firms tend to pivot toward, and not away, from it. After all, you hear a lot more about one-time business-to-consumer (B2C) firms embracing B2B channels than vice-versa. 

But that doesn’t mean that the B2B landscape, for all its attractions, is an easy one to thrive within. Fortunately, a suite of modern innovations is transforming the landscape by helping B2B firms solve long-standing legacy frictions, as well as keep an eye on what can’t be controlled for — at least not yet. 

That’s why PYMNTS keeps an ear to the ground, listening for all of the latest initiatives. The top themes we heard this week were around the benefits of workflow automation; the need of smaller firms for flexible financing solutions; and why operational visibility is at its most important when uncertainty is the only certainty. 

Workflow Automation

On Tuesday (April 2), PairSoft acquired APRO Software Solutions, with the former saying that the combination will expand its enterprise financial automation capabilities and global scale. Per a release announcing the news, the tie-up resulting from the acquisition will create a global procure-to-pay, order-to-cash and bank integration platform that serves more than 1,700 organizations. 

On Wednesday (April 3), Zip announced it had added new enterprise capabilities to its intake and procurement orchestration platform and intake-to-pay suite. This new suite of capabilities is designed to help businesses manage compliance, strengthen integrations with other tools and scale faster. 

By automating procurement workflows that were previously manual, firms can enjoy enhancements across their workflows and even rethink the staffing needed for procurement and payment functions, Lu Cheng, co-founder and chief technology officer at Zip, told PYMNTS in an interview posted in October 2023.

Also on Wednesday, payroll infrastructure company Check partnered with Wave, a money management platform for small businesses, to streamline the administrative burdens that come with proper tax calculation, form filing, and remittance. There are 11,000 U.S. payroll jurisdictions across the U.S., and managing for these can be stifling — particularly for small business owners, the release noted. 

And Wednesday was a big day for B2B, with Synovus, a bank with branches in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee, also choosing it to launch a new B2B payment solution that gives its commercial banking clients a choice of several different payment types when initiating accounts payable (AP) payments.

Change is in the air, and on Tuesday PYMNTS wrote about the latest transformations in how B2B suppliers bill their customers, highlighting the rise of the electronic invoice. 

Just this month, PYMNTS examined the burden that payment delays put on SMBs, with close to one-third of them bogged down in manual processing for the ad hoc payments that account for nearly two-thirds of their revenue.

Flexible Financing for SMBs

On Thursday (April 4), PYMNTS explored how, against a backdrop where the cost of doing business is only growing more expensive for Main Street SMBs, innovation and adaptability are becoming increasingly critical to staying competitive.

PYMNTS Intelligence has found that 90% of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) used at least one type of borrowing tool in the past year.

The greater the SMB’s annual revenue, the more likely that company is to use a variety of borrowing tools, according to “SMB Borrowing Dynamics: Trends, Tools and Decision Drivers,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and U.S. Bank collaboration.

And on Wednesday, U.S. Bank and Levantor Capital expanded their partnership to offer additional flexible working capital financing options to help U.S. Bank clients improve supplier relationships and more efficiently trade with partners. 

Data-Driven Visibility

PYMNTS explored on Tuesday the impact that the March 26 collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge could have on East Coast logistics as businesses and shippers try to manage the fallout. 

“The impacts to the local region will be significant for several months or years until the bridge is rebuilt,” Lisa Anderson, founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, told PYMNTS at the time. “Even once the port is reopened, trucks will continue to be rerouted around Baltimore, adding time and cost to trips from the port and through the Baltimore area.”

And PYMNTS Intelligence in the inaugural edition of “The 2024 Certainty Project Report” finds that uncertainty costs middle-market companies more than $20 million on average, per firms’ CFOs. 

But, as always, the marketplace is responding. FourKites and BuyCo on Wednesday partnered to offer a container shipping management solution that provides Fortune 500 shippers with visibility across inland and ocean shipments, allowing shippers to manage initial planning and booking, documentation and tendering and gain real-time transportation visibility.

What Experts Are Saying

During a conversation Tuesday, Kimberly Henning, senior vice president of product management at Bank of America, told PYMNTS the four ROI benchmarks for B2B payments. Wondering what they are? You’ll just have to click the link and find out! 

Read it here: Bank of America Identifies Four ROI Benchmarks for B2B Payments

Also on Tuesday, PYMNTS sat down with Edwin Poot and Jonathan Vaux, the global chief technology officer and head of propositions and partnerships, respectively, at Thredd, to get their thoughts on how recent innovations are set to revolutionize the way businesses handle travel expenditures