How a Global Company Uses Data Insights to Build New Revenue Streams with Commercial Card
Atlanta, Georgia-based Cox Enterprises, Inc. is no stranger to growth. Its roots trace back to 1898 when James M. Cox purchased the Dayton Evening News (now the Dayton Daily News). Over 120 years later, the business has expanded across industries into a global company with approximately 55,000 employees and $21 billion in revenue.1 It’s no surprise, then, that this organization’s growth mindset permeates through everything—including its purchasing card program.
“Optimizing payments in our business is very important,” said Stephanie Dowell, senior manager of procurement systems in supply chain, who oversees three card programs—procurement card, travel card and fuel card. “It helps us ensure we use the best payment method, whether it’s commercial card or something else, and gives us visibility into what’s flowing through the company.”
Stephanie Dowell, Senior Procurement Services Manager, Cox Enterprises
Dowell and her team of card program administrators continuously look for opportunity to reduce paper-based invoices sent to accounts payable (AP) and reap new efficiencies by centralizing more business purchases onto purchasing cards.
To that end, the team developed a robust set of real-time dashboards and reports that provide actionable data for all aspects of their card program. Applying those insights, the program has grown nearly 10 percent in total card spend and in the annual refund it receives on all card purchases in the form of a cash rebate, said Dowell.
While every business is unique and may achieve different results, the experiences at Cox Enterprises offer a glimpse into best-practice approaches for any card program administrator. Here are five ways Dowell and her team apply data-driven insights to make their purchasing card program go further.
1) Optimizing Spend on Your Commercial Card
With real-time data feeding into PaymentNet®, Dowell’s team can see trends around spending. This includes transaction count and amount, transaction type, and the merchant category—whether its vehicle maintenance, entertainment, education, and more. At a glance, this helps pinpoint areas to focus on, like increasing spend in the right areas or decreasing spend in others that are less appropriate for the specific card.
On a quarterly basis, the team will also match their dashboard insights against their AP spend to identify opportunities to shift more transactions onto the card. The easy wins are high-dollar volume suppliers where Cox Enterprises already has a majority of its business expenses on a purchasing card, said Dowell. When that’s the case, the team will identify the employees who are using check payments, reach out to them and ask if they have a card, and educate them on the benefits of using a purchasing card for business purchases. Other opportunities include identifying those suppliers that do not accept card payments yet and encouraging card acceptance over checks.
2) Improving Your Cardholders’ Experience
Typically when a card is declined, the cardholder would call into a customer service hotline. They may be placed in a queue and find the call center impersonal. Dowell’s team is changing that experience. Cox Enterprises program administrators can see why a transaction gets declined, and using real-time authorization, they can directly help cardholders mitigate those issues as they occur.
Dowell’s team takes it step further by also arming their cardholders with access to their own real-time insights. By providing cardholders login access to PaymentNet, they can access their account and know their credit limit and how much is being used anytime, anywhere.
Purchasing Cards Help Ensure Employee Safety During Global Pandemic
In 2020, the coronavirus (COVID-19) caught the world by surprise. Governments limited international travel and enacted stay-at-home orders. The global economy was virtually at a standstill, with employees who could work from home telecommuting. Other’s in roles and businesses deemed essential still showed up at their respective places of work—hospitals and medical offices, grocery stores, banks and so on.
Given the circumstances facing all businesses and their personnel, commercial card programs industry-wide have seen a 29 percent increase in broadening the scope of allowable suppliers.2 For Cox Enterprises, that translated into ensuring the safety of their employees. Those who could work remotely from home did so. For those who needed to come in for work, Cox Enterprises leveraged its purchasing card program in new ways by increasing the overall spend limit to help acquire personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks and other safety equipment as quickly as possible.
3) Tailoring Your Commercial Card Educational Programs
When it comes to growth, educating your cardholders is equally important, said Dowell. By culling data from PaymentNet on card declines, Dowell and team can identify certain patterns in cardholder spend and any outliers, like using a purchasing card for airline travel. With those insights, the team hosts internal webinars or may send best practices and additional training opportunities through their card program employee newsletter.
Likewise, Dowell uses this data to educate herself and her team to ensure the program runs smoothly for cardholders. For example, employees who transitioned to work remotely during the global coronavirus pandemic may have tried to purchase electronics equipment to set up a home office. However, these transactions typically could be declined because the merchant category code (MCC) for “electronic store” may not be included on the card profile. Using that insight, Dowell’s team ensures they have the correct MCC to fit the situation.
4) Tracking B2B Card Fraud and Misuse
Working together with the audit department, Dowell’s team created a dashboard that applies scoring and algorithms to rank high-risk card transactions like weekend and holiday spend, proxy, duplicate transactions, gift cards and international transactions, to name a few. This dashboard also provides visibility into the top 10 spend categories for cardholders.
The team designed the dashboard so that program administrators can click on a transaction’s dollar amount to reveal the data behind the purchase, and identify spend patterns and abnormal activity. Considering the many subsidiaries and employees that make up Cox Enterprises, the dashboard helps simplify the process of reviewing thousands of transactions and saves time and money, said Dowell.
5) Gaining Leadership Support
Bringing it together, Dowell reports to senior leadership bi-monthly on the strength of Cox Enterprises’ commercial card program. Armed with data, she can confidently point to major milestones—such as approximately $140 million in annual purchasing card spend and over 2,500 cardholders, and about 90 percent of those cards are active.
By highlighting the key wins and opportunities that the commercial card program presents, Dowell continues to gain leadership support, which is a crucial component to building any program.
Growing Your Commercial Card Program into the Future
Now, with already impressive results, how can the program keep growing? Business as usual, said Dowell.
“Our top priorities are to create more revenue streams, ensure the right cards are in the right hands, educate our cardholders further, and make senior leadership aware of the value that the commercial card program brings to Cox Enterprises.”
Find the Right Commercial Card Solution for Your Business
As you evaluate how a commercial card program can help your business optimize its payments, you don’t need to figure it out all at once or on your own. Connect with us, and we’ll help you find the right commercial card solution for your business.