B2B e-commerce is rapidly transforming the way businesses buy from one another. Today’s business buyers expect the same convenience, efficiency and security as when they shop on B2C sites. The more freedom of choice and flexibility they experience, the more likely they are to buy from you.
Offering the right choice of payment methods is a major factor in this. Research shows that 90% of business buyers check out an online shop’s payment options before they buy anything and that nearly 75% of business buyers won’t make a purchase if you don’t offer their preferred payment method. As it stands, 50% of B2B buyers prefer to buy on invoice.
So, your business will benefit from offering a range of payment methods, to remove this as a barrier to purchasing from you.
In this article, we look into the most common payment methods traditionally used in B2B e-commerce, explain why it’s important for you to offer a range of payment options, and why B2B Buy Now, Pay Later (B2B BNPL) is a must-have payment method for your online store.
Most common payment methods used in B2B transactions
Most business buyers today expect online sellers to offer a range of payment options. To cater to their customers’ wishes, B2B sellers usually offer a selection of the following options:
Credit or debit cards
Card payments give you the advantage of receiving the funds right away. And while that’s beneficial to you, card payments don’t offer your buyers many advantages. Debit cards are limited to the amount of cash your buyer has in their bank account, which means they are generally not used for large business purchases
Buyers are increasingly turning away from credit cards too, as businesses are becoming more sensitive towards racking up heavy interest. The annual percentage rate for most business credit cards is around 16 to 20%. With annual fees on top of that, it is easy to understand why your customers might prefer a cheaper payment method.
Another challenge for buyers is that credit cards do not offer them long-term credit. Most business cards have a credit limit which caps the buyer’s spending around £50,000 (€56,000) on average. This is hardly enough for most businesses to finance their long-term spending.
PayPal is a service that makes online shopping easy for consumers, and it has also won plenty of fans in the B2B world since it supports international payments. However, if you accept payments through PayPal, they will charge you a hefty 3-4% fee per transaction, plus currency conversion surcharges which add up very quickly.
Payoneer has been embraced by many B2B buyers and sellers as an alternative to PayPal, but while its fees are slightly lower than PayPal’s, it charges heavy currency conversion rates, usually 2% above mid-market rates. High fees like these take a large cut out of your margin on cross-border transactions.
Bank transfers are seen as a reliable option for many B2B businesses, because the transaction takes place within the buyer’s familiar online banking environment, and you usually receive the payment within a few working days. However, there are much faster ways for you to receive your payments. And bank transfers generally involve charges, especially when currency conversion is involved.
On top of that, when paying by bank transfer, your customer’s spending is limited to the amount of their bank balance and overdraft limit. This means that bank transfers are also not a source of long-term credit for your customers.
You may offer your customers a trade account, which entitles them to special buying and paying conditions and enables them to buy from you on credit. This is generally seen as a buyer-friendly practice, but it’s inefficient and risky for you, because you may lack the ability to properly check your customers’ creditworthiness before offering them this kind of credit. The credit approval process usually has to be performed manually, which is slow, inefficient and frustrating for you and your customers.
Buying on invoice means that your customer receives the merchandise and then has a certain period, usually 30 days, in which to pay for it. Most buyers expect the option to buy on invoice, and it can help you as a seller to generate repeat business, as buyers learn they do not have to pay upfront.
However, like trade accounts, invoice payments are risky. At the end of the day, there’s no guarantee you will receive your payment on time. In fact, studies show that 57% of B2B invoices are paid late. This results in cash flow problems for nearly one quarter of all B2B businesses, who say they routinely have to adjust their budget to offset the impact of unpaid invoices. And to make matters worse, some buyers deliberately pay invoices late, knowing that they rarely face any repercussions.
Why e-commerce stores should offer different payment methods
Each company you sell to has its own preferences when it comes to payment methods. By offering a range of convenient payment methods, you increase the likelihood that customers will buy from you.
Offering the right selection of methods offers you many benefits:
- Offering BNPL as an additional payment method gives your customers more freedom to choose. It does not have to replace other options you already offer, but function as a complement.
- It opens your business up to more kinds of customers, including sole traders, freelancers and startups, who are usually excluded by other credit options.
- It gives you the security of receiving your payments on time, since the whole point of B2B BNPL is that you get paid straight away, and don’t have to carry the credit risk or risk of unpaid invoices .
- It helps you build trust with your customers while offering them a better overall experience
Above all, the growing trend towards BNPL has already been linked to an increase in conversion and average order amounts among consumers. Retailers offering BNPL to consumers experienced a 20-30% increase in conversion, along with a 30 to 50% increase in average order amounts.
To leverage the benefits of BNPL, sellers must be able to offer B2B BNPL in the most efficient way possible. This means offering a streamlined, buyer-friendly process that is fully integrated into your checkout.
What is B2B Buy Now Pay Later?