The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic may have been credited with causing a sudden increase in the ranks and roles of B2B marketplaces around the world - but the reality is that they were already growing in popularity and reach before the health crisis arrived.
Way before pandemic-related travel restrictions prevented companies from exhibiting at or
visiting trade fairs, entrepreneurs and established companies alike were recognising an
opportunity to replicate the B2C marketplace experience provided by the likes to Alibaba, Tmall or Amazon in a business-to-business context. They sought to provide somewhere companies could source supplies - or in the case of retailers, stock - from the comfort of their office.
After all, the same professionals - often millennials - with responsibility for sourcing goods at work are consumers after hours, part of a generation increasingly heading online to buy stuff for personal use. Why not offer them the same convenience in business as at home?
According to Mirakl, the global market for B2B marketplaces is now worth US$12.2 trillion in gross merchandise value (GMV) - more than double its worth in 2013. With Covid-19 actively forcing more businesses to source online - in the absence of other channels due to social-distancing requirements in so many international markets - B2B marketplace is expected to grow at its fastest rate ever this year.
Australian B2B marketplace startup TradeSquare is one example, founded by entrepreneur
Einat Sukenik and backed up by a syndicate of investors, along with the BNPL finance company Zip and with Australia's largest marketplace integrator, Omnivore.
“Our team understands that it’s an uncertain time right now, and being local and supporting Australian businesses is crucial,” explains Sukenik. “The power of our community is our mission - the platform is just an enabler.”
Like TradeSquare, Asian B2B marketplace Saladplate was in planning before the full impact of Covid-19 became apparent in the first quarter of this year. Founded by Informa plc, a
multinational trade show and exhibition company, Saladplate was created to link vendors from around the world with buyers across Asia from the hotel, restaurant and catering industry, a means to business matchmaking between trade shows using the convenience of an online platform.
Dave Chan, founder at Saladplate.com, and VP – digital business & advanced analytics at
Informa Markets, believes Saladplate will become the new norm for businesses to connect even after the pandemic has gone. “Our customers are recognising the benefits of a highly
cost-effective trading platform which is accessible 24-seven and on which people can securely discuss trade via mail, chat or even real-time video calling.”
Beyond the obvious convenience of being able to browse products online at any time of the day from anywhere, marketplaces resolve many traditional pain points for businesses sourcing goods. In the case of TradeSquare, buyers can purchase items from any of the 100-plus vendors already on the platform with a single onboarding and account setup process rather than having to contact and agree trading terms with multiple suppliers. They can order from multiple categories and vendors in a single transaction.
And finally, they know they are ordering from a local Australian company, and while the
products may not have been made locally, they are shipped locally, without the uncertainty of delivery delays, customs inspections or duties to pay.