Now Entering the Summer of B2B Marketplaces

Sara Matasci - March 18, 2020

In 2017, Roland Berger declared in The Spring of B2B Marketplaces, “The development of B2B marketplaces is seeing clear positive momentum as many market players are launching or plan to launch new ventures… a revolutionary wave of disruptive technology has arrived that will have an impact across all products and industries.”

The evidence shows that the marketplace model, previously limited to online retail, has now arrived in the B2B sector, with manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and group purchasing organizations adopting it.

The Summer of B2B Marketplaces, a joint report by Roland Berger, Mirakl and Webhelp, dives deep into this new phase of B2B marketplaces.

B2B marketplaces are growing fast – but not fast enough


The growing trend of digitization in commerce, and the normalization of the B2C marketplace experience, are driving significant growth in B2B marketplaces across the globe.

Roland Berger reports: “In 2013, B2B marketplaces represented $5.8 trillion in gross merchandise value (GMV) worldwide. Today, this market has more than doubled and represents $12.2 trillion GMV.”

Even with this rapid growth, consumers are still finding a gap between what they want and what they’re getting from B2B providers, and they’re seeking alternatives: 50% of B2B buyers and users report that they prefer making work-related purchases on B2C websites, suggesting that providers of goods & services for businesses aren’t responding quickly enough to their buyers’ demands.

Exploring the next phase of marketplaces for B2Bs

Global B2B marketplace GMV growth comes on a wave of next-generation marketplaces offering new and better experiences – and becoming more efficient:

New marketplaces are springing up across industries with complexity in width (scope of product offering, integration of services) and depth (increase in price range offering, granularity of SKUs available). The objective, for now, is not only to increase sales and provide a new user experience to purchasers, but also to decrease the cost to serve.

The trend is evident across industries, each with its own set of competitive factors:

1. The closer an industry is to B2C standards, the more attractive it is for disruptors to enter with a marketplace solution.

For industries like office supplies, where business buyers are already purchasing through B2C platforms, digital natives like Amazon Business are an ever-increasing threat. Incumbents are developing marketplace strategies that build on their existing brand assets, helping them deliver on their customers’ expectations.

2. Regulations can be a challenge – and an opportunity

Strategic sectors like aerospace and defense are faced with the same pressures from their buyers as other B2B industries. However, in these more heavily regulated industries, a tight legislative framework makes it very hard for digital natives to make an entrance, creating an opportunity for incumbents who know how to navigate it.

3. Trust and brand are critical assets

In industries where products have to meet high safety and quality standards, customers aren’t interested in purchasing from unknown third-party platforms. Their hesitance leaves the path clear for incumbents to develop marketplace strategies that offer a better experience for their customers, and one that’s closer to what their customers are looking for.

Discover the evolution of the marketplace model for B2Bs

There’s much more to read in The Summer of B2B Marketplaces, a joint project of Roland Berger, Mirakl, and Webhelp. Download the report to discover:

  • Analysis of marketplace maturity by industry and region

  • Strategies for incumbents to resist encroachment by digital natives

  • Recommendations and marketplace best practices

Sara Matasci,
Director, Corporate Marketing at Mirakl

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