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How to Start a B2B Marketplace With Ease?

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Gartner predicts that by 2025, most of the B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will take place through digital channels, with an estimated 80% of interactions occurring in this manner. The Asian-Pacific region, which controls around 75% of the combined market share, has a significant presence in many of these markets.

If you are considering entering the B2B eCommerce industry but are unsure of how to create a marketplace, read on. You will receive pragmatic and impartial knowledge on the B2B eCommerce landscape, which will enable you to establish a lucrative and thriving B2B eCommerce marketplace with ease.

What is B2B eCommerce?

B2B eCommerce refers to the buying and selling of goods and services between businesses through online channels, such as websites, online marketplaces, or other digital platforms. In a B2B eCommerce transaction, the buyer is typically a company or organization that purchases goods or services from another business or supplier, rather than from a retailer or consumer-oriented website.

B2B eCommerce may involve large-volume transactions, complex negotiations, and a wide range of products and services, from raw materials and industrial equipment to software solutions and professional services.

Trends in the B2B eCommerce Landscape

The B2B marketplace domain appears to have a promising future ahead. To build a profitable B2B marketplace, consider the following trends in B2B eCommerce:

  • The target audience is shifting: In the past, baby boomers and Gen X were the primary B2B customers. However, there has been a gradual shift toward millennials in recent times.
  • Digital marketing strategies are prevalent: Traditional marketing methods such as cold calling and trade shows have been replaced by digital marketing tactics. Augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are examples of tools that are commonly employed.
  • New payment options are emerging: While cheques, terms, and purchase orders are the primary payment options, mobile wallets such as Amazon Pay and Apple Pay have gained popularity. Third-party financing is also on the rise.
  • Customer personalization is crucial: Recent data suggests that 50% of customers believe that improved personalization is a vital feature for B2B platforms. As a result, brands are utilizing AI, customer data, and machine learning to personalize the user experience.
  • Business buyers are consumers, too: As B2C marketplaces continue to gain popularity, it’s not surprising that 70% of business buyers are looking for “Amazon-like” experiences when purchasing goods from vendors to meet their business needs.
  • COVID-19 spurred significant changes: With lockdowns and quarantines in place, McKinsey & Company analysts report that 90% of B2B sales have shifted towards video conferencing, phone, and web-based processes. The majority of B2B buyers have found these new methods to be equally or more effective than the traditional pre-pandemic approaches.

Some Inspiring B2B eCommerce Marketplaces

If you want to build a B2B marketplace and ensure its success, you need to learn from the best players in the industry and see how you can improve it to convince your clients to sell on your platform. 

Amazon Business Inc, which was established in 1995 as an online bookstore, has been a trailblazer in B2C eCommerce and has expanded into various industries, including entertainment and IT development. It has become a globally recognized brand that has inspired other businesses to achieve greater success. Amazon Business, a B2B eCommerce platform based on analytics, has also been established.

Amazon Business serves numerous industries worldwide and currently has over 5 million business customers.


Alibaba is a highly valued Chinese eCommerce marketplace that encompasses B2C, C2C, and B2B operations. It has become a prominent driving force behind the country’s internal and external B2B trading. One of its most significant benefits is the platform’s ability to enable B2B businesses of all sizes to establish a storefront quickly, with no need for coding or design skills and minimal investment.

Moreover, the platform provides access to over 13 million international B2B buyers, offers business tips for various industries and markets, and has a mobile app that keeps decision-makers informed about their business.

Read how to build a marketplace like Alibaba.

Global Sources

Since 1971, Global Sources has been serving buyers and suppliers both online and offline as a B2B multichannel media company based in Hong Kong. The company’s primary function is to facilitate trade between suppliers and buyers through trade shows, online marketplaces, the Chief Executive China management magazine, apps, and other virtual products.

In addition, Global Sources is the majority shareholder in Shenzhen International Machinery Manufacturing Industry Exhibition and its related shows, which are the primary machinery exhibitions in Southern China.

Building a B2B eCommerce Marketplace

There are several B2B websites on the Internet. To stand out and offer something unique, business owners need to build a one-of-a-kind and fully functional eCommerce marketplace. The below-mentioned information is a full-proof guide to building a B2B eCommerce website.

Conduct Marketplace Research

As the B2B eCommerce industry expands, so does the competition for a piece of the pie. Therefore, it is essential to conduct thorough market research to determine if starting a business is a worthwhile endeavor. When designing a marketplace, it is critical to consider two distinct audiences: vendors and buyers, especially if the marketplace will span across various industries.

Speaking directly to potential B2B vendors and buyers can provide valuable insights into crucial marketplace features. Additionally, analyzing your competitors can assist you in various ways. If you have multiple competitors, you can learn a lot by comparing their strengths and weaknesses.

Determine Goals & Objectives

Establishing business objectives is critical for launching a B2B marketplace and boosting revenue. The triumph of top-performing B2B multivendor marketplaces hinges on these objectives. Furthermore, setting objectives aids in identifying what you desire from your B2B marketplace, allowing you to devise strategies for achieving these objectives. Objective and Key Results (OKR) tools may be used to define your B2B marketplace website’s objectives.

Choose the Type of Marketplace

There are several different types of B2B marketplace, including:

  • Vertical B2B marketplace: Industry-specific
  • Horizontal B2B marketplace: Across industries
  • Many-to-many B2B marketplace: Businesses trade with one another, and the marketplace simply charges a fee for each trade.
  • One-to-many B2B marketplace: Run by third parties who control all bids, like auctions

Each option has its own pros and cons, and while it may be possible to make changes in the future, selecting the appropriate one is crucial for your initial progress.

Decide on the Revenue Streams

To create a successful B2B marketplace website, it’s important to carefully choose the appropriate business model(s) that align with your goals. Among the common models for starting a B2B platform are

  • Commission-based
  • Subscription-based
  • Advertisement-driven
  • Listing fee-based

Many operators find that implementing a combination of multiple revenue models, such as a freemium model that primarily relies on commission fees but also includes tiered subscriptions for premium users, is the most effective way to create value. Similarly, an operator may introduce features like featured listings or vendor listing fees only after establishing a sufficiently large and loyal user base that is receptive to such offerings.

Pick the Right Features

Having the right set of features is essential for a B2B eCommerce marketplace. The following set of features is recommended for an eCommerce marketplace.

  • User-friendly features
  • Multiple payment options
  • Robust search functionality
  • Secure transactions
  • Product catalog management
  • Customer management
  • Analytics & reporting
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Customer support

Building the Website

Building a B2B marketplace is a significant undertaking that demands extensive input from programmers, project managers, and other experts. To commence the project, it is advisable to collaborate with a specialized marketplace development team or agency. Alternatively, you may opt for B2B eCommerce software that is customizable to suit your needs, ranging from branded to white-label solutions.

It is generally more practical to begin with an existing B2B marketplace solution than to construct a new platform from scratch, which can consume resources and take longer to become operational. By starting with a B2B eCommerce software, you can incrementally grow your marketplace while acquiring valuable expertise.

Maintain & Grow the Website

When creating B2B marketplaces, it is important to adopt a “work in progress” approach. As technology and user expectations continue to evolve, there is always room for enhancement on any platform. For instance, user experience (UX) can be refined with the aid of data and feedback from users.

Even seemingly minor elements of your marketplace, such as calls to action (CTAs) and search display results, can be experimented with and adjusted over time to optimize the browsing and purchasing experience.

Closing Thoughts

The B2B market is expanding, with a substantial portion of that growth taking place in B-commerce and B2B marketplaces. For individuals contemplating the launch of a B2B marketplace, examining B2C marketplaces is a useful initial step. Nonetheless, B2B platforms come with distinct obstacles, such as payment, financing, shipping, and other aspects.

A thriving B2B Ecommerce Software, however, can provide significant advantages in terms of revenue and brand recognition.


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