B2B eCommerce SME Growth: Connecting To Marketplaces
The B2B eCommerce sector has always been a robustly developing business field, but the global pandemic gave it an even greater boost. With the post-COVID world relying heavily on the remote mode in many spheres, B2B eCommerce companies are expected to manifest a spectacular CAGR of 19.7% within the next eight years, propelling the industry to a dizzying $20.9 trillion market size by 2027. Such mouth-watering numbers encourage the owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to join the bonanza hunt, hoping to carve for themselves a fair share of this huge revenue pie.
What Is B2B eCommerce SME?
How moderate should the organization’s size be to qualify as an SME eCommerce venture? There are two basic parameters determining this status – personnel headcount and turnover. A B2B eCommerce venture is considered small if under 50 people work at it or its turnover doesn’t exceed €10 million. A medium-sized company has all these figures multiplied by five (under 250 staff or under €50 million turnover). Sometimes, they speak of micro-enterprises that employ not more than ten people or whose turnover doesn’t go above €2 million.
According to such criteria, more than 95% of enterprises in the USA and EU today fall into this category, aspiring to cross the set threshold and grow into a big-time venture.
B2B eCommerce SME Examples That Hit It Big
It may be an eye-opener for you, but many current behemoths in the realm kicked off as SMB eCommerce issues, expanding over time to become pace-setters for others to follow.
It was launched in 2000 on a micro-level by Sebastian Wieser and his four colleagues, whose ambition was to create a transparent system of centralized SME purchasing in Germany. Today, this B2B e-platform has developed into an international enterprise with over 700 employees hailing from 15 countries on its payroll. Leveraging its Spotmarket, Procurement Portal, and Financial Services solutions, Mercateo brings European eCommerce B2B companies together for the mutual benefit of sellers and buyers.
Having been started by two cousins as a family endeavor in 1999, this company was nothing more than a website directory serving consumers in the capital region of India. Now it is the largest B2B eCommerce platform claiming a 60% market share of the classified online space in the entire country with 83 million products and services on offer. Connecting over 7 million suppliers and almost 150 million buyers of all sizes (from individuals to large businesses), IndiaMART lives up to its motto “make doing business easy,” providing numerous benefits to sellers who register there.
Inaugurated in the same year by two dozen people, this enterprise was initially meant to enable small and medium-sized Chinese businesses to sell globally. Almost a quarter of a century later, the site Alibaba.com owned by the company, is an ecosystem serving an international audience from more than 190 countries. Its original eCommerce focus has expanded to include cloud computing, innovation, and digital entertainment industries, turning it into an unquestionable leader among the B2B marketplace websites.
How B2B eCommerce SMEs Usually Work
The sector of B2B eCommerce deals with transactions between manufacturers and wholesalers or wholesalers and retailers, so SMEs in this domain may have a different audience to home in on.
Supplier-oriented organizations thrive in niches where numerous suppliers offer their products or services to a limited number of consumers. Such ventures incentivize suppliers to join their directories to be available to the maximum buyer circle. Buyer-oriented companies operate best in the opposite market conditions, where there is an excess of demand over supply, so manufacturers can accept bids from sellers. Intermediary-oriented B2B ventures act as a third-party venue that matches sellers and buyers.
How does a typical B2B workflow proceed? All stakeholders meet each other online to place orders and negotiate details of transactions. To facilitate this routine, B2B eCommerce websites have such features as contract pricing and catalog, prompt reordering, organizations offering contracts, sharing shopping carts, and quote management. Especially important is the ability of businesses to buy in bulk and restricted access control, which can hide prices from guests and show them to approved clients only.
Having all those in place, you can enjoy the B2B eCommerce benefits and reap revenues aplenty. However, like any other business domain, the sphere of B2B eCommerce has some bottlenecks to deal with.
Workflow Challenges B2B eCommerce SMEs Face
Basically, there are two obstacles that impede the growth of small and medium businesses in this realm.
The number of enterprises is definitely fewer than the number of individual consumers, which is why the clientele in the B2B field is narrow in comparison with the B2C domain. And the fewer customers a business has, the slower its proliferation tempo is, even if you do everything by the book.
Slow Customer Base Expansion
Reaching out to new consumers is also quite a problem in B2B eCommerce. First of all, coming to the range of vision of potential clients takes quite a time. Then, even when you succeed in it, you will have to handle the entire logistic cycle on your own, which for small enterprises is a tough row to hoe. Finally, the money issue is always a hitch for cash-strapped startups, which find support and service expenditures quite burdensome.
Anticipating these pitfalls, you should map out your B2B eCommerce strategy with a view to exploiting all growth opportunities within your grasp.
How To Promote Your B2B eCommerce SMB
As a company with a number of eCommerce solutions under our belt, Gepard knows what SMB eCommerce hacks can elevate your online business to a new pitch.
Upgrade Your Site
There are several aspects of running the website that can be improved to bolster your enterprise.
- Advance product content. Ultimately, what customers look for is high-quality content. Knowing this universal truth, you should both expand the inventory of products to offer as well as harness multiple content types (pictures, videos, blog articles, podcasts, etc.) to suit various tastes and interests of site visitors.
- Enhance SEO. Top-notch content can also help in improving your site indexing and ranking by search engines. Other measures to reinforce it include augmenting internal linking and stepping up keyword usage.
- Work out customer experience issues. People should feel comfortable during their customer journey across your website from the second they log in to the moment they complete their transaction. Make sure their navigation along this way is smooth and uncomplicated.
Read more about optimizing website UX:
Unpack the leading trends of eCommerce Website Search and how a powerful PIM tool can fine-tune the results and improve the overall customers' shopping journey.
- Offer flexible payment and delivery options. The larger your clientele is the greater difference in favorite payment methods and shipping options they will have. To oblige every preference, you should offer a maximum number of available alternatives to let your customers stay in their comfort zone while using your site.
- Improve customer service. In case your clients encounter some problems, they must be tackled on short notice. Otherwise, customers will churn, and you already know how hard it is to win new ones. So high-quality customer service is a cornerstone of the client retention policy.
Employ Alternative Sales Channels
The content you publish on the website isn’t the only instrument via which you can establish a connection with your clientele.
- Social media. Conventionally, social networks are considered to be a core B2C ground. Yet, B2B eCommerce can have a foothold there if you know where to drill. So forget Facebook and Instagram but prioritize LinkedIn.
- User-generated content. Let your customers lend you a helping hand. Various reviews and ratings that can be found both on your site and elsewhere on the internet are additional vehicles to promote your eCommerce company.
Leverage B2B Online Marketplaces
These are digital platforms where organizations connect with each other and perform all business operations they need. What makes them such great B2B eCommerce venues to use?
Benefits For eCommerce SMEs In Using B2B Marketplaces
There are several perks of employing marketplaces that can help small and medium businesses build a strong eCommerce brand.
Accessing New Markets And Customers Effortlessly
The chief purpose of any international B2B marketplace is to extend your customer reach and tap unexplored markets and user audiences. In this way, your expenditures are reduced, and purchasing opportunities are revved up.
Obtaining Unified Buying Experience
You can cinch a deal and complete all related procedures in one place. Such platforms offer a collection of tools to initiate the purchasing process, check all offers and their prices, and put your signature on a contract. As for the latter, you can select among several contract templates the one that will suit your particular deal to a tee. Since the majority of these steps are standardized and automated, cost-saving is also significant in this aspect.
Finding The Best Prices
Specialized software employed at B2B eCommerce marketplaces is honed to enable the comparison of prices, delivery terms, and other elements of the business deal. The most advanced of them have the functionality of sending inquiries to the vendors you set your eye on and even tracking prices by different organizations in real-time.
Identifying Exact Product Matches
Comparison tools leveraged by B2B marketplaces are also a great crutch in juxtaposing properties and details of available products and services. Moreover, you can create a request for proposals that specify the color, size, or any other feature of the item you are looking for. Or you can chat with the vendor to inquire about certain properties of the merchandise you shop for.
Another type of in-built tool at such platforms allows you to keep track of spending with an eye to optimizing it. Plus, they will help you gauge future expenditures by estimating the cost of contracts-to-be.
Opting For Advantageous Payment Method
You can choose the payment method convenient for you. Besides, we are in for the advent of cryptocurrencies across an ever-widening gamut of spheres, so the odds are that most B2B marketplaces will offer this option as well one of these days.
Making Use Of Additional Offerings
Modern B2B platforms go to all lengths to oblige customers, so sometimes you can secure fulfillment outsourcing, logistic services, or other perks marketplaces offer to attract customers.
As you see, B2B eCommerce marketplaces are a mission-critical summand of success in the industry. It is crucial to discover what platforms are best for small and medium businesses.
B2B Marketplaces For SMEs To Choose From
Here follows the list of popular marketplaces we recommend SMEs to consider.
- Amazon Business. This is a B2B platform launched by Amazon that caters to small businesses especially. Its software radically transforms the procurement process for startups that can enjoy seasonal offers, discounts, and price breaks.
- eBay. Being a comprehensive trade platform, eBay has a B2B section called eBay Business Supply. It brings several solutions by this vendor (SAP Ariba Spot Buy, eBay Wholesale Deals, and Business & Industrial site category) under one virtual roof, offering an astounding assortment of inventory and smooth selling and buying experience for companies of all sizes.
- Poshmark. As the name hints, this is an online closet full of fashion-related items. In 2016, it opened a B2B department called the Boutique wholesale section, where 50 brands (and this roster is constantly increasing) sell their merchandise to retailers.
- ASOS. This is another fashion industry marketplace that caters both to B2C and B2B segments. It rents out (for a certain interest in sales) its website space to brands and designers who want to sell their products wholesale and retail.
- Fiber2Fashion. Here you can find not only apparel but also textile and accessories. The marketplace has several membership packages you can select from and publishes blogs and letters, updating readers on the news and trend in the fashion industry.
- OfferUp. This platform is honed for B2B mobile-driven trade. Sellers pay a fee for each sale and shipment of clothing, furniture, electronics, and other categories of goods. A unique feature the marketplace offers is a specialized car dealership program.
- Newegg. The marketplace is a very good choice for professional sellers in the domain of IT, office, and industrial solutions and products used by small businesses and public institutions (governmental, educational, and healthcare organizations).
- Europages. You can find here all kinds of goods and choose among 26 languages to negotiate to buy/sell them. A special feature of the platform is the availability of financial help from global experts in the niche. Plus, recreation services are also covered by the marketplace, where you can get in touch with hotels and travel agencies.
- ECPlaza. This is not only a B2B marketplace with an impressive choice of products of all categories. It prides itself on the exhaustive information on companies that cooperate with it and offers market research and consulting services to boot.
- eWorldTrade. The definite edge of this marketplace is its highly interactive page, enabling a swift connection between buyers and sellers. Besides, their innovative trade solutions are tailored to assist in boosting business and addressing marketing challenges.
- See Biz. What differentiates this platform from the above-mentioned ones is its free nature, so companies can buy and sell there without any fees charged. Plus, the vendor has a specialized app for inventory management, which makes this marketplace a mobile-friendly one.
Read more about 10 world’s largest B2B eCommerce platforms:
Explore the world's largest B2B eCommerce platforms and learn the benefits of B2B marketplaces for your business.
How Gepard PIM Solution Helps In eCommerce B2B SME Growth
Small and medium online businesses, just like big enterprises, need top quality, accurate, and constantly updated product data in order to guarantee an excellent customer experience, drive more customers and retain buyers. Manual product information management becomes a burden for companies that truly value their employees and want them to focus on more strategic and creative tasks.
Here’s where Gepard PIM can bring a lot of benefits for SMEs. What are some of the important PIM features that are vital for small and medium businesses?
- PIM serves as a single source of truth which means that product content will be stored in one place, accessible to the team.
- Data validation and standardization modules ensure the accuracy of data and its accordance with the requirements of any eCommerce platforms that SMEs decide to use.
- Seamless data enrichment instruments guarantee a high quality of product data and always compelling product descriptions.
- The data syndication module allows businesses to synchronize their content to any amount of marketplaces and ensure a true omnichannel experience.
- Data shelf analytics allows you to monitor the quality and performance of your content and fully control its accuracy and completeness.
On top of that, Gepard’s extensive connections hub allows SMEs to connect to a wide variety of retailers, marketplaces, and content providers and adjust their product content to numerous industry standards and data formats. With such a powerful platform, the chances of SMEs’ growth significantly increase.
B2B Marketplaces: Potential Prospects For SME
B2B eCommerce is a promising business realm entering which isn’t that simple, especially for medium and small enterprises. They should leave no stone unturned trying to reach out to a maximum number of organizations all over the globe via their website. In addition to it, B2B marketplaces are excellent venues to get connected to international players in your eCommerce spere and reinforce your business strategy.
PIM solution by Gepard is a cutting-edge tool to facilitate the workflow of an eCommerce organization of any size across all sales channels it employs. Its digital shelf analytics capabilities will enable you fully control product content completeness and accuracy on retailers’ websites. In a nutshell, you will obtain structured and high-quality content stored in a single database, ready to be automatically delivered in an already adjusted format to the end-points you need, and track whether it is properly used externally.
Contact our partner manager, who will brief you on the topic, furnishing more details and fine points of the solution we offer.
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