There has been a palpable shift in customer habits and rising expectations accelerated by the events of the past year. To meet buyers' demands for "anything, anytime, anywhere," retailers have embraced the marketplace model to expand assortment, and strengthen customer loyalty.
Accustomed to the ease, convenience, and efficiency of the marketplace model in their personal lives, many B2B buyers are starting to question conventional B2B purchasing methods. Today, 80% of B2B buyers expect a similar experience offered on B2C websites, with roughly 50% of B2B buyers preferring to make work-related purchases on B2C sites.
Capitalizing on this discrepancy, generalist marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba are stepping in and have gained a foothold in the B2B space. While they've made the first move, B2B enterprises have several key advantages over their generalist competitors: B2B enterprises enjoy a strong foundation of loyal customers, trusted brands, and industry-specific expertise that the generalists don’t. They can take what marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba have done, improve upon it, and ultimately give their buyers what they actually want.
The Sun Rises: The Role and Opportunities of B2B Marketplaces in a Post-COVID World, a new report by Roland Berger, Mirakl, and Webhelp, offers an in-depth look at the strategies that wholesalers and distributors can leverage to seize this opportunity. Featuring insights from Maykers, Aniel, and Conrad Electronic it's designed to help B2B businesses better serve their customers, and ultimately thrive in today’s digital-first world of B2B commerce.
Using your advantage as a B2B specialist for future success
Leading generalist marketplaces are encroaching on territory previously held by B2B specialists, not by offering customers new items but rather by appealing to how they want to shop. While they may have a leg up in terms of logistic efficiency and services, they face significant limits compared to industry specialists. As experts in their specific vertical(s), B2B enterprises hold a number of key advantages over generalist marketplace competitors:
- A name buyers trust
B2B specialists have built their reputations by creating an extensive ecosystem of products, services, and vendors trusted by the end-user. Buyers know these enterprises offer a more in-depth catalog consisting of specialized parts and relevant, targeted services.
- A custom selection
Industry experts know and understand consumer trends, and the highly specialized items their clients are looking for. While generalist marketplaces often employ a horizontal model - one providing products and intermediate services for a variety of different verticals - B2B enterprises can find and deliver highly specific or customized parts.
- Keywords make all the difference
Knowing industry terminology helps effectively catalog a marketplace and enhance search engine architecture. Detailed descriptions and proper categorization will improve buyer efficiency, allowing them to quickly and accurately compare your selection.
- Introducing added services
Marketplaces offer a platform for both products and services. These can be specialized, assorted services or “convenient” services such as training, credit services, or remote customer support. The knowledge and scope of these services will go far beyond what generalist marketplaces offer.
The Covid-crisis has reinforced the need to build trusted marketplace solutions for our customers to cover a wide range of products but also services which set themselves apart from traditional generalist platforms. Our solution is at the heart of the ecosystem and leverages our product, logistics, and technology strengths.
Alexander Ketelaar, Managing Director and Co-founder, Maykers
So, how can B2B enterprises capitalize on these advantages with the marketplace model? Regardless of the vertical you operate in, The Sun Rises has identified 5 key factors for B2B marketplace success across the board:
- Provide an extensive product range through a wide variety of vendors.
- Provide key services for both customers (like product comparison) and vendors (such as automated onboarding).
- Provide an efficient online payment and invoicing system.
- Ensure visibility on stocks and logistics through an accurate knowledge of availability and planning. This will help organize production and offer reliable, timely delivery.
- Fully integrate the marketing and communication strategy into the marketplace business plan to increase online traffic.
These items are essential to providing the customer experience your buyers are expecting and allow you to go on the offensive against generalist marketplaces. For a detailed look at the 5 key factors of success, as well as how to avoid the common marketplace hurdles, be sure to check out The Sun Rises: The Role and Opportunities of B2B Marketplaces in a Post-COVID World.
Written by Austin Fontanella
Content Marketing Specialist at Mirakl