B2B marketplaces allow vendors to connect to buyers. It differs from a traditional single-vendor B2B website in that it offers special features for customization, allowing buyers to easily compare different products and offers. Vendors can expand their market presence with relatively little effort by joining marketplaces. It’s a good business model that will likely continue to see active development and growth.
It can be challenging to pick the right B2B eCommerce marketplace solution. You need to approach this differently from the way you would investigate B2C marketplaces, and you should be aware of some of the top features to look for.
1. Support for Multiple Vendors
Your portal is going to be used by multiple vendors. It’s important that they all have precise control over their own storefronts, including things like their company details, product catalogue and information pages, as well as price adjustments. Each B2B marketplace platform offers a different set of customization options.
2. Price Management
Ideally, you’ll also want to allow sellers to configure their own prices without needing any additional assistance. This should also include complete integration with the sellers’ own backends, and the possibility for suppliers to make additional adjustments to prices.
3. Security and Privacy
Vendors should be as isolated as possible from each other. This will minimize instances of knockoffs and other underhanded attempts. It will also build more confidence in your marketplace in all its users, which will play a major role in its popularity in the long run.
4. Advanced Search
Buyers expect quite a lot from marketplaces in terms of searching and filtering capabilities these days. At the least, you should offer the ability to filter by brands, price, availability, and other common factors. It’s even better if you can allow sellers to define custom parameters that can be used in search queries. Look for modern smart search features, like autocomplete or automatic product substitution.
5. Customizable Purchase Orders
A buyer might want to change a lot about their purchase order. Other than the payment method, you should anticipate changes in deliveries, shipping address, specific payment terms, and more. Those should all be customizable directly in each order’s settings. Keep in mind that some buyers will expect these features as a baseline, and they won’t even see them as optional.
6. Order Negotiations
The typical purchase process for a B2B marketplace is different than a consumer-facing one. Deals are usually negotiated extensively before the actual purchase is made. You should do your best to facilitate those negotiations through your marketplace directly. Parties should be able to exchange quotes and other details seamlessly and without having to leave your platform. It’s also a good idea to look into a platform that offers a modern approach to UI/UX.
7. Managing Multiple Warehouses
Another commonly used feature buyers will likely expect to see is the ability to split a bulk order between multiple suppliers. With a more advanced system, this can even extend to different brands and warehouses. This split will be the direct result of negotiations, and should ideally be integrated as a natural follow-up to them in your interface.
8. Vendor Comparison
The main reason most buyers use B2B marketplaces in the first place is to compare vendors. Your platform should allow them to check how a specific product is sold by different vendors, including variations of the product and suitable replacements. Sellers should also be able to bid on auction-like sales, giving them more exposure to potential clients while still providing buyers themselves with all the control they need.
9. Vendor Screening and Approval
Some buyers will only work with vendors that have been internally approved by their organization. This should be integrated into your marketplace, providing buyers with the ability to maintain a list of approved vendors. That way, they can save time in their shopping and focus on products that they can actually buy in the end.
10. Vendor Management
You’re going to be working with many vendors, and you’ll want to do your best to retain them and make this a long-term relationship. This will require some precise vendor management tools in your marketplace’s interface. You should have access to all vendor data relevant to your operations. The best implementation of this is to provide each of your vendors with their own CRM, giving them all the control they need over their own sales.
How to Pick the Right Solution
Not all of the above features may be relevant to you. Finding the ideal B2B marketplace for your needs boils down to understanding your current requirements and filtering available offers according to them. You should not overinvest in a package that does more than you need it to, if you don’t see yourself ever using those features. At the same time, spending a little extra money on something more comprehensive can be a great investment in the long term if you are planning to actively expand.