Opportunities and Risks for B2B Marketplaces as a result of Digitalization

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the purchasing behavior of B2B customers and driven digitization. Payments in B2B marketplaces are booming and will continue to grow in the coming years. So what opportunities lie ahead and what stumbling blocks should businesses be mindful of?

While B2C customers are able to buy virtually anything online via platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba, B2B customers have comparatively been somewhat neglected in the past. This is despite the fact that B2B markets are many times larger than B2C markets. What’s more, B2B companies in wholesale and logistics, for example, still largely operate offline and process orders and payments by email, fax, and paper invoice.

B2B Marketplaces on the Rise

This tide is changing, though, and will continue to gain momentum in the coming years, not least because expectations have changed – it’s paramount that B2B e-commerce catches up with the standards in the B2C space. Several studies have sought to explore this trend, such as the survey conducted by ibi research in cooperation with Creditreform, eCube, and Spryker.

B2B marketplaces have been on the rise worldwide for several years now, a development that’s now accelerating. The trend is particularly dynamic in Asia, but the number of marketplaces is also growing in Europe and the USA, even if they are not yet as mature as in the B2C space.

Through lockdowns and social distancing, the coronavirus pandemic has bolstered the marketplace boom across the board, as B2B customers turned to e-commerce to sustain their operations out of necessity.

Even though B2B marketplaces are still in their infancy, the direction of travel is clear: B2B marketplaces are here to stay. We’re on the cusp of a B2B payments revolution in which financial processes are increasingly digitized, and marketplaces will play a significant role.

This brings with it a number of opportunities, but also risks.

What are the advantages of B2B Marketplaces?

In principle, a B2B marketplace is nothing more than an online platform that brings B2B sellers and buyers together, enabling them to conduct transactions.

Rather than a seller running their own online store, marketplaces feature numerous sellers promoting both the products they sell as well as where they sell them. From the point of view of the marketplace operator, it’s important to offer merchants and customers outstanding usability so the platform can comprehensively scale over time. In the best case scenario, this momentum generates enough free, organic traffic to make it sustainable in the long run.

Sellers on B2B Marketplaces benefit from:

  • Greater reach
  • Expanded target groups, given that marketplaces represent a new point of contact for customers and markets
  • Increased sales as a result of higher traffic and conversion rates 

Buyers on B2B Marketplaces benefit from a:

  • Large assortment that offers a clear overview of the market
  • High level of price transparency
  • Simple, reliable, professionally-operated platform

For businesses struggling with supply shortages, B2B marketplaces can also help solve supply chain issues and maintain continuity. By giving business customers access to a wide range of suppliers, they reduce their dependence on a smaller group of suppliers.

However, these benefits also come with some risks that B2B marketplace operators should be aware of.

Challenges and Risks

The complexity of B2B transactions is a major challenge for operators of B2B marketplaces, especially since the experience can’t be directly copied from B2C. It requires an understanding of all phases of the transaction flow and the processes behind them. Implementing the complex transaction process on a platform and perfecting the user interface requires sophisticated technology.

It’s therefore important that certain risk factors are properly addressed:

  • Seller risk. Incomplete, incorrect product information – as well as orders that aren’t delivered correctly or on time – can harm the B2B marketplace. To minimize seller risk, there needs to be clear guidelines and standards for all merchants. If customers have difficulties with a seller, they need to receive proper support.
  • Data risk. Online marketplaces store the personal data of thousands of customers which provide information about spending habits. While this information helps the marketplace sell more efficiently, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) dictates that it can only be used with the express consent of the customer and must be stored securely. If this information is leaked as a result of a data breach, it can irreparably tarnish the marketplace’s reputation.
  • Compliance risk. Anyone running a B2B marketplace – especially on a global scale – needs to be aware of any evolving local tax and banking regulations and how they may impact sales. Minimizing compliance risk requires the right tax expertise and software.
  • Default risk. The high average order values of B2B transactions represent a greater risk for marketplaces and require a reliable platform to control and manage the risk of default. The prerequisite for this is a technical infrastructure that can handle complex tasks including offering flexible payment terms, factoring, credit checks, and fraud prevention as part of the checkout process.

Two Demands that B2B Marketplaces Need to Fulfill

The success of B2B marketplaces depends largely on whether operators can succeed in fulfilling two key demands of sellers and buyers on their platform:

  1. Make the complexity of transactions invisible, therefore guaranteeing a simple shopping experience for the business customer and producing higher conversion rates for the seller. In the B2B space in particular, numerous elaborate operational processes run in the background of transactions and can burden a company’s resources. When done right, seamless payment processing can significantly boost the appeal of a B2B marketplace.
  1. Implement the preferred payment methods of buyers. In Germany, 95% of companies want invoice payment as an option when shopping online, but only 84% of B2B online shops offer at least one deferred payment option, according to ibi research. Just 45% offer deferred payment to all types of customers, both new and existing. This gap presents a huge opportunity for B2B marketplaces to innovate and be successful.

With this in mind, B2B marketplace operators can help make payments more convenient by offering Buy Now, Pay Later as an option. This requires a payment solution that is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of B2B e-commerce, easily integrate, and run automatically in the background of the online checkout. 

Buy Now, Pay Later from Mondu

This is where Mondu comes in. With Mondu’s Buy Now, Pay Later solution, B2B marketplaces can easily offer their customers invoice payment, the most popular payment method in the sector.

Mondu seamlessly integrates the credit check process – which is key for risk management – into the online checkout. This happens in a matter of seconds with just the customer’s name and address. Mondu pays the merchant in advance and collects the payment directly from the business customer; collection and dunning are also handled on behalf of the seller. As a result, Mondu completely covers the default risk.

The solution is flexible and customizable, allowing marketplaces to offer their customers the payment methods and terms that best suit them.

As a result, B2B marketplaces benefit from higher basket sizes and conversion rates. In the long run, Buy Now, Pay Later improves customer satisfaction and loyalty, while lowering acquisition costs.

Marketplace Operators: On your mark, get set, go!

If you want to start building a B2B marketplace, now is the time to do it. As more new B2B marketplaces emerge and fulfill particular niches, the more difficult it will be to attract high-quality suppliers and set your own marketplace apart. If you succeed in launching a state-of-the-art B2B marketplace before your competitors and avoid the stumbling blocks mentioned above, you’ll be well-positioned for the future.

Do you have questions about this topic or want to know how Mondu can support your marketplace or business? We’re here for you – you can contact us here.

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