As I’ve noted, solving for the complexities of the B2B buying process on marketplaces is crucial. Payments-related friction is especially important to reduce, according to recent research. An MSTS survey finds that more than half of millennial B2B buyers (54%) expect alternative ways to pay, and more than a third (40%) are looking for better purchase controls.
A McKinsey paper indicates that while procurement functions have historically avoided leveraging B2B marketplaces for indirect spend — “everything from IT and telecoms to transportation, professional services, and marketing” — that resistance is quickly fading: “A new generation of procurement leaders, who have grown up buying online for increasingly complex personal needs, are beginning to wonder whether buying online also makes sense for business.” (Since this report was published in late 2019, more procurement executives have graduated from wondering whether B2B marketplaces make sense to taking action.) The paper identifies a handful of valuable features that corporate buyers increasingly expect their B2B marketplaces to offer, including:
- Financial services, including financing for buyers as well as insurance and tax-management services for sellers; and
- Payment options, including multiple forms of payment, open purchase orders, and stored account data.
Sellers should keep those expectations top of mind as they evaluate the extent to which the payment processes on B2B marketplaces are satisfactory to buyers. Asking the following questions can also help:
- Are my payment options flexible? As our survey and the McKinsey research suggest, selling on a marketplace that only offers credit card-based transactions can limit a seller’s ability to compete. Buyers increasingly want the best of both worlds: a modern B2C experience combined with traditional B2B payment flexibility.
- How much control do I have? The way a marketplace looks and functions for a buyer is an important factor to consider. As a seller, can you establish department-level purchase controls or consolidated invoicing for larger clients? Can you access customers’ spend and remaining credit at a moment’s notice to avoid transactional delays?
- Am I capturing valuable data? Just as the front-end experience is important for buyers, sellers should emphasize the need for dynamic controls on the back-end of the marketplace. Insufficient sales data and insights can negate many of the benefits of selling on a marketplace. Leading B2B marketplaces equip sellers with real-time data on their customers, orders and listings along with advanced features such as sales analytics and forecasting.
Buyers’ expectations are not the only dynamic force sellers and B2B marketplaces face. Advances in modern payment technology are disrupting traditional payment routines. That’s good news, of course, given that these types of FinTech advancements can be used to meet and exceed buyers’ expectations.