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Tailoring payment tools to B2B retailers

Over the past several years, financial experts have been asserting that mobile and electronic payment channels will see accelerated adoption rates. Although online and smartphone transactions have been on the rise, the use of innovative payment mediums has not lived up to the hype. Due to a number of factors, consumers have not embraced mobile and ecommerce payment portals as much as expected.

One of the major reasons is fragmentation of the market. A large number of payment processing companies have entered the ecommerce and mobile sectors, creating a plethora of choices for businesses and consumers to choose from. However, this has given rise to a landscape rife with numerous payment tools, with very few winning over a sizable enough share of the market to make their use viable for vendors. As a result, many mobile and ecommerce solutions have fallen by the wayside.

If transaction processing enterprises want to see increased adoption rates, they need to rehash their strategies for mobile and online systems. In particular, they may want to tailor their products to better serve B2B ecommerce outlets. According to Internet Retailer, data released by Forrester last year outlined how the market for B2B ecommerce sales is growing at an incredible rate. Forrester estimated that the B2B online transactions by American firms would total $559 billion in 2013. That's nearly twice as much as consumers were predicted to spend via the Internet.

Although creating electronic payment tools geared toward consumers should be a priority, establishing portals built for specific B2B clients could be more lucrative for transaction companies, as the Forrester data indicates. However, some payment processing leaders may be wondering exactly what tools and capabilities B2B retailers need in their platforms. Fortunately, a recent Intershop survey shed some light on what features major sellers want on their ecommerce sites.

Better order management
According to the source's wishlist of B2B features, 55 percent of sellers said they want their platforms to offer tools that make it easier for buyers to manage routine orders. For this reason, including automated services could attract more clients to online channels. Giving buyers the ability to track large orders, add onto or reduce the number of products bought and even direct shipments to multiple locations from a mobile app or other medium might be useful.

ERP integration
On a similar note, retailers want to give their clients the choice to make purchases from within their own ERP software suites. In fact, the survey found that 51 percent of sales leaders view this as a long-term priority. By their nature, ERP solutions are highly integrated. From a single interface, ERP users can access software that helps them manage inventory, plan product developments and ship goods.

For this reason, it makes sense that a B2B payment portal should be included in such setups. Payment processing companies need to innovate more in order to meet this demand. Instead of creating standard portals for businesses to choose from, they need to create highly customizable services that can be adapted to fit into a firm's ERP model.

Customized storefront
There is a trend that the Intershop wishlist uncovered: Retailers want to give buyers more power. In fact, 44 percent of survey respondents said they want to leverage online stores that clients can customize. Whether it's placing certain product lines on the front page or scaling shipment sizes to their specific needs, purchasers will be able to make quicker decisions when buying products if they can access a storefront they have created.

Getting customers into the store is difficult enough. However, convincing them to make a purchase is even more challenging. With a custom store, it's easy to tailor to a specific buyer's needs.

Reusable templates
This is a fairly simple feature to employ but one that makes the purchase process much easier. Forty-three percent of sellers want to have savable order templates in place in the coming years. When it comes to B2B sales, clients generally purchase the same products, in similar amounts on numerous occasions. Instead of having to fill in an order form each time they make a purchase, it's much easier to pull up an old invoice or order template that they can resubmit in seconds.

What these desired features show is that payment processing companies need to create stronger relationships with large retailers in order to implement these solutions. Many of these portals demand a collaborative, custom approach that may be different from the normal payment medium development process payment firms are used to following.

However, going the extra mile to gain better insights into what B2B clients need to take advantage of ecommerce solutions is a worthy step to take. It's becoming one of the most lucrative payment channels, and getting a leg up on the competition could help any payment firm gain a foothold in an emerging sector.