You’ve made the decision to do away with manual payments within your accounts payable department. Maybe you were tired of all the time and effort it took staff to prepare, print, sign, fold, seal, stamp, and send checks, when there are much better things your team could be doing. Or perhaps you were tired of paying $6 or more per check, when you factor in the cost of this manual work, along with the hard costs of paper, toner, ink and postage. Certainly, you weren’t happy dealing with the late payments caused by inefficiencies and snail mail, which saddled you with penalties on top of the other costs.
Now you’re ready to capitalize on the benefits of electronic payments. You’re looking forward to having a single workflow to authorize and issue payments across multiple payment types (e.g., check, ACH, virtual card, and even cross-border payments), and to process payments efficiently and quickly. Thanks to a streamlined process and more control over payment timing, you’ll not only avoid late payments and associated penalties, but you’ll also have greater flexibility to capture early payment discounts. And, if you’re like a growing number of companies, you want to go further and actually earn money with every payment you make with a virtual card. These rebates can cover the cost of your AP Automation platform, deliver fast ROI, and potentially turn AP from a cost center into a profit center. On top of that, you can make your transactions more secure.
7 Questions to Evaluate B2B Payment Networks
Once you’ve determined all of that, the next step is to find the right B2B payment provider to address your needs. One of the considerations that goes into that decision is how much of your AP spend will actually benefit from the provider’s payment network. There are several factors that can help you make an informed decision about that, including:
- Are your top suppliers already in the payment network? Size is relative. The overall number of suppliers in a provider’s payment network doesn’t matter if it doesn’t include your top suppliers or the most common suppliers to your industry. In other words, any vendors in the network that you don’t do business with don’t offer you any real value.
- Does the payment provider have to call each supplier every time? Certain providers may claim to have a large payment network. Yet, when it comes time to onboard your suppliers, they’ll have to call each one, even if they’re already “in-network”. If they have to call them anyway, then there’s no added value in the size of the network to your business.
- How long does it take the provider to onboard your supplier list? You will want to realize immediate benefits from the payment network, so prioritize a partner that is responsive and makes you a priority. Find out if they have a large, dedicated team that will be focused on onboarding your suppliers expediently, or if your account is one of many that they are juggling and won’t get the attention it needs.
- How do they count the number of suppliers in their network? Some payment providers will count the same supplier multiple times – once for each of their customers that purchases from them. This will artificially inflate a provider’s numbers and make its payment network appear larger than it really is.
- What is the provider’s reputation among suppliers? Some providers will be very aggressive and strong-arm suppliers to enroll in their payment network. Since they’re representing your company, this type of behavior will reflect badly on you. Look for providers that treat your suppliers with utmost respect, just as you do.
- Will your suppliers get value from the network? To increase adoption and satisfaction, consider the benefits that suppliers will get from enrolling in the payment network. For example, find out if the provider offers a supplier portal, where suppliers can see the status of invoices and payments along with remittance information across multiple customers.
- Does your provider support continuous onboarding? Many companies, especially in markets such as biotech, are constantly introducing new suppliers. If a provider completes only an initial enrollment campaign when you sign on, then you will fail to catch this additional spend. Instead, look for a provider that augments an initial campaign with continuous enrollment services, so that the value of your spends will grow over time.
The Right B2B Payment Network Unlocks the Full Value of AP Automation
Automating payment is a huge step forward in digitizing your process and gaining critical cost, efficiency, and security benefits. By carefully considering which payment network will provide the greatest value to your organization, you’ll be well on your way to reaping the full benefits and rewards.
Check out our on-demand webinar to learn more about virtual cards!