While crises get credit for hastening business trends, they also focus a harsh light on how well companies leverage those trends and execute related processes when the margin for error is razor-thin.
The shift to remote work and efforts to improve organizational resilience have certainly accelerated since mid-March. And the pandemic has helped expose precisely how virtual and resilient companies truly are. The use of B2B marketplaces also has increased during COVID-19, which in turn is revealing new opportunities to improve these platforms.
The Economist recently described the “digital rush” to marketplaces in the financial services and products space: “Everybody is trying to become the home page,” one investor told the publication. Within the B2B realm, more buyers and sellers are looking for those home pages — platforms where they can connect and transact with each other for nearly every type of offering, no matter how complex.
That’s great news for sellers. Marketplaces are flourishing as an accessible and valuable option to add to a B2B company’s mix of sales channels. To leverage this accelerating trend, sellers should take a hard look at the complexities of marketplace transactions.
Here are three common challenges that currently complicate the B2B marketplace ecosystem along with some quick takes on corresponding fixes:
Purchasing friction challenges on B2B online marketplaces
Buyers don’t want surprises during the purchasing process; even the most expensive or highest volume orders should be filled easily. Yet, sellers often have relatively little control over the buyer experience within a marketplace, limiting their capacity to satisfy buyer expectations. Marketplaces have an interest in keeping sellers and buyers satisfied.
Solution: Process efficiency improvements
By enhancing the purchase process with term-based payment options, consolidated invoicing and organizational purchase controls, sellers can reduce typical sources of friction. Those improvements elevate a buyer’s confidence in the seller. As such, marketplaces should design user experiences that are free of glitches, time-outs and related checkout issues. Leading B2B marketplaces actively guide buyers through the purchasing lifecycle, including the payments process.
B2B marketplace platform payment problems
While B2B buyers increasingly expect a B2C-like experience on marketplaces, they also want the flexibility to choose their payment terms. B2B sellers are focused on collecting payment as soon as possible without facing unexpected chargebacks on credit card transactions, enduring other accounts receivable (A/R) headaches or assuming all of the risk if a buyer doesn’t pay.
Solution: Find a fintech partner
Since marketplaces lack A/R departments, they should consider partnering with a FinTech provider to handle crediting, onboarding and invoicing processes via an approach that lets buyers chose their terms while getting sellers paid immediately.
Encouraging repeat purchases on B2B marketplaces
Large, complex purchases typically require multiple approvals within the buying organization; and a steady flow of repeat purchases can leave accounts payable (A/P) teams swimming in invoices that require processing. Sellers often feel stymied in their attempts to generate more repeat purchases, and share of wallet increases, due to limited payment options.
Solution: Consolidated invoicing and Credit as a Service (CaaS)
Buyers would like purchase control features based on spend and SKUs, and consolidated invoicing would help their A/P teams optimize processing activities. Equipping sellers with more flexible capabilities, including CaaS options at checkout and departmental purchase controls, can help marketplaces improve the experience on both sides of the transaction.
As new entrants intensify competition in this space, B2B marketplaces that continually improve their buyer and seller experiences will improve their odds of becoming the “home page” of choice as the digital rush advances.