Nowadays, B2B ecommerce is nothing short of a gold mine of opportunities. And it’s continuously on the rise, so you have all the chances you need to disrupt the industry by creating an online marketplace for the niche you work in. Let’s start with the basics.
What is a Business to Business marketplace?
As the name suggests, a Business to Business marketplace is a multi-vendor ecommerce portal where multiple sellers connect to multiple buyers. And yes, it is different from a single vendor wholesale website as it holds certain features that allow its customers to compare, interact and choose products from the best vendors all across the world.
Amazing, isn’t it?
And that’s not all. Vendors too, profit from joining multi vendor marketplaces by expanding their potential customer base and gaining more visibility for their brand. There is a whole list of other benefits for both vendors and their customers but you probably know all that, assuming you are looking for easy ways to build your own B2B marketplace.
So, let’s get into that-
Steps to build your custom wholesale marketplace platform
Keep one thing in mind, if your goal here is to establish long-term relationships with your customers, then your wholesale platform should provide certain functionalities that bring value to their business. Here’s what you will need to build your B2B ecommerce marketplace.
1.Decide the niche and prepare your business plan
When we talk of the business world, there is a well-known saying that goes something like: the riches lie in the niches.
Don’t you agree that it’s better to be a shark in a small pond rather than try to be a whale in an ocean? Of course, it is. More so in wholesale and ecommerce where you are much better focusing on a specific niche rather than trying on all industries and multi vendor marketplaces.
- Your niche should be big enough to provide you ample room for growth and at the same time is specific enough so that you can be a known brand in that area.
- It should be lucrative and non-commoditized where you can build a brand and earn higher margins.
- And lastly, it should have a steady growth trend. That’s why it is advisable to choose niches that are evergreen, or those with a growing content trend.
2. Finding reliable vendors to onboard
Every B2B ecommerce marketplace starts out empty. But what differentiates those that attract thousands of visitors daily, is the ability to acquire sellers and turn their multi-seller shopping malls into globally thriving wholesale multi-vendor platforms.
But you can’t just make a deal with every vendor that comes across. After all, you need to be sure you can entrust the vendors an asset as valuable as your business. So when you come across a potential vendor, here’s what you need to ask the vendors certain questions to get a better sense of who you’ll be working with:
- What kind of experience do you have in our specific sector or industry?
- Do you have any existing, long-term or collaborative B2B partnerships with other multi vendor marketplaces as well?
- What is your current customer base?
In the end, all that matters to wholesale partners is someone to trust the people you’re shaking hands with, and that only happens when you take the time to build a solid professional relationship.
3.Search for a good turnkey solution
So what should your Business to Business marketplace look like?
There are a few things that go into creating a successful B2B marketplace. Here are some of the most important elements you need to keep in mind.
- To begin with, your niche. Because if you are offering a general B2B ecommerce marketplace, it won’t get much attention. But if it has a niche, your marketplace will be seen as the “go-to” source for that niche.
- Next comes a product or market fit i.e. making sure that there is a market hungry for your wholesale marketplace. After all, you do want people to want your platform. And in case they don’t see any value of your platform, you need to tweak in order to find a better product or market fit.
- Lastly, you need to figure out what multi vendor marketplace model you want to use. Using the right business model will help you scale and build a profitable business. Using otherwise (a wrong model) will get you stuck in growing a business that is stuck from the start.
Now, to find the right Business to Business marketplace software, you must look out for the features you will need such as user profiles, listings, payment methods etc. You will also need to offer a way to customize your own platform. Plus, proper security measures so as to offer secure transactions and communication methods.
4.Set up payments and logistics
Just as businesses are demanding the B2B ecommerce industry to offer a better, customizable way to shop for products and services, wholesalers are also requiring these service providers to address their needs of payments customizations as well.
This includes integrating the platform with payment processors of their clients’ choosing. This is important for businesses that use a range of different payment methods to pay their suppliers.
For example, supporting credit card processing within private wholesale marketplaces is a good move even though only a small amount worth of B2B ecommerce is processed via credit card transactions ($250 million out of the total $3 billion to be exact). The rest of the transactions are made through a combination of checks, wires, ACH, purchase orders etc.
Moving forward, continuing to explore innovative ways for wholesale vendors to accept alternative forms of payments will be another important factor you need to work on.
The bottom line is, as the wholesale marketplace continues to evolve, you will be required to instil more flexibility around purchase processes, payments, logistics, order management, supplier management depending on users’ unique needs.
5. Set up a support team to handle customer/vendor queries
While setting up a multi vendor marketplace, you will come across all kinds of customers, some will be patient with you while others will ask for an instant solution or follow-up. Getting the replies for your queries or issues and that too, in real-time is advantageous for your Business to Business marketplace.
You can do this by implementing a support system that sends email notifications to your support staff in case any query is made. The support staff can then check and revert to the query in the allotted time while making the customer happy.
You can also provide a feature like “email piping” which will help your support staff revert to the customer without coming to the B2B ecommerce support portal.
Knowledge base or frequently asked questions is another thing you can add to your portal. It will help the users to clear their doubts by themselves.
Lastly, you need to prepare a system that incorporates multiple channels such as social media so as to get a better hold over getting their issues resolved or answered as soon as possible. It’s a good way to get all the customer’s queries, doubts, complaints on one platform raised from different channels.
There you have it, everything you need to start your multi vendor marketplace. Once you have nailed all the features mentioned in this article, you will be ready to build your marketplace. So get set and go, because the wholesale world is waiting.