Whilst the health implications of the coronavirus pandemic are rightly at the forefront of people’s minds, the implications of the outbreak to international trade is becoming an increasingly pertinent topic.
According to a report published by the data intelligence company Predict HQ, in February there was a five-fold increase in cancellations and postponements of major events worldwide. This trend continued throughout March as companies implemented mandatory work-from-home policies and countries closed their borders and adopted stricter travel regulations.
Meanwhile, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) announced that they lowered its projected worldwide GDP growth for 2020 in March this year – from 2.9% to 2.4%.
Needless to say, businesses are looking for alternative trade solutions.
In moments like these, there’s an extra emphasis on businesses retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. In addition, keeping variable costs low and finding opportunities to sell with minimal risk are of vital importance to any struggling B2B seller.
Queue the B2B marketplace and its unique advantages for those businesses who pivot early.
B2B marketplaces are seen as the mecca for e-commerce. Industry trailblazers like Alibaba, Amazon Business, and Ebay have all contributed to growing international trade opportunities and providing a platform for smaller businesses to thrive.
Yet, now more than ever, businesses are turning to these B2B marketplaces as a way to survive, in an attempt to weather revenue shortages and results of imposed quarantines.
With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at the various benefits that B2B marketplaces are offering to all B2B companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Low Barriers to Entry
One of the advantages of marketing directly on a B2B marketplace is that the interface stays consistent and the cost to sign up is relatively low. It’s these low costs that undoubtedly contributed to the rise of digital commerce’s popularity over the past few years. B2B marketplaces work with distribution partners to make sure that their brand is consistent across all platforms and that the user experience is satisfactory. It’s in the best interest of these marketplaces to standardize the quality of the interaction so its users don’t have to.
In order to offset some of the financial consequences, several B2B marketplaces like Alibaba are offering discounted rates to sign on as a supplier. Others marketplaces like the Publicize Swap Shop are offering creative ways to barter services and products to offset costs.
Entering a B2B marketplace as a seller is also low risk.
One of the challenges of building an independent ecommerce site is having to identify and connect with an entire market of willing buyers and sellers. Thankfully, B2B marketplaces have ready-made buyers and sellers that are expecting new products and services.
In fact, these marketplaces have an entire customer base that seeks out new products. By working with an already established marketplace, your business can easily tap into their network without assuming the risks of not finding willing customers.
One of the most attractive aspects of joining an online marketplace is that the barrier to entry is incredibly low.
Most B2B marketplaces have an intuitive interface that makes it clear how to create an account and what kind of information is required for buyers and sellers. Amazon Business, for example, asks a series of questions to make sure that you are getting the information you need.
On the platform you’ll find questions like “Do you buy for work?” or “Do you sell to businesses” to ensure that you are navigating the platform correctly, and that you’re able to market your products in the way that fits your needs.
Increase Online Visibility
By establishing your business on B2B marketplaces, you significantly increase your online presence to customers that may be unfamiliar with your brand.
To put it simply, the B2B market is gigantic. In the United States, the volume of B2B e-commerce amounted to around 5.7 trillion U.S. dollars in 2015. B2B marketplaces are the primary locations for e-commerce and are massive reserves of potential customers.
One of the best ways to get ahead of the competition is to get close to them. Simply by signing up, you not only create an opportunity to generate brand exposure to millions of consumers, but you can capitalize on aligning your business with other world-renowned brands in the same industry, thus improving visibility.
Alignment to a B2B marketplace with a high domain authority (DA) can give you just the prominence boost your business needs. It allows you to focus less time on building a long tail SEO strategy and more time on generating sales.
As you focus on selling, high DA sites like Amazon Business and eBay do some of the SEO work for you by providing quality backlinks. Instead of building up SEO from nothing, let a B2B marketplace circumvent that noise for you by hosting products directly from its platform.
Customer feedback is a particularly useful tool on B2B marketplaces for both the consumer and the seller.
Provided that your service or product meets the customer’s needs, organic feedback is one of the best ways to distinguish your business from other competitors.
In order to mitigate the risks of launching a new product or service, you can test strategically and not derail your entire supply chain. In the event that the market isn’t ready, you can pull your product with little consequence.
On top of that, B2B platforms like Alibaba offer you direct insight into data reporting from its built-in analytics tool. And marketplaces like Amazon even designate account managers who assist you with creating custom reports on what, when and how your organization is buying.
The Bottom Line
B2B marketplaces offer a low risk alternative to building a platform from ground zero.
As organizations like the OECD continue to forecast economic downturn as a result of COVID-19, business searches for new opportunities intensify.
However, B2B businesses are finding hope in B2B marketplaces and their potential to reach a wide audience. Not only do these marketplaces boast a low risk, low barrier to entry, they provide visibility, data, and feedback so that you can focus on the bottom line of your business, which is ultimately to make sales.