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“Buy now pay later” is a proven business model that allows companies to retain their competitive edge in a challenging market. Retailers and other businesses across the world are increasingly offering B2B trade credit and alternative payment options.
While offering credit gives your business multiple advantages, it is important to know how to mitigate the risks of delayed payments.
Apart from allowing businesses to gain a competitive edge, offering credit is a great way to encourage B2B customer loyalty. Credit offers a convenient way for businesses and suppliers to make payments and shows that your business trusts and values them. This helps build a strong, long-term relationship with these customers.
When companies get credit extended on good terms from your business, it can encourage loyalty. These companies are more likely to prefer your business for their future requirements. If you offer more favorable B2B credit terms as compared to your competitors, you can draw more B2B customers towards you. In addition, you can solidify your competitive edge by offering trade credit to businesses that are not looking to take a business loan.
Your B2B customers gain more purchasing power as a result of your trade credit. This means they can afford to buy more of your services or products, leading to stronger sales volume, larger customer base and increased profits.
Clearly, offering business credit offers considerable competitive advantages for businesses.
For growth-oriented businesses, offering credit is a proven way of scaling their client base and sales volume. Given the risks inherent in this approach, businesses need to carefully balance the potential for higher sales against the risk to their cash flow.
According to Illion‘s research data, payments in Australia are late by an average of 10.4 days, reflecting that Australian businesses receive their payments almost 11 days overdue. According to another estimate, payments are delayed by 26.4 days on average. With a 30-day credit term, this translates to a two-month payment delay.
A new survey reveals that businesses write off 5% of B2B sales based on trade credit as uncollectible. As per this survey, delayed B2B payments increased in 2020, with 54% of firms reporting past-due invoices.
This ‘delay,’ which leads to a constriction of cash flow, is the reason for the failure of so many small businesses. Small businesses in Australia are owed $26 million in unpaid invoices. Business owners spend an average of 12 days a year collecting their dues. To counter this, business owners clearly need strategies – such as better credit control, AR automation, integrated online payments, and the ability to review debtors’ risk profies.
These issues can combine to increase the risk of business failure. Per an estimate, 90% of small businesses in Australia fail because of cash flow problems. In a report, the ombudsman of Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise highlighted that small businesses are owed $20,000 or more in late payments. About 14% are owed $100,000 or more as late payments.
Cash flow problems have ripple effects on all aspects of running your business, impacting your ability to pay your suppliers on time. This can prevent you from taking advantage of any early payment discounts while damaging your reputation.
Most businesses lack the resources required to chase down their payments. Given the day-to-day tasks of running the business, most businesses have very limited time to dedicate to chasing the payments they are owed.
Balancing these risks against the multiple advantages of offering credit requires a strategic approach. While conducting a credit check on your B2B customers, setting clear payment terms is vital. A comprehensive credit application form can help you capture crucial information that you can leverage to assess credit suitability.
Based on your assessment, you can specify different payment terms for various B2B customers. For instance, you can offer longer credit terms for reliable suppliers while asking upfront payment for those who habitually delay their payments. You can also set a credit limit which is the maximum credit amount your business will offer. Defining the credit limit helps ensure your accounts receivables are funded and protects your cash flow. Based on the credit history or payment history of B2B firms, you can choose to specify the credit limit for each customer.
A digital credit application form simplifies the process of applying for credit and getting approved while reducing errors in specifying credit terms.
Contact Information – The mandatory field in the form captures vital contact details, including the business name, shipping and billing address, tax identification, the business owner’s contact information. The credit application form must include fields to capture:
Business details – Your credit application form needs to capture full business details to ensure you know whether you are dealing with a trust, sole trader, association, company or partnership. Make sure the form captures these specific details of the business:
Financial information – This information is vital to assess the firm’s ability to pay you. Ensure the credit application form captures these details:
Trade references – The form should capture trade references from a minimum of three other suppliers and their contact details ( full business name, mobile number, ABN, and email address).
Directors’ Guarantees – Ensure the credit application requires individual directors of companies to provide a written guarantee that they will clear the debts in the event their company is not able to pay. In case the business goes into bankruptcy or liquidation, you can hold the directors responsible for the payment of outstanding debts. Your credit application form needs to capture contact details, such as email address, mobile number, and street address of directors.
Payment terms – Set the payment terms in the credit application form in direct, simple, and unambiguous language to avoid misunderstandings and disputes. These fields should specify
Terms and Conditions – This is a vital section in the credit application form that ensures your B2B customers have read and understood your terms and conditions. Your company’s credit team and legal teams can work together to form a credit policy and specify these terms. For instance, it can include that your company will perform a credit check and make a decision on extending credit after
This section can also include information on
If you decide to extend credit, ensure you specify the credit limit, default terms or the penalty, credit terms, and other conditions. You can also include a section on the collections methods you will use. This explains the actions your business will take if the firm fails to pay. Businesses typically will send an invoice initially, followed by reminders, and if this fails, they can take legal action and engage a collection agency to pursue payments.
Offering B2B credit and ensuring you receive payments on time can be challenging without a streamlined process. Download the free online credit application template to make the process seamless and error-free.
You can also use our Credit Insights & Online Credit Application platform – try it out and get 3 free business credit scores
Offering credit to your customers is an effective way of encouraging them to spend more on buying your products or services. In some industries such as wholesale, trade, or distribution – credit might be a requirement for doing business. Extending credit to your B2B customers could also help your business gain a distinct competitive advantage in your market.
While providing credit is good for your business growth, it exposes you to the risks of late payment and at times, non-payment. While this significantly impacts your short-term cash flow, it can also hurt your bottom-line and business growth in the long run. While some business owners may think they are not offering credit, they may already be doing so by sending an invoice after the goods or services are provided to the customers.
Balancing the risks of cash flow reduction and increased sales is the key to robust credit management.
If you offer any other invoice terms not based on cash on delivery, it creates a risk that the customers may fail to pay on time or fail to pay altogether. For instance, if you offer 30-day terms, it translates to credit of 30 days. If that timeframe extends to 45 days or 90 days, the credit gets further extended and increases non-payment risk.
However, with some customers who have a strong and long history of making full payments on time, the credit risk may not be significant. Despite this, there is a risk, even if slight, that your next invoice may not get paid due to a change in the customer’s circumstances or other factors (You can track these in real-time with Credit Insights from ezyCollect). Although these external factors may not be under customer’s control, the outcome is that their inability to pay on time affects your cash flow and eventually, your bottom line.
The first step towards effective credit risk management is understanding your business’s overall credit risk. This helps businesses reduce losses and build up capital reserves. It is crucial to implement a smart, integrated, and informed credit risk management strategy.
Building trust is the most critical factor when extending credit to another business or customer. While it is always a great idea to start with ‘cash sales’ with a new customer, you can navigate towards credit offerings when the customer has built a strong payment history and inspires the desired level of trust.
Businesses who extend credit to their customers face the risks of non-payment or delayed payment that impacts their cash flow and business growth.
To mitigate such risks, businesses need a robust credit risk management policy. The key elements that the credit policy needs to include are:
A strong credit application process is the key to minimising your risks
While these factors play a crucial role in minimising your risks, the key element in the credit risk management process relates to the credit application system. A recent survey indicates that a key source of information for a majority of credit managers across businesses is the credit application form. The credit application helps credit managers and businesses make an informed decision on extending credit to the right customers.
Creating a comprehensive credit application form that captures crucial information, such as:
While these details help you assess the ability of customers to meet their credit payment obligations, the credit terms and conditions set out in the application form help to
How smart is your current credit application process?
If your business is utilising paper/pdf/email-based credit applications, they could be impacting your business profit and growth in a significant way.
The impact on your business is three-fold:
Poor customer experience – Filling the paper-based or PDF-based credit application form each time the customer applies for credit is not only time-consuming but can be a frustrating experience. Apart from filling in contact details, debtors have to fill in many fields in the form including references, their contact details, and for businesses, ABN, ACN, and business structure details. Customers who are looking for a quick process to complete a purchase are faced with longer times for filling and submitting the form, which in turn means they need to wait longer for credit approval. Eventually, the delay reflects on your sales while the poor experience in filling manual forms can make your customers turn to your competitors who have a simplified system.
Prone to errors – Illegible handwriting or unintentional errors while writing on paper or PDF credit applications can lead to more errors in reading and transcribing the data into your systems. It is quite common for a debtor to write the business name or ACN / ABN incorrectly. Clearly, the impact of having the wrong address, company/business number and contact details will enhance the credit risk as there may be no means of contacting your customer in case of delayed payment.
Relies on data and references provided by the customer – Manual credit application forms are not just time-consuming but can be misleading, leading to your business extending credit to unsuitable customers. With the paper-based credit application system, you are essentially relying on the information and references that your customer provides. No customer would want to paint themselves in poor light when it comes to references, and negative information is likely to get hidden from your view.
Manual credit application processes increase the chances of errors and impact your decision-making significantly. They lead to longer processing times which means your sales might be impacted – and they rely on your customers providing trade references, which may not give you a completely unbiased view of your potential risk with the new customer.
The solution: Switch to a Digital Credit Application
When your current paper-based credit application process is hurting your business, it is time to switch over to a smart online credit application system from ezyCollect.
ezyCollect’s automated credit management system optimises efficiency and accuracy to ensure you make the right credit decisions every time. The process ticks the right boxes in terms of credit reporting apart from enhancing customer experience. Our online credit application leverages real-time data from the market, customers’ historical transactions, and payment track records to make smart and accurate predictions on late payment and non-payment.
The state-of-the-art online application process is quick, seamless and accurate. This helps minimise errors and eliminates the delays in turnaround time associated with manual processes.
With ezyCollect, you can empower more new customers to make their credit application online. By eliminating the laborious manual and administration data entry, the application turnaround time is reduced, which shortens your sales cycle.
Here are the key benefits of switching over to ezyCollect’s smart Credit Application system:
Easy to use – The online form for credit applications is easy to use, doing away with the time and effort needed to install and master complex software. The application form can be fully customized to match your company’s color scheme & branding. Your customer can access the online form with a simple click on the link provided on your website.
Get real-time updates on business credit scores – Get a clear view of your customers’ payment habits and the most accurate prediction about their ability to make timely payments. ezyCollect provides a Failure Risk Score and Late Payment Risk Score based on a partnership with illion, one of the world’s leading credit reporting brands – which gives us an extensive database of payment information and other variables such as payment history, court actions, financial statements, payment defaults, company age and business structure. This helps you get a complete picture of the credit risk associated with any potential customer – so you can negotiate the terms to suit. Eg: Credit Scores using ezyCollect’s ABN
These comprehensive credit scores help you identify the customers who may pose a risk to your business in terms of credit payment.
Option to request a comprehensive credit report – ezyCollect facilitates informed decision making whether it is for low, medium or high-risk credit decisions with insightful reports. Leverage the option to request a comprehensive credit report that offers everything you need right from payment predictors, risk scores, identification details to financial stability predictors. The comprehensive credit report includes the business’s credit history, long-term operations, stability and profitability, which removes guess-work from your credit decisions.
Perform credit checks on your existing as well as new customers with ezyCollect’s comprehensive credit report. Gain valuable insights on a company’s credit risk thanks to the access we have to exclusive and shared data sources.
Complete audit history showing all steps in the credit application process – Get access to real-time ASIC data that enables you to confirm the existence of a business entity and its operational status. Make the best decision with historical data on previous company names, addresses and directors that allows tracking of the entity’s previous structure and financial history. With automated assistance for completing the online application, the time for credit can be reduced drastically, that translates to seamless customer experience and more sales.
ezyCollect empowers businesses by maximising their competitive advantage with real-time and updated information on customers and accurate prediction on credit risk. By using our online automated credit application process, you can realise exceptional business benefits that include onboarding new customers in quick time, improving customer satisfaction and outperforming your competitors. With all the information you need available at your fingertips, you can optimise decision making, avoid bad debts while ensuring your cash flow is healthy.
Switch to ezyCollect credit applications to make the credit application process easy, engaging and hassle-free for your customers.