B2B marketplaces are more popular than ever and showing no signs of slowing. According to recent research by Digital Commerce 360, collective sales on B2B marketplaces grew 130% year over year in 2021 to $56 billion, making them the fastest growing segment in B2B ecommerce.

To discuss how B2B companies can leverage marketplaces to meet B2B buyers where and when they shop, Digital Commerce 360 spoke with Bradley Hearn, product marketing manager at Rithum.

Why are marketplaces so important to B2B companies now?

Marketplaces are an optimal channel option for both consumers and sellers. B2B buyers increasingly believe that making purchases for work should be just as easy as making purchases for themselves. So they’re turning to marketplaces for the optimised, secure, friction-free consumer experience they’re used to.

What is driving this growth?

Evolving consumer behaviour. B2B buyers are purchasing more like B2C consumers, which means the path to discovery and purchase is becoming more diverse. In the past, a buyer just called their sales rep or logged into a proprietary portal. Now they can search Google, browse Amazon, look on manufacturer sites, or search in specialty marketplaces. While some larger marketplaces focus on B2B, such as Amazon Business, there are more B2B sites opening up their own marketplaces to expand selection and offer complementary products and services.

What typical challenges do B2B companies face when implementing marketplace initiatives?

First, taking a holistic approach to your marketplace efforts. In the early days of marketplaces and channel management, it was all about connections, product data, inventory quantities, and orders. But simple channel  management isn’t enough for brands that want to stand out. Sellers must have centralized strategies for repricing, product data optimization and syndication, advertising, analytics, and connections to fulfilment and shipping partners. 

Thinking holistically about your marketplace strategy also leads to a more basic challenge: deciding the best marketplaces for your products. It’s easy to say that you want to list on 50 marketplaces, but each comes at a cost — whether it’s warehouse fees, advertising costs, shipping products to a new country, and many other considerations.

What strategies or technologies will help them overcome these challenges?

Successful companies provide great experiences for today’s consumers. That means consistent product content across all channels, an easy purchase process, and shipping options that meet their expectations.

A centralised, multichannel commerce platform helps you expand more efficiently by connecting to new sales channels, managing product content and data feeds, advertising, and managing inventory and orders. And it should include analytics that highlight performance, enable action and provide insight into the competitive landscape.

Rithum’s platform connects brands and retailers to hundreds of channels including marketplaces, retailers, web stores, advertising and social sites, and fulfilment partners. It provides the capabilities necessary to effectively merchandise products, advertise, manage orders, keep an eye on the competition, and optimize results through sophisticated analytics and automation. This makes it easier for sellers to experiment and remain agile in their e-commerce efforts. 

Read more about B2B marketplaces in Digital Commerce 360’s new report, B2B Marketplaces: Growth and Trends