(This post was originally posted on August 10th, 2017. It has been updated for accuracy and completeness.)
Merchants should always be looking for ways to grow their business by selling more products to more customers. One way B2B merchants are doing this is by selling on online marketplaces.
For many B2B sellers, online marketplaces are an untapped opportunity as they provide easy access to large new audiences. In this article, learn what some of the top B2B marketplaces are and how you can successfully sell on them.
The Difference Between B2C and B2B Online Marketplaces
Before we dive into more about the top marketplaces, let’s consider the difference between B2C and B2B marketplaces. B2C marketplaces include Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. Most of these have both B2C and B2B versions of their site.
A B2B marketplace, like a B2C platform, connects multiple sellers to buyers. Buyers will have the option to compare and buy products from many different sellers all in one place.
How a B2B marketplace differs from a B2C marketplace then is that it’ll have features specific for B2B requirements like:
- Applying for bulk orders
- Quantity discounts
- Ability to edit a purchase order online
- Quotations and RFPs for orders
- Pricing by customer
- Ability to accept different payment types like bank transfers and scheduled payments
With these differences, B2B marketplaces have unique advantages for B2B sellers.
Advantages of Selling on B2B Marketplaces
It doesn’t matter if you’re a manufacturer looking to distribute your products to more customers or a distributor looking to expand your sales channels, you can use B2B marketplaces. These online marketplaces have many advantages for sellers.
First, they have a low-entry cost. Sellers don’t have to create or develop their own eCommerce platform. You don’t have to spend as much on marketing because the marketplace is responsible for the look and feel of the platform. While you do lose some control, marketplaces don’t require a lot of upfront investment.
Marketplaces are easy to set up. You won’t spend weeks, months, even years setting up a storefront. Instead, you just need to create an account and load your product information to start selling. Sellers can get up and running fast on new platform.
Access to New Audiences
The most important advantage of a marketplace is the access to an already engaged audience. You don’t have to build the audience yourself. This expands your reach to new customers, even globally. Marketplaces can also be great way to test out new products with different markets. You can strategically pick a few products and see how they do. Depending on its success, you can pull or push out the products.
Choosing an Online B2B Marketplace
The other tricky part about selling on online marketpalces is choosing which one to sell on.
If you’ve done any research yet, you’ll find that there are many choices to choose from. Their popularity coupled with the advancement of technology has led to the creation of many different marketplaces – from those that serve broad audiences to a trend of new marketplaces that serve very niche markets.
Consider the type of products or services that you sell. It’s worth researching to see if there’s a niche marketplace that reaches the specific audience you want to sell to.
Top Online B2B Marketplaces
In no particular order, here’s a list of the top online B2B marketplaces to sell on:
- Alibaba – Launched in 1999, this Chinese-company serves millions of buyers and suppliers globally.
- ThomasNet – Leading online platform for B2B seller discovery and product sourcing with over 500,000 suppliers on its platform.
- IndiaMart – India’s largest B2B marketplace with over 3.5 buyers and a selling model similar to Alibaba.
- eWorldTrade – This US-based platform is the world’s fastest growing B2B portal and services more than 220 countries.
- TradeIndia – India’s second largest marketplace with over 3 million registered users.
- EC21 – Established in Korea and operates three different marketplaces for China, Korea, and globally. It has over 2 million members, 7 million products, and 3.5 million buyers.
- DHGate – Online marketplace for wholesale consumer products with about 1.2 million sellers globally and 10 million buyers.
- Amazon Business – Specific B2B portal for Professional Sellers to reach business customers on Amazon.
- FGM Vendors – Online wholesale marketplaces that operates like an online tradeshow.
- Wholesale Central – Largest wholesale directory of active wholesalers and wholesale products since 1996.
- Joor – Largest wholesale marketplace for fashion with 155,000 retailers and 1,500 brands,
- Field Engineer – An example of a niche B2B marketplace that solely focuses on helping business find and hire Telecom engineers.
- Global Sources – A B2B media company that is a primary facilitator of trade with Greater China using English-language media. They have more than 1.5 million international buyers.
- SeeBiz Inc. – The world’s first social networking platform for businesses.
This list is not exhaustive, but helps you narrow down to some of the biggest, most notable B2B marketplaces out there today.
Cons of Selling on B2B Marketplaces to Consider
Be aware that selling on B2B marketplaces doesn’t come without its challenges. Be sure to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Expanding to more sales channels makes your business more complex. You’ll have to share more data across more systems. For example, how you list your products in your webstore or print catalog will not be the exact same as your marketplace listings. You’ll have to meet the requirements of their product listings.
Along with managung listings, you’ll have to think about your inventory management. You may end up having the same products listed in multiple places. If your inventory isn’t updated in real-time, you run the risk of overselling and creating a poor customer experience in the process.
Lastly, B2B marketplaces make their own rules, which you have to abide by. If they decide to change prices, no longer support items, or market some items over others, then tough luck. There’s not much you can do about it. For some, it’s tough to give up this much control.
What to Do Next
Now most of these issues shouldn’t stop you from selling on B2B marketplaces if it’s what’s right for you. Just make sure you have a plan in place to deal with these difficulties. For many, selling on B2B marketplaces is a great way to expand your business and sell more products to more customers.
Want to keep reading more about how to improve your B2B Selling? Then, check out these other articles: