While consumers can often be demanding and fickle, anticipating and meeting their needs is all part of the game in business. Not surprisingly, the wants and needs of consumers have influenced the development of many businesses, pushing growth, change, and adaptation—and often resulting in improved and more efficient practices.
That influence has led many businesses to develop powerful e-commerce tools in order to provide consumers with the flexibility and mobility they crave. But what about businesses that serve other businesses, also known as B2B?
With B2B, the adoption of e-commerce technology has been much slower, since businesses tend to be less demanding with other businesses. Similarly, the competition is not as fierce, and many businesses that operate via B2B payments and commerce haven’t needed to change as much or as rapidly as B2C (business to consumer) companies.
But that time is at an end for B2B businesses. As so many businesses have already streamlined much of their B2C sales into e-commerce, it only makes sense to adopt B2B e-commerce as well—and not just for the sake of consistency. There are real benefits to be gained.
E-commerce has become so popular among consumers and B2C businesses because it’s both more efficient and easier to operate, with less drag time and lower costs, since check processing and paper statements for billing are eliminated.
Essentially, adopting e-commerce means three major steps:
- Going paperless, or close to it
- Providing online and mobile payment options
- Acquiring the ability to automate payments or statements for recurring billing needs
By implementing B2B e-commerce software, your business could reap a variety of benefits, including a general streamlining of most internal processes and reduced costs over time. Consider the following benefits for B2B payments and e-commerce processes:
- Get rid of paper-based processes. With B2B e-commerce, your business can create more efficient lines of communication, both internally and with your business customers, to ensure prompt response of invoices, payments, and orders. Digitizing the ordering and payment processes make for easier tracking and less paper-shuffling—as well as less money spent printing everything out and mailing it. Those costs add up over time. Save yourself the hassle and money with internet-based or electronic systems.
- Automated payments can ease billing stress and costs. When you adopt a B2B e-commerce platform you can also adopt technology that allows you to store billing information on file. When a customer has to make regular payments for any reason, you will both feel less stressed if an automated system takes care of the regular payments for you.
- New forms of payment will save money and time. By allowing your clients to pay by more than just check form, you’re saving time and money for both of you. Checks are great for some purposes, but in general they cost money to print and money to cash and deposit. Digital fund exchanges through secure banks and accounts are much faster, cheaper, and easier for everyone. This aspect of B2B e-commerce should be embraced across the board, at the very least, since it’s quickly becoming a must for all industries to accept more than just cash and checks.
Overall, B2B payments are still largely handled in check form, and most business processes have not embraced the wide range of technology available. Even so, B2B e-commerce is growing at a fast rate. According to a Forrester Research forecast, B2B e-commerce currently makes up 9.9 percent of all B2B transactions and is forecasted to reach 12 percent of total B2B sales by 2020. If the speed at which B2C businesses adopted e-commerce is anything to go by, this is one trend you don’t want to ignore.
About the Author – Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood. .
Top Photo Courtesy of Pexels.