B2B marketplaces: a revolution for purchasing

5 May 2023

Business Insight

B2B marketplaces are revolutionizing the purchasing world. Over the past five years, B2B purchases made online have grown by an impressive 94%. And according to Gartner, by 2021, more than 30% of B2B purchases will have taken place on B2B marketplaces.

Professional marketplaces emulate the fluidity and quality of the B2C buying experience, connecting buyers and suppliers and enabling businesses to source products quickly and easily, with access to a large catalog of products in a single, secure environment. The buyer can access flexible payment terms, while the seller receives the money for the transaction immediately. This secures the cash flow for both parties.

Did you know? 52% of buyers are frustrated with the outsourcer’s buying process, and 90% will go to a competitor precisely because of a bad online payment experience.

In this article, learn how B2B marketplaces transform businesses’ purchasing processes, offering a simplified experience, a more comprehensive range of products, and greater price transparency.

Purchasing function: challenges and prospects

The purchasing function is strategic for a company, as it directly influences the quality of the goods produced as well as the profitability of the company. However, the B2B payment infrastructure is largely outdated and has not benefited from the digital advances that can provide optimal financial management for both buyer and supplier. A delay that causes significant revenue loss: more than 40% of CFOs estimate their company loses about 5% each month due to payment processing deficiencies.

This is where agility comes in.

Companies that successfully implement effective payment solutions for B2B buyers will be best equipped to continue to grow in today’s ever-changing marketplace, which places a clear premium on innovation.

Beyond the choice of appropriate payment methods, other issues – sometimes related – should not be overlooked:

  • The need to reduce costs while maintaining the quality of the products and services purchased;
  • Management and prevention of supplier-related risks, such as late deliveries, stock-outs, or non-compliance with standards;
  • Optimization of time spent on research and negotiation with suppliers;
  • The digitalization and modernization of purchasing processes in the context of global digital transformation of the economy;
  • The obligation to streamline processes to encourage the economic performance of the company;
  • The need to respond to societal issues and the company’s CSR

? The future of the Purchasing function lies in its ability to leverage emerging technologies to move from a function traditionally considered administrative to a real lever of economic and social competitiveness for the company.

B2B Marketplaces: the answer to purchasing challenges

B2B marketplaces, which connect professional buyers and sellers online, have revolutionized purchasing by meeting the challenges of increasingly digitalized professionals. 70% of new marketplaces created in the next few years are expected to be oriented toward B2B exchanges (Gartner). In 2022 alone, B2B digital commerce generated 7 billion dollars in revenues, an increase of 20% compared to the first quarter of 2021 in France, according to Frost & Sullivan, while B2C experienced a decline of 15%.

 A model that perfectly meets purchasing challenges

Although B2B characteristics, such as the complexity of business relationships, the management of credentials, or the need to go through a traditional negotiation stage, have hindered the rise of marketplaces, these variables now seem to be under control by platforms. 61% of business buyers search for products on their mobile, while 91% opt for online purchases after deciding what they want to buy (Forrester).

B2B marketplaces are indeed in line with the current challenges of buyers who are looking for more fluid and digitalized purchasing environments:

  • These platforms offer great flexibility, a wide selection of products, and quick and easy purchasing processes. In addition, B2B marketplaces are an attractive alternative to traditional sourcing and procurement methods, which can be time-consuming and carry some risk of fraud when contracting.
  • B2B marketplaces also offer a complete ecosystem that provides new services, innovative features, and products that may be difficult to find elsewhere. This allows buyers to meet their needs while saving their business time and money.
  • Finally, B2B marketplaces can help protect the environment by reducing or optimizing product transportation. Buyers can consolidate packages from different suppliers into a single delivery, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


The different types of B2B marketplaces

Several types of B2B marketplaces meet specific business needs. Here is an overview of the main types of B2B marketplaces and their buying process.

E-procurement Marketplace

It is a platform that allows companies to manage their entire purchasing process, from requests for quotes to payments. E-procurement marketplaces offer significant benefits, including cost reduction, improved purchasing quality, time savings, and easier budget management.

Companies can benefit from a catalog of products and suppliers with competitive pricing and increased transaction traceability. Order approval and validation processes are simplified, with improved spend visibility and reduced risk of fraud or error.

Shopping marketplaces are often offered as SaaS software solutions that integrate catalog management, budgeting, payment, and reporting capabilities to provide a smoother and more secure shopping experience.

Network Marketplace

The network marketplace is a model that allows you to consolidate your entire network catalog on a single platform while offering franchisees the ability to manage their offerings and retain their customer base independently.

Grouping all partners centralizes the offer for better control and homogenizes the customer experience thanks to fewer intermediaries. A win-win solution that allows sellers to generate more profit while buyers benefit from an optimal ordering process at lower costs.


Circular Economy Marketplace

A circular economy marketplace is a platform that connects sellers and buyers of used or refurbished products. It allows companies to give a second life to their products and reduce their environmental footprint by avoiding throwing away goods that are still functional.

This allows buyers to acquire products at a lower cost while reducing their environmental footprint. Circular economy marketplaces can also facilitate the rental of goods, allowing companies to reduce their investments and only pay for the actual use of the products.


How to launch a B2B marketplace?

To launch a B2B marketplace, it is necessary to put oneself in a buyer’s shoes and adapt one’s internal operations to meet the specific needs of professional customers.

Rethink your business model

Upstream of the project, defining a clear business plan before creating a marketplace with an associated business model, cost items, and revenue projection is essential. The value proposition must be built on the company’s strengths, a balanced product and service offering, and knowledge of the value chain ecosystem, customers, and partners.

Implement new processes

Inventory and catalog management must be automated, and additional functionalities such as automatic invoicing or batch delivery management must be offered.

A B2B marketplace also facilitates access and rights management, which is important in B2B because the one who buys is not always the one who pays.

The site must be adapted to operate internationally, respecting local regulations and offering multilingual options.

Don’t overlook the robustness of your payment solution

Moving from the “controller” role to the “facilitator” is essential to choose the most suitable technology. The preferred payment solution must be secure, reliable, and modular while complying with current laws.

Indeed, B2B marketplaces are subject to several regulations and directives, including:

  • PSD2: obligation to develop strong authentication for card payments or transfers
  • KYC & KYB: procedure for collecting and analyzing the information necessary to know the customers and merchant partners
  • AML/CFT: Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Directive, requiring a register of beneficiaries
  • RGPD: General Data Protection Regulation obliges marketplaces to protect the personal data of their users.

It is also crucial to implement payment solutions adapted to B2B practices. Various payment functionalities are therefore required, including:

  • deferred payment,
  • credit insurance,
  • dynamic prices,
  • quantity discounts,
  • multi-user rights management,
  • free shipping,
  • additional costs and
  • international payment methods.

As a pan-European payment processor, Lemonway offers a payment solution adapted to online sales platforms, with more than 400 B2B marketplaces already customers. Ask our experts for advice to maximize the success of your B2B marketplace project: contact us!