Debt collection and people

Collection of overdue payments: effective and people-friendly solutions based on Commitment, Innovation and Solidarity

Debt collection and people

In a difficult social context, a new model for collecting overdue payments is needed. More people-friendly, but no less effective, the new model has three focuses: Engagement, Innovation and Solidarity, as explained during a Smart Session given by Franck Etienne, General Manager of Collections Services – Customer Financial Experience products at Webhelp Payment Services.

Methods of collecting overdue payments are changing. They are adapting to a difficult social context, scarred by both an economic and a medical crisis. For businesses, the situation is worrying and delicate: what’s the best way to make it work? In-house or with a specialist partner?

Experience shows it is wise to re-organise the model around three focuses: Commitment, Innovation and Solidarity.

 

1. Commitment: to make collection advisors more effective

As professionals, collection advisors are accountable for the advice they provide, i.e. what they say to a client. Ultimately, this responsibility falls on the partner company. So the initial training and then daily coaching of these teams is crucially important.

Every day, these advisors are dealing with people who are struggling or unwilling to pay. So they are “on the front line”, displaying the brand image of the company seeking payment. Therefore, the advisors need to be extremely careful when using the three traditional phases – case analysis, listening and finding solutions! In addition, monitoring, listening and measuring systems need to be set up and properly managed.

Overall, the advisor must feel fully accountable and committed to his actions, completely consistent with his colleagues and managers and within the “spirit of the brand”.

From the customer’s viewpoint, it would be inadmissible for the credit company to provide responses which varied with the contact person or the communication channel (email, mail, SMS, etc.).

This concept of advisors’ professional commitment must be reconciled with the concept of trust.

Typically, the business of collection starts with fairly rigid call scripts. Exchanges between the advisor and the client are structured as they progress – which is very reassuring for a newly recruited advisor, for example.

However, switching as quickly as possible to other methods, such as the mind map,is recommended. This very practical and powerful technique makes it possible to visualise the client’s thoughts and behaviours. It is a live, adaptable method that benefits from exchanges between the various parties involved. This free flow of ideas makes it possible to emulate and constantly improve, increasing the competence and confidence of advisors – which ultimately results in greater efficiency.

And of course, in a context of working from home, whether hybrid or full time, this concept of trust between advisors and managers has become a key point of collective efficiency – the manager’s adaptability also being crucially important.

This new organisational situation will probably be perpetuated in many companies, the aim being a “triple win'” where everyone benefits: employee, creditor and end customer.

To meet this commitment challenge, a healthy trust between employee and manager needs to be put in place, rather than “command and control”!

 

2. Innovation: so that the advisor optimises the collection strategy

Too often, the keyword “innovation” is associated with new digital tools. This should not be exclusive: social innovation must remain the priority, as technology is there to be used for human performance.

For example, when carrying out data management analysis for our customers, we study many variables: profiles of overdue customers, behaviours and reactions to requests, analysis of reachability, creditworthiness, payments, etc.

In our experience, for this data analysis to be effective, it must be cross-referenced with analysis of the actual experiences of advisors and their managers.

What we find is that, over and above raw and quantitative data, it is the quality of the human interaction that makes the difference.

Thus the advisor has a key role in realising and optimising brand strategy. However, it should not in any circumstance be considered rigid, definitive and mechanically employed in a “top down” manner.

To return to the concept of technological innovation, let’s not forget we are now at the stage of enhanced advisor. This means the advisor can rely on a variety of automated business process solutions (or RAP for Robotic Automisation Process).

In practice, some repetitive or low value-added tasks are handled automatically, either totally or partially. This usually but not always refers to back office areas.

For example, there are real-time monitoring and re-transcription systems for conversations between advisor and client. They provide indicators that tell you about the quality of the conversation, such as its emotional content.

These monitoring tools can also offer the advisor tools to help with decision-making or discussion.

However, these tools should be studied or implemented with care. Within the Webhelp Group, experiments are underway, particularly in Nordic countries.

Measuring the implementation costs for these solutions is essential. In addition to direct costs associated with the acquisition and technical operation of these solutions, there are organisational costs to be included. These enhanced advisor solutions require very specific HR and managerial support. Careful preparation and then testing are required to create the expected added value!

Finally, technological innovation also applies to the omni-channel advisor. This advisor no longer only handles outgoing calls; he also handles incoming calls, emails, chat conversations, and sometimes even mail. This has led to the growing importance of writing in recruitment and training processes for collection advisors.

3. Solidarity: for empathetic support in line with brand values

Solidarity is traditionally defined by concepts of “social duty, reciprocal obligation, help and assistance, courteous collaboration between people in a community… “.

The brand must position itself clearly in relation to this fundamental value. This is even a priority in certain professions, such as mutual organisations and insurance companies for example.

And so in 2021, and probably in 2022, the brand will ask the question: “how are we to approach our clients who are suffering hardship in such a stressful social, health and economic context?”.

For its part, for several years now Webhelp Payment Services has been working in partnership with Crésus,a federation of 24 regional associations. Their mission is to help people who are in over-indebted or suffering financial problems. They also play a role in providing information on excessive debt and its prevention.

For example, this partnership has made it possible to measure people’s level of fragility in order to inform collection services and allow referral to appropriate support services.

In certain sectors of activity, this value of solidarity also enables the brand to play an advisory role–going as far as providing coaching. In addition, experiments between Crésus and Webhelp Payment Services will be extended during 2021.

Similarly, the idea of solidarity applies to teams of advisors engaged in a collective effort to improve service and share best practice.

To sum up, although there is a certain amount to be collected, it is possible – and probably desirable – to bring people into the relationship, while relying on technologies and tools that enhance that relationship.

It is also this empathy and this search for human solutions that over time will lead to a good and lasting relationship with the customer and a positive brand image! A relationship to everyone’s benefit!

 

To find out more about this topic


The Summer of B2B Marketplaces

The Summer of B2B Marketplaces

Following our last two studies “2017 – The spring of B2B Marketplaces” and “2018 – B2B marketplaces are blossoming”, we once again joined forces with the strategy consulting firm Roland Berger and with Mirakl to take stock of this new year of development for B2B marketplaces.

This new version, entitled The summer of B2B marketplaces: a bright future ahead for marketplace development, goes further into the new development and opportunities for B2B marketplaces.

We invite you to download this study, which addresses several topics in detail:

  • The different maturities on the subject of B2B Marketplaces by industry;
  • The 5 different strategies of B2B Marketplaces;
  • The different approaches to launch such a project;
  • A focus on the automotive spare-parts market based on the Marketplace model.


Trends 2020 – Upply is digitalising the supply chain and integrating Webhelp Payment Services solutions!

A preferred marketplace for transport and logistics professionals, Upply brings increased transparency and fluidity to the supply chain market. Highly innovative in terms of data and AI, Upply uses KYC and payment services provided by Webhelp Payment Services. For more details, we spoke to Christophe de Sahb, Business Developer at Webhelp Payment Services.

 

Launched in November 2018, Upply's mission is to help supply chain and transport firms control volatile freight rates by accessing prices and transport capacities in real time.

Several initiatives have followed:

  • Launch of a service for real-time comparison of transport prices in 2018
  • Launch of a price analysis and trends functionality in spring 2019
  • Launch of a marketplace for road transport in France in July 2019

Data science, AI and Marketplace for supply chain optimisation

Upply combines business expertise and data science: the fast-growing company currently employs 110 people, including 9 data scientists, and processes 150 million data updates every week. It's a winning formula, since more than 700 companies have registered on the Upply marketplace since July 2019!

Marketplace offers its users – hauliers, shippers and charterers – a direct digital connection service and a valuable decision-making tool.

The platform collects data (prices, meteorological data, financial indices and economic indicators, etc.) and analyses it using mathematical algorithms and advanced machine learning methods.
Xavier Fraval, Product Director at Upply, details the company's approach: "Thanks to the marketplace, we give all players – large or small, old or new – free access to offers and requests that correspond to their transport needs, using a matching algorithm."

How Webhelp Payment Services manages KYC and Upply's payments

"We started working with Upply in January 2019. Thanks to the pragmatism of this start-up and its agile mode of operation, our KYC and payment solutions were able to be integrated into marketplace in just four months," explains Christophe de Sahb, Business Developer at Webhelp Payment Services.

As of July 2019, we have enabled payment by bank transfer (denominated in euros), which is heavily used in the B2B market. Bank card and SEPA direct debit payment will be available in   early 2020.

As Upply states, prices are freely set and negotiated between the client and the carrier, with full transparency. For the marketplace service, Upply receives a management fee corresponding to 5% of the transport price, shared equally between the parties (2.5% for each).

A customised onboarding and payment solution based on a specific API

As Upply is 'API centric', it is natural that they chose this solution. "Our API solution builds on    the one we successfully implemented for our Rungis marketplace customer", emphasises Christophe de Sahb.

Tight deadlines and a challenging level of demand for the Webhelp Payment Services team. "We had to work intensively to produce specific diagrams, because, for example, Upply wanted one invoice for the seller and another for the buyer for each payment", adds Christophe de Sahb.

In practice, these two invoices are produced by Upply and forwarded to Webhelp Payment Services, which is then responsible for overall reconciliation.

"We have prepared a specific system for Upply, from ordering through to delivery", explains Christophe de Sahb. That's why we organised technical workshops between the teams, particularly around certain key themes: payment, identification and vendor onboarding (linked to KYC and AML regulations), invoicing and reconciliation, and finally pay out (remittance of funds).

"Upply's tools and operating methods allow for a successful balance in relationships among all players in the supply chain, today in Europe and tomorrow worldwide. We are delighted to be of service in this great technical and human adventure", concludes Christophe de Sahb.

 

Also read:

B2B Marketplaces – Limits of the Marketplace model for Global Account customers (1/2)

B2B – Marketplace or Drop Shipping: It is urgent not to choose (2/2)


Axel Mouquet appointed President and CEO of Webhelp Payment Services

Axel Mouquet, Deputy General Manager and Chief Commercial Officer of Webhelp Payment Services, a subsidiary of Webhelp group dedicated to payment and credit management, has been promoted to President and CEO.

He succeeds Dominique Chatelin, who has been the head of Webhelp Payment Services for the past 13 years, has now become President of the Supervisory Board of this entity.

A graduate of ESSEC business school, Axel Mouquet joined Webhelp in 2008 as Key Account Manager, before taking over the top management role of the Compiègne site in 2012. He then joined the subsidiary Webhelp Payment Services, first as Director of Business Development at the end of 2014, then as Chief Commercial Officer in January 2018.

Over the last 12 years within the group, Axel Mouquet has played various key roles in the development of Webhelp and has been instrumental in establishing Webhelp Payment Services as the leader for B2B Marketplace payments in Europe.


Outsourcing your receivables management to boost your business

Companies outsource primarily to cut costs. But today, it is not only about cutting costs but also about reaping the benefits of strategic outsourcing such as accessing skilled expertise, reducing overhead, flexible staffing, and increasing efficiency, reducing turnaround time and eventually generating more profit. When it comes to receivables management and its implications on an international scale, you are facing multiple practices requiring a vast range of skills such as:

  • Customer identification and risk assessment;
  • Credit insurance management and credit limit decisions;
  • Decisions on terms and method of payment;
  • Handling of orders;
  • Recovery processes;
  • Customer service and complaints management;
  • Payment allocation and transfers of receivable to suppliers bank accounts;
  • Legal and pre-legal claims management;
  • Problems identification and problem solving.

Benefits of outsourcing with Webhelp Payment Services

Webhelp Payment Services partners and clients have experienced numerous benefits from our outsourcing solutions. Some of them are:

  • Access to skilled and highly trained expertise;
  • Increased in-house efficiency;
  • Increased the quality of your client portfolio;
  • Increased customer satisfaction;
  • Reduced internal costs;
  • Increased turnover;
  • A drastic optimization of the DSO (Daily Standard Outstanding);
  • Strengthen business relationship with the customers due to the decreased number of disputes.

Impact on your organization

Companies are increasingly sensitive to the strategic aspect of their cash flow situation, and therefore to the management of their debts.

In today’s world “cash is king”. The cash flow is a key component for a successful business. A functional debt recovery procedure is now a top priority of many officers.

  • What level of risk am I prepared to accept?
  • What payment terms am I able to arrange for my customers?
  • What attitude do I need to assume when payment problems arise?

This is directly linked to changes put in place within many innovative businesses, to adapt to the new commercial context:

  • Focusing on the core activity;
  • Streamlining costs;
  • Profiting from the experience and unique skills of a partner;
  • Growing your flexibility;
  • Focusing management and investments on strategic functions;
  • Simplifying non-strategic processes.

The positive impacts on business organizations include:

  • Immediate access to the most advanced processes and tools;
  • A variable cost model;
  • Improved cash flow situation;
  • A better image of your professional presence in the international markets.

If you liked this article, please feel free to share it or to consult our website!


B2B Marketplaces – Limits of the Marketplace model for Global Account customers (1/2)

In B2B distribution, the new challenge is to massively expand the product offering. The Marketplace model has rapidly prevailed in this context. It is now showing some limitations, as François Duranton, CEO of ZeTrace, explains in this first column.

B2B marketplaces are gathering momentum! They are currently winning VSE/SME targets, especially for service-sector and non-strategic purchases.

But it is true that they are still facing some difficulties with Global Account and Government Contract customers, particularly for strategic or primary purchases.

Before going into detail regarding these difficulties, we may specify that there are three models for massive expansion of the product offering:

  • the industrialized Drop Shipping model, where a distributor shows its customers the catalogues of suppliers who will perform delivery;
  • the Marketplace model which establishes contact between vendors and customers around a trusted third-party operator; and
  • combination of these two models.

The advantages and disadvantages of these models are very different. For Global Accounts and Government Contracts, the Marketplace model has five main limitations.

1. Risk of legal requalification of the marketplace

On paper, the Marketplace model enjoys an excellent image. For example, it is very efficient for the delegation of tasks to the vendors – which take charge of catalogue onboarding, stock and price management, orders management and customer service, etc.

But the marketplace is based on a special business model, which could pose a problem for Global Account and Government Contract customers.

For example, the concept of personalized prices or prices negotiated with the operator is problematic, because, on a marketplace, the price is usually controlled by the vendor. But, if the marketplace imposes negotiated prices on its vendors, the latter could blame it for not complying with the standard intermediation model, i.e. doing “disguised drop shipping” – and this requalification could take place before a court.

Just recently, Cdiscount avoided a ruling of liability on counterfeit products sold on its Marketplace, in particular because it had in no way changed the information provided by the vendor, and had therefore remained in a role of hosting service and not publisher.

To meet the needs of these customers and to reduce the legal risk, the operator will therefore be obliged to take on numerous responsibilities (product compliance, tax reporting, customer relationships, etc.). And this complicates the pure marketplace model and has an impact on its profitability.

2. IT problems in ensuring an assortment for each customer

The Global Account and Government Contract customers tend to compartment their procurements: certain products, at a certain price, from a certain supplier.

The marketplace must therefore filter its assortments according to the customers who log on, and combine them with the negotiated prices.

This situation is not always well managed by commercially available solutions.

3. Constraint of the single invoice

For Global Account and Government Contract customers, they dread having numerous suppliers. They want to rationalize the full acquisition cost – which includes invoice processing, order forms, reconciliation of payments and deliveries, etc.

Hence the goal of reducing invoicing. But in the marketplace model, the current standard is as follows: if there are five vendors in a given order, that will result in five invoices.

Firms such as Webhelp Payment Services propose packaged third-party invoicing solutions. With this system, the operator signs an invoicing mandate with each of the vendors, which authorize the marketplace operator to issue in their name and on their behalf the invoices produced for the end customer.

The advantage of this solution is good standardization of invoices, which become easier to integrate by the customer and by the platform.

For example, the operator can compile all the monthly invoices in a statement of invoices, which greatly simplifies administration and reconciliation tasks at the customer level.

There is a limitation, however: certain auditors could consider that this invoicing becomes a “hotchpotch” and demand a personal account for each supplier. Ultimately, everything depends on the customer’s accounting strategy.

The only alternative solution to produce a single invoice is to switch to a dropship model, possibly supported by the marketplace information system: the operator creates the vendor listing catalogue, manages sales to the end customer and sends the order to the vendor, which manages dropship delivery to the end customer. This solution amounts to taking responsibility for the sale on the operator side (product compliance, taxes, etc.).

4. Rationalization of the supply chain

Global Account and Government Contract customers want to rationalize product delivery. Very often, they impose time slots for delivery, together with penalties. This situation is complex to manage for a marketplace in which each vendor manages their shipments.

There are solutions to the supply chain problem, such as groupage of deliveries in the warehouses of the marketplace distributor (cross docking). Then, this distributor manages deliveries in the time slots agreed with the customer.

However, these solutions are complex to implement, more costly, and they entail longer delivery times.

5. Globalized customer service

Another requirement: customer service will have to operate in the language and in the time slots wanted by the Global Account or Government Contract customer.

Possible case: a German vendor must ensure relations with a French marketplace customer. If this vendor is not capable of this, there must be a replacement solution.

In this respect, the marketplace must take charge of the costs that on paper it was supposed to save.

In the second article of this column*, I invite you to discover that the conventional opposition between Marketplace and Drop Shipping deserves to be left behind.

François Duranton, CEO of ZeTrace


3 key questions about your marketplace business model

One of the main marketplace elements you should consider is, of course, the business model and profitability. How can I develop my marketplace project into a profitable long-term business? Here are three key questions you should ask yourself to find out.

What ratios should I envisage in my business model?

By its very nature, and for the sake of profitability, a marketplace should not be managed by a large team. In markets where the commission rate is around 15%, the ratio 1 person to 5 million euros of business volume is an empirical figure to be considered. As for the profitability threshold, it seems to be around: 1 person to 1 million euros.
Another important ratio: the promotional budget. For some players, such as startups, the challenge is twofold: finding sellers and finding customers. Other B2B players - such as professional media (news sites, magazines, etc.) - certainly have the same problem, but they have an advantage in that they have a community and can activate acquisition levers (professional social networks, Google Ads, etc.). In both cases, it may be wise to devote a reasonable budget to acquiring customers.
The ratio of 15% advertising investment to business volume is often quoted for starting up a business, but everything depends on the type of business. At the end of the launch phase, this ratio can be as low as 4 or 5%. The promotional actions must be perfectly synchronised and fully consistent with the actual products offered and your brand advertising.

Should my sales staff be given a share of the profits?

Many B2B companies have traditionally relied on a network of sales representatives for whom they draw up a product sales commission plan.
But on a marketplace, the scenario is more competitive and the prices charged by sellers and their personal commitment must be taken into account.
The marketplace opportunity study is a good time to examine a new remuneration scheme in which no sales channel will feel penalised. Otherwise, some sales people or stores will not try to sell the goods displayed on the platform.
A profit-sharing scheme involving salespersons or stores in selling products on the Internet can be used to create a win-win scenario.

When can I expect my business to be profitable?

Take a look into the future: your marketplace has just been launched, the first customers are arriving and encountering the inevitable minor technical problems... But your business is not yet profitable. In B2B, as in B2C, this phase - which often feels as if you are in a commercial wilderness - can last between three months and two years. One of the challenges is to considerably reduce the length of this phase, with the help of experienced partners.
It will be followed by an acceleration phase, with satisfactory sales performance. This will typically last between one and three years, depending on the type of business.
Clearly, a lot of effort will initially be required. But make sure you don't try to go too fast and be careful not to cut corners!
Our aim is to make you aware of this reality: when an already established retailer creates a marketplace, this causes a split in the company and severe disruption that cannot be avoided. Advance planning is therefore essential to make this phase as brief as possible.
To put it differently, with a lot of pragmatism and a little humour: complex situations take a lot of effort!

If you liked this article, click here to learn more about our marketplaces services, or contact Christophe de Sahb (CDesahb@wps.webhelp.com).

Contributors:

François Duranton, director of Expertime Consulting

Martial Frugier, director of the Ecommerce, Retail & Transport business unit (Webhelp)


2019: marketplaces set to take the B2B market by storm

We look back at the B2B marketplace morning discussion to explain the main changes and challenges set to be feature in 2019.

“Our starting point was the observation that whereas in 2017 we were at the very beginning of the "B2B marketplace spring", we are now seeing it in full bloom!” announced Sébastien Murbach, a Partner at Roland Berger, at the opening of the morning discussion on 25 October 2018.

An analysis begun two years ago by Roland Berger, in partnership with Webhelp Payment Services and Mirakl, resulting in the annual publication of the B2B Marketplace Observatory and the #MPB2B newsfeed on Twitter.

“B2C marketplaces radically changed a lot of markets. Since 2017 it has been B2B’s turn to start taking on this transformation tool. Initially, many factors slowed its development, such as the complexity of B2B relationships, the extent of the negotiations, consultancy work and contractual formalities required,” continued Sébastien Murbach.

These factors are now under control, and 2019 will see an increase in the growth of B2B marketplaces. This is the way Alfred Hawawini, Director of B2B Business at Mirakl, sees it: "Mirakl, Webhelp Payment Services and Roland Berger all share the same conviction: B2B marketplaces are no longer an emerging phenomenon but represent a clear willingness on the part of B2B players to transform their business completely.”

The four B2B marketplace models

“In 2017, marketplace projects were very vendor-oriented,” explains Christophe de Sahb, Business Developer at Webhelp Payment Services. Today, these projects are much more focused on buyers and buyer expectations. That’s why we are now seeing a lot of procurement departments showing an interest in new marketplace models. This phenomenon is set to grow in 2019.”

This new four-model classification has been adopted by Mirakl, Webhelp Payment Services and Roland Berger:

1. Range extension (G&S) or the one-stop shop

Typically initiated by a distributor or wholesaler wanting to broaden its products and services offer through third-party vendors to create a one-stop shop. The objective is to drive up customer loyalty and create barriers to entry by new competitors.

2. Distributor platform or distribution channel extension

Initiated by a manufacturer or service provider keen to create new sales channels without compromising its existing channels. The idea is to encourage customer loyalty among existing customers and attract new ones through an optimised platform.

3. Internal hub or business model transformation

distributor or service provider wants to start up or reorganise around a marketplace to facilitate the crossover between supply and demand in a relatively unstructured market. This need is felt mainly by buyers looking to rationalise their procurement accounting by referencing a single supplier for each procurement category (for example promotional items from Pandacola).

4. Procurement platform or procurement network

This service is initiated by the members of a group of buyers or procurement departments that are looking for an easy way to secure offers at attractive prices. This category of contract givers has four key requirements:

  • suppliers must be in automatic competition
  • an excellent e-commerce purchasing experience
  • more straightforward accounting procedures
  • simple, automated supplier management

Payment, a key element in the growth of a marketplace

Whichever model is chosen, it must offer a payment system tailored to the specific national and international requirements of B2B business. As Axel Mouquet sums up, the four challenges will remain the same in 2019:

  • compliance with national laws and customs in different countries,
  • the diversity of payment modes and methods,
  • the asynchronous nature of different payment terms,
  • managing invoicing

______________________________________

Marketplace experiences: AccorHotels, Première Vision and Pandacola

Each of the four models has its own advantages and challenges. By way of example, we invited three companies to talk about their marketplace experiences: the AccorHotels group, the fashion show organiser Première Vision and the startup Pandacola, which is set to reinvent the distribution of corporate promotional gifts.

The AccorHotels Group: an international procurement platform that uses a procurement network model

“We negotiate the prices for the products and services required by our 4,500 hotels around the world,” explains Coline Pont, Chief Procurement Officer for the Southern Europe region at AccorHotels. Our platform must meet the requirements of some thirty brands with very different characteristics. The objective of this platform is to enable our hotel customers to make savings and to facilitate the procurement process for our hotels. Currently, we are also working to win new customers outside the AccorHotels group. This is one of our areas of development.”

Première Vision: bringing together fashion pros through a one-stop-shop model

The Première Vision marketplace is for textile industry professionals. It is open to exhibitors and visitors to Première Vision fashion shows in France and around the world. Its vocation is to foster exchanges between textiles and fashion industry professionals (distributors, brands, accessory manufacturers, etc.).

“This business is made up of a lot of self-employed suppliers. It is only loosely structured and the rate at which new collections come out is continually increasing. Our marketplace does not claim to replace human contact, but it does complement it well. Nearly 70% of the visitors to our website connect to our marketplace. Our main challenges lie in helping vendors who have little experience of using digital tools. That’s why we’ve published a lot of tutorials online,” says Gaël Séguillon, Première Vision‘s Head of Marketplace.

Pandacola: selling corporate promotional gifts using a business model transformation model

The Pandacola marketplace is set to market corporate gifts and goodies. “We are the only ones on the European market. This loosely structured market features 2,500 promotional-item retailers in France, only a dozen of which have a turnover of more than €10 million. Hence our desire to create a marketplace to structure this market starting in 2019. Very few of our vendors have embraced digital technology, so we work hard to help them and publish lots of aids", explains Arthur Manier, CEO and founder of Pandacola.

To learn more about the changes expected in 2019 and events in the pipeline, send your request to Christophe de Sahb (CDesahb@wps.webhelp.com).

 


[Fashion] Growing your business without cash flow problems!

Growing your fashion brand without having to worry about cash flow problems? This is the kind of service that Webhelp Payment Services and Lea Trade together propose to French and international fashion, footwear and accessories companies.

Which companies are concerned?

Whether set up recently or established for several years, some fashion brands face procurement problems, often associated with early payment of their suppliers.

"We are sometimes called upon to help newish brands, or well-established brands that are going through a period of stagnation, or even a slight downturn," explains Aline Abeya, Sales Manager, France & Benelux, for Webhelp Payment Services. "These companies are often faced with bank restrictions, and this can affect their supplier credit and the development of their business."

Typical case:

A company is unable to pay its suppliers, situated abroad. Its revenue is insufficient or stagnant, and its ratios do not allow it to obtain the credit lines requested from the banks or the suppliers.

Yet it is not uncommon for Webhelp Payment Services to be on terms with, or even already to manage, the end customers of said company: in which case, the latter can entrust its accounts receivable to Webhelp Payment Services. In turn, in the framework of an exclusive partnership, Webhelp Payment Services can task Lea Trade with paying the suppliers concerned.

To summarise, therefore: the company submits its invoices to Webhelp Payment Services, which collects the payments, and passes them on to Lea Trade for reimbursement. The solution can be implemented quickly and easily!

Supporting a brand's strategic developments

To face growing competition and longer payment deadlines, many modest or average-sized players are changing their strategy. They often try to redeploy over the web, in particular moving toward B2B marketplaces.

For example, Webhelp Payment Services manages all the financial transactions of the shoesfromspain.com marketplace, created by the Spanish footwear association.

And since September 2018, Webhelp Payment Services has managed the B2B marketplace of premierevision.com, the international trade show for fashion procurement.

"For Webhelp Payment Services and Lea Trade alike, the challenge consists in being able to support brands, whatever the chosen distribution model, and whatever the change they wish to undertake!", concludes Aline Abeya.

 

 


Transitional marketplaces – providing a unified omnichannel experience for B2C and B2B

Online shopping makes our life easier and has grown tremendously during the past decade. From shoes to cars, travel experiences or even houses – e-commerce is part of nearly every step in the sales process. While the main focus in the past was providing a good user experience for end consumers purchasing a product or service, e-commerce platforms have rapidly extended to include B2B sales. Enhancing the customer experience and providing an omni-channel solution is always the main focus, which has now opened new doors for many companies in the B2B sector targeting a wider audience than previously. There are a few distinctive key factors that can shape the growth process for B2B e-commerce providers:

The decision process

B2C products or services are usually of smaller monetary value, for a larger audience and the buying decision is based on personal needs factors.

B2B sales usually require a more thorough explanation and a longer period of time and money is invested in attracting – and keeping – the right customer. Decisions are based on the business needs and often more than one decision maker is involved before the final purchase. The purchase cycle can be quite long and nurturing leads and relationships with clients and prospects can be quite cost and time intensive. Outsourcing providers can offer valuable insights and solutions for many B2B providers to bridge this gap. While this is already more common for enterprise sales, this demand will likely increase for entry level and small to medium sized businesses .

The marketing process

Marketing your product or service to a large group with the most effective process possible, even when marketing several brands under one platform, can be easily accomplished in a B2C environment. B2B sales will usually become more difficult the more brands are included. Wholesale e-commerce platforms can be the exception here, but think about a service provider or a very specific product like large 3D printers for businesses. A different marketing strategy will be necessary to yield similar results. The content strategy that will be implemented will also vary. In a B2B environment, building trust and brand awareness, even without the immediate sale, which is the main focus in a consumer focused environment, is essential. Content in a B2B e-commerce environment is aimed at informing and educating the prospect or client.

The unified experience

Unifying the user experience in e-commerce has become essential to many companies. While there was a pretty clear distinction in the past, separating B2C and B2B marketplaces and e-commerce platforms to target the right audience, many companies are trying to unify the shopping experience. Buyers can now often switch from the B2C to a B2B experience within the same e-commerce platform. Service sales platforms are also rapidly adapting to this trend by offering a seamless switch from the consumer to the business experience. From various coaching services that are adapted for personal as well as professional demands to transportation or hotel services.

The personal touch

Many B2C e-commerce sites have evolved to an AI-powered or AI-supported experience, with customers frequently being re-targeted through various (automated) touch points. B2B e-commerce platforms also implement many automated solutions to target the right audience, but due to the value of the product and depending on the explanation process involved, a personal contact is often still a key indicator and supporting factor for the long term success. Appreciating your customer and deliver this appreciation through personal contacts will drive the ROI in the business centered sales process.

The mutual benefit

Buying a new chair for the living room can be a relatively standardized process with measurements, price, color and comfort as the main interest for the consumer. B2B e-commerce focuses at providing and delivering the mutual benefit for the buyer and the seller. When a company purchases an IT solutions for its new payroll department, decision makers seek the best long term solution, with a service package fitted to their needs in order to deliver a benefit to their employees. B2B providers seek mutual long term relationships that will not only add to their client portfolio, but be a valuable partner in providing feedback, the development of new product and drive innovations.

There are different opinions whether B2B e-commerce platforms should adapt their user experience to B2C environments or vice versa. With automation and data mining continuously providing more details about user behavior in both e-commerce environments, the next months and years will bring new and interesting synergies, allowing for a better purchase experience on both sides.

What are your experiences with the growing shift in e-commerce? We love to hear from your experiences!