Today's B2B payments are a lot more complex then they used to be.
Back in the day, checks and cash were the primary forms of B2B payments. But as the business world has evolved into the digital age, more advanced B2B payment methods have become available, such as ACH, wire, and EFT. However, electronic B2B payments haven’t been without their challenges, particularly concerning security, set-up, and fees.
On the other hand, providing customers with an electronic payment method, such as ACH or another third party (PayPal) has certainly been more convenient for customers, especially as more customers rely on credit cards and mobile payments. Electronic B2B payments have also increased sales, improved cash flow, and increased the likelihood and time frame in which businesses are paid.
Although electronic B2B payments may work well for some businesses, this doesn’t necessarily mean they work for others. Transactions between small businesses and large enterprises differ. So, how do you determine the best payment solution for your business?
Let's take a look at some of the most common forms of B2B payments, the pros and cons of each, and how to determine the best B2B payment method for your business.
Cash is still one of the simplest payment method today. In fact, many businesses still believe that “cash is king”. Cash is easy for businesses to collect and record payments, helping them to avoid cash flow restrictions. Keeping cash on hand is also convenient for businesses to pay bills faster, cut transaction costs, and is even helpful for emergencies. There aren’t any fees associated with cash transactions and deposits.
The downside? With the convenience of using credit and/ or debit cards, PayPal, and ACH, many customers no longer use cash. In fact, more and more businesses and customers keep less and less cash on hand. As a result, cash has become more of an inconvenience for customers.
Credit cards have become the preferred payment method for many customers – even more so than cash. Customers are also more likely to make a larger purchase with a credit card than they otherwise may not be able to afford, particularly in emergency situations. Using credit cards can also provide numerous advantages to customers, such as points, offers, and establishing credit history.
Credit cards can be an inconvenience for businesses as they are often associated with high transaction fees. In fact, the fees are many business’ number one complaint. Credit cards can also restrict cash flow and present a number of security risks for both businesses and customers, such as identity theft or losing or having a credit card stolen.
There are a handful of customers and businesses that still use checks to pay bills and make purchases. Typically checks are sent via snail mail and involve little cost to both the business and customer. Checks also have minimal cash flow concerns.
On the other hand, many businesses stopped accepting checks because fewer customers used them and they were risky for businesses. The payment float time was also lengthy, which means businesses had to wait up to seven business days before funds would clear. However, payment systems have become more efficient with today’s technology. As a result, many financial institutions have reduced payment “float” time to one to three business days.
Although using checks has become more convenient for businesses, they are less convenient for customers. With the availability and ease of electronic B2B payment methods and mobile payments, less customers use checks.
In addition to using a credit card, many businesses (particularly larger enterprises) will provide a line of credit to customers, which is the most convenient B2B payment option for customers. Furthermore, extending credit to customers has proven to increase sales and customer loyalty.
Extending credit to customers can be a risky B2B payment method for businesses. Extending credit means that businesses assume all the risk and also comes with the highest cash flow concerns. From an accounting standpoint, credit can also be difficult for businesses to manage.
Which B2B Payment is Right for Your Business?
So, now that we have presented the most common B2B payment methods, how do you determine which is right for your business? The key takeaway here is that small businesses and large enterprises handle B2B payments differently. The biggest priority for small businesses is to increase cash flow as much as possible. Small businesses should consider using B2B payment methods that reduce cash flow restrictions and risks. Therefore, extending credit might not be the best option for a new startup business.
On the other hand, larger enterprises and more established small businesses are in a better position to extend credit to customers as they are often able to better manage their cash flow, allowing them to afford this payment option. Although businesses never want to deal with default payments, there are benefits to extending credits.
How Apruve Can Help
For startup businesses that need to extend credit to customers in order to drive sales, then they should consider a solid B2B payment solution. Apruve is the premier B2B payment and credit network. Apruve has proven to help both large and small businesses drive sales, streamline accounting operations, improve cash flow and eliminate the biggest flaws and concerns of extending credit to customers.
At Apruve we are about increasing revenue, not risk. Contact Apruve today to learn more or request a demo.