The buffet is huge – you can pick a website, a listing service, a digital assistant, a social media platform, or a B2B marketplace. But the choice has to be yours – as per your plate and fork.
Isn’t it amazing to see how soon everyone has switched to the online world? It is a spree that is no more limited to the B2C market. The B2B market is equally ambitious, curious and open to exploring all the advantages that online platforms bring to businesses. Who could have thought the B2B e-commerce would be six times bigger than the B2C market and reach a global $12.2 trillion marketplace size (Statista)!
But it has. Look around – at your peers, competitors, and customers. Chances are, they have already boarded some online wagon – be it a B2B marketplace, a voice assistant, or a social media presence. They are selling in a way that is now a norm – the digital way.
B2B Marketplace: New Platforms
If we consider some recent B2B buyer surveys (ResearchandMarkets), we will get to see how e-commerce marketplaces are the top channels used for corporate purchasing. These platforms continue to attract more B2B companies. No wonder that their GMV is projected to expand through 2024. It is supposed to grow faster than overall B2B E-Commerce sales. B2B E-Commerce marketplaces are expected to expand their market share by a factor of four between 2018 and 2024.
Interestingly, B2B buying is leaning towards independent research instead of conventional sales-talk. That explains why 41% of millennial workers are already making or influencing B2B purchasing decisions. Over 60% reach out to a salesperson only after the research is done.
New Media and Voices
Now think about the social media activity that is stirring this pot in new directions. LinkedIn is not just a social site anymore. 79 percent of marketers look at it as an effective lead generation source. 94 percent of B2B marketers are using it to distribute content. 92 percent of marketers leverage LinkedIn over other social platforms.
There are other digital options in the fray too. A recent Gartner survey pointed out that over 50 percent of medium to large enterprises will deploy digital assistants by 2020. These voice assistants are giving help, retrieving information on suppliers and transactions, and turning out to be the new-age bell-boys for a procurement team. They are searching for information on queries and creating reports for purchase so easily as if they had been around for years. You can find them instantly creating/editing shopping carts, payment details, and expense reports.
Then there is the flourishing concept of individual brand-built marketplaces that can be vertical-specific and well-aligned to one industry’s or region’s requirements. These digital marketplaces cut out expensive aggregators and middlemen- and thus save on those marketing margins.
The New Formula
B2B sellers are expected to expand their digital and real-world efforts. They are all set to embrace new strategies where they can tap enterprise-grade Product Information Management (PIM) technology.
They are getting the latest technology which is out there but are mixing it with the tricks that have worked in customer-focused B2C-style sales strategies. Technology with creativity is turning out to be the new formula for B2B marketers as they strive to make it easy and affordable for their buyers to see, and reach, without sacrificing simplicity, engagement and speed. After all, the B2C world has made customers impatient, fickle, and full of choices. If you are not in the digital mode that can cater to their needs at the precise second and with just the right offering for new-age buyers –you are as good as invisible.
Plan your Strategy with a B2B Marketplace
The writing on the wall is clear. There are many ways of going digital. You don’t need to invest in a big-brand marketplace to ensure you are visible and easy to interact with or buy from. The right eyes can see you and accelerate towards the right set of buyers by just using a smart digital strategy. So what should you do when you carve your own digital strategy? Should you pick a digital B2B marketplace? What should you look for here?
- Good directory: it should have a list of all the buyers and companies relevant for your offering, region-wise and category-wise
- Active buyers and sellers: the list should be in action. It is no use having a list that is outdated or dormant
- Comprehensive platform: the platform should have an end-to-end portfolio so that all the important categories of buyers and suppliers can come together and work through all the steps of a business procurement process
- Simplified global trading: it should be free of complexity and delays
- Information on products and services: it should have data and technology tools that can store, analyze and present information in actionable ways
- Veritable data: only genuine suppliers and bonafide buyers should be encouraged here
A B2B Marketplace platform that meets the above criteria will meet most of your online marketing goals. Now all you have to do is to supplement this presence with other tools like a website or social media presence– and you are all set to join the new digital B2B community, with the right foot forward.