Just as in e-commerce, where you choose a sneaker on-line and the store delivers it to you, in a B2B marketplace companies view offers from other companies, compare the quality of products, consider the best conditions and choose the best price.
Fully business-to-business oriented, a B2B marketplace is an on-line environment that typically resides in a digital platform – which is designed to promote business in a smart way, and meet the supply and purchase needs of a company.
The platform of a B2B marketplace acts as an intermediate step between service providers and prospects. Via the Internet, the buyer can find all kinds of products and services directed to his business, and even compare prices and products in real time.
In times of crisis, marketplaces create an enterprise ecosystem, in which companies, competitors, customers and other stakeholders compose a relevant business network. The key idea of using state-of-the-art technology – such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, BI and machine learning – in the B2B universe, is to bring a community concept to the corporate world. For such purpose, more volume and knowledge about business partners are needed, which translates into compliance, transparency and auditability for companies.
Summing up, a B2B marketplace is a virtual trading environment, focused on the exchange of value between buyers and suppliers and the creation of new sales channels.
What are the benefits of being part of a B2B marketplace?
In these on-line markets, users access the inventory of their suppliers electronically, whether through the company or home computer, or even a smartphone. The number of available products is usually much greater than that of a store, and the information about those products and services is offered in real time.
For those who buy, the B2B marketplace allows finding new suppliers, divided into categories and classified by means of evaluation and approval processes – with the guarantee of having easy-to-interpret transactional indicators, and with relevant data about suppliers. Another benefit is that buyers can know, in advance, if a vendor operates in certain regions.
For suppliers, the B2B marketplace is a kind of showcase, which increases their chances of closing good deals. For this to happen, the suppliers must only keep the data of their register – like registration date, check status with prescription, keywords and last access – always updated. In this way, they can keep high level indicators, which will provide them have more prominence in the ranking of suppliers.
Why be part of a business-specific marketplace?
First, a marketplace brings together a different type of public. Second, because most B2C (business-to-consumer) vendors don’t usually sell to businesses. And then because marketplaces have specific materials for companies, industry machinery and large-sized services, in addition to office supplies. Another important factor is price, which tends to be much more attractive in a B2B marketplace, since different volumes and quantities are traded there.
What distinguishing points should a good B2B marketplace platform have?
Any marketplace must have a significant volume of customers and daily accesses, to ensure that there will be always buyers looking for suppliers to participate in their processes. The financial amount transacted annually, as well as the volume of quotations and orders, must be also taken into account, along with the years of experience of the company. The usability of the platform must be also evaluated.
In this case, ask for a demonstration that can introduce the solution to your own company, to find out how it can meet your real needs. Consider also platform flexibility – that is, if it can display results quickly –, and robustness for the confidentiality of your important data. This will avoid future troubles.
How to manage customer expectations in a B2B marketplace?
Another point assured by an electronic platform is the possibility of creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Negotiated to create a common understanding for services, priorities and responsibilities, the SLA isn’t always part of a procurement process.
It’s still seen by certain professionals only as a way to avoid complaints or a quick fix for troublesome buyer-supplier relationships. In fact, according to HubSpot data, companies that establish SLAs are three times more effective. Although being an obligation of every business with the internal customer, few companies actually control their SLAs.
The step to define the agreement with what is indispensable for the company can be also facilitated by an electronic platform. In addition to metrics of saving, other service level goals, contractual deadlines, and well-established engagement terms, lead time can be also defined in the SLA agreement.