In many aspects, COVID-19 is driving the growth of B2B marketplaces, ecommerce analysts say. And the change in more business buyer behavior that’s accelerating the use of more B2B marketplace activity as a result of the coronavirus is likely to be permanent.
“Growing buyer preference for B2B marketplaces is due to better experience on those marketplaces,” says Joe Cicman, a senior analyst covering ecommerce at Forrester Research Inc.“Why the switch in the first place? COVID-induced urgency combined with stock-outs from their traditional suppliers.”
A July 2020 survey of about 85 business buyers by Digital Commerce 360 B2B found that 89% of purchasing managers were buying at least the same amount or significantly more on B2B marketplaces as a result of circumstances brought about by COVID-19. 57% were spending even more on marketplace ecommerce sites, including 22% significantly more.
“Manufacturers (and resellers, to some extent) have been experimenting with selling through marketplace digital channels for some time now,” Cicman says. “Brands are increasingly doing assortment expansion via third-party sellers—COVID-19 accelerated this trend because of the demand disruption it caused.”
Much of the activity in marketplace growth in the year of the coronavirus is being driven by Amazon Business, 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 is set to top $31 billion in revenue and $52 billion in gross merchandise volume by 2023, including sales by third-party sellers as well as by Amazon itself on the marketplace, says Mark Mahaney, a well-known internet analyst at RBC Capital Markets.
But other analysts also contend that an increase in the number of industry-specific marketplaces that link B2B sellers with buyers with unique needs will also drive more marketplace activity.
Today, there are more than 100 different B2B marketplaces serving various industries—and more on the way. For example, Applico is now tracking nearly 56 newly launched vertical B2B markets in markets including:
- Food service: 18
- Industrial products: 11
- Healthcare: 11
- Automotive parts: 8
- Agriculture: 3
“In some industries like agriculture, the market is more mature, marketplace consolidation has already taken place, and there are two dominant players– Indigo Ag and Farmers Business Network,” Applico principal Nicholas Johnson says in a recent blog posting. “Auto parts also has a few clear leaders—in other verticals, the leading marketplace positions are still very much up for grabs.”
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