It’s a great time to be running a B2B marketplace. Marketplace sales doubled globally in 2022—to $112 billion—and there’s a race to attract more of the global B2B eCommerce market, which is projected to hit $47,773 billion by 2030. Competition is heating up and marketplace providers are looking for cost-effective ways to attract and retain B2B sellers and buyers.
Although not often discussed, one very important differentiator for B2B marketplaces to build buyer loyalty is offering the buyers’ preferred payment options. Many marketplaces set up basic merchant services that enable debit and credit card payments, but forget to consider that B2B payments are all about the invoice, not the card.
Yes, some business purchases are made with credit cards, but bigger orders require itemized invoices that are designed to be paid on “net terms” or “trade credit.” This is simply how corporate systems work, and a marketplace that doesn’t offer trade credit is likely to hit a sales plateau that is impossible to exceed without the proper payment options.
Loyalty Begins at the Payment
I often say loyalty begins at the first payment. In the B2B world, the first purchase can signal the start of a long relationship. It used to be this initial purchase was sealed with a handshake and a signed contract after multiple in-person meetings. Now, this relationship is built entirely online, with AI standing in for the sales rep. This is why the payment experience is so important.
These days, 70% of B2B decision-makers say they are now open to making new, fully self-service or remote purchases more than $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000 in one transaction, according to McKinsey. The buyers have done their research and they’re ready to buy when they hit the marketplace. Recent research reveals that four out of five business buyers would choose a vendor that offers 30-, 60- or 90-day payment terms at checkout. So the key question is, do you have the pieces in place for them to buy from you?
It’s Surprisingly Easy to Make It Easy for Buyers to Buy
B2B trade credit payments are complex, but they must feel seamless for the buyer who is used to the simplicity of purchasing as a consumer. The right B2B payment solutions can deftly manage the complicated back-office plumbing that power digital selling, including instant trade credit decisions. B2B buyers are no longer willing to wait multiple days to complete an initial purchase; now, they want an experience as sleek and seamless as a B2C purchase.
Here’s the really good news for marketplaces: as this channel matures, more companies are building technology solutions that allow you to get started immediately. You don’t have to build it, and you don’t have to buy it—partnerships are absolutely the way to go.
When you look for the right partner to provide invoicing and payments solutions, you’re likely to find a robust bundle of services, all designed to help you operate your marketplace more efficiently. For example, you might find a best-of-breed SaaS solution that helps manage marketplaces, their dropship needs and their B2B finances. Look a little further, and you might discover robust B2B invoicing and payment services integrated with a composable commerce approach that offers immense marketplace customization and flexibility.
Look for These Specific Financial Features
An ideal marketplace financial services provider can do far more than just process payments. In fact, a true B2B invoicing and payments network can handle everything from vetting new buyers for creditworthiness to paying merchants for outstanding invoices. A third-party partner will even manage the headaches associated with dunning and collections. For a marketplace with ambitious growth goals, these services increase operational efficiencies and allow sales to scale. To ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck, make sure your B2B payments provider offers:
- Data-driven risk decisioning, providing instant trade credit offers to new buyers
- Instant new customer onboarding so their first purchase occurs in minutes not days
- Consolidated invoicing, so buyers can purchase from multiple merchants in one seamless transaction
- Fast invoice payments minus a known fee to merchants, while buyers still have 30- 60- or 90-day terms
- Automated split payments to simplify cash disbursement to multiple bank accounts or vendors
- Payment choice for buyers, including trade credit, credit cards, ACH, and more
Available Trade Credit Is a Loyalty Builder
A fast and easy payment experience is certainly the first step in developing buyer loyalty. But an even more powerful connection is made when a business knows that they have pre-approved credit line at a specific marketplace. These buyers will come back to spend more, more frequently, when they have this dedicated financial relationship. The competitive advantage is significant when customers know they can easily purchase when they’re ready to.
A Brief Word About Fraud
It’s important to note that as online sales grow, fraud is also likely to increase. It’s simply the nature of eCommerce these days. As more customers are acquired online and globalization accelerates, there is a growing risk of business identity theft and other digital scams. That’s why leading B2B invoicing and payments providers should be using sophisticated AI and machine learning to identify suspicious activities and prevent fraudulent activities—be sure to ask your prospective partners how they mitigate fraud.
Today, Purpose-Built B2B Payments Are Mission-Critical
Many marketplaces view their online payment experience as merely mechanical—it either works or not—and in the past, they were largely correct. But like it or not, today’s digital world has progressed beyond putting PDFs of paper forms online. Automation is the name of the game, and marketplaces that create a customer-centric checkout, designed to give B2B buyers an experience that is neither complicated nor time consuming, can pull ahead of the competition and secure loyal buyers.