Over the last few years, B2B buying and selling have undergone massive changes driven by digitisation and rising buyer expectations for consumer-like experiences. Today, approximately 80% of B2B buyers expect a buying journey comparable to that of B2C customers. Despite these expectations, many B2B webshops still lag behind, struggling to mirror the seamless, Amazon-like payment processes that foster customer loyalty and retention. 

Cumbersome B2B buying experiences directly impact customer loyalty and retention

According to a study by PYMNTS and American Express, 67% of B2B buyers report switching to purchasing from vendors offering a more consumer-like experience. Among millennial B2B buyers surveyed, 74% said they had swapped vendors because a new business offered B2B experiences that were more similar to consumer payments. 

In a recent 2022 SANA B2B Buyer Report, 94% of B2B buyers reported experiencing issues with the online buying experience when it comes to payment terms and ease of checkout. Notably, the report also found that 50% of B2B e-commerce sites do not meet buyers’ expectations. 

These findings clearly illustrate that B2B buyer expectations aren’t being met but also present a significant opportunity. B2B webshops that can “consumerize” their payment experiences while solving the complexities associated with B2B transactions have a massive opportunity to drive higher customer loyalty and become market leaders. 

E-commerce trends

Who are today’s B2B buyers and what do they want?

The differences between trade customers and individual consumers may seem significant, but they’re not so different in reality. Every trade customer is also an online shopper that uses B2C e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Zalando or Bol.com to do their shopping. These personal buying experiences impact expectations for trade purchases.

Today, millennials – the digitally native generation – make up a large percentage of B2B buying teams with 73% of them now lead buyers. They have grown up online and are used to the simplicity and convenience offered by consumer e-commerce sites. They have been spoiled for choice when it comes to payment methods and expect nothing less than a fast and frictionless payment experience with multiple payment options and flexible terms – regardless of whether they are purchasing as a consumer or in a business context.

For B2B businesses, the days of getting by with bare minimum payment offerings and tedious payment experiences are over. The payments experience is now a determining factor for today’s B2B buyers and, as such, a potential driver of retention, customer loyalty and growth for online shops that get payments right.

Get more out of your payments with Mondu.

Who are today’s B2B buyers and what do they want?

The differences between B2B buyers and individual consumers may seem significant, but they’re not so different in reality. Every business buyer is also an online shopper using B2C e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Zalando or Bol.com. These personal buying experiences impact expectations for business purchases.

Today, millennials – the digitally native generation – make up a large percentage of B2B buying teams with 73% of them now lead buyers. They have grown up online and are used to the simplicity and convenience offered by consumer e-commerce sites. They have been spoiled for choice when it comes to payment methods and expect nothing less than a fast and frictionless payment experience with multiple payment options and flexible terms – regardless of whether they are purchasing as a consumer or in a business context.

For B2B businesses, the days of getting by with bare minimum payment offerings and tedious payment experiences are over. The payment experience is now a determining factor for today’s B2B buyers and, as such, a potential driver of retention, loyalty and growth for webshops that get payments right.

How B2B webshops can mirror the B2C payment experience to increase customer loyalty and retention

While today’s B2B buyers expect a payment experience similar to what they enjoy when shopping as consumers, the complexities of B2B transactions and payment flows mean these two experiences cannot be identical. 

B2C webshops usually only deal directly with one customer, whereas in B2B, multiple parties and departments are involved before purchasing. Due to substantially higher order amounts, the risks involved in transactions are also significantly higher for B2B businesses than for B2C webshops. Comprehensive risk checks before purchasing that effectively serve up to 14 different types of company structures add further complexity, especially regarding new customers or guest orders.

Despite these added complexities, there are still key areas where B2B webshops can optimise their checkout and mirror the B2C payment experience. 

Bringing B2C efficiency to the B2B checkout

Most e-commerce checkout processes follow the same steps regardless of whether the shopper is an individual consumer or a business buyer. Generally, after a buyer visits a product page and chooses their items, they move to the checkout, review their choices, fill in shipping and payment information, and confirm their order.

Many B2C webshops have spent over a decade refining this experience to make it as easy and frictionless as possible for customers to complete their purchases. B2B e-commerce, on the other hand, is still in its infancy. Most B2B webshops don’t yet provide the same fast, intuitive and seamless checkout experience even small B2C web stores offer.

Mirroring the B2C checkout experience requires B2B webshops to be laser-focused on simplifying and minimising the number of steps, clicks, and information buyers provide. The faster the checkout process takes and the fewer distractions, the more likely buyers will return to make future purchases and stay loyal.  

One page vs. multiple page

There is no one size fits all checkout flow for webshops. In B2C, one-page checkouts are common and widely considered the most optimal checkout flow. B2B webshops should test whether they can deliver a one-page checkout experience like in B2C but remain mindful of not overwhelming buyers with a single form featuring endless fields to fill out. For B2B webshops that are more suited to a multi-page checkout, providing a progression bar to show buyers their progress is vital to keeping customers motivated to finish the checkout process.

Auto-fill

48% of B2B businesses say that purchasing speed is a priority. Automation can help returning buyers to auto-fill their information based on past data to speed up the checkout process. Drop-down selections also significantly speed things up, as does marking mandatory form fields with an asterisk so buyers who don’t want to provide specific details can complete checkout forms faster.

Mobile responsiveness

B2C webshops have been leveraging mobile for many years due to its popularity among consumers when making a purchase. However, more business buyers are now using mobile devices to make purchases. According to BCG research, 60% of B2B buyers reported that mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase. Ensuring the B2B checkout is mobile responsive is essential to mirroring the B2C experience and meeting rising mobile usage among business buyers.  

Free or multiple shipping options

High extra shipping costs are one of the biggest reasons for cart abandonments during checkout and low retention rates. Like many of their B2C counterparts, B2B webshops should consider offering free shipping if viable financially. If not, providing multiple shipping options that provide added flexibility regarding price and show expected delivery times are a must-have to keep up with buyer expectations.

Provide a wide range of payment options

Payments are a big part of the B2B buyer experience. They have as much of an effect on conversion rates, retention and loyalty as in a B2C webshop. 

However, until now, B2B webshops have offered only a limited number of payment options that are convenient to them but not their customers. This has resulted in many B2B webshops delivering a less-than-ideal payment experience that often drives buyers away. Research by MSTS reported that 48% of B2B buyers did not complete a purchase because their preferred payment method wasn’t an option.

By offering a wide range of popular and local payment methods (credit cards, pay in advance, PayPal, and Buy Now Pay Later, etc.), B2B webshops can mirror the same flexible and convenient payment experiences offered by B2C webshops. As a result, they can expect to drive higher B2B customer retention and loyalty. 

Offer flexible payment terms

Today’s consumers have access to Buy Now Pay Later in a wide variety of B2C webshops. However, business buyers are offered this option much less frequently in B2B webshops despite the popularity of deferred payments offline for decades. 

Buy Now Pay Later enables a more seamless purchasing experience whereby buyers enjoy added convenience and flexibility to manage their cash flow better. With BNPL, buyers spend more and do so more frequently. 

B2B webshops that offer more flexible payment options can now also enjoy a competitive advantage as most don’t currently offer payment by invoice and installment payments (BNPL) in their checkout, despite high demand among B2B buyers for these payment methods.

Link payments to B2B customer loyalty

When it comes to rewarding customers, B2B webshops can look to their B2C counterparts, which have long-connected payments with loyalty programs to boost retention and keep customers loyal.

In the B2C sector, loyalty programs are a staple in consumers’ purchasing decisions, both online and offline. Whether it’s booking a flight, a hotel, or shopping for groceries, these programs, often based on reward points, are ubiquitous. Their prevalence is a testament to their effectiveness in influencing purchasing decisions and fostering loyalty. 

In the B2B world, loyalty and reward programs are offered far less despite the benefits of providing such programs equal to or potentially greater for B2B businesses. B2B webshops can mirror B2C by rewarding customers when they pay with volume discounts, more flexible credit terms, reduced shipping costs, or any other number of ways they decide. 

While B2C companies offer accounts in the form of loyalty clubs and accumulating points, the equivalent in B2B is trade accounts, with volume discounts and assigned purchasing power, against which customers can place several orders and pay with net terms for all purchases at once.

Ultimately, as B2B e-commerce continues to grow in the coming years, and more business buyers move their purchasing online, rewarding customers through digital trade accounts will become increasingly important for boosting B2B customer retention and loyalty.

Now is the time

Business buying and selling is evolving quickly, offering significant opportunities for webshops that can adapt to meet the heightened expectations of today’s B2B buyers.

As these buyers increasingly seek the simplicity of Amazon-like payment experiences, mirroring the B2C payment process has become a crucial strategy for success. B2B webshops offering these consumer-like experiences within the complex B2B payments framework can drive customer loyalty and retention and secure a significant competitive edge. 

Mondu’s BNPL products bring B2B payments up to par with B2C payments, putting customers at the heart of the payment flow to deliver a seamless, modern and flexible payment experience.

Want to learn more?

At Mondu, we believe there’s more to providing an outstanding payments experience than simply going digital. Reach out to our team today for a personal consultation at sales@mondu.ai or book a demo

 

Content writer

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