The complex nature of B2B transactions requires merchants to offer flexible payment options. Compared to B2C transactions, B2B orders are usually much larger in volume. Companies buy items in bulk, resulting in high order values per transaction. These high-order values lengthen the B2B payment cycle.
Because of this, buyers have traditionally relied on methods such as trade credit, bank transfers, and physical checks to pay for orders. A survey from OroCommerce found that over 50% of B2B payments are still made by checks. As e-commerce gains a bigger foothold in B2B, companies need ways to collect payments more efficiently.
In this post, we’ll examine which B2B payment methods are essential for today’s brands. We’ll also look at how they can supplement these methods with more modern payment options to create a complete customer experience.
Trade credit lets buyers finance their order by paying some (or all) of the balance at a later date. Obviously, this is an attractive option for buyers but it isn’t always ideal for B2B vendors. Besides the wait to receive payment, the merchant incurs risk with this method. They must hope that the buyer fulfills their obligation and pays them back.
Many businesses are countering this risk by working with prepayment financing partners. These partners function similarly to how Affirm does in the B2C space. Customers can pay in installments and the merchant receives the entire order value upfront. The financing partner then takes on the risk of collecting payments from the customer.
Many B2B companies still accept paper checks for payment. Naturally, checks are much slower than digital payments. Merchants have to wait for the physical payment to arrive by mail. They then need to deposit it and wait for it to clear. While they are slow, checks are much less expensive to process.
Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers let customers pay via their bank account. To do so, they need to provide their account and routing numbers. ACH transfers typically take a few days to process. They are usually less expensive than other digital payments as the fees are lower. ACH works great for recurring payments as the buyer can set up their account details and the merchant can initiate payments on renewal dates.
Wires are another bank-to-bank transfer. They are less intuitive than ACH and you can not use them for recurring payments as you must initiate each wire individually. They take around the same time to process as ACH but some banks charge fees for receiving wires.
Credit cards are the most widely used payment method for B2C transactions. This is largely due to their speed and convenience. While this method is not necessarily new, it is modern in the sense that it is less common in B2B.
The biggest challenge to accepting payment via credit card is the processing fees. Most payment processors charge between 2% and 3% per transaction. This can lead to massive fees for orders that are thousands of dollars or more. It is often advantageous for businesses to only display credit cards as an option for lower-priced orders.
Debit cards offer the speed and convenience of credit cards but with lower transaction fees. Buyers use them less often than credit cards. This is because they need to have the cash on hand to complete the order, unlike a credit card. But debit cards are more attractive from the merchant’s perspective as the processing fees are much lower.
B2B companies that want to accept debit cards must ensure they have a payment processor that supports such functionality. Some processors don’t accept debit cards. Others do but will issue separate statements for debit card transactions. This creates more work for reconciliation. You should look for a B2B payment processor that accepts debit cards as seamlessly as credit cards.
Digital wallets keep a virtual storage for your payment information (e.g. cards, bank accounts). The most common examples are Apple Pay and Google Pay. You can use these wallets to seamlessly make payments without having to type in your information. You simply select a wallet as a payment option, log in to your account, and specify the funding source. The wallet then communicates with the merchant’s processor to handle the transaction.
Digital wallets are gaining popularity as they are even more convenient than cards. This trend will continue as younger generations move into decision-making roles. These demographics are digitally savvy and more inclined to bring their B2C payment habits over to their B2B transactions.
B2B companies can attract more buyers by offering a wide range of payment options. Along with your traditional methods, it is essential to add digital payment options to your B2B e-commerce site.
fabric Pay easily integrates with your existing commerce platform to let you process payments via credit card, debit card, and digital wallets. Payments are secure, meeting all PCI compliance and data security standards. Take advantage of its simple set up and get started without any complicated paperwork.
Product management @ fabric. Previously b2b e-commerce @ Shipwire, Fiserv, Zong, and Google.