With the retail industry facing unprecedented disruption intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, the pressure is on to deliver seamless experiences that customers have grown to expect—B2B customers included.
While accepting payments by credit card can be helpful in B2B customer acquisition, retailers need to go further to drive true loyalty and stickiness. In today’s landscape, it’s important for B2B leaders to pay closer attention to all customer interactions, touchpoints, and needs—such as robust digital invoicing, automated fraud checks, and more. In this article, we’ll examine how a payment strategy refresh can help you:
- Improve buyer retention, loyalty, and trust
- Leverage data for actionable business intelligence
- Simplify and automate processes to embrace transformation
Disruption in retail is likely to continue. Smart retailers will take the time now to optimize their payments strategy—or be left scrambling to adapt. Learn how to take a proactive approach today.
With the retail industry facing unprecedented disruption intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, the pressure is on to deliver the kinds of seamless payments and purchasing experiences that customers have grown to expect — including B2B customers. While many consumer-facing brands have already taken the necessary steps to facilitate an easy and convenient payments process online, B2B companies are now racing against the clock to upgrade their customer experiences after being forced to take the bulk of their business online.
“As business buyers, we’re all consumers first,” said Michelle Faul, VP of Global Marketing for TreviPay, a financial technology company that powers over $6 billion in global transactions across 27 countries and 18 currencies. “B2B ecommerce has exploded now that we’re working remotely. With that explosion has come the fact that B2B buyers have high expectations for what it looks like to do business online.”
Some of the most important considerations from buyers are: “How quickly can I get it? Do I trust the person that I’m transacting with? And can I pay for it in the manner in which I want?” These are the make-or-break questions for buyers who know they now have access to more suppliers than ever. Now that loyalty is up for grabs customer experience and satisfaction is crucial.
Smart B2B businesses and retailers are realizing that optimizing their payments strategy and removing complexity while building trust can lead to significant results.
According to a Forrester study of global payments decisionmakers commissioned by TreviPay in April 2021, more than 90% of respondents expect that improving payment options for B2B customers will improve customer satisfaction, speed up transactions, free up internal resources and increase business success.
“Those (payment partners) who are able to do that for merchants and suppliers are going to become a trusted partner of the retailers serving a B2B community,” Faul said.
For retailers who want to stay ahead, fine tuning your payment strategy has never been more important.
5 areas of opportunity for retailers
Improve buyer retention
While accepting payments by credit card can be helpful in B2B customer acquisition, to drive loyalty and stickiness, retailers need to go further. Doing so can net real results. According to various studies, a 10% increase in customer retention can yield a 30% rise in a company’s value; repeat customers spend up to 33% more than existing ones.
“Credit cards are ok for acquiring a customer maybe the first time,” Faul said, “but once you acquire them, there’s a huge opportunity to transition them, taking that interaction and shifting them over to create a more loyal buyer.”
One-way TreviPay helps retailers in this area is by facilitating trade credit, she said. For example, when an electronics retailer saw an opportunity to reach an untapped customer market but lacked the resources to deliver on the requirements this customer base needed, TreviPay was able to provide a B2B payment and credit solution to extend credit and back-office resources to help them scale.
When most retailers or merchants open up an e-commerce channel for business buyers, the easiest thing for them to do is to accept payment by credit card. But business buyers want more. – Michelle Faul, VP of Global Marketing for TreviPay
TreviPay provided Net 30 payment terms and extended lines of credit exclusively for use with this retailer, as well as the required back-office resources to support the B2B transactions. In addition, TreviPay introduced automated application decisioning to the program, and with real-time APIs, the TreviPay credit system was able to run all applications through automated fraud checks to reduce risk.
TreviPay also differentiated the underwriting process to accommodate the idiosyncrasies of the retailer’s customers within specific verticals, helping them grow into new markets.
From the launch of the program through the next 10 years, the retailer saw a $215 million increase in program volume.
“Oftentimes what inhibits merchants or retailers who have identified a strong business buyer base, is that in order to extend trade credit and send invoices, you’ve got to have a whole inhouse team that’s going to follow up and make sure the payments are received,” Faul said. “So finding a partner that can manage that back office accounts receivable for you so that you don’t have to build that from the ground up can be really important.”
$215 Million From the launch of the program through the next 10 years, the retailer saw a $215 million increase in program volume.
Simplify in every area
Retailers also need to focus on making things simpler for their B2B customers both in stores and online.
“If a merchant really offers a frictionless, easy path,” Faul said, “the buyer doesn’t even have to think about it – they just make their purchase and move on.”
One way that TreviPay is helping retailers remove complexity is by innovating new ways for B2B buyers to make purchases — including via mobile. This allows merchants to offer a mobile app payment experience to pre-approved B2B credit customers, who then can access their buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) trade financing through the app.
“We have mobile payment options through the app where a barcode is scanned at the point of sale, so that a business buyer can get their pre-established pricing,” Faul said.
Not only does this make transacting easier for B2B customers, it also eliminates the need to issue multiple credit cards to numerous purchasers within the organization, reducing fraud risk, she said.
The Staples Commercial Account app powered by TreviPay has already seen strong uptake and success for our in-store B2B customers in the first few weeks post-integration. By enhancing the B2B purchasing experience at online check-out and in-store point-ofsale, we continue to elevate technology in order to make shopping with us much easier for thousands of our business customers. – David Boone, CEO of Staples Canada
TreviPay’s first partner of this one-click mobile app for B2B buyers was Staples Canada, which implemented the solution at staples.ca, staplespreferred.ca, and at more than 300 stores across Canada. This allowed Staples Canada’s authorized purchasers to shop seconds after downloading the Staples Commercial Account app rather than waiting for a physical card to arrive in the mail.
Additionally, Faul said, merchants can offer instant, digital invoicing within the app to further simplify the experience. Purchase details and terms are then stored in the app’s purchase history and sent directly to the buyers’ company, offering buyers the same immediate gratification as a contactless B2C transaction.
Get the most out of your data
A good payment partner can provide merchants with data that can help drive decision-making, Faul said, and this data can be an untapped resource for retailers. From BIN-level analysis to location information, using that data properly can help businesses uncover new opportunities with the potential to impact their bottom line.
For example, BIN-level analysis can help merchants determine what customer spend is consumer versus commercial. That data can then be used to offer the commercial users trade credit and purchasing by invoice. Retailers working with a payment partner like TreviPay have access to customized dashboards to leverage this and other data for actionable business intelligence.
This data gives retailers who previously may have had a disjointed view of a customer, a 360-degree picture of everything that customer has purchased, regardless of the channel they used, she said.
“This allows them to consume that data and identify where there might be opportunities to increase the share of wallet,” Faul said. “So, for example, maybe a customer is purchasing a high volume of printers, but they’re not purchasing the consumables—the paper, the ink—that go with it. So that’s obviously an opportunity for a salesperson to reach out and figure out why.”
For many of our clients, they’re able to deploy our products across all of their sales channels. So, it doesn’t matter if a customer is buying from a salesperson in-store or buying online – it’s all coming through the TreviPay platform. – Michelle Faul, VP of Global Marketing for TreviPay
Build trust between buyers and merchants
According to a recent PYMNTS.com and Comdata study, onethird of firms are worried about B2B payments fraud, and 26% are concerned about the security of the sensitive data these payments contain. And according to the Forrester/TreviPay study, “increased scrutiny on security and fraud” ranked among the top priorities for more than 60% of payments decision-makers within merchant companies.
This makes it mission critical for retailers to find a payment partner they can trust, Faul said, with best-in-class regulatory and compliance practices and a focus on fraud prevention.
With real-time API integrations, TreviPay has the ability to run all applications through automated fraud checks to reduce risk. Through its innovative system, the payments partner builds a score card with the client and instantly assesses the applicants based on that scorecard to provide an automated credit decision.
“It’s one of those things that nobody likes to talk about, but fraud attempts are common,” Faul said. “We can find those bad actors through the checks we run on companies to ensure that they are who they say they are.”
TreviPay handles both Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for our clients, so they can rest easy there. When we underwrite a buyer, that falls on us to be able to collect. Our underwriting process helps us mitigate risk. – Michelle Faul, VP of Global Marketing for TreviPay
Lastly, there is a huge incentive for retailers to take a proactive approach to their payment strategy, modernizing customer-facing and back-office systems to stay ahead of competition. According to a PYMNTS.com and Comdata study, only 30% of SMBs have begun to automate their accounts payable processes to deploy instant payments. Meanwhile, the ability to simplify, automate processes and embrace transformation are areas that can help retailers of every size to succeed.
“Oftentimes businesses have a technology stack that might limit their ability to make easy changes internally,” Faul said. “But if you have a strategy that enables you to integrate with partners and embed different functionalities, offer frictionless commerce and value-added services to your customers and it’s all done within your brand and your systems and processes — those are the companies that are going to leap-frog others. They will create that really strong, tight relationship with their buyers that will make it very difficult for competitors to win them away because the process of doing business is so frictionless.”
Disruption in retail is likely to continue. Smart retailers will take the time now to optimize their payments strategy—or be left scrambling to adapt.
30% of SMBs have begun to automate their accounts payable processes to deploy instant payments.