Things have changed in the dynamic B2B commerce world. Frost & Sullivan predicts that the global B2B eCommerce sales are to reach over $6.6 trillion by 2020, surpassing business-to-consumer (B2C) valued at $3.2 trillion by 2020. In Asia, Forrester has predicted a growth of 12.1% per annum in B2B eCommerce with B2B Marketplace being the prevalent mode of business and the adoption of B2B Marketplace is booming especially in South East Asia, China and India. Here are twelve successful B2B eCommerce companies and reasons why we believe are their underlying key success factors.
Ralali.com is an Indonesian B2B e-commerce platform for manufacturers to sell mainly wholesale products directly to shop owners and merchants. Ralali.com connects around 150,000 resellers, wholesalers and retailers. Ralali.com’s success comes from understanding their top tier manufacturers and their potential markets. The company strives to improve the supply chain visibility of the markets by providing a direct route to help suppliers sell and transact online and gathering data and forming customer profiles. The data gathered then benefits Ralali.com in building a financial lending platform to support working capital loans to buyers on the platform.
2. Kawan Lama
Kawan Lama is Indonesia's leading distribution company with the widest range of industrial supplies, equipment, and machinery. The company directly distributes more than 40,000 products to meet professional needs in areas such as the automotive, construction and transportation industries. Kawan Lama had set up 3 distribution centers with modernized warehouse management and material handling systems to improve its product availability and efficiency in deliveries. Kawan Lama’s success is attributed to its diverse line of value-priced quality products, together with the capability to deliver them efficiently. The success of its B2B distribution has paved the way for its B2C marketing to launch Kawan Lama Retail with ACE Hardware as its flagship brand.
Pantavanji was launched in 2001 to provide eProcurement solutions for business efficiency in various industries of all sizes. Pantavanji is Thailand’s largest end-to-end eProcurement and cost reduction professional service provider; providing real-time tracking, workflow automation and data transparency for its clients. Pantavanji’s success is attributed to its ability to address pain points customers face in customization, high software license costs, and language barriers.
OfficeMate was founded in 1994 and is the leading supplier of office supplies, IT items, furniture, and essential B2B products in Thailand. OfficeMate aims to become a leader in B2B solutions by offering a One-Stop Solution to meet all business needs through an omnichannel strategy. During 2014-2018, OfficeMate grew at 9% per annum. In 2018, the online site serves 6.5 million customer transactions with a growth of 23% in sales. Currently, the firm is supplying products and services to some 40,000 factories, 20,000 hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops, as well as 10,000 health and medical customers. Its success is driven by a clear strategy of investing heavily in smart technologies in its warehouse and delivery facilities to provide accurate and more efficient services, ultimately improving its B2B customer experience.
Global Sources is a Hong Kong-based B2B media company responsible for facilitating trade from Greater China to the world through an English-based site that makes goods from China accessible to users unfamiliar with mandarin. It gathers information on an estimate of 3 million products and more than 196,000 suppliers annually through promotional efforts on various media platforms. The company also has a convenient and efficient user-friendly app and website. It shortlists exhibitors before clients visit the trade show, provides relevant information about them and the respective suppliers. Global Sources has more than 1.5 million international buyers in more than 240 countries and territories, in addition to generating sales leads of US$43 million through manufacturers.
6. DIY Trade
DIYTrade.com was launched in 1998 in Hong Kong and currently offers over 5 million products to its buyers. It is an eBusiness service provider that focuses on providing SMEs with their required solutions and serves as an online global trading platform. Its success is attributed to its customizability and integration to a wide range of platforms. DIYTrade.com provides sellers with opportunities to edit and design their websites, customize their catalog and allow buyers to access the website on a mobile version. DIY trade also supports communication platforms such as QQ and Skype on their website.
Zilingo was founded in 2015 in Singapore to use technology to connect consumers to sellers in the fashion industry. The company’s success comes in providing customers with reliable and quality sellers. Zilingo vets each seller for the quality of their wares among other metrics and if they meet the necessary criteria, the seller is given access to various services such as tech support and financing. Zilingo cooperates with 30,000 merchants with 5 million monthly visitors to its platform. Their buyers and merchants hail from 15 countries as well. The company started as a B2C consumer-facing online retail store but extended into B2B by providing a supply chain for its merchants. Zilingo Asia Mall is an all-in-one procurement solution that extends beyond the catalogue and connector e-commerce model. The platform introduced machine learning and data science effectively to small-medium businesses, which makes Zilingo easy to use, gets adopted and scales more quickly. In February 2019, Zilingo received US$226 million funding from investors to further digitize Asia’s fashion supply chain with a valuation of US$970 million.
Eezee is Singapore’s first B2B platform that offers a safe avenue for buyers and sellers of business supplies and industrial hardware. They have a fully-integrated search engine to almost instantaneously direct consumers to the best brands, industrial supplies and prices offered by their retailers according to their personal preferences and budget. Eezee also offers economical prices, a secure transaction platform, excellent customer service with 24 hour online operations and free sourcing for products unlisted on their platform. As of August 2018, Eezee has about 800 registered accounts, more than 200 suppliers and 17000 uploaded products. They have a Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) of S$210,000 and revenue of S$41,000.
Exporters.SG was created in 1998 with the vision of being an online business exchange for global businesses with reduced transaction and marketing costs. The company puts similar businesses together into unique groups called Trade Networks, allowing members of the community to exchange market information, collaborate and improve their businesses together. Exporters.SG has over 600 product categories and offers its services across 23 industries in over 200 countries via more than 200 trade networks. With thousands of members, Exporters.SG can offer their services at low and competitive prices in addition to considering and improving themselves based on the feedback given. Many customers feedback consistently that the B2B platform offers great value for money, is simple and easy to use to search, network, buy and sell. Exporters. SG prides itself for providing quality customer services to its members.
EC21 was launched in 1997 and is now the largest overseas marketing company in Korea for local small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) with a wide range of trade support services and global business possibilities. EC21’s leading technology and expertise in cross border trade have contributed to the success of the company. Its transactional capabilities enable EC21 to expand beyond its traditional business model which was limited to facilitating trade inquiry exchanges, to becoming a one-stop-shop for B2B eCommerce. This makes EC21 one of the first few B2B marketplaces to have integrated transactional capabilities for the buying and selling of goods and services. They currently have over 2 million member companies, 7 million products, and 3.5 million buyers and monthly visitors respectively.
JimTrade is India’s largest business directory with more than 500,000 registered manufacturers and a subscriber base of 1,000,000+ B2B buyers. Its customers ranging from small or family businesses to large Indian enterprises such as TATA’s, Reliance, Kirloskar, ONGC, and BPCL. JimTrade aims to provide a one-stop-shop for information about Indian manufacturer’s product profiles across diverse industry sectors. JimTrade claims to offer two unique features that differentiate itself from its competitors. Firstly, it has content across 21 major industries which are further classified into 20,000+ subcategories, so users can zoom in on what they are looking for. Secondly, the B2B portal features products of Indian manufacturers and distributors of imported products, which offers a direct source of supply for managing of the purchase cost. Both factors enabled JimTrade to establish itself as an authentic and reliable source for purchase managers to make big volume purchases. JimTrade also offers simple registration process that allows new buyers to have direct access to their respective manufacturers without any intermediators, and has features such as product alert emails, to inform buyers about new product listings and enables sellers to manage and update their catalog as well as improve their communications with buyers.
IndiaMART was founded in 1999 and is currently India’s largest online B2B marketplace. IndiaMART’s success was attributed to its vast and vibrant network of buyers and sellers, accounting to more than 82.7 million registered buyers and over 60 million products online. The platform offers either paid membership which provides more business services to the SMBs like web design, web catalogs or premium listing or a pay per lead option until the user could validate the usefulness of the platform. IndiaMART invests heavily in its mobile platform. In FY2018, the company’s mobile website and app account for more than 70% of its total traffic. The company aims to further improve its mobile platform by developing and integrating management system applications such as voice search technologies and other personalization features that help improve user experience and optimize data for its users.
So what are the common underlying key success factors of these B2B marketplaces?
The chief criteria underlying the success these B2B marketplaces were transparency, market visibility and a plethora of business solutions to their buyers and sellers. Here are four success factors which we believe has made them successful.
Factor 1: Adoption of an Omni-channel Strategy
These B2B eCommerce sites and marketplaces also have self-servicing functioning that offered its customers an omnichannel experience to easily access any information about the products they wish to purchase on any platform. Moreover, both buyers and sellers are assured to make safe payment transactions via a systematic and secure payment method.
Factor 2: Embed customer-centric processes
Many customers come into the B2B marketplace scene with prior experience of convenient omnichannel B2C eCommerce sites. With this preceding expectation, B2B eCommerce companies should alter their processes to readily meet the needs and expectations of incoming buyers and sellers.
Factor 3: Easy to use platform with great user experience
Ease of use is a table stake to reach marketplace users but not an easy feat in B2B eCommerce. Unlike B2C shoppers, B2B shoppers have a slightly different buying experience as they are compensated as part of their job to do so. They prefer not to spend hours browsing through websites and catalog to find what is needed, especially if it is a recurring purchase. Often, they are on a budget that could be subjected to a pre-approval limit or require request approval before purchase could be made. Therefore, today’s B2B marketplaces make a specific impact on such features like requests for quotes, bulk ordering, custom pricing, as well as personalization features to create an almost self-servicing B2B user experience. For example, JimTrade’s simple registration process ensures certain platform features to be streamlined easily in order to improve user experience, while IndiaMART has been investing in a lead management system since 2017 to help the suppliers better manage the leads generated.
Factor 4: Augment platform with solutions to create strong ecosystem delivery
Successful B2B marketplaces collaborate with other platforms or solutions to develop new offerings, manage customer experiences or filling gaps in existing business and supply chain processes. For example, Zilingo announced last October that part of its US$100 million investment will leverage smart technology-led solutions to offer financial services solutions including unlocked credit, working capital financing and insurance to its ecosystem users. A second example would be smart warehousing. Smart warehousing are warehouses that are manned by drones and robots to help sort, scan and move goods. By seamlessly integrating new technologies with warehouse systems, smart warehousing help to boost efficiency, productivity and cut costs. OfficeMate invested over US$33 million in 2019 to develop smart warehouse capabilities with a clear objective to upgrade service quality and deliver a better user experience.
No matter which industries these B2B marketplaces service, there is an underlying baseline for success: Offer an easy to use and optimized platform, recruit wide-ranging suppliers to offer a wide range of products and services, and as well, to further accentuate the perks of your marketplace. It is also important to take into consideration an optimal commercial fee that is suitable for your market landscape to best monetize your eCommerce platform. All these attributes add as building blocks to the success of your eCommerce marketplace.
About The Author:
Kenneth Low is a co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Arcadier, a leading marketplace builder company. Arcadier offers both SaaS DIY and Enterprise B2B marketplace development. You can follow Arcadier on Facebook and Linkedin.
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