B2B marketplaces startups are experiencing a massive growth in 2022, despite market volatility and uncertainty, offering VCs investment opportunities with great return. The sector had one of the highest growths since 2017 at a 4.6x increase, better even than Fintech (3.1X), Health (2.6x) or Transportation (1.6x) (Dealroom).
In fact, B2B marketplaces are growing as a result of decision-makers adopting digital solutions more frequently, having more access to financing options, and being able to handle more complex value chains.
Dealroom explains the company model evolution over the years. As can be observed in the figure below, over time B2B marketplaces have expanded to a larger portion of their industry value chain. These advances have three key high-level functions: supply and demand aggregators, procurement tools and financing solutions. Moreover, it seems like vertical specialists and managed marketplaces are expected to capture more complex value chains.
As the industry started to develop, so did the emergence of major players such as Buildstock, Faire, Aucto, Boxhub amongst many others. With the new year approaching, and since B2B marketplaces have immense potential for growth, at The Nest by Webhelp, we have decided to come up with 5 tips and best practices to enable you to succeed in the fast-growing industry.
We know that when launching a marketplace, seller management is particularly important and necessitates the implementation of a clear strategy to guarantee the success of the marketplace. In the end, it’s thanks to qualified sellers that the marketplace can provide a solution that meets the particular needs of B2B buyers, and capture and retain a value-added customer base. As such, we have decided to focus on seller management and below are our five tips to optimize its strategy and implementation:
1. Nail your market segmentation and identify your target sellers
Marketplace operators often deploy under-selective sales recruiting operations, or even actual “Open Door” operations in an effort to save time. The verdict is the same: a lack of active and relevant sellers leads to a low volume of transactions and thus a marketplace unable to attract and retain its customers.
To ensure a marketplace’s success, the operator must carry out the following preliminary tasks:
- Identify and add additional product categories to its current offering that are crucial to be portrayed as credible to both, current and prospective customers
- Identify key seller characteristics, whether it’s brands sold, services provided, etc.
The marketplace operator is the only one who can provide this preliminary work and commitment because it is most familiar with the supplier-customer ecosystem and its business development strategy. A marketplace, as its name implies, is merely a new distribution and sales channel that needs its own business strategy.
2. Set up a strong seller recruitment strategy
Once the initial process of segmentation and identification has been carried out, marketplace sellers need to be recruited. As such, it is essential to establish beforehand a strategy made of different phases, each with a distinct goal, carried out according to a schedule:
The launch phase
In accordance with the marketplace’s value proposition, this phase enlists an initial group of sellers, although being autonomous, will have been guided to ensure that they perform as efficiently and swiftly as possible.
The acceleration phase
This step involves ambitious process automation objectives and an increase in conversion with the goal of broadening the base of existing sellers.
Best-in-class operators will be able to plan dedicated activities, such as a recruitment day to inform, educate and onboard potential sellers according to their requirements.
3. Make your team’s life a bit easier
A crucial phase of seller management is seller onboarding. In order to ensure its success, sellers need to be given the right resources to understand the positioning of the marketplace, and the promise made to buyers, and to provide sellers with the operating conditions to allow them to comply with the marketplace’s specifications.
Our Payment services experts have created a map that highlights the key factors to ensure a successful seller management strategy. This includes for instance:
- To ensure that the file created by the seller is correctly passed to the Know Your Vendor tests, in order to be legally present on the platform
- To make sure that the shop created meets the requirements detailed in your specifications
- To verify that the catalogue is functional, comprehensive and free from log errors?
4. Give your sellers the right resources to perform
Once recruited, the seller community needs to be inspired. This is the only way to ensure that business success and customer satisfaction take off immediately and gain momentum with the development of the marketplace.
To accomplish this it is advised to arm sellers with the following resources, with the assistance of experts:
- A performance review to assist them to comprehend where they are and what they can do better (number of baskets confirmed, not confirmed, etc.);
- Insight drivers such as social media presence and engagement, which The Nest can do (digital activations, content management…);
- Additional customer service if required.
5. Integrating innovative tools and increasing convenience
Let’s take the example of Buy Now Pay Later options. It has become a convenient option for B2C customers as it offers a flexible financing option and allows millions of consumers immediate access to their favourite goods and services. However, the opportunities offered by BNPL appear to be massive for B2B. This payment method allows marketplace operators, sellers and buyers to access deferred payment solutions.
In order to remain competitive in the market, it is particularly relevant to leverage the latest innovations on the market.
From the perspective of Sellers and the business platform, BNPL is seen as an opportunity to increase the value of the average basket, to enhance customer involvement and loyalty, to reduce financial risks and to focus on the business and growth rather than on payments. And from the Buyers’ perspective, VSEs and SMEs are a very receptive target for the benefits offered by BNPL, as long as the operations and formalities are straightforward and fast. These companies are looking for more flexible and less restrictive alternatives to the credit solutions offered by conventional banks.
However, the implementation of BNPL in the B2B context is not as easy as it sounds. Find out here the specific factors that need to be taken into account when it comes to implementing this payment method in B2B businesses.
According to Dealroom, there are at least seven B2B BNPL players in Europe right now, such as Klarna’s (a fintech company that provides online financial services such as buy now, pay later services) partner – Billie. Billie got a big boost in October after having partnered with Klarna to roll out a B2B side to its business. Other companies that offer this option are Mondu, Hokodu, or even Treyd amongst others.
How did The Nest support a French B2B marketplace that connects designers with boutiques across the globe?
Ankorstore is an online B2B marketplace that allows retailers to discover and select from thousands of brands in just a few clicks. With Ankorstore, brands are able to sell worldwide, benefitting from direct contact to their retailers. The company reached the unicorn status and wanted to ensure the consistent delivery of high-quality B2B support for their brands, no matter volumes and peaks, as such the company was looking for an experienced and reliable customer service provider, offering a scalable and adaptable omnichannel multilingual solution.
See below how The Nest by Webhelp, an outsourcing provider, supports Ankorstore in its development, expansion and success: