The expectations of B2B buyers are evolving. Today, buyers are looking for the same ease and convenience Amazon delivers for B2C transactions. Satisfying such demand, however, isn’t as simple as developing an online presence.
Most businesses already complement their in-person experiences with digital capabilities. In fact, two out of three B2B companies offer omnichannel support across all transactions. It’s easy to see why. Multi-channel customers are 15 percent more profitable than those who shop exclusively online and 25 percent more profitable than customers who only shop in-store.
As more competitors aim to capitalize on this opportunity, it won’t be long until omni-channel offerings become common across the industry. Separate yourself from the pack and start to build loyalty among B2B buyers by developing an experience they can’t find anywhere else. From supporting alternative payment options to staying on top of customer needs, minimizing friction throughout the customer experience will keep them coming back for more.
Offering alternative payment options
There’s more to the customer experience than shopping for a product or service. Focus some of your effort on optimizing what happens at the point of purchase. After all, the convenience of being able to pay in different ways is important. Instead of asking customers to familiarize themselves with a single payment method, simplify the process and build loyalty by offering a wide range of options.
For example, credit cards might not be the best (or most financially sound) payment option for all of your customers. Instead, opt for other payment methods like buying on terms. B2B purchases can be quite large, and the customer’s credit limit may not be high enough to make the purchase on a credit card. Additionally, without the right transactional data on an invoice, it makes it challenging for the customer’s accounts payable (AP) team to determine where the expense should be allocated. The net result is that this does not translate to the best buying experience. On the other hand, term-based transactions – when executed effectively – can benefit both you and your buyers.
Partnering with a payment and credit solutions provider can help ease the strain that’s often put on an accounts receivable (AR) department when a company extends terms. Instead of an AR team dealing with tasks such as determining a customer’s creditworthiness or following up on past due invoices, these services can be taken on by a trusted provider. This results in a seamless customer experience, as well as reduced working capital and DSO for the seller.
Set the stage for a frictionless buying experience that customers are loyal to by implementing payment options that cater to each of your customers.
Anticipating customer needs
There’s no way around it – buyers want to work with companies that know their needs. Wondering how to prove your understanding of a buyer’s business? Take a proactive approach to extending credit. Make credit decisions in under 30 seconds and allow automated credit adjustments. Rather than waiting for customers to come to you with demands for more credit, automated credit adjustments can help you proactively solve customer needs and ultimately establish experience loyalty.
Leverage information you already have to gauge what a buyer might want moving forward. Unlike B2C, the B2B industry has plenty of buyer data – including purchase history – that can be used to enhance the purchase experience. It’s also possible to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict a buyer’s purchase patterns and automatically raise their credit limit during peak seasons. More credit will help lead to more sales, and buyers will appreciate the attention to detail when it’s needed most.
Businesses are becoming multi-channel – and for good reason. Customers who shop across channels are often bigger spenders. But attracting such customers isn’t just a matter of offering both online and in-person options. Begin building loyalty with B2B buyers by creating a hassle-free purchasing experience. While brand loyalty has traditionally been paramount, it’s becoming increasingly clear that customers care more about the experiences themselves, rather than the brands that provide them. Whether it’s implementing alternative payment options or anticipating buyer needs, taking steps to simplify the buying experience will help you win the loyalty of B2B buyers.
About the Author
Brandon Spear is the president of MSTS, a global B2B payments and credit solutions provider. Brandon excels at managing large, diverse global teams while connecting with and motivating staff across all levels of an organization. He helps companies overcome challenges with an entrepreneurial spirit and a technology-first focus. Connect with Brandon on LinkedIn.