As discussed in the previous article, B2B marketplaces, where companies source from suppliers on a single platform, are growing at high speed. While generalist portals such as Amazon Business or Alibaba are particularly well known due to their exposure to the wider public, specialised marketplaces, devoted to a specific sector of activity, offer many benefits and are arguably the most relevant solution for industrial ecosystems.
The development of industrial marketplaces is a natural evolution from consumer marketplaces, as operators and suppliers wish to offer their clients and prospects the same fingertip simplicity when buying professional goods as they enjoy in their personal lives. This natural reflex is even inborn in the Millennial generation whose members makes up an estimated 46% of professional buyers (another figure indicates that more than 70% of 20-35 year olds are involved in purchasing decisions in their workplace). Firms taking the initiative of launching their own marketplace therefore show themselves to be in phase with this business digitalisation movement.
And it’s easy to understand why customers and suppliers have every reason to turn to industrial marketplaces dedicated to their activity.
On the customer side, buyers obtain access to a broad choice of qualified suppliers. This access to a wider range will enhance product availability and help avoid any bottlenecks in the business cycle. Secondly, most industrial marketplaces arrange for the client to receive their parts directly from the supplier with a specified timeframe. The careful selection of suppliers by the marketplace operator is the client’s guarantee of quality parts, delivered on time. And finally, the whole process saves time for the client, no longer obliged to launch a lengthy supplier search and tendering process, but instead having an online catalogue close at hand and simplified digital processes. The B2B marketplace also makes allowances for business processes such as procurement and management software or invoicing imperatives. Many internal enterprise management systems can plug into online marketplaces so as to comply with buyers’ internal requirements and standards.
Suppliers, meanwhile, gain access though a specialist marketplace to a wider and generally unexplored market, often on a global scale. This is particularly advantageous for smaller firms who do not have the resources to create their own e-shop or promote themselves extensively. Being part of a marketplace will help them make themselves better known among the major suppliers in their speciality. As mentioned above, they also have a direct line to the clients shopping through the platform and can thus build loyalty through their quality and service.
A widely-adopted tool
With industry buyers increasingly warm to the convenience and choice offered by marketplaces, leading industry names have also launched their own platforms. Alongside Station One, launched by Alstom in September 2018, mobility professionals can also turn to MoBase by Siemens. The German corporation also operates marketplaces in industrial IoT and healthcare. Other sectors have their marketplaces too, with the examples in aerospace of Airbus Helicopters and Thales (IVEN), and in energy of SUEZ (Organix) or BeeWe, the collaborative platform implemented by ENGIE to develop the circular economy within the Group with the sharing of available spare parts between entities. These initiatives are evidence of a growing trend in procurement digitalisation and the reactivity and foresight of the firms who have chosen to launch a marketplace with a single goal: managing complexity and delivering simplicity.