How 2020 Became the Year of B2B Marketplaces

Sara Matasci - May 19, 2020

Even before stay-at-home orders and remote work disrupted business as usual, all signs pointed to the continued growth of B2B online marketplaces. From 2013 to 2019, these marketplaces, operated by manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and group purchasing organizations, more than doubled from $5.8 trillion to $12.2 trillion gross merchandise value (GMV) worldwide.

2020 is shaping up to be an even bigger year than we could have anticipated. Forrester Research predicts that hundreds of new B2B marketplaces will launch in 2020, in industries as diverse as chemical, construction, electronics and aerospace. They’re driven by buyers seeking out B2C-like buying experiences, and buyers in need of speedy transactions as the supply chain struggles to meet demand for any time of the year.

While this growth is being accelerated by the current state of the economy, it has been years in the making. Roland Berger takes a wide-angle approach to this changing B2B eCommerce landscape in The Summer of B2B Marketplaces, highlighting the industries with the biggest opportunities for disruption and offering strategies for incumbents to fight off the digital natives entering their markets. 

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Spotlight on: B2B marketplace platforms for aftermarket sales

Aftermarket sales offer a clear example of the B2B marketplace opportunity. Consider automotive spare parts. Roland Berger calls it “fertile ground for the operation of B2B marketplaces,” because marketplaces:

  • Can more effectively meet the needs of the “long tail business,” i.e., a very large and complex range of parts and services, than a traditional model

  • Can respond to the diverse needs of various customers – managers of B2B fleets and B2C customers, new cars and old cars

  • Accommodate a large diversity of offers from the different players in the space – producers, wholesalers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and independent aftermarket manufacturers (IAMs)

We can see parallels in many industries, with aftermarket marketplaces launching not just in automotive, but also in aviation, transportation, and other machinery like forklifts.

However, it’s not only the incumbents who are recognizing the marketplace opportunity. Amazon is quickly making moves into B2B distribution, with investments in MRO, automotive, and other verticals. It’s proving to be a formidable competitor: new analysis projects that, if current trends continue, Amazon could become the number-one industrial distributor in the U.S. in the next 3 years.

This is an example of what Roland Berger calls the “barbarians”: digital natives attacking at the gates, disrupting the market for longstanding industry leaders. But those incumbents have advantages that companies like Amazon don’t, like their technical mastery, strong relationships with existing customers, and trusted third-party status.

The best bet to withstand these assaults is to develop and refine a B2B marketplace strategy that leverages these assets – before the barbarians can break through the gates. In 2020’s digital-first economy, there’s no time to waste.

Hear it from the experts in next week’s webinar

Next week, Roland Berger joins Mirakl and Webhelp Payment Services for a webinar that dives deep into the findings and analysis from The Summer of B2B Marketplaces. Register today and join us to discover how to envision and implement the best B2B marketplace strategy (or strategies) for your business. <a href=""><img src=""></a>

Sara Matasci,
Director, Corporate Marketing at Mirakl

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