I expect the initial response of many CFO’s will be to vehemently disagree with the title and based on the implications to their business today – they are right. But let’s look into today’s tendencies and possible opportunities online buying for B2B could potentially bring.
The problem: uncontrollable spend and poor traceability
There are multiple risks and increased accounts payable workloads associated with allowing staff to buy online from the likes of Amazon and other providers.
The worst approach (and I’m sure we’ve all been there) is using a corporate credit card. The accounting department ends up chasing who made the purchase, what was actually bought, if and where it was delivered, what the correct coding for the GL is and where the invoices to reclaim the tax are.
From an accounting, audit, tax return, credit card reconciliation and anti-fraud policy perspective, online buying is a minefield of risks and this only diminishes through increasing the level of financial diligence, time and resources you apply to accounting for it. In other words, it is expensive to allow what is generally considered cheaper, quicker and more convenient.
The opportunity: considerable savings and a modern way of working
But the counterargument of enabling online buying, organisation-wide, is equally compelling from the business’s perspective.
Online buying within B2B organisations is actually on the rise and is estimated to account for 17% of all B2B sales by 2023. Moreover, around half of the buyers are millennials and they expect the process to be as seamless and the choices as vast as they are used to with their personal shopping.
Most importantly, companies buying online save a great deal as vendors are competing fiercely in marketplaces like Amazon Business; and they often enjoy free next-day or even same-day deliveries and special offers specifically designed to attack the weak points of more traditional distributors.
Solving the accounting problem
The problem that needs to be solved is providing finance with visibility and control over the process pre-purchase and then diligently automating the entire accounting activity post-purchase.
Our team has identified this need and has it all sorted. We call it invoice automation and built-in online buying. What it does, is gives a user the capability to buy online directly from their accounts payable automation software. This allows you to digitize the whole ordering, approval and payment process and the accounting team is left with full visibility and matching invoices – with zero touch.
The commercial bottom line for most businesses is that automating your online purchasing will fully pay for itself by the savings made on what you buy alone.
When you add in the benefits of visibility, control and productivity gains for everyone involved in the accounts payable process, it really is a commercial “no brainer”.
Procurement Director, Compleat Software
Max joined Compleat in early 2019 to head up our CompleatProcure division and has 15 years of industry experience in procurement services.