As 2020 comes to a close, there are two certainties regarding the future of B2B marketplaces. One certainty is that marketplaces of all kinds—including commercial platforms run by Amazon.com Inc., eBay Inc. and Alibaba Group, and highly specialized industry-specific marketplaces and other platforms that digitally link together business buyers and sellers—emerged this year as a mainstream digital commerce sales channel and growth driver.
The other certainty is that the speed at which B2B marketplaces are growing sales volumes and proliferating is in large measure driven by the sea change COVID-19 continues to have on business-to-business ecommerce, according to data and analysis in the third part of a three-part series, “The 2020 B2B Marketplace Report Series,” recently published by Digital Commerce 360 B2B.
Amazon Business and specialized marketplaces
Even before the global coronavirus began disrupting and shutting down major segments of the $22.0 trillion U.S. economy, B2B marketplaces were making an even bigger mark on B2B ecommerce and emerging as a major growth driver of digital sales.
In 2019, Amazon Business posted gross merchandise sales of $16.0 billion, an increase of 60% from gross merchandise volume of $10.0 billion in 2018, according to projections from RBC Capital Markets and well-known RBC internet analyst Mark Mahaney. Amazon Business also ended 2019 on track to emerge as the nation’s biggest industrial distributor with more than 56 million products and 415,000 sellers, estimates Applico Inc., a B2B marketplace technology services and integration company.
Dozens of new vertical marketplaces linking together industry buyers and sellers also began sprouting up or expanding operations, such as in chemicals where the list of growing marketplaces includes CheMondis, OneTwoChem, GoBuyChem, Asellion, Covestro Select and Knowde, among others. “The chemical industry has been lagging,” says Paul do Forno, managing director, Deloitte Digital. “But there has been a wave of rethinking about new ways to gain efficiencies, and one area where that’s taking place is the development for specialized marketplaces.”
A tipping point in 2019
2019 was a true tipping point for the growth of B2B marketplaces, says ecommerce analysts. “They are reaching a point of maturation,” do Forno says.
That maturation will gain even more momentum as third-party commercial marketplaces such as Amazon Business, eBay and Alibaba sign up more business buyers and sellers, and vertical industry marketplaces do the same, according to part three of The 2020 B2B Marketplace Report Series
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