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Has Remote Working Changed B2B Purchasing Forever?

remote working

There’s a significant power shift happening in B2B purchases, with the pendulum swinging firmly in the employee’s favour. With 82% of corporate purchasers wanting the same experience they have as consumers, long gone are the days of having to phone up the only trusted provider for some new stationery. Staff want to control who they buy from and when. For most, price is second to getting the best product or services as soon as possible.

But does this work in an era of remote working? While employees might be out of sight, spending 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 look to make savings wherever possible.

So how can businesses remain in control of maverick spending when they can’t see who’s spending it?

Strictly for business

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, bringing the convenience of the everyday e-commerce site but optimised for the needs of B2B businesses.

The e-commerce 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 is sent random invoices and purchase order requests.

Of course, there are other ways businesses support remote staff to make purchases, such as providing company cards and virtual company cards enabling them to still make the necessary purchases and continue to do their jobs.

But, they aren’t a perfect solution for corporate purchasing. Sharing cards reduces visibility into and control over spending and creates a bottleneck, which is why businesses need to consider an integrated system to keep control of spending while giving staff flexibility.

Online B2B marketplaces offer many benefits for businesses but for the employees they also help to empower them through accelerating the sourcing of supplies and enabling them to achieve the best outcome in terms of price, quality, and availability, making it easier for them to get their job done.

With Amazon Business hitting $25 billion in annual sales and growing 1.6 times faster than Amazon itself last year it’s no surprise that analysts expect the future of global trade to be driven through marketplaces, helping organisations build resilience through easier access and greater visibility across the supply chain.

Keeping an eye on remote purchases

Now, more than ever, finance teams must maintain complete visibility into company spending. With all the purchases happening across the organisation as teams transition to remote work – 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 their business.

Without real-time visibility, finance can’t correct spending at 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 licences.

To tackle these problems, B2B marketplaces are integrating accounting solutions to digitise financial services to provide a secure and intuitive way to procure goods.

By embedding cutting-edge finance options such as paying later or with 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 also presents an opportunity for finance teams to proactively support the future of their company. With the right tools, finance can reign in spending and provide valuable insights that are critical to business strategy.

When it comes to B2B procurement and sourcing, organisations have realised that to keep pace with the rate of change and advancement across industries, they need to adjust quickly and implement new solutions faster.

Using digital procurement, businesses are in a better position to move with the times, towards a new era of working.



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