The B2B ecommerce industry has had a love/hate relationship with marketplaces over the last 20 years.
From late 1999 through 2001, B2B marketplaces went looking for love from B2B buyers and sellers. The resulting affair was short.
The idea was sound: Bring together diverse groups of buyers and sellers in a particular industry or market, and give them the online platform to do business en masse with each other.
But the technology was inadequate to nonexistent, buyers and sellers on a wide scale were not interested, and competitive differences kept industry marketplace coalitions from working successfully together.
Fast forward to 2022, and B2B buyers and sellers are in love once more with marketplaces. And the feeling from marketplace operators is mutual.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forever changed how buyers want to do business with ecommerce sellers. A younger and more online-oriented business buyer is primarily a digital-first customer. And where this rapidly growing audience wants to do business is online — and on marketplaces.
They are now the fastest-growing channel in B2B ecommerce, based on a market projection from Digital Commerce 360.
Consider these B2B marketplace facts:
- Three years ago, Digital Commerce 360 was following about 75 to 100 B2B marketplaces. Today, the B2B Marketplace 400 research report has metrics and analysis on 400 commercial and vertical of them spread across 18 industries.
- Sales on these marketplaces shot up 131% to $56.5 billion in 2021. And they are projected to increase at a similar pace to $130 billion in 2022, according to data in the B2B Marketplace 400 research report.
“Companies that were pre-digital before COVID-19 are getting more digital now,” says Tyler Ellison, CEO of ChemDirect. ChemDirect is a three-year-old marketplace. It links buyers and sellers of chemical products in a dozen industries ranging from automotive, paint and coatings to health care to building/construction, printing/packaging, and agriculture. “Millennials and Generation Z employees are moving into procurement management roles, and they are not checking their Amazon-like expectations at the door. They want the same user experience on the job they are accustomed to at home.”
No longer is the movement an on-again, off-again relationship. This time, the relationship among buyers, sellers and marketplaces is long-term and serious, and the chief reason B2B marketplaces are now a mainstream digital commerce business channel.
The B2B Marketplace 400 report describes in detailed data and analysis how the future of marketplaces is blossoming.
Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week. It covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact Mark Brohan, senior vice president of B2B and Market Research, at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @markbrohan.
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