Buy now pay later

B2B - Buy Now Pay Later, a new payment standard: 4 ways to stand out

Buy now pay later

Now is the time! The opportunities offered by Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) appear to be massive for B2B. When offering their payment methods, platforms and marketplaces should choose to stand out from the rest, as recommended by Meriem Ouenniche, Client Solution Manager at Webhelp Payment Services.

This is no longer simply an option, it’s a standard: Buy Now Pay Later is experiencing exponential growth in the area of B2B. It is noted that this credit purchase option has been offered in e-commerce and B2C marketplaces for years by fintechs such as Younited Credit or Klarna, who are now transposing their solutions to B2B. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) allows marketplace operators, sellers and buyers to access deferred payment solutions.
But is this not “merely” a new credit option? Here are the arguments suggesting that this phenomenon deserves to be looked at more closely:

– It is true that credit is nothing new in B2B commerce, but we are conscious of a new desire on the part of Buyers and Sellers for a solution that is perfectly integrated with the shopping experience. This “way of thinking” comes as no surprise: millennials represent a significant part of the workforce in companies, and 73% of them are involved in B2B purchasing decisions*. As keen supporters of B2C purchases on ultra-optimised platforms (eBay, Amazon, Cdiscount, etc.), they aren’t ready to give up this quality of experience in the workplace.

– From the perspective of Sellers and the business platform, BNPL is seen as an opportunity to increase the value of the average basket, to enhance customer involvement and loyalty, to reduce financial risks and to focus on the business and growth rather than on payments.

– From the Buyers’ perspective, VSEs and SMEs are a very receptive target for the benefits offered by BNPL, as long as the operations and formalities are straightforward and fast. These companies are looking for more flexible and less restrictive alternatives to the credit solutions offered by conventional banks.

4 ways to stand out with BNPL

In a context of rapid change it would seem appropriate to offer Buy Now Pay Later in the following 4 areas of differentiation:

1) You need to offer a highly personalized shopping and payment experience

The buyers must feel understood, listened to, and that their preferred payment methods are taken into account. Analytics and AI seem to be particularly relevant in this new purchasing ecosystem, thanks to their ability to personalise the customer experience.

2) Your payment solution should make it possible for the seller to be paid more quickly (instant pay out) and for the buyer to pay on the payment date that suits them (which may differ from the one proposed by the seller)

Scoring plays an essential role in the analysis and evaluation of the buyer’s profile in order to define the appropriate credit line and thus limit the risk of non-payment.

3) Your payment solution needs to be fully integrated, fluid and seamless

In contrast, a complex payment experience will, in the long run, prove to be a deal breaker. This shows the importance of continuous, dynamic improvement of the user experience (UX).

4) Your payment solution needs to be comprehensive and flexible

To meet new market demands, it is recommended to offer BNPL solutions in order to support B2B marketplaces in their growth and diversification of their offer.
As a PSP (payment service provider), Webhelp Payment Services covers the entire spectrum of B2B payment services through a scalable offer adapted to the client’s needs: scoring, onboarding of buyers & sellers, pay in / out, white label invoicing, dunning, debt collection, credit insurance, BNPL, etc.

 

*According to a report published by Merit.

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Fashion and ready-to-wear: 3 tips to help you make the most of the economic recovery

A quick analysis of the fashion and ready-to-wear market, plus 3 tips from Bertrand Mahon, VP Operation Logbox at Webhelp Payment Services, whose credit management network covers 35,000 shops and more than 400 brands; a unique economic vantage point.

What a lovely surprise! Back in autumn 2020, who would have placed any bets on the fashion and ready-to-wear sector being back up and running? So many bankruptcies, outstanding debts, mass unemployment, disaffected consumers… the media was dominated by grim predictions. And yet here we are in autumn 2021, and the indicators are pretty positive… excellent even: at Webhelp Payment Services, we’re even breaking records – our monthly sales figures for September 2021 are the best since our company was founded, in 1984!

Without claiming to replace the pollsters, our “surface area” means that we really understand these markets: we manage more than 400 brands and 35,000 ready-to-wear shops in Europe and the United States, as well as department stores and online retailers. In 2021, we expect to manage more than 600,000 invoices, equivalent to 1.3 billion EUR.

Based on this, we can say today that wholesale distribution networks in Europe & the United States have weathered the storm – no doubt due to the exceptional financial support that has been offered, and thanks to the fact that brands have managed to restructure some of their debts. And we can attest to the fact that the current levels of debts and disputes are neither extraordinary nor worrying.

A general picture that is totally different from the catastrophic situation in 2008-2009, for example. This time, the market has been managed well – that’s our first observation.

Digital players have benefited from the health crisis

Our second observation will be less surprising: digital players have been able to take advantage of a period during which in-store stopping was prohibited or limited. In addition, many department stores – and even retailers – were able to develop their online sales channel quickly. In the end, the sector sped up its digital transformation, and so new buyers were recruited. But the wholesale market has still done well in this complicated, competitive environment.

Admittedly, overall, we are not yet seeing the same levels of activity as “before”, in other words in 2019, but everything is pointing towards the fact that there is some new momentum, and that it would be a good idea to make the most of that.

For 2021, according to a study carried out by Euler Hermes, a partner of Webhelp Payment Services, a rebound of +14% is expected in the turnover of French textiles and clothing, but we won’t be going back to pre-crisis levels before 2023. As for marketplaces, they grew by +27%, so twice as fast as in 2019 (according to Fevad).

Let’s allow ourselves to dream a little: what if 2022 were to surpass the performance we saw in 2019? If you spend some time at trade shows, and according to our clients, that idea isn’t as crazy as it might seem!

Tip #1: don’t be timid

Faced with this new momentum, it’s a good idea not to hold back. During the crisis, brands and the wholesale market protected themselves from risk, including in particular by reducing the number of models or collections.
Now, we need to turn over a new leaf and get away from this “crisis mentality” that holds initiatives back. Although some supply chains have been disrupted, a return to normal is falling into place. And consumers – who have saved a lot of money in Europe – are rediscovering the desire to treat themselves, to step out of the gloom and even to build a better world.
Brands that are more daring will win market share. This is backed up by the spectacular growth seen in ethical, second-hand and eco-friendly fashion.

Tip #2: watch out for signs of impending failure

We know that there are some warning signs before a shop or a retailer defaults. That’s why we advise our clients to watch out for “weak signals” that indicate a potential breakdown. In particular, levels of debt and disputes should be closely monitored!

To that end, we have created indicators, alert thresholds and procedures to detect and mitigate financial risks.

Tip #3: take national and international payment practices into account

Our extensive experience of national and international markets backs up this advice – the crisis hasn’t changed anything in this area: you need to take into account the specific characteristics and payment habits of each country or economic area. The desire to impose “unique conditions”, with exactly the same payment deadline for all European countries, for example, runs the risk of significantly penalising your business.

To sum up, Webhelp Payment Services has unique quantitative and qualitative information: we have local bases and have been pooling millions of pieces of data from brands and stores for more than 30 years. That means that we understand what really happens with payments, depending on the stakeholders and the countries, in real time. This customer knowledge is a key asset when it comes to making the most of the recovery that lies ahead.

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Mode paiement

[Fashion] - 4 tips to make payments easier and more secure in Europe and the US

Mode paiement



For fashion brands, the European and United States markets are strategically very important. But there are some risks when it comes to payments, especially with department stores and e-commerce sites. Anke Glaser, General Manager of Webhelp Payment Services for Central Europe, offers some advice.

 

1. Fashion brands should make the most of the momentum driven by departments stores and e-commerce sites

Over the last 2 or 3 years – and especially since the health crisis – online sales have really flourished in the fashion industry, both in Europe and in the United States. This growth is mainly due to department stores, which already have a digital strategy, and e-commerce platforms.

This trend is explained by companies investing more and more in digital technology generally – in England, spending on websites and online sales platforms went up by 30% in one year. In the United States, department stores can account for up to 70% of suppliers’ turnover. We can also see this trend in Spain where the leading Spanish department store has made its digital development a major focus in its development strategy.

We therefore recommend taking full advantage of this momentum, driven by departments stores and e-commerce sites, because we think it’s one that is going to last!
However, while digital strategies are undeniably seeing a surge, we remain convinced that the physical component is still vital, and that the crisis will lead to an offering that combines human and digital solutions.

2. Protect yourself against the problem of deduction

Brands have to comply with the conditions imposed by department stores and e-commerce platforms, which generally have very strict rules, at the risk of having to deal with chargebacks. In practice, whichever country you’re in, department stores and platforms rarely make a payment for just one invoice. Usually, they send us a payment advice: a document summarising all the invoices to be paid. Added to these are debit notes or chargebacks that are deducted from the payments. For a brand, it is important to be aware that these practices, which can be for many different reasons, are widespread.

Webhelp Payment Services manages debit notes directly for department stores and platforms. We check them, as agreed with the brand, and if the deductions are not totally justified, we dispute them with the department store or the platform. Our regular contact with the stores and platforms means that we can speed up the processes and so resolve any disputes faster.

Every year, this work by our experts, dedicated exclusively to managing these key accounts, helps our clients’ brands recover substantial amounts of money, as well as giving them a clear overview of the buyer’s current situation.
The benefit: if the Order to Cash process is under control, those involved in distribution generally pay on time.

3. Know how to manage the complexity of accounting documents for department stores and e-commerce platforms and avoid mistakes

Each season, brands receive documents with a lot of items to reconcile, from department stores and platforms. This involves a considerable amount of work for their accountants!

We have developed a specific reconciliation and comparison tool for documents that come from department stores and platforms. It makes the accounts much easier to understand, and means we can analyse the source of chargebacks.

Our dedicated customer platform allows clients to find all the information and all the payments in one place. It is here, for example, that any deductions will be clearly shown. This document provides a good basis for the interaction between us, the brand, and the department store or e-commerce platform.

4. Digitise your data exchanges

The relationship between department stores, platforms, and sellers is also going digital. Implementing this digital process is really useful when it comes to optimising your cash flow with these different stakeholders. Indeed, in addition to the speed of transmission via EDI, it also means that you can check to make sure that invoices have been received, and act promptly if the invoice is rejected or incomplete. This means we can reduce delays to invoice payments, but also lots of chargebacks that might not be due.

We are currently working on setting up EDI with the many department stores and e-platforms so that we can offer our clients simple, unique access, whilst also relieving them of the technical work specific to each buyer. Why not take advantage of it?

 

With 35 years of experience in fashion and luxury, Webhelp Payment Services can be both a personal advisor and a facilitator, not only for department stores and e-commerce platforms, but also for retail distribution. We are currently working with 400 ready-to-wear brands with a network of 35,000 stores in Europe and the United States.

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Webhelp B2B Marketplace

B2B Purchasing and Marketplaces - 7 tips from 3 experts: Manutan, Zetrace and Webhelp Payment Services

Webhelp B2B Marketplace

Which Purchasing platform models are best suited to B2B? This is the question we put to three experts in the field: François Duranton, CEO at ZeTrace; Julie Dang Tran, Managing Director for Southern Europe at Manutan; and Julien Duméry, International Development Director at Webhelp Payment Services. Here are their answers in the form of 7 practical tips.

  1. Identify the two main families of solutions for making your Purchases
  2. Choose the purchasing model that suits your business size
  3. Consider the punch-out solution
  4. Check whether a “Manutan” model would suit your requirements
  5. Payment services: comply with the B2B codes
  6. To onboard your Sellers, rely on an optimal KYC solution (automated systems + human input)
  7. Key Accounts: don’t underestimate the difficulty of operating a marketplace

1. Identify the two main families of solutions for making your Purchases

François Duranton (ZeTrace): To help you get your bearings in the vast universe of corporate purchasing platforms, we can distinguish two families that correspond to two ways of buying: shopping vs purchasing.

  • In a shopping model, which we can also call a “seller-side” model, strategic purchases are set aside, and we look for the best solution for everyday purchases – bearing in mind how easy B2C platforms are to use. B2B distributors often have an e-commerce site of their own and are sometimes grouped into B2B marketplaces. In the latter case, the current software reference is Mirakl – a publisher that came out of B2C. In this particular context we would also mention Izberg, which has a few B2B solutions, and Uppler, a specialist.
  • In a purchasing or “buyer-side” model, – we find the historical Purchasing and e-procurement platforms. They are more supervised from a contractual point of view and make it possible to manage strategic sourcing, but they are less attractive from a UX point of view (research, navigation, customisation, single multi-seller basket, etc.). In this family of solutions we would also mention products such as SAP-Ariba, Coupa, Ivalua and Determine.

In both cases, these families of solutions should be compared with certain key elements: the company’s internal Purchasing processes, for example, or integration with its IS.

2. Choose the purchasing model that suits your business size

François Duranton (ZeTrace): The larger the size and requirements of a business, the less suited the marketplace model is. In general, a VSE or a small SME does not see itself as a “Buyer” and does not think in terms of a “Purchasing function”: it is often the manager who deals directly with major purchases. As for average SMEs, they sometimes have this function for class A or B direct purchases, but indirect purchases are poorly controlled: there is no question of having single invoices or grouped deliveries, for example. This need for supervision increases with the size of the company, as the Purchasing function becomes a focus of value creation. But the greater this need for supervision, the less relevant the marketplace model is: it is well suited to a many-to-many distribution model (users, buyers) while the Purchasing function of a large company is more of the few-to-many type.

Julie Dang Tran (Manutan): From our point of view, the marketplace model is actually not well suited to managing the peculiarities of a Key Account Customer. Suppose, for example, that special conditions are granted – discounts, payment deadlines, delivery conditions, etc. – these conditions will be difficult to impose or enforce on third-party Sellers in the marketplace. Similarly, it will be practically impossible to impose a price, since this would affect the Sellers’ margin.

3.Consider the punch-out solution

Julie Dang Tran (Manutan): To the family of purchasing solutions we can add punch-out systems. These are dedicated and personalised websites for a Customer – which Manutan can deploy for some Key Account customers, e.g. on an SAP-Ariba basis. When the Customer connects to Ariba, it will see a Manutan icon among its Suppliers: with a click, it can access the punch-outsystem. This is where it will find its usual purchasing processes, in compliance with internal validation systems. In fact, under this solution, we do not place an order directly: we issue a purchase request, which will then go through the company’s internal validation system, and finally be converted into an order.

4. Check whether a “Manutan” model would suit your requirements

Julie Dang Tran (Manutan): Class A and B purchases are well formulated in large companies, unlike class C purchases. However, the latter, which represent a very large number of references spread across all areas and departments, account for the majority of indirect costs, even though they are presented as small amounts. At Manutan, for these class C purchases, we start from a basic premise: the company manager or the Purchasing manager is responsible with regard to their employees. Indeed, the teams use these products on a daily basis, informed by safety, ergonomics, and often CSR.

The Manutan model is therefore based on product selection, which must meet certain criteria. In contrast, with a marketplace model – where it is the Sellers that are selected – the choice of products rests with those Sellers. This means that the Manutan model is focused on referencing selected products, in the context of a partnership with Suppliers. From the Customer’s perspective this makes it possible to guarantee the origin of the products and to supply the corresponding certificates, while providing them with advice and monitoring the commercial relationship.

5. Payment services: comply with the B2B codes

Julien Duméry (Webhelp Payment Services): Everyone knows that B2B processes differ from B2C processes, and that they must be scrupulously observed. For example, certain key operations must be initiated prior to payment:

  • facilitate the creation of a customer account;
  • ensure a customer’s solvency from the outset;
  • manage the entire order up to invoicing (i.e. checking the content of the order and the invoice; an incorrect or incomplete invoice may result in late payment and compromise the relationship with the customer);
  • offer a recovery solution, automated or human;
  • facilitate reconciliation (to avoid costly manual processing);
  • and finally, manage the payment transactions associated with B2B codes (bank transfer, direct debit, card, etc.).

We therefore recommend ensuring that the operations leading to payment are also managed in a spirit of value addition.

6. To onboard your Sellers, rely on an optimal KYC solution combining technology and human input

Julien Duméry (Webhelp Payment Services): To ensure that the B2B marketplace remains a trusted space, in full compliance with the latest regulations at all times, ensure that you have effective KYC procedures in place. These will enable you to onboard Sellers, regardless of their geographical location and their local legal constraints.

Offering your salespeople good onboarding experience is important. We recommend that you ensure human support is made available; this is essential, because automation cannot meet every need, especially when the items expected are not the right ones. This is why you should favour hybrid solutions that combine technology and human input, and ensure that they are perfectly integrated. What if the automated system has failed to resolve the problem? It sends the file to an expert so that they can provide an immediate solution, or enter into dialogue with the Seller in order to obtain the information or documents essential for finalising onboarding.

7. Key Accounts: don’t underestimate the difficulty of operating a marketplace

Julie Dang Tran (Manutan): Learning from some of the failures or difficulties encountered on purchasing platforms, it must be recognised that it is easy to underestimate certain key processes. For example, the onboarding of Sellers may be seen as nothing more than a straightforward large-scale administrative operation. The reality is much more complex and does not allow the operator to rely entirely on existing tools: for example, some reference suppliers of turnkey platforms, coming from B2C, do not provide a satisfactory response in B2B. To put it briefly: it’s not the same business as negotiating with suppliers when buying products from them, or referencing them on a platform by taking charge of all administrative aspects.

Julien Duméry (Webhelp Payment Services): I also think it important to advise great caution: some platform projects are started without taking sufficient account of certain obstacles. As far as Key Accounts are concerned, it is not enough to launch a project around a platform publisher, hire a payment intermediary, and then hope that customers will on their own initiative go to the new marketplace without communication, training of buyers/sellers, or prior marketing. In reality, these Key Accounts are then the only ones managing and running a marketplace – which is not actually where their expertise lies. Bringing this distribution channel to life is a real challenge! It will require integrating the costs associated with marketing and communications, or the recruitment and training of buyers/sellers, into the business plan.

 

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Webhelp Payment Services anti-fraud

[Testimonial] Why outsourcing has become a key part of Rue du Commerce's anti-fraud strategy

Webhelp Payment Services anti-fraud

With online sellers increasingly embracing tools to combat fraud, fraud patterns have evolved and now affect more than just payments. Above and beyond payment fraud, the trends that are growing in pace are mainly friendly fraud, customer account spoofing and fraud involving promotions and returns. They are becoming more and more subtle, putting pressure on sellers’ fraud management teams, and require specific expertise and know-how. For more than three years, Webhelp Payment Services has been working with Rue du Commerce, a major player in French e-commerce, on its anti-fraud strategy.

With a target of achieving zero fraud, our teams are responsible for checking all suspicious activity, sometimes within very tight deadlines, especially during peak seasons (sales, Black Friday, Christmas etc.), whilst also minimising customer queries.

In this interview, Christophe Charrot, Fraud Manager at Rue du Commerce, tells us about the challenges involved in combating fraud and how outsourcing has become a key part of its strategy 

Why did you decide to outsource anti-fraud management at Rue du Commerce?

Christophe Charrot: Quite simply because our resources and tools are not enough to prevent fraud. Initially, our anti-fraud department was based on payment fraud but we are realising that this is becoming increasingly anecdotal. Today, fraud has become “ingenious”; it focuses on fake documents, false statements about products not being received, hacking customer accounts, instalment payments, return fraud, etc. Given these developments, outsourcing was the obvious answer, allowing us both to maintain the highest level of quality but also to remain alert in an area that is constantly changing.

What are the key points for an outsourcing strategy when it comes to fraud management?

CC: Outsourcing doesn’t have to compensate for internal shortcomings but should be seen from a collaborative perspective. I would say that the first key aspect of a successful outsourcing strategy is to be surrounded by a brilliantly trained team, with whom we are constantly communicating and with whom there is a real sense of collaboration. As a client, we are an indicator for fraud trends, which means that the teams can be aware of exactly what they need to target and keep in mind with their anti-fraud strategy. On the other hand, outsourcing teams offer both the human and technical resources that we lack. It’s a real team effort.
The other key point in my view is the need to remain vigilant, to stay alert and be on the lookout for issues relating to fraud. Lastly, we need to demonstrate real agility if we want to be able to adapt quickly to changes when it comes to combating fraud.

In terms of figures, how do you measure success?

CC: Well, we haven’t had any unpaid invoices for 6 months from our manual reviews! And we know that we only had one or two unpaid invoices over the previous 6 months.
As far as manual reviews are concerned, we have also gone from 15% when I came to Rue du Commerce, to 4.5% now. It is important to reduce this review rate as it can have a real impact on the customer experience and cause friction.
Lastly, our rejection rate (transactions declined after purchase because they are identified as too risky) has gone from 30% to 12%, so this figure has more than halved.

How do you prepare for a peak season like Black Friday or Christmas?

CC: We start preparing for the peak season in advance with the Webhelp Payment Services teams to identify the key indicators that need to be monitored, as well as the fraud trends, and to optimise the manual review system as much as we can. The stakes are very high for the customer experience at this time of the year.

How do you see the future in terms of manual reviews?

CC: Payment fraud has given way to refund fraud. Today, the risks are no longer with bank payments but rather with credit or instalment payments. In legal terms, we are no longer talking about fraud but about unpaid debts.
Manual review must and will continue to exist. However, it will no longer focus on traditional payment methods such as bank cards, but on other methods like credit or instalment payments. In my opinion, we need to strike a balance between manual review (which will reduce in terms of volume) and artificial intelligence, which just keeps getting better.

What part does Webhelp Payment Services play in Rue du Commerce’s anti-fraud strategy?

CC: Webhelp Payment Services clearly plays a key role. Internally, for example, we will never have the capacity to compensate for peak seasons because this would require recruiting employees, purchasing equipment, expanding the premises, etc. Outsourcing is “the key”. Especially in an environment in which we will need to learn a new trade and adopt a system to deal with return fraud.
I have every faith in the Webhelp teams to adapt to the new challenges that lie ahead. We also have plans to launch a debt collection service together in the near future.

How would you rate your partnership with Webhelp Payment Services?

CC: 100% satisfied. It’s a real pleasure. Today, we no longer have a “client / supplier” relationship: it’s no longer about people who work “for” us but rather “with” us. I particularly enjoy working with the teams in Romania, with whom we have developed a real climate of trust that means we can work with real peace of mind.
There’s just one thing that I can’t wait for, and that’s to be able to go back to Lasi in Romania after a year and a half of being in a long-distance relationship!

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Whitepaper B2B Marketplaces Webhelp Payment Services

Whitepaper: The sun rises - The role and opportunities of B2B marketplaces in a post-Covid world

Whitepaper-B2B-Marketplace

Following our last studies “The spring of B2B marketplaces” (2017), “B2B marketplaces are blossoming” (2018), and “The summer of B2B marketplaces” (2020), we once again joined forces with the strategy consulting firm Roland Berger and Mirakl to take stock of this new year of development for B2B marketplaces.

This new edition, entitled “The sun rises – The role and opportunities of B2B marketplaces in a post-Covid world”, goes further into the new development and opportunities for B2B marketplaces which played a key role in helping businesses continue their activities during the pandemic.

While the growth of B2B marketplaces has thus accelerated, they also face added pressure from B2C marketplaces, as customers’ expectations have also risen. Increasingly threatened by leading generalist marketplaces, B2B players have turned to diversifying their products and developing vertical services on highly controlled and specialized markets to protect themselves. This specialist approach shows clear success potential today and in the post-Covid era, as B2B marketplaces are expected to continue to grow at a strong rate.

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

  • The relevance of B2B marketplaces in a post Covid-world
  • Two distinct strategies for B2B marketplaces: digital generalist natives and incumbent B2B players


Fashion: sales agents role

[Fashion] "Sales agents play a key role in brand development!"

Fashion: sales agents role

Jérôme Tordjmann runs the Talk sales agency, specialising in urban fashion and streetwear, in both physical and digital environments. He answers 4 questions put to him by Aline Abeya, Sales Manager France & Benelux at Webhelp Payment Services.

The role of a sales agent is to help fashion brands, whether they are emerging or well established, to grow in a market. And in these complex times, they play the even bigger role of a facilitator. So at Webhelp Payment Services, we pay particular attention to our relationship with sales agents, to whom we offer a comprehensive range of payment services. Your agency, Talk, specialises in urban fashion and streetwear. Can you tell us a bit more about what you do?

Jérôme Tordjmann: I set up the Talk agency and have been running it since June 2019. It’s one of the subsidiaries of JV Fashion which I established in 2006. Talk specialises in urban fashion and streetwear for men and women on a B2B basis.

Our team of 7 people offers selective or comprehensive support in 3 areas:

managing sales in France and around the world (business development, sales, after-sales), with the overall management of billing, payments and debt collection taken care of in partnership with Webhelp Payment Services

creating temporary sales outlets: in-store corners, pop-up shops and shop-in shops (Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, Samaritaine, etc.), as well as recruiting and managing teams, training, merchandising and logistics. We also have a permanent showroom in central Paris, and we rent temporary showrooms during the fashion weeks in January and June.

– organisational consultancy: marketing, positioning, creating or adapting collections, artistic direction. We work alongside brands in all these areas, in both physical and digital environments – in the phygital world if you like. As far as the digital world is concerned, we can help brands with marketplaces like Zalando and Amazon which are becoming more and more influential from a commercial point of view.

So to sum up, we help a lot with “value creation”: sales agents play a key role in developing fashion brands!

To give you an idea of how well Talk is growing, our turnover has doubled each season.

Can you describe the kind of brands that you work with?

J.T.: They are often European brands, and exclusively involved in young, urban fashion and streetwear. We want to build and promote a really consistent world.

We work regularly with around fifteen brands, including: Daily Paper, ARTE Antwerp, Foret, The New Originals, Libertador, Mercer, Ksubi, Shaka, Rise of Human and Dechase.

Webhelp Payment Services offers sales agents a comprehensive range of payment services, from billing to debt collection, both nationally and internationally. And of course paying the agent their share after being paid by the client brand. What does your partnership look like?

J.T.: I’ve been working with Webhelp Payment Services since 2006, when it was called FDI. Talk’s clients are mainly adopting solutions like order analysis, payment plans, debt collection, credit insurance and customer scoring, both in France and internationally.

So at the moment we are not using the other services that Webhelp Payment Services offers sales agents, such as imports, logistics, paying commissions and KYC.

We are also in discussions with Webhelp Payment Services about offering some emerging brands the chance to embrace processes geared towards wholesale management. This is so that we can work together to help them grow in areas such as managing customer receivables, multi-brand stores and other strategic organisational issues.

How do you see the future of fashion brands in an era of marketplaces and online stores?

J.T.: Quite apart from the pandemic, online sales are booming. These sales compensate, sometimes to a large extent, for the decline in business for multi-brand retailers for example.

So clearly, we need to think about the development of large generalist marketplaces, like Zalando and Amazon, as well as more specialist platforms. We help brands within this environment, which is often new to them.

However, I sincerely believe that opposition to online shops is no longer a big deal. On the contrary, we are seeing the rise of a phygital approach, combining sales in physical stores with digital channels, trying to find the right balance.

The most dynamic emerging brands understand this: I can see that all the ones that we work with have an online store, which gives them a revenue stream, consolidates their financial and commercial position, and lastly, speeds up their growth.

Therefore, a phygital approach is a real opportunity for fashion brands, if they know how to manage it!

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B2B Marketplace payment terms

B2B Marketplace: how to reduce payment terms?

B2B Marketplace payment terms

Payment terms, if not met, do businesses a disservice by depriving them of a source of funds. In the case of B2B marketplaces, which act as a link between professional sellers and buyers, it will be crucial to manage these deadlines by offering tailor-made solutions adapted to the business lines and operating models.

Although the Modernisation of the Economy Act (LME), which entered into force on 5 August 2008, made it possible to reduce payment terms and thus improve the cash flow of some suppliers, these payment terms vary greatly from one sector to another*.

On average, payment terms are 44 days for customers across all industries, with 25 days for commercial customers compared with 55 days for manufacturing industries. Within these same industries, companies pay their suppliers between 42 and 61 days on average.

Délais de paiement marketplace B2B

How can one remove barriers and offer buyers payment terms while keeping control of the seller’s cash flow and exposure to risk?

This is the equation that operators must solve in order to convince buyers to finalise a transaction and to ensure that sellers use the marketplace as a strategic axis for growth.

As a payment institution, Webhelp Payment Services is used to working with different business sectors such as fashion, agri-food, pharmaceuticals and manufacturers. We offer marketplace operator customers solutions specific to their customer strategy, including maintaining control of payment terms and deadlines in order to reduce risk. In fact, it is up to the marketplace operator to define the rules that apply on its marketplace. It thus directs the buyer towards a risk-free but potentially prohibitive prepayment, or towards payment on the due date, which facilitates the transaction but places a financial risk on the seller.
The payment terms themselves contain a number of elements that facilitate risk management, such as payment dates or the method of payment (bank transfer, direct debit, financing plan, etc.). Also, this decision-making phase is even more crucial than the transactional phase because it will help avoid problems in the future.

 

Tailored solutions to reduce payment terms

In addition to its function of bringing sellers and buyers together via the platform, the marketplace makes it possible to automate the tracking of invoices until they are integrated into the interested parties’ CRM. Automation of the process thus allows considerable time savings between invoicing and payment, significantly reducing the payment date.

To reduce and control payment terms on your marketplace, our experts support you based on the profile of the transaction and the buyer with tailor-made solutions adapted to your situation:

  • Is this a first purchase?
  • Do you have qualitative information about the buyer and their payment behaviour (have they ever had outstanding payments to their bank? Do they have overdue debts?)
  • What is the transaction worth? (a €100 purchase does not involve the same financial risk as a €50,000 purchase)
  • Is the buyer covered by credit insurance?

Finally, it will be essential to set up a proper credit management process, following-up overdue invoices and a step by step reminder and recovery process (amicable, pre-litigation, litigation).

 

Our experts will recommend good practice to suit your situation:

  • If it’s the first transaction between a seller and the buyer: focus on zero risk 

In the case of a new customer it is preferable to offer only prepayment by credit card or bank transfer to reduce the risk of unpaid invoices (order not despatched until payment has been received).

If you know your customer, you can give them the choice of payment method. Alternatively, you can calculate the customer’s outstanding payments and offer the customer only prepayment if outstanding payments are already very high in your marketplace.

Either way, these management rules are decisions for which the operator is responsible and are applied in the marketplace via the PSP and the platform.

  • The due date has passed 

Above all, it will be necessary to manage an incremental approach to future payment reminders. A customer who is late in paying is not necessarily a bad customer. Also, it is advisable to send the first reminder by e-mail or SMS, then to space out reminders so that they are not perceived as harassment.

However, if after several weeks the payment has still not been received, we will recommend that you call in specialist collection agencies who will be responsible for contacting the customer (by post and telephone).

To conclude, while it is true that, in the context of how a marketplace operates, the risk of non-payment is borne by the seller, it nevertheless remains the responsibility of the marketplace operator to set the rules and more particularly the payment terms made available, the payment deadlines granted or the type of reminders when payments are in default.

 

These good practices apply internationally, adapted to normal practice in each country, something which Webhelp Payment Services does through its seven subsidiaries based in Europe and North America, making payments to more than 35,000 buyers in 35 countries.

 

* Based on the 2018 Annual report on compliance with payment terms

 

 


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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.