By Samir El-Sabini
Although the pandemic has caused havoc for many industries, e-commerce in the European Union shows itself to be in rude health. The latest statistics, released in October 2021, reveal that the value of e-commerce retail in Europe is $465.4 billion dollars. This figure is expected to grow to half a trillion US dollars in the next few years.
Furthermore, Europe’s digital entrepreneurs are servicing a market that’s now estimated to be made up of 500 million customers. Suffice to say, the continent’s ecommerce community is a critically important one. What’s more, it’s Europe’s digital entrepreneurs that will be the frontline workers to rebuild economies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. And to do that, spend management is going to take a central role.
Remote working requires new spend management solutions
Although the term “digital transformation” was already in mainstream usage prior to March 2020, it was really the global lockdown that shifted us into a new reality. One of the ways in which our world has utterly transformed is in the move to remote working.
Again, far from a new concept but one that only truly came into its own during the mass response to lockdown in the first quarter of last year. Now, in late 2021, we’ve got the test case proven for remote working.
- Productivity is up.
- Technology enables teams to work from anywhere (or, at least, most places).
- And humans like working this way.
So far, so good. Except for the fact that remote working means much more than simply where your team members are sitting. This is where spend management comes in. My team and I meet smart businesses across Europe every day that have innovative products and services to sell, new markets they’re developing and cutting edge teams hired to deliver stellar customer experiences.
However, in many cases, these businesses are underpinned by financial processes that have not changed since the analogue era. As a result, digital companies are finding that their financial processes are completely out of sync with their innovation and pace as growing tech companies. Just think of what your financial processes need to account for:
- Making payments to suppliers and service providers
- Tracking spend and performance metrics (ROAS)
- Reconciling transactions
- Gaining internal approvals
- Responding to customer needs
- Growing market share through marketing and business development campaigns
Yet many of the current offerings from banks are far from agile. This leaves ecommerce companies to run highly dynamic businesses being poorly supported by manual and archaic processes. The solution? Adopting a spend management platform that is rewriting the rules for banking 2.0.
Transparency powers growth
It’s no surprise that as teams have dispersed to work remotely, transparency has become a bigger focus. And spend management software is the tool to enable these desired higher levels of transparency. This is achieved by having all financial processes and transactions in one place. Spend management software breaks down the barriers to payment infrastructure. This, in turn, allows ecommerce and tech companies to build and optimise integrated and automated workflows that are 100% customised to their own businesses.
Think about that. Until now, businesses have had to adapt their processes to that of banks. Now we’re entering an era where financial services providers are adapting to the businesses they serve. Of course, this saves a lot of time (and there’s a lot of truth in the old adage that time is money), but that’s not all it does.
Among the many advantages, finance and accounting team members find themselves able to offer insights and analysis that can contribute to the strategic journey the business is on. Let’s not forget that for any business, growth is the goal.
But many SMEs can attest to the headaches (and some would argue that word is an understatement) that can arise as teams scramble to upgrade the processes to accommodate and support growth. Growth then becomes haphazard, and even costly.
Forget legacy systems
Leading edge tech and ecommerce businesses see opportunities everywhere, but they are held back by legacy systems.These systems inject huge doses of manual work, ineffective and underwhelming banking functionality (often at high fees for the privilege) and little ability to manage costs. Workforces in offices were already frustrated by these limitations.
Add a pandemic to the mix and en masse adoption to remote working and these frustrations grew into even larger proportions. It’s no surprise that the spend management vertical is currently experiencing a higher degree of attention than ever before. And innovating accordingly.
Sitting at the crux of growth, transparency and remote working, spend management software offers the tech entrepreneurs of the future a strategic partner that will power their success.
About the Author
Samir El-Sabini is the CEO and Co-Founder of Juni, the financial companion for e-commerce entrepreneurs. Prior to starting Juni in 2020 he was the COO at Findity, an expense management technology company with over 12,000 B2B customers and a Venture Partner at Joyance Partners with multiple D2C e-commerce investments. Samir co-founded the e-commerce startup Trader and co-founded the Martech startup Adclouds.