The rise of the B2B ecommerce marketplace
Currencies Direct May 22nd 2017 - 3 minute read
It’s worth around US$1 trillion and is growing fast, but many online sellers are still unaware of B2B ecommerce and the opportunities its marketplaces offer to small businesses. While the benefits of B2C ecommerce platforms are well known, SMEs have been slow in harnessing the same levels of automation and market penetration for business-to-business use.
To get you up to date, here’s a quick overview of B2B ecommerce marketplaces and how they can be used to connect to new customers, better manage sales and drive growth for online sellers.
Origin of B2B ecommerce marketplaces
B2B ecommerce marketplaces have had a somewhat unsteady journey over the years, with the dot-com bubble briefly throwing the sector off course. However, major players now have well-established platforms for business-to-business interaction, and there’s no longer a question over whether this is a viable way to operate.
It has been prevalent in China for much longer, with internet giant Alibaba catering to a huge range of industries. Airlines can even use it to buy planes – one seller currently has 7 Boeing 737’s in stock at $61 million each. In 2014 wholesale accounted for US$1 billion (11%) of Alibaba’s annual revenue.
Meanwhile, in the US, Amazon probed the lucrative B2B wholesale market with its beta launch of AmazonSupply in 2012. Two years later, its 17 categories were carrying more than 2.2 million products, with the platform offering everything from tools and janitorial supplies to multipacks of drink.
In 2015, AmazonSupply was subsumed into AmazonBusiness, a platform that launched with hundreds of millions of products already available after consulting with customers spanning from multi-billion-dollar corporations to churches.
Advantages of B2B ecommerce marketplaces
Using a B2B ecommerce marketplace offers many advantages to online sellers. The most obvious benefit is that it connects you to new customers and takes some of the marketing effort out of your hands, meaning you can focus more on fulfilling orders and spend less time on generating them. Your cost of sales can be significantly reduced, increasing your profit margin and allowing you to invest more in growth.
A greater level of analytical data helps you analyse your spending patterns and stock, making it easier to manage your resources and forecast stock requirements and cash flow.
Automation also assists in the day-to-day running of your business, allowing you to improve the efficiency of each aspect of your supply chain, decrease time between order and fulfilment and more accurately set prices.
Using established marketplaces as an easy route to new markets
Platforms such as AmazonBusiness and the French CdiscountPro give you an easy route into new markets thanks to the power of recognised brand names and the comprehensive tools they offer to help you get started.
AmazonBusiness provides online sellers looking to target other businesses with specialist tools to help them win new customers by perfectly matching their needs. You’ll get access to business pricing and quantity discount options, the ability to make your offerings more attractive by uploading additional content such as user guides or CAD drawings, make offers available for business customers only and earn credentials for quality or diversity to help give your business more authority and legitimacy.
Meanwhile, French-language CdiscountPro gives you access to one of France’s largest eCommerce platforms, with France being the EU’s third-largest eCommerce market. It is actively seeking to recruit international sellers, so you’re sure to find a great service. Because it is still a growing platform, you’ll find less competition than on Amazon France’s professional eCommerce marketplace.
How to start selling on AmazonBusiness
Registering for an account with AmazonBusiness is quick and simple. It takes a few minutes to get up and running on Seller Central and you’ll need to choose your selling plan; if you intend to sell more than 40 items per month, you’ll want the Professional plan, which costs US$39.99 per month. Meanwhile, if you intend to sell fewer than 40 items each month, the Individual plan costs nothing in subscription fees; Amazon instead takes a fee of $0.99 per item sold.
Both plans have access to over 20 product categories, but another 10 or so are only available to sellers on the Professional package.
Once you’re registered and have selected your plan, using the marketplace is a simple four-step process. Simply list your items, sell them, ship them and receive payments direct from Amazon at regular intervals.
Should you be exploring your B2B ecommerce options?
B2B marketplaces give you access to the benefits of ecommerce, with the added bonus of a pre-existing customer base. Leading platforms offer a range of tools to help online sellers better connect with new customers, fulfil orders and streamline their supply chain.
If you aren’t currently using a B2B ecommerce platform, start using one now to boost your business.