You Need to Be on B2B Marketplaces
Not surprisingly, I, like so many other consumers worldwide, have turned to e-commerce to satisfy many of my shopping needs in these COVID-ridden times. Instead of buying small boxes of pods for my single-cup coffee maker at the store each week, I can order from Amazon, which delivers them in bulk—120 at a time—for a lot less money, no trip to the supermarket required. When my old slippers wore out, a comfy new pair was at my door in a matter of days. And when I needed a last-minute birthday gift for my niece, the coat she wanted was available on the manufacturer’s website at a fraction of what I would have had to pay for the same item in a department store.
Not every online purchase I’ve made in the past few months has gone smoothly. When one of the pieces in the Revolutionary War chess set that I ordered arrived broken, I had to make arrangements to have a replacement sent out. Just a quick picture on my smartphone and a few clicks on the manufacturer’s website was all it took to make that happen.
I’ve become such a huge fan of e-commerce that I have already resolved to do as much of my holiday shopping online as possible this year, right from the comfort of home, wearing my cozy slippers sipping a cup of coffee fresh from Amazon. No holiday traffic, fighting with fellow shoppers for a parking spot at the mall, standing in line at the checkout counter, and driving from store to store to find the exact item that my increasingly demanding relatives expect.
I’m not unique. One of my sisters barely leaves her apartment these days, getting everything from groceries to furniture to her Thanksgiving holiday dinner delivered through e-commerce sites. And when my brother started planning a family vacation to Vermont, lodging, rental car, ski lessons for his two kids, equipment rentals, and even an apres-ski massage could all be booked online.
Yes, the pandemic-fueled digital shopping revolution is here to stay, and it presents companies of all types endless selling opportunities. Companies will need to cater not just to online consumers but also to a growing number of business-to-business shoppers, as this month’s cover story, “B2B Marketplaces Capitalize on E-Commerce Expansion,” points out.
The article highlights just how significant the B2B e-commerce market is right now and will become in a very short amount of time. Digital Commerce 360 reports that the number of vertical B2B marketplaces has more than tripled since 2019; that roughly 40 percent of businesses now purchase as much as half of their goods and services through B2B marketplaces; and by next year, the B2B ecommerce market will be valued at $2.3 trillion alone. For context, the entire global e-commerce market is projected to reach $7.4 trillion by 2025.
The challenge for companies here, though, is ensuring that their marketing and sales teams are adequately positioned for this transition, that their technologies support such transactions, and that their analytics can measure and report on the success of their efforts on these platforms.
The platform providers themselves are helping merchants on all these fronts, but beforehand, companies need to pick the right platform or platforms to carry out their business transactions. Finding a suitable B2B marketplace revolves around many factors. It requires a lot of research because platform features vary a lot. I would encourage companies to get on as many platforms as possible to maximize their reach and exposure.
And then, companies need to know that just listing their products on these platforms alone won’t do the trick. As with everything in the business world today, success on B2B marketplaces requires alignment between front- and back-office functions, including inventory management, subscriptions management, marketing, sales, payment processing, returns management, customer support, and so much more.
As we move into the holiday shopping season, both B2B and B2C customers expect a unified online shopping experience, and businesses can afford to offer nothing less.
Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.