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3 Retail Tech Trends for Better Serving Business Buyers in 2024

In the retail industry, B2B usually takes a backseat to consumer-focused strategies, and the corporate buyer is often undervalued and misunderstood. Forward-looking merchants, particularly in segments like consumer electronics and home improvement, should check-in on how their corporate buyers are doing. Since these buyers do not often share feedback on their buying experience with retailers unless there is a problem, such as incorrect invoices or damaged products, this could leave enterprises unsure about buyer satisfaction and the likelihood of returning customers.  

Now is the time to better understand and evaluate which investments are needed to meet the evolving needs of corporate buyers in 2024. Data shows that retailers who accept payments options tailored to business buyers can help build loyalty. Through this greater understanding and openness to offer customized payments experiences and technology, retailers can gain a competitive advantage over competitors.  

Three retail technology trends I’ve noted driving today’s business buyers, including composable platforms, embedded payments solutions and flexible APIs, are here to help. Any retailers who want to increase buyer stickiness this year should pay close attention because, in my experience, these are more than what’s hot this year—they are here for the long haul. 

Trend 1: Composable commerce allows retailers to tailor solutions to meet buyer needs 

Business buyers want retailers to have a comprehensive, customizable digital commerce strategy. They want every step of their buying experience—from browsing to checkout to payment—to be frictionless and convenient. While convenience means fast, seamless and omnichannel to most enterprises, it can also mean quick integration into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.  

This desire dovetails into the composable commerce movement as coined by Gartner. A composable approach means creating an organization made from interchangeable building blocks. This can have many benefits, including greater agility, which, according to Gartner, “enables a business to survive, and even flourish, in times of great disruption. 

As composable commerce follows a pick-and-choose strategy, companies can combine the best-in-breed technology solutions and services to assemble commerce experiences tailored to their specific needs. This could include customizing solutions to different industries, markets or various buyer personas. For example, business buyers need to customize or set controls in various stages of the purchase process, so offering flexible fields for essential details tracking such as PO numbers or SKUs can help meet their unique invoicing needs. 

Trend 2: A perfected payments experience builds buyer-seller loyalty 

Recent research conducted with Murphy Research revealed that global business buyers are often frustrated by the payments experience. Specifically, their top three complaints were inefficient processes, incorrect invoices and slow onboarding. These “problems” all reflect manual, inflexible or disjointed back-office systems—the opposite of the digital experience buyers want. 

What they do want is choice, convenience and customization during the payments process. In fact, choice of payment types is their top desire, with trade credit (or the ability to pay in 30-, 60-, or 90-days) being preferred by 85% of respondents, especially for frequent and larger purchases, in the same research study. From my experience, being offered flexible payment options and adjustable invoicing schedules improves the payments experience at all stages of the buying process.  

This inherent need for choice and ease of use is learned from buyers’ purchasing experiences as consumers first. And in fact, a recent report shared 67% of business buyers have switched to buying from vendors that offer a more consumer-like experience. Unlike standard commerce solutions that only include credit card acceptance, a better choice for today’s retailers looking to expand their corporate business also includes automated trade credit and invoicing.  

Trend 3: Stay nimble to address customer needs with AI and APIs 

One word often comes up in composable commerce discussions: orchestrate. Like a musical conductor, today’s business leaders must understand how all the parts of their enterprise work together in harmony, including emerging technologies. For example, there has been lots of talk about how AI is changing how we work, and how it will land and expand in our companies. 

While generative AI gets all the headlines, the true power of AI (and machine learning) is in its behind-the-scenes applications, as well as when pairing AI with human functions. Take, for example, the power AI brings to finding potentially fraudulent business buyers. Unlike human operators, an AI-powered fraud solution can find suspicious patterns based on hundreds of thousands of data points, effectively minimizing risk when extending trade credit offers. The emerging power of AI is the conversion of vast amounts of customer data into actionable insights. In a B2B context where trade credit lines underpin the largest purchase decisions, retailers can identify when to proactively increase a trade credit line to trigger additional purchases.  

Incorporating a flexible API strategy is also important to building core B2B functionality that can adapt with changing or growing customer needs. For example, the recently launched Financial Partner Gateway is a new suite of APIs for banks looking to expand commercial offerings. It enables banks around the world to deliver automated accounts receivable, underwriting and trade credit management solutions to their large commercial clients – an offering developed following a commercial need for efficiency. 

Don’t Let “Change Fatigue” Slow You Down 

Chief information officers are experiencing “change fatigue” according to Gartner, which could delay some IT spending in 2024. As a fintech leader, I’ve seen many companies postpone their technology investments, only to discover they have fallen further behind their competition. That’s why composable commerce is such a promising trend: instead of disrupting business with one big platform switch, smaller tech upgrades and service additions – such as risk management and flexible funding – can provide incremental improvements that add up to the great end-to-end experience your business buyers really want—all designed to ease friction and earn their long-term loyalty.


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