There’s a significant power shift happening in B2B purchasing, with the pendulum swinging firmly in the employee’s favor.
Long gone are the days of having to phone up the only trusted provider for some new stationery. Now, not only do staff want more control over where they buy from and when but 82 percent of corporate purchasers want the same experience on the job as they have as consumers. For most, price is second to getting the best product or services as soon as possible.
However, in an era of remote working when employees might be out of sight, spend is very much in mind. Unexpected orders and receipts are unwanted at the best of times, but especially when operating costs are skyrocketing and businesses are looking to make savings wherever possible.
With remote working options set to stay for many, technology needs to be in place to control maverick spending and give businesses better insights into who’s spending what.
Strictly for business marketplaces
One of the biggest shifts in B2B spending has been the emergence and dominance of marketplaces like Amazon in the consumer space. Amazon Business was created to make businesses’ lives easier by saving them time and money – mirroring the convenience of the everyday e-commerce site, while optimizing the needs of B2B businesses.
The ecommerce giant brought added features tailored to the needs of businesses that want greater control over their procurement experience. Buyers receive access to business-only pricing, multi-user accounts, quantity pricing, and streamlined invoicing – all of which come in handy when finance departments are tied up with random invoices and purchase order requests to reconcile.
Online B2B marketplaces offer many benefits for businesses, but they also help to empower the employees. By accelerating the sourcing of supplies and enabling them to achieve the best outcome in terms of price, quality, and availability, digital marketplaces make it easier for workers to get their jobs done.
Amazon Business hit $25 billion in annual sales and grew 1.6 times faster than Amazon itself in 2021. With such success in this area, and now, at a time when many businesses are making ‘work from anywhere’ practices permanent fixtures in their operations, it’s no surprise that analysts expect the future of global trade to be driven through marketplaces. Through easier access and greater visibility across the supply chain, this technology is helping organizations build resilience moving forward not just for their coffers, but also for other factors for business sustainability and efficiency such as managing supply shortages and ESG goals.
Of course, there are other ways businesses are supporting remote staff to make purchases. For example, providing virtual company cards enable employees to make the necessary purchases and continue to do their jobs.
But, they aren’t a perfect solution for efficient corporate purchasing. Often, cards can be shared across teams, reducing visibility and control of spending and creating bottlenecks. To keep control of spending while giving staff flexibility, an integrated system can fill the gap between a business’ orders and incoming invoices, automating approvals and posting to accounting systems.
Keeping an eye on remote purchases with integration
Now, more than ever, finance teams must maintain complete visibility into company spend. With large numbers of purchases across the organization happening as teams work remotely – coupled with the increased need to cut any unnecessary spending – they can’t afford to wait until the end of the month to review corporate credit card statements and expense reports to know how much money is leaving the business.
Without real-time visibility, finance can’t correct spending in the moment. For example, multiple remote employees might purchase individual subscriptions to the same software tool. If finance had been able to view these transactions in real time, they could have intervened and stopped the duplicate purchase or negotiated a better price for the combined licenses.
To tackle these problems, B2B marketplaces are integrating accounting solutions to digitize financial services and provide a secure and intuitive way to procure goods.
By embedding cutting-edge finance options such as paying later or better credit terms within the checkout journey, marketplaces can match and beat buyers’ other purchasing options offline. Integrated finance also lets them avoid the hassle of managing credit or impacting their balance sheet themselves.
The future of procurement is undeniably digital
Now, more than ever, companies are focused on employee spending. They must act quickly to ensure that spending is controlled and visible in real-time, and that employees are empowered to succeed in a remote setting.
The shift to remote work has its challenges, but it has also presented an opportunity for finance teams to proactively support the future of their company with streamlined digital procurement. As the capabilities of the B2B tools have accelerated so rapidly to meet fresh demands, finance departments have new avenues to assist in reining in spending and getting valuable insights for business strategy.
When it comes to B2B procurement and sourcing, the remote working shift has shown organizations that to keep pace with the rate of change and advancement across industries, they need to adjust and take advantage of new solutions quickly.
Remote working has placed a permanent digital stamp on B2B purchasing, and through its advancements, businesses are in a better position to move with the times, toward the anywhere era of working.