The internet is fantastic for many things, with communication being high up on the list. Over the past decade hundreds of B2B marketplaces have sprung up, offering businesses the opportunity to communicate quickly, cheaply and at their own leisure. Today, there is a marketplace or b2b trading directory for almost every industry out there.The beauty of these sites is that companies no longer have to search through vast paper copies should they find themselves in a situation where they require a new service or product.This is particularly useful for SMEs, who may not have the established connections of a larger company.
In addition, companies benefit from being listed within these marketplaces or directories on a number of fronts. Firstly, their name and brand suddenly become accessible to thousands of new potential clients and customers. In addition, many marketplaces actually evaluate and vet the companies listed and trading within them. This assures clients of the quality of those companies, promoting trust and confidence in new clients. The reverse is also true. Companies can do business with another listed on a b2b trading directory or marketplace with the confidence that they won’t be ripped off or let down.
There is more to b2b marketplaces than being a directory, however. The best are dedicated to promoting, developing and sustaining relationships between companies in a safe and profitable manner. Software is developed and managed that facilitates trade as well as places companies relevant companies in touch with one another.
SMEs typically make up the bulk of companies operating within b2b marketplaces, in line with the fact that they make up over 98% of the UK’s total businesses. Moreover, larger companies typically view marketplaces neutrally, often resisting the transition from offline to online relationship management. Many larger companies would also sooner set up their own marketplace, which can be controlled in house, ahead of joining an existing one.
The reluctance of larger firms to join marketplaces partly explains their slow take up by many firms. Despite their obvious advantages, their popularity only really began to take off around eighteen months ago. Since then, however, more and more have popped up and today essentially every industry is covered.
Finally, over the past eighteen months there has been a shift in the mentality of many b2b marketplace operators and several marketplaces have changed and adapted dramatically. The days of huge, public marketplaces are limited as many become private and far more specialized. The main reason for this is that the larger marketplaces were incredibly difficult to manage and often, companies were put off the sheer amount of businesses irrelevant to their own industries.