B2B marketplace Strategy

Setting up a B2B Marketplace can be a long process but has the reward value of a significant long-term investment. While B2C marketplaces like eBay or Airbnb connect businesses with the clients, B2B, on the other hand, has the potential to make suppliers and vendors better at what they do.

B2B makes business procedures run faster and more efficiently. For example, IIAA (The International Institute for Anti-Aging) bet on a B2B deal with Amazon Business and thanks to that, they upgraded their shipping practices and gained an invaluable milestone in the delivery business—“next day” delivery. Despite there is no shortage of success stories, B2B is only getting momentum and eventually will present better opportunities for various enterprises.

B2B vs. B2C

Roughly put, the main difference between B2C and B2B is that, in the later model, financial transactions happen more often and for more considerable sums of money. In B2C, companies rely on credit card payments and other customer-favourite payment methods like PayPal. In contrast, transactions in B2B happen between businesses, and often they are realized via bank transfer.

While B2C marketplaces try to save money for customers and increase revenue for sellers, B2B has an approach more concentrated toward maintaining an honest partnership. B2C relies on ongoing purchasing history to make predictions about product restock rate, while most B2B transactions are fixed sums exchanged on a regular basis.

A B2B marketplace calls for an immense investment in time and resources, but the goal justifies all the effort put into it. After all, when thriving, a B2B marketplace represents an invaluable exchange system where cumbersome operations can become part of a smooth and routine process, leading to improved business value and opportunities for growth.

The intense nature of interaction within B2B calls for a close examination of how these processes can be optimized, the type of improvements already seen in some B2C models, their smooth flow honed for decades before becoming the smooth journey that it represents today. In that regard, B2B is still a bit inefficient compared to B2C but is quickly getting there.

When it comes to optimizing relationships within a B2B marketplace properly, there’s still much to be done. Therefore, we think this is the right time for companies to explore opportunities in this domain. One straightforward option when developing a B2B marketing strategy is solving some of the antiquated processes that many businesses adhere to when dealing with their partners and suppliers. It also helps identify and solve existing productivity gaps.

Example: USA B2B Landscape
Example: USA B2B Landscape

Building a B2B Marketplace

A complete B2B Marketplace strategy guide is long and comprehensive — below, we tried to summarize the process into three major steps. We begin by probing the environment and evaluating the need for a B2B solution. We carefully pick our testers, and we meticulously examine how the platform works immediately after release, looking for signs of ongoing external changes affecting the internal mechanics.

Sometimes businesses within the B2B network change due to market demand, and this change is frequently translated into the marketplace.

1

Allocation and Assessment

A B2B Marketplace Strategy starts with a careful examination of the current working environment and all present business needs. Decades-old businesses still employ obsolete means to help them run their processes. They practice something that used to work great in the past but can pose some serious problems as new tech gets widely adopted. For example, not all internal company data must be digitalized. Universal data management is essential to any progressive changes into any system and for making informed decisions when expanding.

Before setting the base environment for the marketplace, a thorough preliminary assessment is due. This process includes all technical aspects, as well as the opinions of all stakeholders. Vendors and suppliers must enter this new system with equalized approaches to internal communication.

When a marketplace for B2B is built, usually, in the beginning, it becomes evident the massive difference between the level of technological resources each management has. Some are more future-oriented and have already invested in new platforms and functionalities; others still rely heavily on legacy systems and tools and are too conservative to inflict a change. How to unite all these entities under a common denominator? In B2B, this is always a significant challenge.

One of the biggest problems when shaping the marketplace strategy is the proper assignment of roles within the marketplace ecosystem. For example, specific individuals are responsible for making orders, but not before other members explicitly approve them. A carefully hatched role assignment is necessary for optimizing workload and having a clear picture of how responsibilities are distributed around the workforce.

2

Prototype & Testing

The B2B marketplace is not like an average mobile app where once the product is released, there are little drastic changes during its post-live development. All the updates and upgrades are meant to fine-tune what previously wasn’t perfected. In the B2B Marketplace, everything changes like a time-lapse of clouds over a mountain range. There are too many variables involved, and everyone is also on a constant mission to adjust, improve, and adapt.

A prototype reveals important insights about the changes happening within the marketplace and how participants react. Unless the marketplace is thrown into the hands of those who directly benefit from it, there is no way of knowing its efficacy. One great perk that comes with a marketplace prototype is that it quickly shows the functionalities that work and those that don’t.

One of the most significant challenges with the prototype is making people use it. It sounds simple to invite business representatives to download and use a new app. However, this is mission impossible when you consider that not only the app is not in its final form, but these businessmen already have years of experience working with other platforms and tools. Humans are creatures of habits and entering a marketplace for B2B indeed symbolizes sacrificing a tradition in exchange for a brand new — but relatively unfamiliar—tool and promises for growth and process smoothness.

Typically, even the best B2B marketplace prototype itself won’t be attractive enough for the actual users. Therefore, you need to take it up a notch – get certified testers to hop on the test environment and harvest their opinions and conclusions. Once the test team has done their job, your prototype will not only be a much better version of itself, but you can also prepare it for a re-release into a wider audience.

The early adopters of the marketplace prototype should be a subset of the most tech-savvy of the stakeholders. It is better to exclude everyone without an intrinsic urge to participate. Beta testing is a challenging and sometimes unrewarding experience, and, therefore, it is best put into the hands of experts. The best-case scenario is hiring someone who matches a client’s profile and has a technical background. Beta test requirements for testers are strict — forming a reliable test crew is not an easy jog. It’s maybe a good idea to create a reward system for all beta testers with a contribution. Incentives can be indispensable when it comes to phases like prototype testing and QA.

3

Launch & Analysis

The launch period of B2B marketplace takes longer than any regular app. Even if deployment time is quick, it may take time for businesses to adapt to it thoroughly and, consequently, break old work practices patterns. It is important to note here that even though B2B seems like a program that aims to bring 100% digitalization, that is certainly not the case. Web forms and automated transactions may work for minor jobs or easy bulk operations, but some big orders will go through a person.

When it comes to transferring an immense amount of money, people don’t want to fully trust a machine without verbally finalizing it with a human being. Another way the B2B marketplace changes the way sales agents approaches their job is the level of automatization. If, for example, in some eCommerce solutions, most transactions go directly through the internal system. This conveniently frees up more time for the company, so they can invest it something, like looking for new clients.

Considering the capacity held by any marketplace meant for business-to-business relations, there must be constant maintenance and revision of how all processes work. Heavy data flow creates bottlenecks — these must always be checked for by continuously monitoring all internal jazz.

Considering the volume and value that B2B Marketplace has, each occurring issue can quickly escalate into a severe problem. Therefore, a watchful eye must always be on the look-out. Moreover, and all changes that happen in the global market will have some effect on the marketplace. Within a B2B environment, many factors are changing constantly. Monitoring them frequently not only reveals problems that are about to occur but also optimal paths for Marketplace advancement.

Conclusion

Once set up and running, it takes some time for the B2B marketplace to pick up speed. However, once in proper gear and set course, it reinvigorates business operations and relations. B2B markets are substantially beneficial to businesses with lots of distributors or suppliers. For example, a global car part manufacturer or an international wholesale company is a great candidate for participating in a B2B marketplace.

B2B unifies vendors and partners and even helps them mutually decide how to improve the process they are all part of. The creators of B2B marketplaces are usually industry leaders who understand the power behind such tools, and when the market is ready for them to initiate them.

CodeCoda creates marketplaces for B2C and B2B clients. Effective use of tools and the appropriate tech-knowhow in both verticals come as an asset to building the next generation of effective B2B solutions.

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Author

Andreas Maier | CEO

Andreas is a result-oriented CEO who brings nearly 30 years of experience gained in the high-tech industry. His experience ranges up to leading positions in Fortune 100 companies such as rentalcars.com (PCLN) or Intrasoft International, a leading EU based R&D software vendor. He holds a Ph.D. in Neural Networks from the University of Cologne, Germany.
In the past Andreas has successfully founded and co-founded several startups among others XXL Cloud Inc., eShopLeasing Ltd, and WDS Consulting SA. His expertise is strongly focused on modern headless Commerce and the optimization of processes in IT ecosystems.