A business-to-business (B2B) marketplace is a place where products and services are sold to businesses and not directly to consumers or individual clients.
According to e-commerce Platforms (2018), B2B e-commerce sales are expected to exceed business-to-consumer (B2C) sales by 2020. In fact, Forrester forecasted that by 2023, B2B e-commerce in the U.S. alone will grow to $1.8 trillion from $1.2 trillion in 2020.
This guide will show you the different advantages and disadvantages of selling on B2B marketplaces.
We will also provide you with a list of 20 B2B marketplaces in China, India, Indonesia, and Europe, and mention tips on how you can select your B2B e-commerce platform.
Moreover, you will be presented with information about several best practices that can aid you in boosting your sales on B2B marketplaces.
Pros and Cons of Selling on B2B Marketplaces
Before starting to sell on B2B marketplace, it is essential to know the different advantages and disadvantages of a B2B, as follows:
· Stable market
Unlike B2C, a B2B marketplace has more stability and predictability because your sales are not consumer-driven. Also, business clients can partner with you for a longer period than when you are selling directly to a consumer.
· Low start-up costs and easy to set up
Selling on a B2B marketplace saves you the headache of starting-up your own eCommerce platform and spend a considerable portion of your capital in designing and marketing your own platform.
A B2B marketplace has already established its own platform and has its own IT team and designers, not to mention their already existing clientele.
It is also easy to set-up an account on a B2B marketplace. You only need to sign-up and create a new account and upload your product information.
· Faster order fulfillment process
A B2B marketplace, with its advanced cloud-based e-Commerce platform, ensures a faster and automated order fulfillment process and may allow real-time inventory updates.
Most B2B marketplaces also have API integration system which can enable you to synchronize between several selling platforms.
· Potential for a wider audience
A B2B marketplace is streamlined with various websites and this advanced streamlining technology helps in reaching a wider audience. Moreover, it uses its high-quality online business content to engage with potential business customers.
Cons on Selling on B2B Marketplaces to Consider
· Limited Client Pool
Although B2B can utilize their quality content for their own marketing, their client pool is not as open as a B2C.
Additionally, it is difficult and lengthy to find new business clients because B2B order values are larger so the deals can be tougher to secure.
· Less Flexibility
Selling on a B2B marketplace will compel you to follow their requirements and specifications on prices, product listing, and customizations which gives you less flexibility compared to having your products on your own platform.
· Inventory issues
Make sure that your B2B marketplace has real-time inventory updates or it will be difficult for you to track your product inventory.
The risk of poor inventory management is imminent in a B2B because every transaction may take a longer time to complete as opposed to a B2C.
Best B2B Marketplaces in China
In 2018, the revenue of B2B e-commerce in China amounted to $3.71 billion and has reached a 14.2% increase in transactions compared to 2017.
Meanwhile, in 2017, the export business comprised 77% transactions while B2B transacted almost 85%. This proves that the demand for B2B marketplaces in China is growing.
Here are five B2B marketplaces in China:
Alibaba is one of the B2B pioneers globally and was one of the top three leading B2B platforms in 2018. It was established in 1998 by Jack Ma and initially took off as a supplier for small-to-medium enterprises (SME) and wholesale retailers abroad.
It was only in 2013 when Alibaba’s B2B platform became profitable paving Alibaba’s diversification to B2C and P2P. Alibaba’s services include web platforms, electronic payment services, shopping search engines, and cloud computing opportunities.
2. Global Sources
Also a top-rated B2B platform, Global Sources has been an international trader in the B2B for over 40 years. It was founded in 1970 by Merle A. Hinrichs and has its main headquarters in Hongkong.
Its B2B platform was launched in 1996 and currently facilitates trade from mainland China to other parts of the world.
It provides several avenues such as their online website, print magazines, e-magazines, online trade show, and private events to find reliable suppliers and manufacturers.
3. Made in China
In 1998, Focus Technology Co., Ltd established Made in China which has been a reputable third-party B2B e-commerce platform ever since.
Made in China aims to offer effective online promotional marketing solutions to its customers. They also offer full review for their suppliers and provide product information for 27 categories and 3,600 sub-categories.
In 2018, Cogobuy was included in the top three leading B2B e-commerce platforms in China. It has two B2B marketplaces, Cogobuy.com and Ingdan.com.
Their hefty sales gains in 2018 were attributed to the demand of small-to-medium electronics manufacturers as its products are mainly computer and telecommunication hardware.
Almost 28% of its gross merchandise value is from its online B2B marketplace, while the rest of their sales are from their direct sales platform.
5. DIY Trade
DIY Trade is another Hongkong- based B2B marketplace with over 5 million products that provides online trading opportunities to mainland China and overseas.
It was established in 1998 under the name eBigChina.com and was later rebranded to DIY Trade in 2006. DIY Trade aims to empower small-to-medium (SME) enterprises to build their businesses by offering online trading opportunities.
DIY Trade services include product listing, product promotion, web-based customer service, and product alerts.
Best B2B Marketplaces in India
On the other hand, India is also anticipated to grow its B2B e-commerce market because of the exponential growth of e-commerce, in general, that is estimated to reach $120 billion with an annual rate of 50% by 2020.
With this, the B2B marketplaces in India are doubling compared to its B2C counterparts. Effective B2B category drivers in India are fashion and accessories, mobile accessories, healthcare, and consumer durables.
Some of India’s best B2B marketplaces are India Mart, Trade India, Exporters India, Jim Trade, and Webdeal India.
1. India Mart
Launched in 1996, India Mart is considered as one of India’s largest B2B online marketplaces which comprised 60% of B2B market share. It provides its online trading services to at least 1.5 million suppliers and 6.5 million buyers.
Its services include convenience and prompt communication services with the suppliers, payment protection program, automated payment, and improved business presence and visibility.
To date, Tradeindia has almost 45 million registered users and offers B2B trading solutions through its online directory services and trade events.
It provides a yellow page business listing of domestic and international retailers, wholesale suppliers, and service providers. It has more than 3,300 product categories and subcategories making it a leading B2B marketplace with the largest selection of products.
Tradeindia is operated by Infocom Network Ltd.
3. Exporters India
Exporters India, on the other hand, claims to be the “largest searchable B2B marketplace”. It was launched in 1997 and its online portal is currently owned and managed by Weblink.In Pvt Ltd which is a reputable leader in e-commerce web solutions.
It has suppliers from India, UAE, and the USA and its business directory are prominently consists of home supplies, agriculture, industrial machinery and accessories, tools and equipment, and construction materials.
4. Jim Trade
Jim Trade has a business directory of over 21 industry categories, 20,000 subcategories, and 500,000 manufacturers. It predominantly specializes in sourcing Indian products and provides e-commerce opportunities for domestic sellers.
Its services include supplier catalogs, product profiles, alert e-mails, group inquiry capacities, free marketing website, and access to market intelligence reports. Jim Trade assures of higher marketing visibility through its trade shows and private events.
- KHOJinINDIA integrated sourcing, marketing, and cataloging tools work together.
- Provide the right information at the right time, and in the right format.
- KHOJinINDIA.com allow users to browse 1,50,000+ suppliers and products information by 21 industry categories and 20000+ product sub-categories, ranging from Agriculture to Industrial Supplies.
- KHOJinINIDA is one of the largest online resources dedicated to small business. We have implemented a strategic and proactive approach that ensures our service delivery keeps pace with client requirements and growth at every step, without incurring any adverse impact on the customer experience or service levels. Our approach is predicated on continuous investment in people, processes and technology to guarantee a flexible business infrastructure and resource model that more than corresponds with clients’ growth expectations. Simply put, the key to our success is our people.
Best B2B Marketplaces in Europe
In 2018, e-commerce in Europe has made 602 billion euros and estimated revenue growth of almost 13%.
There is a wide variation of e-commerce performance among the European countries with Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, and Slovenia as the top 5 countries with the highest percentage of enterprises making e-sales.
Toggar was launched in 2014 and is considered as the first Euro-Arab B2B Marketplace for European and Middle East businesses. It is a communication platform that facilitates business exchange.
It gives business owners with quality e-commerce solutions and opportunities to find difficult products or suppliers. Also, no commission fees are charged to their members for every successful business transactions.
Bizeurope is a European-based business directory of international traders and suppliers of a wide array of products ranging from adhesives to wood. Its website features businesses in Europe, Americas, Asia, and others and publishes new company profiles.
They also free resource directory for business hotels, travel resources, offshore banking, venture capital, and business consultants.
Currently, Bloombiz serves more than 650,000 companies with 165,000 trade leads and more than 100,000 products. It is a member of the International B2B Network and TradeHolding.com.
It was founded in 2002 and has been helping member companies find and connect with local or international traders and suppliers.
Kompass is a reputable B2B marketplace based in France with more than 4 million international and local companies. It was launched in Switzerland and has been operating for more than 60 years.
It allows its members to promote their business activities and improve their market visibility and at the same time create a prospect trade list from their global directory.
Their direct marketing solutions provide personalized multi-channel direct marketing campaigns and services.
They have more than 20 million registered companies and 60 search criteria and can be considered as one of the most comprehensive B2B marketplaces in Europe.
B2B-Connect marketplace offers business solutions to European manufacturers, sellers, and service providers.
They offer a business listing directory where businesses can find products, materials, machinery, equipment, or trade leads. Moreover, they connect businesses with trade leads and offer solutions for international expansion.
They also provide business opportunities if their members wish to sell a business, offer a franchise, or find business partners. B2B-Connect is a one-stop shop for start-up businesses that are looking for potential business projects in Europe.
Best B2B Marketplaces in Indonesia
Indonesia also presents a proliferating environment conducive for e-Commerce for its more than 143.26 million internet users. The growth of the online market allows the inception of various B2B marketplaces, including Ralali and Bizzy.
Although B2B channels in Indonesia are less developed than China, India, or Europe, this presents a larger opportunity for other international B2B companies to infiltrate.
IndoTrading was founded in 2012 by Henry Chang which has more than 350,000 products and 50,000 registered companies.
It is one of Indonesia’s largest B2B directory for retailers, manufacturers, and sellers of electronic equipment, mechanical and automotive parts, heavy equipment, construction materials, and home and garden appliances.
Transactions are not conducted in its online platforms but quotes can be requested from the website.
A premium membership with IndoTrading enables you to utilize its marketing services such as SEO, Google AdWords, and free web hosting opportunities.
Indonesia-Product is another B2B marketplace that is based in Indonesia. Launched by the Indonesia Product Global Company, Indonesia-Product has more than 1,000 members.
It aims to help domestic manufacturers, wholesale companies, and small-to-medium enterprises and offer local Indonesian products such as furniture, garment, paper, food, handicraft, and other local products.
3. Tradeworld Asia
To date, Tradeworld Asia is an Asian B2B marketplace catering to 48 countries and more than 5,000, 000 buyers with their 1,200 product types.
Tradeworld Asia specializes in industrial and plant machines, electronics, construction and building, food and beverage, fashion and apparel, and others. For $20 per year, you can list your business in their comprehensive directory listing.
4. Global Business Guide
Global Business Guide is a business directory of finances, investments, and export opportunities for emerging markets.
Its main headquarters is based in Paris, France and caters to the Indonesian market with services on healthcare, telecommunications and ICT, tourism and retail, and transport and logistics.
One of the company’s main thrusts is to provide their partners and audience with accurate business information which used quality approaches such as video interviews and comprehensive market analysis reports.
Indonesia YP was started by a Lithuanian-based company, Global Business Directory Sole Proprietorship or GBD.
Currently, they have 562,585 registered companies classified into logistics, travel, construction, cleaning, IT, and construction. They have a global presence and has existing networks in more than 120 countries.
Their membership fees are $129 per year for a premium account and $299 for a lifetime account.
How to Choose Your B2B Marketplace
There are several guidelines in choosing your B2B marketplace. The main criteria is a marketplace that not only gives you market visibility but also offers you a vast selection of business solutions.
Your B2B e-commerce platform will be your customer service backbone so it is integral to choose a marketplace that will help your business grow.
· Ease of use and accessibility
The right e-commerce marketplace has a simple, user-friendly, and responsive processes. Your B2B marketplace should has ease of use and can be accessed from computers or from mobile and tablets.
· Self-service functioning
Self-service functioning provides added practicality on your customers’ experience. Some B2B marketplace does not allow direct purchases and necessitates an inquiry email with their customer service.
Your customers also need to easily find all practical information about your products including prices, shipping information, and quote approvals.
· Customized price options
Your B2B platform should also be able to provide customized pricing based on your customers’ purchase history or past orders. It can also help you save time when your marketplace allows you to list different prices to different customers’ needs or requisites.
· Payment Methods
The B2B platform should also be capable to deliver payment options tailored to businesses such as bulk orders, partial payment, etc.
Best Practices to Boost Sales on B2B Marketplace
Selling in a B2B marketplace can be increased by adopting several best practices. Here are a few tips to consider:
1. Seamless and hassle-less customers’ experience
Successful B2B selling is highly dependent on your customers’ experience. There are many ways of ensuring that your customers will have a hassle-less and seamless experience in your platform.
Customers are likely to purchase again from a marketplace that gives them the best experience. Before your clients buy from you, they will need responsive customer services to provide for their needs and demands.
They may request comprehensive information about your business, your processes, and the product you are selling.
2. Accurate product description
Unlike B2C, business clients have more stringent requirements in purchasing. They will be very reliant on any product information they can have to make it detailed and accurate to avoid lengthy and unnecessary inquiries.
Also, take note that one business transaction can be completed in weeks so comprehensive product information can save you both time and effort.
A detailed description consists of product description, available sizes, available quantities, color options, and lifestyle images. Write product descriptions in a simple yet natural language of your target customers.
You can also utilize a Product Information Management applications which can help you make and configure product descriptions. This software includes AgilityPIM, Pimcore, Salsify, Product 360, among others.
3. Smooth site navigation
Smooth site navigation also contributes to good customers’ experience. Better product description can help in creating easier online site navigation.
With the use of comprehensive descriptions, you can build your filter or menu lists. Sifting through hundreds of companies or products can be overwhelming to your customers, and this deters them from transacting with you.
Comprehensive listings can be simplified with organized categories, drop-down or filtering options which are often found in popular e-commerce websites.
Moreover, good site navigation has easy check-out properties where your customers should be able to check-out easily. Of note, cart abandonment contributes to loss of online sales.
An easy check-out involves transparent pricing and shipping costs, different payment options, remembering payment information, and short and simple payment steps.
4. Personalized customer options
Finally, a customized and personalized customer option can be considered as the most important factor for your customers’ experience.
You can ensure personalization through product recommendations based on previous purchases or viewing history, marketing based on your customers’ needs and interests, and discounts or coupons based on your customers’ previous purchases.