Five ways an online marketplace management platform helps with B2B eCommerce

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the rapid rise of marketplaces – both Amazon and Alibaba demonstrated double-digit growth.

They did this by levering their resources and quickly filling the gap during demand spikes. As the economy rebounds, B2Bs see marketplaces as a powerful weapon that will help them replicate that success.

Today’s B2B buyers are seeking the same experiences when making work-related purchases as they do on B2C websites. Business customers are looking for trustworthy business partners, but they’re also drawn to the greater selection, lower prices, and convenience offered by marketplaces. Marketplaces can also improve sales rep productivity and streamline the sales process.

Having said that, marketplaces are complicated. Launching a B2B marketplace isn’t the same as launching an eCommerce website. However, the effort and cost required don’t have to be – provided you select the right marketplace management platform.

In this article, we’re going to explore some of the reasons to create your B2B marketplace and what features will help you grow a successful destination in your industry or niche.

1) Improved partner and customer relationships

Unlike an online store where you build a relationship with a customer, an online marketplace helps you build relationships with vendors as well. As both suppliers and purchasers of the product are involved in your marketplace, it becomes a conduit for value-filled relationships, growing your community (and business) at a faster rate.

Here’s where a marketplace platform with strong personalization features comes into the picture. It gives vendors control of their branding, listings, order management and fulfillment. Buyers can see products, prices, and payment options specific to them. 

2) Productivity and streamlined operations

Unlike a regular eCommerce store, a B2B marketplace has more moving parts. Coordinating supplier inventory and relaying correct information to the storefront can get complicated. The right marketplace management system will make it easy for suppliers to control their inventory, manage warehouses, while also giving the marketplace operator a bird’s eye view of seller performance.

Your marketplace automation features will play a significant role in streamlining your operations too. Look for the ability to calculate prices and taxes in real-time. Automating the request for quote, approval, and checkout experience reduces friction and gets buyers to purchase more.

3) Faster growth and bigger profits

Marketplace operators don’t have to worry about keeping inventory or managing fulfillment, which removes barriers to faster growth. Most marketplaces also charge vendors transaction fees, so more transactions mean more profitability. Depending on their industry and suppliers, marketplaces can choose from numerous monetization options, modifying them over time as their needs change.

Dealing with bigger transaction, buyer, and supplier volumes can be challenging, so make sure your system can accommodate millions of SKUs and a large number of buyers and sellers. Websites should be reliable, load quickly, and be easily accessible.

4) Capture valuable opportunities

Even though giants like Amazon Business can seem threatening, incumbents and niche players can still take advantage of many opportunities. For example, it may be difficult for Amazon to navigate highly regulated industries like finance, healthcare, or aerospace.

Many B2B eCommerce industries are still in their infancy, but disruption doesn’t wait – customers will readily use product, service, or booking marketplaces to address problems they didn’t know they had.

Taking advantage of today’s exciting marketplace opportunities requires a flexible marketplace platform – one that works around your complex business and supplier requirements. Business buyers have stringent requirements of their own, from corporate structures, to account management needs.

Education is key to figuring out where your marketplace fits in the existing ecosystem, and what needs you can meet. The road to understanding account management in business starts with your marketplace and its capabilities. What’s more, you can leverage these capabilities to build your brand and grow awareness of the products or services you offer.

5) Reduce risks, cost, and time to market

The MVP, or a minimum viable product, is essential to effective product/market fit – especially if you are launching a marketplace in a new industry. An MVP allows you to build the bare minimum functionalities; This helps to evaluate the overall effectiveness of your idea quickly with minimal cost investment.

A platform that supports using an MVP approach allows you to test out your hypothesis, give you valuable feedback, and get you to market faster. You could even pivot and pursue a new idea based on your MVP’s results. This flexibility is key to finding the ideal sweet spot to maximize the success of your marketplace for your business, your vendors, and customers.

Sellers and buyers need an optimal environment to perform transactions

B2B businesses have been slow to make progress in launching eCommerce sites and marketplaces, where value has long been demonstrated in the B2C sector.

That’s because, unlike B2C sales, the B2B sales process is much more complex. This invites more opportunities for errors, whether it’s writing out RFQs, receiving approvals, or managing large orders with hundreds of line items. One thing is for certain: sellers and buyers need an optimal environment to perform transactions. The experience has to be secure, convenient, and cost-effective for all involved.

B2B marketplaces cater to countless industries and niches, offering tremendous value to businesses. Marketplace platforms enable marketplace operators to realize their goals while helping vendors reach larger audiences. And the buyer gets a more extensive selection, lower prices, and a convenient buying experience.