Mobile is revolutionizing every industry, from manufacturing to transportation, public sector to healthcare – and the world of sales is no different. According to Deloitte, mobile is the “anytime, anywhere” enabler of customer loyalty; across industries, organizations are trying to find ways to allow customers to make payments directly from mobile devices. Mobility is allowing sales to become a truly anytime, anywhere activity.
In B2C, retailers are working to develop true omni-channel sales solutions. A consumer should be able to access a brand’s merchandise through any channel – be it in a brick-and-mortar store or on a desktop computer, smartphone or tablet. And all channels should connect to one another; this is true omni-channel. Many retailers are also beginning to integrate mobile Point-of-Sale (mPOS) technologies into their operations. In B2C sales, this capability enables consumers to make purchases directly from their mobile devices.
mPOS, in fact, helps both consumers (who can make a purchase from their smartphones at home) and retailers. Consumers wander around an Apple store, for example, with staff walking about, iPads in hand, helping and engaging customers – and making sales. In-store clerks utilize mPOS technologies to execute sales on tablets right from the sales floor. The mPOS trend is driven by retail and wholesale apps such as those provided by Shopify and Retalix and is even helping small businesses change the way they invoice and receive payments for services provided.
mPOS technology will reshape B2B sales
Just as mPOS has reshaped the B2C industry, it can have an even more significant impact in the world of B2B sales, which is an enormously larger market.
But first, we must define terms. What is mPOS when it comes to B2B sales?
Just as B2C brands focused on developing omni-channel sales through mobile and web-based interfaces, integrating an mPOS is the natural progression of omni-channel development for B2B.
Similar to B2C retail, B2B brands in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry have a highly transactional sales process. Typically, sales reps visit B2B customers, present catalogs, take orders, cross-sell and up-sell customers on other products, and then send orders to the back-office for order processing, order fulfillment and eventual payment of goods. Mobility has already changed the way this process takes place, allowing the B2B industry to begin developing a true omni-channel approach in a traditionally pen-to-paper industry.
With mobile tools, sales reps are now able to present goods to their B2B customers on tablets and input orders for automatic order processing. Through close integration with back-end ERP and accounting systems, mobile sales tools provide sales reps with updated pricing according to set business rules and discounting allowances and can inform reps of special offers and customer preferences based on past orders.
Yet, there exists a challenge in this process. The order-to-cash cycle is highly disjointed and becomes extremely lengthy with too many steps; resources are wasted in back-office processing when order processing and payments are done separately. Further, some customers can become a burden much more than they are an asset when they do not make payments on time, or have a history of late payments or outstanding debt.
To solve this problem, B2B sales organization must adopt true end-to-end mPOS solutions.
mPOS streamlines sales processes
There are two scenarios in which mPOS can improve efficiency and streamline sales efforts for B2B sales: during on-location sales and through self-service channel ordering.
On-location sales can mean a number of things. Sales reps can visit their B2B customers at the retail store and place orders on site. Additionally, trade shows represent a very important sales channel for brands and wholesalers – in some industries, a brand might make up to 15 percent of its yearly revenues at a single show. Provided with an end-to-end mPOS solution, the sales rep would be able to showcase products on a tablet, input the order, then sync up with back-end ERP for order processing and process payment on the spot. This procedure is critical with customers known to have outstanding debt, or histories of late payments.
At trade shows in particular, especially when dealing with new or unknown customers with whom the sales rep does not yet have a rapport, the ability to process payments on the spot removes risk from the new sales relationship born on the show floor.
The second scenario for which end-to-end mPOS can have a major impact is through self-service channels. This is the space that we, as consumers, are all too familiar with. Just as we can log in to Amazon.com and complete a purchase from a smartphone or tablet, mPOS for self-service channels in B2B is the natural progression in this industry.
End-to-End mPOS means less money left on the table
Some B2B mobile sales solutions offer their customers self-service channels including web portals and mobile storefront apps from which customers can browse product catalogs and submit orders. Adding integration with a payment gateway such as PayPal, Authorize.net or eWAY provides a frictionless experience for B2B buyers and shortens the order-to-cash cycle.
Empowering customers to self-serve up to and including payment processing means that sales reps have more time to engage in strategic sales activities such as nurturing new business leads and spending more time focused on strategic accounts. B2B brands that integrate an mPOS solution into their B2B sales process can reduce costs on sales rep visits to customers and on back-end order processing by eliminating multiple steps in the order-to-cash cycle.
Ensuring secure payments
There is much to be gained by implementing an mPOS solution, but brands should not rush in without ensuring that the solution they are using is secure for their customers. When making the decision to implement mPOS, decision makers must ensure that any solution they use is PCI compliant. Mobile devices typically do not provide the same level of data security as using a credit card in a retail store. However, PCI-compliance ensures that the merchant’s mobile payment-acceptance solution is secure.
mPOS creates frictionless customer journey
Brands can only win by integrating a PCI compliant, end-to-end mPOS as part of their broader mobile sales strategy. Through this capability, B2B brands can shorten the order-to-cash cycle, decrease outstanding debts, and decrease back-end operating costs. Furthermore, mPOS creates a frictionless purchasing journey for customers both during sales rep visits and through self-service ordering. Finally, mPOS solutions give the sales rep the ability to strike while the iron is hot and close the deal from the palm of his/her hand.
Ofer Yourvexel is the co-founder and CEO of Pepperi, the mobile commerce platform for brands and wholesalers. Prior to founding Pepperi, Mr. Yourvexel spent over 20 years in executive leadership positions with enterprise technology companies including Amdocs, Jacada, Enigma and Tefen.