Winning a customer is tough and expensive work, but once you do win them over, your task is far from over. Continuing to succeed as a B2B based business is based largely on two additional tasks: Retaining your customers and maximizing revenue and cash flow from them. Retaining customers boils down to taking care of them and protecting them from your rivals, but increasing cash flow can be a little more complex. Fortunately, both tasks can be accomplished by moving your B2B orders online.
Smooth Order Frequency and Increase Regularity
For better or worse, most people are driven by instant gratification. That is why you are far more likely to generate a sale after a visit from one of your sales reps or during a trade show. Even if your door is open to customers through mailed, faxed, emailed, or even phone orders, order frequency often remains based on visits from sales reps.
This causes a variety of issues, not the least of which is irregular cash flow. This “Feast or Famine” approach to sales can make it difficult to execute business plans. In addition, it offers an opportunity for a competitor to take your customer – empty space on their floor because your sales rep is a week or two late is an opening for the sales rep of a rival.
Taking B2B orders online caters to your customers immediately. Perhaps more importantly, it also can help smooth the peaks and valleys of order activity and minimizes downtime that might allow a competitor to swoop in.
Increase Liquidity by Eliminating Payment Latency
eCommerce platforms also offer the benefit of faster payment. Customers get the gratification of immediate ordering and Apruve pays you within 24 hours of invoice generation. Rather than sending them your product and then getting paid, you have faster access to your sales revenue. The customer then pays Apruve according to the offered terms.
The importance of liquidity cannot be overstated. Having faster access to your cash allows you to leverage it to grow your business.
Representative salaries. Order processing timeframes. Inventory expenses. Bookkeeping. Attempting to collect late or non-payment. What do they all have in common? They are all a fact of life for all B2B companies. They also all can be improved or mitigated through moving B2B ordering online. Here are some ways how:
Online ordering capabilities means that your reps can waste less time on physically taking an order themselves and trying to collect on unpaid invoices, and spend more time engaging in meaningful high-level strategic planning with a customer.
Online ordering processing is also faster and more accurate.
Faster order turnaround and steadier order flow will help reduce inventory expenses.
With online invoices you’ll have less paperwork, rather than dealing with multiple data sources.
Upfront payment by Apruve on B2B orders means you’ll never have to waste time or money trying to collect on your outstanding invoices.
Whether your business is ready to move completely online, or you want to make online ordering part of your sales arsenal, the benefits of online B2B ordering are undeniable. Not only will your customers love it, you’ll be increasing cash flow as well.
Is your organization in step with the ways in which the B2B purchase journey has changed?
True success in B2B ecommerce begins with understanding the path to purchase for your B2B client. In recent years, that path has changed dramatically. In the process, several preconceived ideas about the B2B customer journey have, of necessity, fallen by the wayside as B2B companies embrace new technologies in acknowledgement of the ways in which purchasing decisions have evolved.
An Evolving Journey Fuels Technology Investment
According to a recent Forrester report, projections are that investment in ecommerce technologies and solutions will grow steadily over the next few years, rising to $459 billion in 2016 and $500 billion in 2017.
Why are B2B businesses investing in these technologies? It is due in large part to an increased awareness of the significant role ecommerce will play in coming years. Forrester also estimates that B2B ecommerce will top $1.1 trillion and account for 12.1 percent of all B2B sales in the US by 2020. Thus, investment in these technologies is a sound decision for B2B companies looking to increase revenues and stay in step with industry trends.
Understanding Fundamental Changes in B2B Purchasing Decisions
But more than simply investing in ecommerce technologies is needed to fully address the evolution of the B2B customer journey. In CIO’s “How to Succeed in B2B Ecommerce”, Seline Karakaya, COO, The Kini Group, a provider of business analytics software, advises: “Take the time to really understand who the decision maker is… and how the hierarchy of influence works within each organization.”
In past years, the decision makers may have all been C-suite execs. However, now that is not necessarily the case. Understanding who will be making the purchasing decision is a basic first step to influencing that decision.
What comes next? McKinsey & Company makes this astute observation: “It’s not enough to identify the decision makers in an organization. For marketing and sales activities to be effective, companies need to focus on those points in the decision journey where they can be most successful in influencing those decision makers. For some that might be procurement or finance. For others, it might be the CMO or even the end user. And for others still they might be a specific set of segments. Understanding who those influencers are and what matters most to them in making their purchasing decisions gives marketing and sales leaders the insight needed to gauge where their efforts are likely to have the greatest impact.”
The Continuing Consumerization of B2B Ecommerce
Google’s “The Changing Face of B2B Marketing” reveals much about the continuing trend of consumerization in the B2B ecommerce field. Partnering with Millward Brown Digital, Google surveyed approximately 3,000 B2B researchers and found the following surprising changes in the way purchase decisions are being made:
In direct contradiction of the preconceived notion that millennials are not contributing to the purchase decision process, 46 percent of B2B researchers are millennials.
While 64 percent of the organizations surveyed require final sign-off on purchases by a C-suite exec, 24 percent allow sign-off by a non-C-suite professional.
Even in those organizations where a C-suite exec has the final say, 81 percent of those organizations give non-C-suite personnel a say as well.
71 percent of B2B research starts with a generic query rather than search for a specific brand.
On average, B2B researchers do 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site.
42 percent of B2B researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process.
Greasing the Wheels of the Customer Journey
These statistics clearly illustrate that consumerization of B2B ecommerce is in full swing. Much like their B2C counterparts, B2B consumers are looking for more personalization, more relevance in your marketing methods, and easier ways to interact with your brand.
Are you providing ease at every customer touch point? Consider the following questions to help gauge where improvement may be indicated:
Are your marketing campaigns truly customer-centric, providing relevant and useful content at the right time to the right decision makers?
Are you using strong SEO practices to help B2B researchers easily find your website and products?
Is your website designed for ease of use, regardless of whether your customer is accessing it via a desktop or a mobile device?
Is your purchase processing in line with what your customers expect in the areas of payment options and convenience of checkout?
Do you have a seamless credit application process which allows customers to easily apply for credit and use an approved credit line to complete purchases in the future?
Do you use all available technologies to make it easy for your customer to purchase?
Applying the Lessons Learned
B2B organizations that embrace a more personalized, customer-centric approach in marketing, sales, and purchase processing will emerge victorious in the B2B ecommerce arena. Just as B2C customers crave a frictionless customer experience, so too B2B customers expect and increasingly demand that your brand provide a seamless, customer-centric experience from the initial research stage through the actual purchase transaction and beyond. To that end, B2B companies must adopt best-in-class technologies that facilitate the purchase process in order to be truly competitive in B2B ecommerce.
What is a credit application? In general terms, a credit application is a specific request for extended credit through a lender. There are a couple of ways for your customers to go through the credit application process for their online orders with you.
Traditional Credit Application with a B2B Seller
Traditionally, an online buyer would download a credit application pdf from your website, fill it out by hand, and fax it to you. You would then be responsible for the labor-intensive process of checking your customer’s credit history, verifying their business information, etc. and then assigning a credit limit that your company can afford to give your customer. This process can take days, if not weeks to complete. You take on the risk of offering your customer terms.
An even easier process is having the ability to fill out an online form and hit submit! Through Apruve, your buyers have the opportunity to submit an online credit application with real-time approval (we handle the credit application and approval), giving them a quicker turnaround time to make corporate purchases. If time is money, make the most of it with Apruve.
For quick turnaround, innovative solutions, and significantly less paperwork, online is the way to go. Make it even easier, use the streamlined approach of submitting the form and getting almost instant credit approval.
Partner with Apruve for an easy, online credit application for your B2B ecommerce needs!
You understand that every business can use time to pay on their accounts, but extending credit isn’t always an option for your B2B e-commerce transactions. You may have tried it in the past, but it interrupted your cash flow and disrupted your business. Using online processing for credit applications can provide your business with the cash it needs and provide your customer’s business with the time they need to pay. See how you can save your cash flow and even increase it with online credit applications.
The B2B Environment
Business buyers want and need the same quality customer experience they offer their own customers. Two of the four key areas for B2B success are customer experience and personalization. When you’re able to provide your customers with these elements, relationships flourish. But in the B2B environment, payment for products are often made on net-30 terms in order to extend payment options to the customer at the expense of decreasing your own available cash flow.
Paper Is a Problem
Half of businesses still rely on paper invoices and paper check payments. This means making a trip to the bank, depositing the check and waiting for it to clear before you have access to your money. The whole process can take weeks and even months for you to see your cash.
American Banker looked at the future of B2B e-commerce transactions and concluded that “shorter clearing windows provide businesses with greater control over cash flow.” Unlike the lengthy process of paper checks, extending credit is a viable option for keeping cash flowing. But implementing credit management can be time- and resource-intensive. You need credit applications, approval processes, finance teams and other staff to ensure payments are made on time. Extra capital and the potential for loss make it an expensive and risky game. Financing your customers shouldn’t be your responsibility.
Online Credit Processing Is the Solution
Processing credit applications online can get rid of all of these financing headaches while still providing your customers with the benefit of paying over a longer term. In addition, when you automate credit processing, you immediately increase your cash flow because you’ve cut down the amount of time it takes to actually get paid. Take a look at some of the benefits to you and your customers:
• Online applications are available to customers when and where they need them — no more traveling to obtain paper forms.
• Completing the credit application online can be done at the customer’s convenience and at the time of purchase.
• Digitally processing the credit application is quick and easy for the seller.
• Processing times go much faster than paper applications, which have to be processed manually.
• Online processing costs less and saves money.
• Your customers will have the ability to make quicker repeat purchases due to faster processing times.
Credit management becomes a breeze with online credit processing. By reducing the amount of time from purchase to payment, you automatically increase your cash flow. No more playing banker or loan officer to your customers; they get what they need, and you get paid. Apruve offers multiple plans to help you start increasing your cash flow and get back to doing what you do best — serving other businesses. See how you can reduce the time you wait for payment of open invoices from months down to 24 hours max. Approve your increased cash flow today.
We wanted to give a large existing customer base quick and easy access to our solution. Apruve gives B2B sellers a credit management platform to eliminate A/R and streamline invoicing and purchasing. 291,749 websites currently use Magento. We also wanted to integrate our solution on a platform that was built for B2B ecommerce. Magento has a B2B industry solution with features that include: Account Management, Negotiated Pricing Terms, Quick Order, Mobile Responsive Design, Inventory Tracking, and ERP Connectors. In fact, Forrester Research rated Magento’s B2B solutions a “Strong Performer” (Forrester Wave™: B2B Commerce Suites, Q2, 2015).
How easy is it to get started using Apruve on my Magento site?
Simply stated, Corporate Accounts tie you closer to your customers. Just as retailers offer consumers credit cards for easier in-store purchasing on credit, Corporate Accounts allow your customers to access immediate lines of credit exclusively through your online store. Our B2B credit management solution streamlines credit approvals, invoicing and payments, and gives your company the opportunity to offer payment terms without having cash flow issues. You are paid within 24 hours of an invoice being generated on your site; no more waiting to get paid! There is no waiting around for purchase approval on credit (credit card offered by your favorite retailer) through a B2C site, so why make your buyers wait days, if not weeks, to make a purchase on your site (the time it currently takes you to process your customer’s credit application and get them approved to pay on terms on your site)?
The faster your customer can get approved to pay on terms and make their first order, the faster they can order again. And again. And again. You see where we are going here. Did we mention that our checkout modal shows your customer how much credit they have remaining after their purchase?
We make ordering online easy and pain-free for your customers while getting you paid ASAP. Happy customers! Happy CFOs! It is truly a win-win solution.