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4 Things to Avoid When Creating a B2B Marketplace

By Tim Hinchliffe 13 May, 2020

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So, you’re ready to start creating your B2B marketplace. You’ve checked out all the blogs and videos on how to create a successful one, and it seems simple enough, right?

The reality is that even though the steps may seem pretty straightforward, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong even before the project has a chance to get off the ground.

Not having proper idea validation, a minimum viable product, or a business model are sure ways to sink any hope of creating a B2B marketplace.

Ignoring terms and conditions, legal obligations, or failing to carve out a niche will also guarantee that your B2B marketplace will be dead on arrival.

With this in mind, we’ve decided to take you through four things to avoid when creating a B2B marketplace.

1. Not Having a Minimum Viable Product

Before taking the first step towards investing in software, web hosting, or cloud storage, ask yourself – “What specific problem am I solving?”.

This is key to carving out a niche. Do your research, see if there’s any competition in your space, and proceed from there.

If you’ve found a niche marketplace, congratulations!

Now’s the time to start thinking about how you’ll launch your minimum viable product (MVP). 

If you’ve not already got one, no worries. MVPs actually take quite a lot of planning, but will basically be the first version of your platform.

Don’t know what an MVP for a B2B marketplace looks like? According to Sharetribe, the MVP “should have everything you need to test your core idea. Nothing more.”

An MVP for a B2B marketplace would include such features as:

  • A fully integrated search engine
  • Working payments system
  • Ability to create user profiles
  • A section for reviews 
  • Customer feedback section
  • Mission statement / about us
  • Point of contact

Developing the MVP is where many would-be B2B marketplace creators get so caught up in just trying to get all the technical kinks out that they forget about how seamlessly the user should be able to interact with it, which brings us to our next mistake to avoid – losing track of the user experience.

2. Forgetting the User Experience

It’s easy to forget about the user experience when most of your time is spent tinkering with the technical stuff.

But the reality is that your B2B marketplace will be completely useless if you fail to take into account the user experience.

Most of the user experience should be hashed out in the MVP stage, but here are some user-friendly things to keep in mind:

  • Does your B2B marketplace have clear, understandable, and grammatically correct copy?
  • Is it mobile-friendly?
  • Are all the selling and trading points consistent and accurate?
  • Are there any dead links?
  • Have you tested the payments system?
  • Do you have a customer service chat set up?

A breakdown in any of the above can lead to a disastrous user experience, and while you may have excellent goods and services to sell and trade, there’ll never be any transactions if the user can’t navigate and decides to click away from the site.

Speaking of the site, what platforms are you using?

3. Choosing the Wrong Platform

There are many options available for the types of software and services to build your B2B platform.

Some are quicker, some are easier, and some require more effort, but they all come with their own risks and rewards.

If you have the resources to employ a development team, you may want to consider building the platform from scratch.

Sure, it’s more time-consuming this way, but if you can afford to pay good developers, whether in-house or outsourced, they will be able to design exactly what you need from the ground up.

Another way to build your platform is to use a B2B marketplace building tool.

An effective B2B marketplace builder should be able to incorporate all the features listed in the MVP requirements, as well as provide security and customization.

Knowing your requirements up-front is essential to choosing the right platform, because if you don’t have a thorough understanding of what you need before choosing, you may be forced to change platforms, which is both timely and costly.

Choosing the right platform requires planning for the future, so you can put out any potential fires before they have a chance to spread.

“The only way you can ensure this is done correctly,” according to B2B expert Brian Beck, “is by extensively documenting your requirements up front. Be sure to include information about features, workflows, pricing, contract support, flexibility, integrations, and more.”

When dealing with any B2B services, it’s always important to check out their terms and conditions in case there are any red flags.

Some things to consider for B2B platform terms and conditions include:

  • Will they allow what you are selling and trading? 
  • Are there any hidden fees? 
  • How often are renewals? 
  • What’s their refund policy?
  • What’s their policy on intellectual property? 
  • Have you met their legal requirements?
  • Can they change or modify their subscription policies or fees?

Failure to choose the right platform for your B2B marketplace will give you a lot of headaches down the road, but if you know your requirements, you’ll be able to find or build a platform that meets your needs for years to come.

Speaking of which, have you thought about how your platform will be able to grow at scale?

4. Limiting Scalability

Building a crib for a baby can be a fun project, and it may be useful for a couple of years, but eventually that baby’s going to grow out of it, and a bigger bed will be needed.

If your B2B marketplace was built like a crib, then it, too, will suffer the growing pains of trying to scale as there would be no room to grow.

For example, you may have signed up with a marketplace building service, but you’ve outgrown your current subscription plan, and you failed to factor-in what it would cost to upgrade.

That leaves you in a bit of a pickle, one that can be expensive to chew.

The more successful you become and the bigger your B2B marketplace gets, you don’t want to be retroactively thinking about scalability.

As marketplaces expand they increasingly become more complex, and if your B2B marketplace wasn’t built to scale proportionally, you may struggle with the integration of other systems such as new software, subscription plans, services, or other logistics.

If you don’t plan to scale, you’re like a grown adult trying to fit into a baby’s crib — not very comfortable, and it’ll be obvious where the stress points were once they’ve all been broken.

Growing Your B2B Marketplace

Now that you’ve learned some of the pitfalls to avoid when creating your B2B marketplace, it’s never too early to begin thinking about a robust PR strategy.

Like having an MVP, a PR strategy should not be an afterthought. It should be an integral part of your overall growth strategy.

Well-orchestrated PR campaigns can help your B2B marketplace reach your intended audience at every stage of your development, attracting both buyers and sellers to your platform.

Getting ready to launch? Journalists love an exclusive launch story.

Implementing new features? Why not tell those who would directly benefit the most?

Do you have any partnerships in the works? These are all attractive and newsworthy announcements for publications.

B2B companies have to convince their target audience that their B2B solution doesn’t simply resolve a short term disruption, but has significant long term benefits to business infrastructure.

This is where a comprehensive PR strategy can help B2B tech companies prove value and credibility within their target market.
Using bespoke digital PR tactics, a successful campaign can get B2B tech businesses impactful online exposure and grow their community with an all-encompassing communications strategy.

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