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B2B Marketplace: the boom of a new model

B2B Marketplace: the boom of a new model

Temps de lecture : 5 minutes

In recent years marketplace is experiencing strong growth, particularly in the B2C sector. In 2019, Internet sales will have exceeded the 100 billion euros all products and services combined! By 2029, sales of marketplaces should even reach the sum of 550 billion euros ... This is a source of inspiration for B2B players, who are increasingly turning to this new model.

Yet, at first glance, B2B activities seem ill-suited to online commerce, due to their inherent constraints and the rigidity of their processes. So how do you convert to the marketplace model, whose success in B2C has already been proven?

We must overcome our fears and preconceived ideas: in fact, over the last 5 years, B2B purchases made online have seen growth of 94%. And this growth is set to continue in the years ahead.

What is a marketplace ?

First things first. A marketplace (A marketplace is a platform for bringing together buyers and sellers, whether professionals or private individuals. Among the most famous are Amazon, Ebay and Alibaba (in China).

As soon as a transaction is recorded on the marketplace the seller must validate it and then dispatch the order to the buyer. He is therefore responsible for storing and shipping the products. A payment operator collects the funds and returns the balance to the seller, minus the commission charged by the marketplace to remunerate themselves. Understandably, this is a tripartite model.

The operator marketplace is in charge of orchestrating the flows operated by its online platform: order flows, payment flows, logistics flows, and so on. It is thus responsible for all interactions taking place on the platform. In so doing, it establishes itself as a trusted intermediary between buyers and sellers.

In the B2B sector, there are three main types of marketplace :

  • La marketplace network which centralizes all the networks of franchisees, brands and commercial partners from which resellers can obtain supplies;

  • La marketplace e-procurement, which enables central purchasing agencies to purchase products and services for the company via a supplier catalog;

  • La marketplace circular economy is a marketplace that brings together suppliers and professional buyers for the purchase of used or damaged products, and enables second-hand goods to be recycled.

Why is this model booming in B2B?

According to a study by Gartner Predicts, 75% of all business purchases will be made via the Internet. marketplace by 2022. To prepare for this, many companies are investing in marketplaces that enable them to digitize and simplify their business-to-business relations, while remaining competitive in their markets. From now on, no sector can escape the marketplace B2B, whether for general or industrial purchases.

Companies have a variety of motivations:

  • Build their reputation and position within their sector;

  • Reach new prospects;

  • Streamline exchanges and distribution between professionals;

  • Extend their existing range;

  • Facilitating sourcing new suppliers and optimize inventories;

  • Offer new customer experiences using all the opportunities offered by digital technology;

  • Improve internal operational efficiency,

  • Increase sales,

  • Etc.

Undeniably, the Covid-19 crisis and the ensuing confinements have created a new demand for B2B company platforms. This period was an opportunity for players in all sectors to completely rethink the way they operate, and to become aware of the many opportunities offered by digital. But to convince companies to digitize their business, the marketplaces cannot be content with being mere platforms on which transactions take place. They must innovate to offer complementary services and facilitate exchanges between professionals. The B2B market has its own particularities and constraints. Buying a bar of soap online as an individual consumer has nothing in common (in terms of logistics, payment processes, security...) with purchasing 10,000 bars of soap online from a distributor as a retailer. So it's hardly surprising that the marketplace is developing more slowly in B2B.

Not very ergonomic just a few years ago, the marketplaces B2B companies have benefited from the digital revolution brought about (sometimes under duress) by the health crisis. Today, they have no reason to envy marketplaces B2C, and offer functionalities tailored to the needs and constraints of professional buyers.

What types of operators and sectors are involved?

While all sectors are affected by the rise of the marketplaces B2B, certain markets in particular are enjoying strong growth. For example, platforms specializing in office supplies or high-tech and IoT products have recently emerged, enabling companies to purchase equipment without going through platforms aimed at the general public.

Others marketplaces have emerged in recent years, whether dedicated to professionals in the automotive sector (Marketparts), the agri-food sector (Gourming, Metro...), the agricultural equipment sales sector (AgriAffaires), or the industrial sector (StationOne, TreeNox...).

But this phenomenon is not confined to companies selling goods. It also applies to companies offering services, such as Malt (professional networking), BirdOffice (workspace rental) and Legalstart (online legal services).

What does the future hold for this market?

Certainly, we're still in the early stages of development of the marketplace B2B. New operators are setting up shop every day, taking advantage of technological advances and the increasing digitalization of businesses. Little by little, B2B sales processes, marked by their constraints and rigid nature, should adapt to the characteristics of this new model. The emergence of new operators in the coming years should also democratize the marketplace .

This democratization should enable companies to :

  • Focus on high value-added sales;

  • Offer customers a renewed experience;

  • Streamline sales processes (through better inventory control, for example);

  • Expand and develop their customer base.

In addition, they will be able to more easily address obstacles to purchasing, such as online chat functionalities or automatic reminder emails. The key to driving this model change is to get all employees on board, while giving sales teams clear, defined responsibilities and objectives.

Against this backdrop, what are the challenges facing marketplaces B2B ?

There are many reasons for this, but the role played by payment services and the maturity of suppliers are particularly noteworthy.

Payment services

Payment flows play an essential role in the customer experience. If they are not optimized, it's a safe bet that the buyer's experience will be unpleasant, sometimes to the point of abandoning the purchase! In addition to this commercial challenge, there is also a legal one: payment services associated with platforms must comply with legal standards and provisions.

Finally, unlike marketplaces B2C, the average basket value on B2B marketplaces can be very high. Other peculiarities add to this observation: the use of different payment methods in different countries, price variations depending on the number of items, etc. These constraints, which are not found in B2C, often result in a delay of up to several weeks between the moment of purchase and payment.

Supplier maturity

Visit marketplaces B2B companies face a major challenge: they have to convince suppliers to join their platform and invest in this new channel. If 74% of B2B buyers do more than half their research online before making offline purchases, which represents a real opportunity, some are still reluctant to shop online. It's up to companies to reassure them by showing them all the advantages they can gain, and for consumers to make the most of their shopping experience. marketplaces establish their reputation as a trusted intermediary.

Nevertheless, the rise of the marketplaces B2B is real, and these platforms should continue to flourish in the years ahead. For example, B2B e-commerce sales are expected to represent 17% of all B2B sales in the United States by 2023! A figure that should, quite logically, increase...

Écrit par

Valentin Orru

Head of growth