Updated: Nov 16
If there’s one business model that’s on the up and up, it’s B2B marketplaces. In 2021, marketplace growth scaled almost 7.5 times faster than total B2B eCommerce sales.
Simultaneously, the B2B (digital) commerce landscape is also undergoing major shifts in buyer demographics and expectations, which is impacting what B2B marketplaces need to thrive. B2B buyers are younger, digitally savvy, and used to shopping online. So much so that 60% of them are comfortable buying on a marketplace, and millennials take part in 73% of all B2B buying decisions.
Needless to say, crafting a customer experience that keeps the B2B buyers coming back is essential to winning big in the marketplace space. That’s where your payment experience comes in. An optimized payment can turn curious buyers into raving fans who stick around and advocate for your marketplace. To give you a head start, in this guide, we’ll explain why improving B2B marketplace payments is so tricky and share the steps two inspiring marketplaces took to build brag-worthy B2B payment experiences.
Why optimizing the payment journey is so challenging for marketplaces
By now, you’ve likely heard about the power of payments in B2B commerce, But if you’ve tried to upgrade the marketplace’s payment technology, you’ll know it is no easy feat. So why the uphill battle? Here are just a few reasons:
Marketplace focus determines who gets an upgraded payment experience
As the saying goes, “There’s riches in the niches”. So it's not surprising that B2B marketplaces tend to focus on a single vertical like wood, metal, printing, or recyclable materials instead of covering all industries. The issue is, each industry has unique customer journeys, buyer personas, and payment preferences. As a result, some businesses, especially the small ones, are left without the tools and necessary infrastructure to organize, automate, and optimize payments for their specific niche if the marketplace hasn’t catered to them. This problem also has negative knock-on effects on how users perceive the marketplace.
Managing the tug-of-war between CX, compliance, and revenue generation is complex
These days, running marketplaces isn’t just about generating revenue, you’ve got to balance providing a great customer experience (CX) and regulatory compliance too. This change has become so commonplace that B2B buyers expect a sleek CX online from browsing to checkout, with 83% of B2B buyers saying they prefer ordering or paying through eCommerce.
Knowing this, many marketplaces consider building the infrastructure to manage their payment terms in-house. But the process is far from breezy when handled in-house. Marketplaces often discover particular drawbacks. For example:
The process is complex and risky: Time and resources must be invested across tech, risk, FinOps, and dunning to ensure it covers the marketplace’s entire digital experience. All the while, the marketplace owns all risks in the transactions.
Resource-intensive: Marketplaces have to make a large investment in an area that’s not their core focus, like building out their own fintech unit. The lack of expertise in this area, coupled with a limited risk appetite, leads to a subpar payment solution. This, in turn, results in a poor customer experience for the buyer, decreasing conversion and customer retention rates.
Marketplace payment optimization journeys to inspire your own
In business, it’s wise to take cues from other brands that have traveled the path you intend to take. So to get you inspired, let’s run through some key takeaways from two marketplaces' journeys to optimized B2B payments:
Helloprint is the world’s largest platform for printed goods and is a market leader in customized print material in Europe. With this popularity comes a huge order volume—70 million in Gross Merchandise Value, to be exact.
The Helloprint marketplace is 10 years old, and over this period, they’ve developed a great UX and CX. But not too long ago, Helloprint realized they needed more polishing in the payment department. For instance, B2B customers had to pay upfront, and only two-thirds of them could request payment on net terms after their first purchase, and had it do so manually. This setup created a poor buyer experience and a hefty manual workload for Helloprint’s accounts receivable team.
Helloprint switched to Sprinque to offer pay-by-invoice to first-time buyers automatically. Now, Helloprint boasts a stellar customer experience from start to finish, with features like 2-second credit decisions for new buyers and customized credit limits. Sprinque also handles the risk, cash flow, and collections, making burdensome admin an issue of the past.
Timberhub is an up-and-coming marketplace that’s been around for almost three years. This marketplace processes large transactions involving buyers and suppliers across Europe.
To manage payments more efficiently, Timberhub considered building a custom solution in-house. But after crunching the numbers, they realized that the tech and financial investment required was too high, plus they didn’t want to carry the risk on their balance sheet.
So Timerhub decided to trial Sprinque through our merchant control center, which facilitates uploading buyers and invoices manually to test the service. It was a hit! Today, Timberhub uses Sprinque’s platform to offer net payment terms at checkout to their buyers across Europe, without taking any risk or locking up cash flow.
Timberhub also utilizes Sprinque’s dynamic settlements feature to optimize costs: Also, this marketplace can now choose when they get paid from Sprinque based on the terms with suppliers at the invoice level. The new setup works well for all sides of the table. Timberhub gets paid earlier and can unlock early payment discounts from their suppliers if available. Buyers receive a great customer experience for the buyer, and sellers always get paid on time without impacting Timberhub’s liquidity.
End payment envy on your B2B marketplace
From expanding industry verticals to offering competitive payment terms, many marketplaces still have work to B2B payments reflect the digital-first experience buyers have come to expect. In an attempt to course correct, many marketplaces have endured building payment systems in-house only to find out it's not worth the time, effort, and cash. This doesn’t have to be your story.
For a cost-effective payment process that drives profits and praise, it’s critical you don’t reinvent the wheel but leverage the expertise and investment of a pre-built but flexible B2B BNPL solution. So choose a better route ahead today. Reach out to Sprinque to discover the payment opportunities waiting for your marketplace. To find out how Sprinque can assist your business to reach its maximum potential, book a meeting with us today.