5 min read

B2B Marketplaces as a Supplement to Your Own Online Store?

02.11.2021

B2B marketplace

Driven by the convenient, media-interruption-free B2C buying experience, B2B buyers' demands are also growing. According to a German survey conducted by Sapio Research on behalf of Sana Commerce, B2B purchasing decision-makers buy an average of 75% of products online. Already during the purchasing process, almost 50% of B2B buyers use the Internet to gather information or search for solutions and suppliers. Around 1/3 of the buyers surveyed prefer companies that support online purchasing. In addition to their own online store, companies from the B2B sector are increasingly relying on online marketplaces.

According to a study by the consulting firm Ecom Consulting and the software house Gominga, the number of online marketplaces in the DACH region has more than doubled since 2015. The B2C sector still dominates here, but the B2B sector is also recording significant growth. There are already over 40 B2B marketplaces in the DACH region - and the trend is rising. The best-known providers include Amazon Business and Mercateo.

But what is the success factor of B2B marketplaces and what should companies that are considering using these platforms pay attention to?

What is an online marketplace?

An online marketplace is a virtual platform that brings together demand and supply and enables transactions between buyers and sellers. In contrast to a company's own online store, several vendors offer their products on an online marketplace, i.e. they compete with each other. This opens up a wide range of products from different manufacturers to buyers. The platform operators can be generalists or specialized in one sector or area. Hybrid platforms sell products from other manufacturers as well as their own. So-called pure players act merely as intermediaries. The aim of online marketplace operators is to create the most effective market conditions possible for the exchange of goods and services.

Why are there more and more B2B marketplaces?

There are various reasons for the rapid growth of B2B marketplaces. For one thing, ecommerce-savvy employees are moving into decision-making positions. They are used to using B2C marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay from their private lives and are increasingly demanding this in the B2B sector as well. On the other hand, technology is developing in such a way that open architectures make it easier to exchange product data and price information than was previously the case.

Last but not least, there are more and more manufacturers or established retailers of products who are setting up their own online marketplaces and using this as a strategic tool to further expand their strong market position. They add complementary products to their own range or tie suppliers more closely to their own company. This serves as a defense strategy against pure players that could potentially become dangerous. One example of this is Würth's German Wucato Marketplace.

What are the advantages of using B2B marketplaces?

By using B2B online marketplaces, manufacturers of products can:

  • increase their reach
  • tap into new target groups, as they create another point of contact for new customers and markets
  • increase their sales by using marketplaces that score high on customer acceptance and traffic
  • achieve synergy effects if they use the same data structures for marketplaces that they have already prepared for their own online store

 

Buyers benefit by using B2B marketplaces from:

  • a large assortment and a good market overview
  • a high level of price transparency
  • the opportunity to get to know new suppliers
  • a mostly convenient and reliable platform, if it is professionally operated and has good performance and stability

Is entering a B2B marketplace worthwhile for companies from the manufacturing industry?

This question cannot be answered in a blanket manner, as it depends very much on the specific circumstances and the company's own market position. Companies considering using a B2B marketplace should not view this sales channel in isolation, but as part of a comprehensive e-commerce strategy. Manufacturers who are still little known and whose market presence is not yet very strong can benefit from the reach of an industry-specific online marketplace. However, competitors may also be present in that marketplace. In contrast, companies that have already established a strong market position may find it worthwhile to set up their own B2B online store, as they can maximize their sales here. For these companies, it may not be an EITHER-OR strategy that pays off, but an AND strategy.

Sell spare parts via online shop

In order to evaluate a possible entry into a B2B marketplace, it is advisable to survey your own customers with regard to their research and purchasing behavior. Selling your products via a marketplace can also be tested with a limited product range.

 

To find a suitable marketplace, you should consider the following factors:

  • reach of the platform
  • awareness and popularity of the platform among your target audience
  • flexibility of the platform
  • cost of use

Service is still one of the main success factors in the B2B sector

Compared to the B2C environment, where price is often the decisive purchasing criterion, service continues to play a decisive role in the B2B sector. B2B customers want solution providers to know their needs and pain points and meet them with the right product and excellent service. Whether this can best be achieved via a B2B marketplace, a dedicated online store, via both channels, or even via direct sales alone depends heavily on the market and products in question.

Generally speaking, the more complex the products and the more configuration options there are, the more difficult it will be to identify and use the right marketplaces. However, since this e-commerce channel will become even more important in the coming years and will be increasingly expected by customers, companies should take a critical look at this topic.

Whether you want to run your own online store or use a B2B marketplace:

you need product data for both

...and preferably centralized in one system, with all relevant information on prices, availabilities, descriptions, images, etc. Our new all-in-one service information system Quanos SIS.one supports you in this. It provides everything you need as a manufacturer and operator of machinery and equipment to digitalize and optimize your after-sales service. With Quanos SIS.one, you bring together all relevant service information on your machines and plants from the source systems, link them and make them available to users via a user-friendly interface or via connection to other systems.

Learn more now

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