In the coming years, B2B business is expected to experience double-digit growth, encouraging more and more vendors to conquer the B2B market a lot more seriously. In this article, we explore how this market is beginning to make its place in the global e-commerce landscape through marketplaces.
What are B2B marketplaces?
B2B marketplaces are platforms on which manufacturers, suppliers and distributors can trade with companies that want to purchase raw materials, finished products or services. In terms of turnover, it is currently the most important model in B2B sales and one of the most important reasons for growth in B2B e-commerce. An ibi research study conducted in Germany in 2018 revealed that over 25% of the companies surveyed use a B2B marketplace for their B2B sales. 31% of them sell on Amazon Business; twice as many as the second most used provider, mercateo.
Buyers can search marketplaces by product type or directly in the manufacturer lists. The main goal of B2B marketplaces is to simplify everything related to purchasing. These platforms can be generalised or specialised in one field of activity, hybrid (selling their own products) or pure player (simple intermediary).
B2B marketplaces offer the same possibilities as traditional B2C marketplaces but adapt to the framework of companies. For example, buyers can view supplier certifications, company information pages are available, and accounts can be opened for multiple users. In addition, the displayed prices consider the particularities of the B2B sector and dealers benefit from a tax exemption program. These are just a few examples of B2B customization.
Two B2B marketplaces dominate the market
While B2B marketplaces are becoming increasingly popular with e-commerce professionals, two players currently dominate this market: Alibaba and Amazon.
By 2017, Amazon Business had sold $280 billion worth of products and generated $178 billion in sales, compared to $40 billion for Alibaba, which sold three times more products than the American giant. Amazon’s success is not limited to the United States. The American giant, which generated $1 billion in sales in the year of its launch (2015), is now enjoying success in Europe, where its platform is available in Germany, the United Kingdom and France.
Dominated for the time being by the American-Asian duo, other marketplaces are determined to make their mark, such as Staples, mercateo, Cdiscount Pro, ManoManoPro, etc.