A B2B supplier’s guide to optimizing commercial card payments review

Mastercard and The Strawhecker Group released A B2B supplier’s guide
to optimizing commercial card payments. Selecting the right merchant acquirer and payment gateway, and optimizing interchange, can help reduce suppliers’ collection efforts and costs associated with commercial card payments. By Marie Elizabeth Aloisi and Peter Michaud. Christine Speedy, blog author, reviews the guide. In my opinion some elements, present an incomplete picture for merchants, especially the business suppliers accepting commercial payments that is the target of the paper.

The executive summary cites research that suppliers can reduce the cost of collecting funds from customers by 31% if they accept credit cards. I googled to find that commercial credit card research data, and though this is not the referenced Mastercard and Kaiser Associates, Commercial Card Acceptance Cost-Benefit Study, of November 2016, it has similar data:

  • This study estimated card acceptance at the point-of-sale to be 37% less costly than using other payment collections methods – yielding savings of $12 on a $500 transaction
  • Card acceptance provides a similar sized net benefit regardless of the funds transfer tool it replaces – e.g. check vs. ACH vs. wire
  • The bulk of value from commercial card acceptance lies in its use as a pre-payment tool – providing revenue assurance against bad debts

 

I have a problem with the next line in the report, “That’s because getting paid by check—or even ACH or wire—involves many manual steps, onerous costs, and potential errors that are a burden to a supplier’s accounting, finance, and treasury functions.”  Checks are still the most onerous even with a scanner, but with electronic bill presentment and payment, any other payment method can be automated for increased efficiency. Our cloud payment processing solutions, including integrated with ERP, automate all types of payment processing, including check/ACH, wire, credit card, and can update journals etc.

The paper goes on to explain why working with your acquirer is critical. While it mentions suppliers can benefit from advanced gateways, most acquirers offer a limited number of payment gateways to merchants. In fact, they may offer suppliers only one solution – they’re own- and it may not be the best for the supplier, it’s just the only one they offer. Independent payment gateways, like CenPOS that I offer, can provide significant advantages to maximize profits, efficiency and flexibility. For example, fulfilling the need to simplify wire transactions and match to invoices.

The three best practices cited to work with acquirers are to automate payments, optimize interchange and negotiate pricing. 

The devil is in the details not cited. For example, “suppliers can only take advantage of lower interchange rates if the payment gateway is set up to pass Data Rate 3 information along with the transaction.” This is true. But the bigger problem is compliance with all the other rules required to qualify the transaction for Data Rate 3. For example, suppliers often do a preauthorization, which expires before settlement (but can still settle) or is not the same as the final settlement amount. These common transaction types will nullify qualifying for the best interchange rates, including MasterCard Data Rate 3. There are many more rules that make it tough to qualify and if the payment gateway does not automatically manage for suppliers, passing Data Rate 3 info doesn’t matter. The reality is most payment gateways do not have a solution to help suppliers comply.

Again, if the acquirer doesn’t have the best solution, should suppliers rely on their advice? A supplier client of mine went to their acquirer (top 5 in USA) and told them what I was offering. They would keep their acquirer but switch to my payment gateway; they’d use our electronic bill presentment and payment solution to eliminate paper credit card authorization forms and employees getting cardholder data over the phone. Customers would self-manage their payment methods, including storing & tokenizing if they chose to. Their acquirer did not want them to use any solution other than their own.  They offered them a substantially worse solution- the silliest I’ve ever heard. The acquirer would give them a new merchant account with virtual terminal exclusively for one large client that they knew was using a commercial card. What about all the other clients? What about eliminating employee access to cardholder data and storing data on paper? Advising to use substandard solutions happens all the time.

In summary, Mastercard and The Strawhecker Group put out some great research data for suppliers. I’m a huge fan of the people at The Strawhecker Group and their work. Suppliers should look to cloud payment processing solution providers like myself at CenPOS for advice. Suppliers need the best payment gateway because without it, the rest doesn’t matter. Combining a robust payment gateway, business solutions, and the flexibility to change acquirers without business disruption can provide significant advantages.

All comments and statements herein are strictly my personal opinion and do not represent that of any company.

Christine Speedy, CenPOS sales 954-942-0483. CenPOS is a cloud business solutions provider with end-to-end payments engine that drives enterprise-class solutions for businesses, saving them time and money, while improving their customer engagement.

Increasing B2B Loyalty With Improved Customer Experience

b2b einvoiceThe last mile in any business to business transaction, collecting payment, can be a point of friction or a seamless part of a great buying experience. Too often, its the former due to a multiple roadblocks including paper invoicing, and accounts receivable staff availability for time zone differences.

Established family businesses often have the same customers for generations and they’re fiercely loyal. Or are they? In a Bain & Company survey of 290 executives in B2B industries throughout 11 countries, 68% of respondents said customers are less loyal than they used to be. Technology can be a game changer for increasing loyalty.

Common business to business billing scenarios for distributors without ecommerce capabilities:

  • Distributor A sends invoices via text or email and lets their customer choose their experience and how they want to pay. Pay from the email/text or login to a portal? Store and tokenize ACH or credit card or manually enter each time? Send check in the mail?
  • Distributor B sends invoices via email and requires customer to login to a portal to make payments.
  • Distributor C has an online pay page customers can use to pay any amount.
  • Distributor D send invoices via email, and customers send checks in the mail.
  • Distributor E sends invoice and credit card authorization form via email, then gets a fax back, key enters into a virtual terminal.

Which billing strategy delivers the optimal customer experience? Customers want to interact with you in multiple ways, so if you’re still doing business the same way you have for decades, customers have likely shifted some of their business, or maybe all of it, to another vendor. Price is not the likely culprit. In a retail study about millennials, just 15% always purchase from the lowest price retailer, while 38% cited convenience as a reason to not purchase. 58% said they’d take advantage of self-checkout on their own mobile device.

What does this mean for B2B distribution companies? Think like your customers. Are you making it easy to do business? Are you increasing their efficiency? What’s the opportunity cost of not updating? I once sought a new distributor for a product an existing supplier discontinued. I found one, but didn’t place the first order. Why not? They required calling in with my credit card information citing it would be more secure. We were in different time zones and the phone was busy, or the person at lunch, and it was just plain inconvenient to keep trying.

A distributor recently advised me they don’t store anything – they require a credit card authorization form for every single purchase. Talk about driving customers away! Even a simple hosted pay page can alleviate the need for paper forms, immensely increase customer convenience, and increase cash flow to boot. While increasing a credit line is a possibility, some customers use them as a tool to self-manage credit, increasing purchasing without having to interact with anyone.

Invoicing and payment technology updates are critical to garnering customer loyalty, regardless of the payment type. The more flexible the solution, the more likely each customer can interact with your business via their preferred method. Today’s technology supports a myriad of payment types, including ACH, credit card, wire and others, and multiple ways to interact for making payments from email to text and beyond. Delighted customers are more loyal and more likely to refer new business.

Christine Speedy is an authorized reseller for CenPOS, a cloud-based, end-to-end payments engine that drives enterprise-class solutions for businesses, saving them time and money, while improving their customer engagement. The secure, cloud-based solution optimizes acceptance for all payment types across multiple channels without disrupting the merchant’s banking relationships. 954-942-0483

Why should B2B CFO’s, business consultants and accountants partner with a B2B payments consultant?

Financial consultants from CPA’s to business advisors can increase profits by partnering with outside experts. A business to business payments consultant will help financial consultants differentiate services offered to win more business and increase retention. Get clients paid faster, cheaper, and more securely, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty and refer you more business.

REAL RESULTS FROM COMPANIES USING MY TECHNOLOGY

  • Reduced DSO from 45 days to 15 days
  • Reduced merchant fees 34%- with the same merchant account
  • Exposed long-term internal fraud by trusted employee at a $2B+ company
  • Reduced internal accounting staff by 20%
  • Reduced cashier staff by 30%
  • Improved customer experience, directly increasing revenue per customer, and manufacturer bonus rebates

My core expertise is cloud-based financial transaction technology critical to staying current with regulatory and compliance changes, and the resulting impact on risk management, cash flow, and EBITDA. Examples of payment acceptance types can include credit card processing, check processing, ACH, wire, and others.

Why Christine Speedy? The industry is loaded with people selling substandard payment acceptance solutions, particularly B2B merchant services because they don’t know any better or they put themselves first. For example,

  • Web developers tell you to use either authorize.net or Payflow Pro payment gateway because they’re ‘reliable’ and they’ve had good results. Yes, they’re reliable, but so are others that provide far better customer and merchant experiences, while also maximizing profits.
  • US banks don’t have retail solutions enabling B2B merchants to qualify for the lowest interchange rate possible for purchasing, business, and corporate cards so they sell substandard alternatives. For example, building supply and distribution companies that cater to businesses pay millions in extra fees because of inadequate technology.
  • Industry associations offer member benefits for services in which they profit share; these ‘exclusive trusted partners’ are kept at all costs, even if it’s not the best service for their members.
  • Merchant salespeople tell you it’s Ok to store credit card authorization forms in a locked file drawer. No, it’s not. It’s never ok to store sensitive cardholder data in any format, but they don’t have a solution to fix your reason for storing it.

You need a trusted, confidential resource.

WHAT I DO: Analyze, recommend, sell new or modify existing solutions

Part 1: What is the revenue picture?

  1. Types and costs of payments accepted
  2. How and where are payments accepted? Who touches? Credit, collections, and treasury management (risk, currency) reviewed.
  3. Software and hardware
  4. Security and PCI Compliance at a glance- I can typically uncover problems in 100% of businesses within 5-10 minutes of probing.

Part 2: What are merchant business priorities in next 3-6-12 months?

These do not have to be related to part 1, but are critical to understanding business.

Part 3: Action items

Based on account review and priorities, what are critical and non-critical action items? How will these impact efficiency, security, profits, customer experience? What vendor, hardware, software changes are recommended?

MERCHANT SERVICES WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW

US EMV chip card implementation is impacting every company that accepts credit cards, retail and card not present. This is the biggest change since Durbin (debit), and again, there’s loads of misinformation and poor recommendations being made.

TARGET MARKETS

Minimum $5M-100 annual revenue, sweet spot; Clients include $1M to $2B. Manufacturer, distribution, technology, dealer, anything B2B.

NO THANK YOU – No supermarkets, restaurants, education, fuel or travel agencies

FREE TEST – While credit card processing may be a small portion of cash flow in target markets, it’s also a pain point I can typically help with immediately. Send 2 consecutive merchant statements for any B2B company you’re satisfied is as profitable as possible. If you like my report, we can go deeper into full analysis.

Volusion for B2B? No way!

Volusion for B2B ecommerce shopping cart is unacceptable. B2B companies are going omnichannel, yet Volusion lacks critical tools distribution companies need to maximize profits, security, and efficiency.

  1. Payment gateways and level III data– Wholesalers average 30% premium in merchant fees because NO Volusion payment gateways help businesses properly qualify for level 3 interchange rates across ALL sales channels, from ecommerce to retail. They have continually ignored requests to support, instead adding dozens and dozens of ‘me too’  gateways that are pretty much all alike.
  2. Retail – B2B retailers need US EMV options that support their needs. Whether it’s signature capture terminals like the Verifone MX915, or mobile terminals. None of their gateways has ever supported level 3 processing for retail, and is there even an US EMV terminal with P2P encryption certified for any processor today that works with Volusion?
  3. Omnichannel flexibility and PCI Compliance – How many business to business companies have a sales force taking phone orders? What is Volusion doing to help secure that transaction and help prevent fraud? Not nearly enough.

Over the decade that I owned a Volusion B2B ecommerce store, I recommended them over and over again. So much that their product development reached out to me to ask if there was anything I needed. It’s been seven years and the one thing I wanted, a modern payment gateway that meets business to business needs, they still haven’t done, even though the work is minimal. Why not? Well I’m tired of waiting and if someone finds my positive reviews online, I want everyone to know, there are many compelling reasons why I do not recommend Volusion for B2B ecommerce.

B2B Magento payment gateway extension -CenPOS

The perfect global B2B Magento payment gateway extension must support level 3 processing, since it significantly impacts profit margins. Connecting to Dynamics AX, Infor, SAP and other ERP’s can also help reduce PCI Compliance burden, with one gateway for all revenue channels.

magento logo

For international sales needs, a global gateway can be more than a secure payment module. For example, with CenPOS treasury management, route transactions to the local bank partner based on the card issuer.

  • Eliminate expensive cross-border interchange fees
  • Route processing to countries with lower interchange rates
  • Eliminate currency exchange fees when repatriating funds back to country where sale originated
  • Qualify for level III interchange rates on eligible corporate, purchasing, business cards; more than just supporting level III, there are many rules to comply with to get the reduced rates

The CenPOS Magento module is not available in any marketplace. To get it FREE, contact Christine Speedy today, 954-942-0483.