According to a briefing by research and advisory company Forrester, the B2B sector is currently one of the most profitable, with transactions expected to top a whopping $1.8 trillion by 2023 in the US alone. That means anyone wanting to break into this sector is going to face extreme competition. If that’s you, then you need to read on, as we will present ten of the best multi-vendor B2B marketplace examples to give you the best start in this competitive world.
Examples of Multi-Vendor B2B Product Marketplaces
Amazon is probably the best known and most successful marketplace, now being ranked as one of the top multi-vendor trading platforms.
Founded originally as an online bookshop in 1994 by (now billionaire) Jeff Bezos in 1994, Amazon grew as with the internet, expanding to sell a massive range of other products.
Amazon entered the international market as a B2C platform in 1998, but it was not until 2015 that it launched the B2B Amazon Business marketplace. Its B2B marketplace caters to businesses of all sizes and is similar to its B2C sibling. Amazon Business currently focuses mainly on healthcare, education, hospitality and companies in other areas requiring wholesale purchases.
Despite the Amazon Business platform only being available to registered businesses in just nine countries, they reported a massive annual sales volume of $10 billion just in 2018.
Amazon Business does not levy monthly or annual subscription fees. Instead, registered companies can open an account for free and pay a commission on their revenues.
Founded in 1999, Alibaba is an online retail and wholesale marketplace for Chinese manufactured products. Their business model relies predominantly on the fact that goods produced in China are considerably cheaper than those made in western countries.
Since its inception, Alibaba has morphed into a massive marketplace, covering the Taobao platform, which trades goods C2C, and the Tmall platform for B2C. However, it was in 2012 that all of these merged into the Alibaba Group.
By 2015, Alibaba had grabbed 82% of the Chinese electronic sales market, and by June 2020, annual revenue had increased 34 per cent to almost $22 million compared to 2019.
Alibaba benefitted significantly from a head start over its competitors, having been in the B2B sector for over twenty years and long before eCommerce became a thing. Their marketplace platform has a reputation for being very reliable, trusted by B2B and B2C customers globally.
SMEs are actively helped by Alibaba, which provides them with all tools they need to thrive, such as free webinars and conferences, specialist consultations, etc.
Global Sources began life as a humble ezine in Asia but has since developed into the world’s first international B2B marketplace. Their revenues are currently estimated to be around $363 million per year.
The Global Resources platform was founded in 1995. It specialises in electronics, home furnishings, fashion accessories and gifts.
Global Sources offers its customers numerous channels for establishing trade partnerships. They organise regular trade shows, conferences and webinars aimed at connecting businesses with international contacts worldwide.
Like Packhelp, Zageno is also a niche B2B marketplace. It focuses on test materials and laboratory kits for medical analysis. Founded in 2015, Zageno has since used three rounds of funding to raise $28 million.
Impressively, Zageno became the world’s largest marketplace for life science products in the space of just one year. By its fifth year, it had attracted over 2,000 suppliers who collectively sell almost two million products.
Customers can quickly and easily search for lab supplies. In addition, spend Analytics is integrated into the platform, meaning purchase history data is collected and analysed to create personalised offers and recommendations, significantly enhancing the purchasing process.
Packhelp is a niche marketplace focussed on helping SMEs create custom packaging designs. Launched in 2015 in Poland, a country where SMEs form the lion’s share of employers, Packhelp has since gathered together over 1,000 printing product suppliers and had increased its workforce significantly.
SMEs often struggle to find competitively priced packaging because printing companies generally only undertake bulk orders. Packhelp’s marketplace allows SMEs to combine their orders for packaging designs to form larger, bulk orders. That gives them better buying power, meaning they can get packaging at the price point, quality and quantity they need.
Examples of Multi-Vendor B2B Service Marketplaces
The idea behind Uber was born out of frustration in 2008. Founders Gareth Kemp and Travis Kalanick were late for a meeting as they could not get a taxi. That gave them the idea to form a startup aimed at people with nearby taxis.
Launched in 2010, the prototype of Uber’s mobile app still forms the basis of the one used today. Uber currently boasts 75 million riders transported by 3 million drivers globally.
Uber’s B2B platform, Uber for Business, made its debut in 2014. Working on a similar principle to the Uber taxi app, it targets large corporations and also uses the Uber Eats service. Companies create corporate accounts on the platform that employees can join. The employees then use the account to travel or order food, with the company charged directly. In addition, expense receipts and reports are generated and issued automatically by the platform.
The biggest lure of Uber for Business is the speed and simplicity of getting a taxi. Customers simply enter their pickup and destination locations into the mobile app, along with a few other simple criteria. Then, in moments, they are connected to the driver closest to their starting point. Costs are displayed upfront, and the taxi location is trackable in real-time.
Upwork is a platform connecting freelancers with employers. It formed in 2013 when two companies, namely the Elans eCommerce platform and the oDec recruiting platform, merged. Since then, it has proceeded to become the leader in the recruiting industry, with Upwork’s 2019 Annual Impact Report reporting a staggering 12 million freelancers and 5 million employers registered on the platform.
Upwork offers both freelancers and employers a secure environment in which to operate. Strict controls are in place to assure employers that freelancers are suitably qualified, and a time tracking system offers transparent billing on hourly contracts. Equally, freelancers are protected by a payment escrow system, and both parties can use the platform’s dispute resolution service to resolve disagreements.
Conceived as a startup in Hong Kong back in 2016, CaterSpot is a marketplace platform providing catering services. Since then, they have snowballed and now boast many blue-chip clients such as LinkedIn, Uber and Google.
Using a powerful search engine, СaterSpot connects customers with the most suitable catering service providers.
Initially starting life as an auction platform, RigUp was reinvented in 2014 as a startup marketplace targeting contractors, suppliers and operators engaged in the energy sector. However, in February 2021, RigUp rebranded and is now called Workrise.
Currently, the platform unites customers with more than 22,000 service providers in the oil and gas industry. The company’s annual revenue stands at over $25 million, and total funding is over $452 million.
Workrise provides tools aimed at reducing risks to both parties, namely an automated, transparent billing and payment system.
Despite being formed only four years ago in 2017, GorillaSpace has become a respected platform for clients looking to rent conference rooms, offices and coworking spaces. Since its inception, GorillaSpace has received an undisclosed – and presumably significant – investment from Mitsubishi Estate Co.
Few platforms offer both short- and long-term office rentals, particularly where flexible workspace options are needed. GorillaSpace stepped in to fill that void. It provides clients with a 3D tour feature so they can virtually view a space before renting. That feature is popular with busy executives and proved to be a necessity during the COVID pandemic.
A Final Word
The ten examples we have given have hopefully given you food for thought for your own B2B marketplace platform. Sure, B2B is fiercely competitive, but a well-designed B2B marketplace based around a robust platform could give you a real competitive advantage. And remember, Jeff Bezos began by just selling books!