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B2B Marketplaces: Decryption of a booming business model

16 July 2019

Business Insight

Today, more than 20% of French companies conduct procurement online. This trend is expected to increase further to 32% by 2020. The B2B e-commerce market is expected to reach $6.7 trillion by 2020¹, representing 27% of all B2B sales worldwide. The success of the B2B Marketplace model reflects an evolution in the behaviour of professional buyers. These latter tend to base their professional practices on their personal experience of B2C e-commerce platforms, making it necessary to provide them with B2B marketplaces for their corporate purchases, while addressing the specific requirements of B2B sales. Today, this marketplace model is increasingly attracting B2B players and large groups, but it must meet the regulatory constraints inherent to this type of activity.

What exactly is a marketplace?

A marketplace, today, refers to a digital platform that matches buyers and sellers (whether professional or private individuals), in exchange for a commission on sales. These merchant sites offer a retail interface for several thousand small sellers, or even individuals, allowing them to harness the platform’s functionalities and traffic.

Among the most widely-known marketplaces are Amazon, Cdiscount, eBay and Alibaba.

There are different types of marketplaces: B2C (Amazon, Fnac Darty), C2C (eBay, Le Bon Coin, Vinted), B2B (Alibaba, Amazon Business), or D2C (direct delivery to consumers).

It should be noted that the marketplaces environment is complex, and involves a wide range of players: sellers, buyers, banks, payment service providers, software publishers, etc.

We will focus on B2B marketplaces, which have taken off in recent years with the aim of simplifying and digitalising business-to-business relationships.

The different types of B2B marketplaces

Today, there are 4 main types of B2B marketplaces according to the typology of our partner Wizaplace

  • The E-Procurement marketplace

This designates a platform for purchasing that matches buyers with suppliers, allowing companies to quickly and simply fulfil their procurement needs with access to a wide range of products.

  • The E-Commerce marketplace

Like Alibaba ou Amazon Business, these platforms match up suppliers and professionals in a particular sector for the purchase and sale of products, in view to becoming the reference on a given market.

  • The Business Network marketplace

These are platforms that allow companies to consolidate and centralise their entire offering in a single place, thereby simplifying distribution of the brand’s product catalogue by partners, retailers or franchises.

  • The Circular Economy marketplace

This type of marketplace offers a variety of advantages for companies, which may optimise management of inventory by making them available on the site as well as recycling worn or damaged products or selling used materials.

  • Digital Transformation marketplace

This model focuses on companies lacking on online distribution channel (bricks-and-mortar only) that wish to digitalise, diversify and optimise their offering.

A booming market with strong growth potential

These various B2B platforms have significant room to expand and are the cornerstone of the digital transformation of companies: transformation of purchases and their distribution methods, exhaustiveness of the product catalogue, flexible “monetisation” of the services on offer (sales, exchange, subscription, etc.)… But this new-generation e-commerce cannot be improvised. It is often necessary to rely on external expertise, such as that of our partner Wizaplace, a company that makes possible the creation of turnkey marketplace modules (front office, back office and administrators). What advantage does this offer companies? Well, time savings and optimisation of the user experience to begin with, but also management tools and process automation.

The year 2019 will see further strengthening of B2B marketplace development, with giants such as Amazon Business and Alibaba constantly imagining new and ever more competitive solutions to serve companies. The market is doing splendidly and has thoroughly proven its robustness and efficiency.

In France, several major groups have launched their own B2B marketplace. The Suez group, with its Organix platform for the commercialisation of organic waste, and Engie, which now offers a storage solution for professionals via Delaplace.pro.

The many examples clearly show that the panorama of BtoB marketplace applications can be infinitely broad. In short, this flourishing market still has a bright future ahead!

* Source: Insee/Fevad