Definition of invoice payment
When paying by invoice, a buyer first receives the goods or services and pays for them at a later point. After completing the purchase, the company sends the buyer an invoice containing the sale amount and the deadline by which the invoice is to be paid.
The legally defined payment period
An invoice must get paid immediately when a sale is made by invoice. However, according to Section 286 (3) BGB, the statutory payment period gives companies 30 days to pay an open invoice.
B2C: The invoice must state the payment term if a company sells to private customers. The company can use the statutory payment period of 30 days as a guide or define its own payment terms.
B2B: When selling to business customers, the payment term does not necessarily have to be specified. The 30-day payment period automatically applies unless the parties have agreed to another payment term.
Business customers prefer invoice payments
According to a report by Merit, millennials now make 73% of all B2B purchasing decisions. This generation has grown up in the digital age and expects a convenient and smooth experience when shopping online – both in their private and business lives.
Today’s B2B buyers want a B2C-like shopping experience
Webshops need to offer their customers a variety of payment methods to meet these expectations and get the highest possible purchase completion rate. According to ibi Research, the most important payment methods in B2B web shops are (1) invoice, (2) direct debit and (3) credit card.
Invoice payment is the most popular payment method in the B2B sector; 95% of B2B buyers want this option when shopping online, according to ibi Research. Companies that don’t offer invoice payments in their online shop lose approximately 30% of their sales.
Advantages of B2B invoice payments for companies and buyers
Invoice payments enable business buyers to enjoy a convenient payment experience and offer B2B companies several advantages.
Benefits for B2B buyers
Data protection: Invoice payments offer buyers protection against online data theft as there is no need to provide any personal data or banking information.
Quality check: Goods are only paid for when they are received and meet the buyer’s expectations. If there’s a problem with an order, goods can be sent back to the supplier without making any payment.
Cashflow: Buyers can buy and receive goods when needed – even if the necessary money is unavailable. The invoice can be paid within the specified period without negatively impacting the buyers’ cash flow.
Benefits for B2B retailers
Higher conversion rate: Invoice payments increase conversion rates by up to 40%.
Higher sales: Invoice payments increase shopping basket size by up to 60%, thus increasing buyer purchasing power considerably.
Higher customer satisfaction: The convenient and seamless shopping experience delivered when offering payment by invoice increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.
High demand, (still) low supply
Pay by invoice is often associated with bureaucracy and long waiting times. Especially with new customers, time-consuming manual processes on the part of retailers such as credit checks and applying for credit limits by phone and email are normal.
In online shops, in particular, only 45% of retailers offer invoice payments, despite almost all business buyers wanting this payment method. With the continued shift of the B2B market online, retailers have to find a way to integrate invoice payment as a payment method in their webshop to remain competitive.
“Invoice payment is still the most popular payment method among Germans, but it is not always granted to new customers in particular.”
Caroline Coelsch, Project Manager Online and Mobile Payment, EHI Retail Institute
Risks of invoice payments for companies
Why do less than half of all B2B companies offer payment by invoice when it’s so vital to the success of their webshop? The answer is simple: invoice payments involve more risks than paying in advance, such as by credit card.
- Default: Payment delays or non-payment often occur when buyers shop with a payment term, representing a serious business risk. According to an analysis by Creditreform Debitorenregister Deutschland (DRD), the average payment delay in B2B business in the first half of 2020 was 10.82 days.
Unpaid invoices can severely affect cash flow and even become an existential problem, especially for B2B companies, since the outstanding invoice amounts are often much higher than in B2C. In challenging economic times, companies are particularly reluctant to take such risks.
The dunning and collection procedure initiated after a payment deadline has been exceeded also costs time and money that many smaller companies cannot afford.
- Fraud: Cases of fraud in e-commerce, including B2B e-commerce, have increased significantly in recent years. In the case of identity fraud, an individual’s information is used to make a purchase without authorization. The scam now carries more risk than classic credit card fraud.
For companies, the identity check before an invoice purchase is indispensable, but in B2B, it is very complex. The identity of a company, the existence of a buying person and the authorization to make online purchases are much more difficult to determine than an individual’s identity.
Offering invoice payment in the B2B checkout – securely!
For B2B webshops to offer invoice payments without risk, they need to take several precautions before a purchase gets made that help to protect against payment defaults.
A company should always conduct a credit check before offering customers to pay by invoice. If the customer’s credit rating is too low, the company should not approve the purchase or only provide a low invoice limit.
The person’s identity should always be confirmed for an invoice payment. This includes checking the billing and delivery address and the person’s age, among other things. Invoice payments are only allowed for individuals 18 years old and over.
Check open invoices and customer limits
The internal data for open invoices from the company concerned should always be checked before accepting another invoice payment. What limit do you want to grant your customers? A uniform view of the customer is essential here.
Many companies only set small payment limits. This means buyers are not allowed to overwrite a certain invoice amount. In this way, they protect themselves against being cheated out of large amounts that could drive them into financial ruin.
High acceptance rate leads to higher sales
The manual effort required for risk assessment before approving an invoice payment shouldn’t be underestimated. Many companies don’t have the time or money to complete this process carefully. Consequently, many don’t offer invoice payments and end up losing out on sales.
Anonymity: Due to the shift of trade to the Internet, retailers no longer know their customers personally, as is often the case in offline B2B selling. This makes it more challenging to assess risk.
Missing data: Newer companies just entering the online business world often lack customer data to make effective risk assessments. This means the risk of new customers is more difficult to assess.
Tedious processes: Manual credit and identity checks can take a long time. Potential customers who want to complete an order often lack patience and abandon the purchase.
Eliminate risks and increase sales
It’s essential to offer invoice payments to as many buyers as possible to get the best out of your B2B webshop. Specialized BNPL payment providers like Mondu take on the risk of default by paying B2B companies after a transaction, even before the buyers have paid for their order. This enables you to enjoy more sales and better cash flow without risk.
Mondu: Your expert for invoice payments in B2B webshops
Our solution for B2B invoice payments takes into consideration all the requirements of B2B payments. It easily integrates into any online e-commerce shop, enabling merchants to offer new and existing business customers the most modern and popular payment methods at checkout.
Central to the effectiveness of Mondu is the credit check that runs in real-time before the conclusion of every sale. Our intelligent risk management system also works in the background to protect against fraud.
B2B retailers can use Mondu to significantly streamline their online payment transactions and the associated administrative processes to save a lot of time and money.
The seamless shopping experience and the flexible payment terms increase customer loyalty and average order value. In turn, B2B customers benefit from greater financial flexibility, enabling them to manage their cash flow better and grow their business.