B2B e-commerce is a gold mine for opportunities nowadays. It is still growing, so you have all the chances to disrupt the industry by creating an online marketplace for the niche you work in.
In this article, we unveil best practices on developing your own custom B2B wholesale marketplace. You will learn about its concept, types, essential features, and monetization models.
What is B2B wholesale marketplace
B2B wholesale marketplace serves as a platform, that connects wholesale suppliers with bulk buyers in different industries. Its main idea is to automate selling and buying in B2B field, improve customer experience, and make the whole process easy and transparent.
It still has a lot of space for improvement, especially when it comes to managing the process and keeping all the important information in one place.
Giuseppe Lanni, director of business development at B2B ecommerce provider Sana Commerce, said: “A lot of B2Bs have portals out there. The majority of them are just very old, very antiquated.”
B2B companies need to rethink the way they connect with customers and broaden the number of promotional channels. B2B e-commerce platforms remain one of the most effective channels for buyers and suppliers, where they can grow their revenue.
Let’s review the main types of B2B marketplace platforms out there.
Types of B2B wholesale platforms
Such platforms are managed by the companies that look for various products or services.They allow buyers compare prices, offers, and choose companies that meet their preferences.
These platforms are managed by suppliers, who want to extend their marketing channels and reach a wider audience.
Marketplaces, managed by a third party, that acts as a mediator between buyers and suppliers.
Platforms, that focus on one particular industry, often at a local level.
This type of B2B platforms connects businesses from different industries and geographical areas.
How to build your custom B2B marketplace platform
One of the reasons of B2B startups failure is a not clearly defined value proposition. To establish long-term relationships with your customers, your platform should provide functionality that brings value to their business.
Here are the main features you can include in your wholesale marketplace platform to hit the mark.
Basic features you need for B2B wholesale platform
- Detailed product description
Make this section explicit. A description should include product specifications, availability information, shipping options, and ability to upload HD video and images. Look at this great example of product description in B2B e-commerce website for tractor brands. It showcases not only a brief description but also key features, models, versions, virtual 360 view and video.
The product page should include as many details as possible to remove any obstacles in a decision-making process.
- Advanced filtering
Narrow the search results on your marketplace with convenient filter navigation. Add the functionality to filter products by keywords, size, color, type, and compare them with other options. Based on the user behavior, you can also include search suggestions, auto-suggest, and related search.
A great example of convenient filtering is Blake - e-commerce website for selling envelopes. Just look how many options you have to find the exact product you need.
Usually, online platforms in B2B industry contain a lot of different product catalogs, so make sure they are easy to find.
- Product catalogs
Give suppliers an option to upload catalogs where they can showcase their products with the opportunity to order them right from the catalog. Depending on the customer segment, you can include multiple catalog views. For example, you can add fields, where users select the budget, industry, and browse results related to their specific needs.
Usually, the buyers in B2B industry are very picky and spend a lot of time before making a decision. By incorporating e-catalogs you give your users an interactive and visual way to learn about your products.
For example, Nover, wholesale website in the furniture industry, offers additional brochures that include online catalogs with a detailed product description.
Add interactive features to the catalogs such as popups, animations, videos, and forms for lead generation. One more nice idea is to enable inviting prospects to the product catalog and providing them with custom-made product showcases.
- Automated invoice processing
By integrating an automated invoice processing software into your B2B marketplace you give suppliers a chance to quickly process product invoices and fetch necessary data.
- Listings traffic reports
B2B wholesale suppliers need analytics tools that will help them to monitor and measure their success. Incorporate real-time report feature into your online B2B marketplace. It gives suppliers the opportunity to see traffic to their listings, number of times their products have been viewed, number of unique visitors, and most popular listings.
- Personalized recommendations
If your B2B platform contains a lot of products, it may be difficult for users to discover those that suit them best. That’s where recommendation algorithms come to help. Personalized product recommendations will help you deliver best experiences for each of customer segment.
- Personalized prices
In most cases, pricing in B2B industry significantly differs from B2C one. If your platform deals with businesses of different sizes and needs, customize your prices to different segments by including price calculators or showing sample prices for a set of typical orders.
According to Gartner report, B2B sellers that incorporate personalization will boost their revenue up to 15%.
Most of the B2B websites ignore this point and don’t provide or personalize prices on their websites. In this case, your platform lacks transparency and trust, so users will more likely go to your competitors.
- Real-time order reports
Give B2B suppliers an access to advanced and detailed order analytics. With real-time order reports, your users can run sales summaries in real time by using templates or creating custom reports. For example, Joor - wholesale fashion marketplace - offers advanced order reports, where brands can analyze their performance and track sales metrics.
Include the functionality that allows to track information about active, pending or cancelled orders and view order details to analyze and forecast sales.
- Integrations with inventory management systems
Integration with inventory management software will help you to create omni-channel experience, customize customer purchases, manage all the operations remotely, and track important analytics.
Profitable and sustainable business model for B2B marketplace platform
Think about creating a solid business model for each group of your customers. Here are some strategies on how you can do it for your B2B marketplace.
- Find what problem to solve
One of the challenges B2B e-commerce industry faces nowadays is a lack of personalized customer service. I have found an amazing quote in the Digital river report about the personalization and customer experience in B2B field.
The point here is to create a platform that will remove any boundaries between the suppliers and buyers, provide them with efficient communication channels and analytics tools.
- Segment your audience
In comparison with B2C industry, B2B organizations lag behind when it comes to personalizing their services and treating each customer as an individual.
Segmentation - this is a magic word that can make your strategy more targeted and customized.
When you carefully choose a different approach to each group of customers, they will reward you with loyalty. Segment your audience and create a strong value proposition for each group. Here is how you can do this:
- By company size
B2B companies need to personalize their approach to customers and include offers for different-size businesses (from small companies to big enterprises). Help your users find products and offers that suit their needs and budget.
- By buying behavior
You can personalize your offers by analyzing the customer behavior on your platform, such as time spent on site, last purchased items, items viewed or items in shopping cart or average spendings.
- By pricing
By customizing your price for different customers and their buying preferences, you will increase the number of revenue channels and get more opportunities to boost profit.
You can segment the audience by order volume, stock levels, location and shipping tariffs. When the product pricing adapts to the customer conditions, it creates more trust and transparency in the buying process.
Based on this data, you can provide them with personalized product recommendations, catalogues, and offers.
- Сome up with different revenue channels
Usually business model includes two types of revenue channels: revenue from one-time deals and revenue from periodic payments. To choose what type of revenue suits your business best, try to answer the following questions:
- What are your clients ready to pay for?
- How do they pay now?
- How would they like to pay?
- What profit do you receive from these payments?
- Can you increase this profit?
Let’s review the most widely used revenue generation activities for B2B industry:
- Transaction fee
This model is very popular as it can be used in any industry. It involves a charge of a commission from the transactions on your platform. Don’t make this fee very high in the beginning. Show the value of your platform first and ensure suppliers and bulk buyers that they will get revenue from it.
- Subscription fee
This revenue depends on the period during which clients use your service. The longer the period, the higher is the fee. You may offer different types of subscription based on the number of products users can list on your B2B platform or a number of features they can use.
- Revenue from advertisement
Another way to generate revenue is to take a fee from advertising companies that register on your website. This monetization strategy should be used only when your marketplace has gained a traction and a large base of users.
- Revenue from value-added services
Let’s review the main value-added elements you can incorporate on your B2B marketplace:
- Services that generate benefits for buyers and suppliers
- Access to premium features
- More delivery and shipment options (land, sea, air shipping)
- Warehousing services
I hope that after reading this article you have gained some insights about building B2B wholesale marketplace. What really matters here is to focus on your users, make continuous research and saturate your platform with usefulness. Have something to add? Leave a comment below and let us know what do you think:)Business growth