Are payment terms on the menu for your buyers? Hokodo co-founder & co-CEO Louis Carbonnier explores the vital importance of offering trade credit when selling food and beverages online.
The food and beverages industry is undergoing something of a digital metamorphosis. More than ever, buyers rely on online channels for their procurement needs, while suppliers increasingly turn to technology for everything from invoices to inventory.
Following a pandemic-induced lull in food and beverage sales, reports now suggest that foodservice sales are officially on the rise – and it’s thanks, in part, to new digital sales channels and technological innovation. Revenue from the European foodservice industry is predicted to hit €731bn by 2026, breeding new opportunities for businesses to flourish. The global e-commerce market for food and beverages was already worth more than €54bn in 2022, but is expected to grow to €133bn by 2027.
On this new digital frontier, it’s essential for food manufacturers to provide customers with the instant, flexible payment terms that they need to survive. Why? I’m so glad you asked…
The impact of Covid-19 on B2B food and beverages payments
Causing supply chain disruption, delayed payments and financial strain on countless businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted just how important flexible payment options are for business buyers such as restaurants, hotels and caterers. When available, the choice to defer or split a payment provided – and continues to provide – these buyers with much-needed financial flexibility and helped them navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Facing economic turmoil, severe cash flow challenges and sector-wide operating restrictions, buyers sought flexible payment options to help keep their heads above water. Payment terms empowered them to buy the stock or materials they needed and pay for them once they had started to make profits. This was particularly beneficial for the many businesses in the food and beverages sector that experienced revenue fluctuations. It enabled them to manage expenses while maintaining financial stability.
But what about the sellers? When done right, payment terms can also help food manufacturers. While buyers are permitted longer payment schedules, merchants offering ‘B2B Buy Now, Pay Later’ or payment terms products via a specialist provider receive the full amount of their invoices upfront.
Unsurprisingly, accelerated adoption of digital payment terms during the pandemic has led to increased competition in the market. Traditional financial institutions and specialist fintech companies alike have recognised the potential and entered the space, offering a variety of solutions to the food and beverages market. The result? Innovation, improved offerings and increased options for food manufacturers and their customers.
Spurred by the pandemic, B2B trade is moving online. But things aren’t likely to go back to how they were. A 2020 survey by McKinsey revealed that 96% of European B2B buyers would make a purchase in an end-to-end, digital self-serve model. The report also found that 73% of B2B buyers are Millennials, who prefer buying online.
The fact is, B2B buyers and sellers of food and beverages have had a taste of how safe, simple and supported their transactions can be. And it tastes good. So, why would they give that up?
So, what’s driving the appetite for payment terms?
It’s time to sink our teeth into this properly. Let’s explore a few of the aspects of payment terms solutions that are helping food and beverage businesses access more of their cash and grow.
● Payment terms unlock growth potential
In order to grow a business, a food manufacturer needs access to cash. Sure, they could take out a business loan or source some other type of financing and get the capital needed to develop products, acquire new customers or expand internationally. But payment terms have two advantages that make them a particularly impactful growth tool. First is that it’s not a case of borrowing money that needs to be repaid – it’s simply accessing the funds owed to the business at an earlier date than would otherwise be possible. Secondly, payment terms don’t just help the food manufacturer to grow; they also facilitate growth for its customers. With extra time to pay, cash flow improves, meaning the business has more money to spend on growth and, inevitably, stock.
● Payment terms are a competitive differentiator
With more trade taking place on digital platforms, sellers are looking for ways to beat the competition. By providing payment options that competitors lack, a food manufacturer can attract customers, win new business and secure long-term partnerships. Offering the desired combination of flexible payment terms and appropriate settlement methods is proven to boost conversions and retention in B2B. Internal data at Hokodo shows a 40% increase in conversions and 24% uplift in purchase frequency among merchants that have implemented one of the company’s solutions.
● Payment terms align with digital strategies
As buyers and sellers embrace digital platforms and online purchasing for food and beverages, they are looking for payment options that align with their digital strategies. Buyers want fast approval for credit without filling in forms, while sellers want to minimise the time spent on credit checks while staying protected from risk. Payment terms enable suppliers to transition smoothly into the digital landscape and capitalise on the opportunities of e-commerce.
● Payment terms cater to buyer demands
Long gone are the days when buyers would accept a less than satisfactory experience on a sketchy online ordering platform. Remember, customers are consumers, too, and they expect an experience that reflects what they’re used to in their personal lives. They’re not going to stand for a poor user experience or clunky payments. To cater to these customer demands, sellers are placing greater emphasis on personalisation, convenience and responsiveness. With buyer needs at the forefront, sellers are creating digital platforms that inspire trust and make procurement as seamless as possible. So it’s hardly a shock that the checkout plays a huge part in that.
Adding payment terms to the menu
More than half of B2B transactions traditionally take place on payment terms. However, traditional methods of offering credit don’t translate well to an online setting. Globally, over US$30trn of B2B sales rely on trade credit, but the tools to facilitate this have scarcely changed in two centuries.
Payment terms are not an optional add-on in B2B sales: they are essential, especially during periods of economic downturn. However, as many manufacturers are probably painfully aware, there are very few reliable solutions available to them and their buyers. It’s reported that 75% of B2B marketplaces offer payment through their platforms and, of those that do, only one in five offer payment terms. It’s not because they don’t want to, but because it’s extremely complex and risky to do so.
As we step into a new age for the food and beverage industry, defined by streamlined online purchasing, a fundamental shift is required in how transactions are settled. With one foot in the future and one in the past, merchants operate from sophisticated digital platforms but struggle with complex, offline payment solutions like letters of credit, factoring and credit insurance. This makes managing trade credit accounts extraordinarily painful and sometimes impossible.
Bringing the end-to-end trade credit management process into one solution, Hokodo solves this issue. Food and beverage businesses can forget the operational burden of offering payment terms and focus on their growth goals, while their buyers get the credit they need in order to thrive.
Feeling hungry for payment terms? Visit https://www.hokodo.co/ to learn more.