B2B Marketplaces are Blossoming

August 16, 2018

Last year we wrote about the Spring of B2B Marketplaces: how they were beginning to prosper and what this meant for the industry. This year we’ve teamed up with Roland Berger and Webhelp to bring you the next step in this evolutionary journey. Read on for a snapshot of what to expect and some of the key findings we unearthed.

B2B is Big Business

B2B Marketplaces are growing substantially. Two of the world’s largest players, Alibaba and Amazon, generate $11b and $4b through their platforms. In 2017, B2B eCommerce sales hit $7.6 trillion with Asia accounting for 80% of that total. Despite this, recent evidence shows North America is on the rise (+12% CAGR).... Though we’re still waiting to see Europe embrace the model.

B2B Buyers are Becoming More Savvy

Traditionally, given the complexity of products and requirements, the B2B sector was built on trust between buyers and sellers. With the purchase process often negotiated, sellers maintain unique pricing and relationships with each of their customers. These are just two of the reasons why the B2B industry has been slower to adopt a digital-first approach. But this is all changing.

  • 61% of B2B Buyers research products on mobile
  • 56% expect to make half or more of their work purchases online in the next three years
  • 91% prefer to make the purchase online, once they have decided what to buy.

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The Amazon Way

Since launching Amazon Business in 2015, they’ve experienced great success across the world (except China). Typically entering markets with a broad selection of non-complex products such as office supplies, they use this to get a foot in the door before moving onto more complex categories.

Amazon has focused on developing a broad product catalog, perceived lower prices and special B2B focused services such as Business Prime Shipping, Amazon Business Analytics, Alexa for Business and more.

For more on this topic, check out our blog “What’s the big deal about Amazon Business?”

Think Like Alibaba

Unlike Amazon, Alibaba have always maintained a stock-less approach. Instead they focus on partnerships across commerce, financial and logistics which enable them to leverage their own services. Let’s take Alibaba’s strategy in Russia, they entered the market in 2015, successfully growing AliExpress while Alipay partners up with local financial services provider VTB. At the same time, its logistics partner Cainiao is further expanding in Russia with Alibaba opening a national data center to analyze customer data.

Four Models… A Wealth of Opportunity

Since last year’s study we’ve seen one merger and one new strategy emerge onto the B2B scene.

Download the report to understand how these models are evolving:

  • One-stop shop
  • Distribution channel extension
  • Business model transformation
  • Procurement network

What are the Challenges Facing Marketplaces?

Having defined an appropriate marketplace strategy, the next step is to be aware of the challenges in adopting the model. We have identified five of them and in the report we propose a strategy and solution to overcome these obstacles, no matter your size.

  1. Technology Development
  2. Payment Services
  3. Change Management
  4. New Competencies Required
  5. Digital Maturity of Sellers

This is the most comprehensive study of its kind bringing together compelling case studies, new research and practical actions for embracing this next step in the evolution of Business to Business selling - a must read for anyone working in the sector.

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