Billing is much more than the moment a customer hands over money in exchange for the products or services they've selected. Yes, it is the beginning of the customer experience, but it's also a critical moment that sets the expectations of the customer journey. If something goes wrong, like the original quote doesn't match the final price or the seller isn't able to accept the customer's preferred payment method, they're often left with a negative first impression. This can effectively ruin their experience with the business as their chances of becoming a repeat customer (with a high customer lifetime value) plummet.

Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have made digital commerce the go-to choice for more consumers than ever, businesses are facing increased pressure to ensure their billing solutions are facilitating — rather than hindering — a frictionless digital customer experience. As Gartner notes in its Market Guide for Digital Commerce Payment Vendors, published last month:

“B2B merchants have moved quickly toward digital commerce and are increasingly embracing the need for a more consumer-like, truly omnichannel, digital buying experience.” In a recent Gartner survey, respondents from both B2B buying and selling organizations expressed a belief that “digital commerce will represent the largest share of transactions by 2023."

Adding additional complexity to the challenge of streamlining billing for digital commerce is the ongoing growth of recurring revenue models. Another recent Gartner report shows that, among consumers, subscription popularity grew during the pandemic as it provided a safe, convenient way to ensure they had plenty of supplies on hand (along with ways to entertain themselves while sheltering in place). Even as in-person shopping has become feasible again, the popularity of subscriptions shows no sign of waning, as regular deliveries provide both the convenience we’ve grown accustomed to and some buffer against growing supply chain issues.

In short, digital commerce — particularly subscriptions and subscriptions with add-on options — is here to stay. Businesses that want to stay ahead of the competition are recognizing this fact and are adopting billing platforms and practices that ensure the digital customer experience is as frictionless as possible. After all, billing is much more than the moment the customer hands over the credit card — or, in this case, types in the card number or Shop Pay code. The quote-to-cash process touches every step of the customer journey, from the initial quote to final payment — and that process can make or break the customer experience. Thus, making the difference between a one-time shopper and a life-loyal customer and evangelist.

Challenges of Delivering a Frictionless Digital Customer Experience

We wrote recently about eight things businesses have to get right to deliver a frictionless customer experience, but when it comes to digital commerce, there’s even more to consider.

First of all, as Gartner mentions in its Market Guide, billing technology vendors differ widely in what they’re actually offering. Some may support the full payment value chain (including payment gateway, payment processing, acquiring services, payment security, fraud detection, etc.) while others may only have capabilities in certain aspects. Some are limited in their geographic coverage or support for varied payment methods.

When it comes to subscriptions, there’s an added set of challenges, as we discussed in a recent Gotransverse + PwC webinar on navigating the changing monetization landscape. For businesses operating on subscription models, 80 percent of customer lifetime value comes after the initial transaction. For businesses selling one-off products and services, this isn't quite such a challenge, but with subscription models, there are suddenly many more touchpoints between business and customer, and each one matters. For example, if a customer has a great experience up-front but then the renewal process goes sideways, the chances of retaining that customer dwindle quickly. Companies looking to minimize churn need to be looking for end-to-end solutions that can support strong long-term customer relationships.

So, what should B2B and B2C businesses look for in a digital commerce billing solution that will drive revenue and increase customer lifetime value by promoting a seamless digital customer experience?

Identifying the Right Digital Commerce Billing Vendor

Cobbling together multiple platforms—or endlessly modifying legacy systems — to get the functionality you need may seem like a simple, cost-effective solution in the short term, but this "Frankenstein" approach always leads to endless maintenance, paper jams, costs, and delays.

Instead, look for a vendor that can provide 360 billing support. This includes all the regions, transaction volumes, payment channels, payment methods, platform integrations, and billing models you need it to support — now and further along with your roadmap. (To get you started, here’s a quick guide to investigating whether a potential vendor truly supports complex billing models.)

With so much at stake — and so much in flux — for B2B and B2C business leaders, the right digital commerce billing platform isn’t just a “nice-to-have” but a “must-have.” At Gotransverse we pride ourselves on helping our clients drive revenue, grow customer lifetime value, and exceed business goals with agile, scalable processes, automated workflows, and highly configurable processes for every billing channel. To find out whether our platform is right for your organization, we invite you to take a virtual tour today. Then, when you’re ready, request a demo to learn more.