A B2B marketplace is a platform which brings together manufacturers or suppliers with resellers. It holds the promise of reducing the number of steps between two parties who want to transact (buy/sell) with each other. The process starts by identifying if you are an SME manufacturer, wholesaler or supplier, then continue on to describe the B2B marketplaces that are available to you and finally recommend some tips on how you can use them more effectively.
A B2B Marketplace vs B2C Marketplace
One common mistake that people often make when they discuss business-to-business marketing is comparing it to business-to-consumer marketing. They are not entirely the same thing – there are many differences between selling consumer goods and selling industrial goods.
The main difference between the two is that on a B2C marketplace (e.g., Amazon or eWorldTrade), consumers are free to browse and browse through an infinite number of products. They can then pick which ones they want, choose their color, size etc. – details about functionality might be secondary for them. On the other hand, businesses do not have time to spend looking at what’s available in minute detail (they must focus on running their business). Businesses also tend to buy in bulk, so fewer purchases per year mean the process is more efficient logistically. Thus, what matters is whether you have access to suppliers / manufacturers, then find out about their prices and finally check if they offer any additional services. For example, account management & maintenance, after-sales services etc.
Buyers – Know Your Needs Better Than Anyone Else
The first mistake that most people make is that they assume that the supplier knows what their needs are. However, the supplier only has a small part of the picture. For instance, if you are buying tools for your business, you might need different sizes or shapes based on your current needs. The supplier may not know this upfront since it’s something you might need in six months’ time which isn’t relevant now. Similarly, even though certain products are similar to yours there will be some differences which could affect prices (e.g., packaging, model numbers etc.). You should engage with suppliers who have access to your desired range of product lines and negotiate hard with them on prices.
When you are buying in bulk, the price negotiations with suppliers will be more complex than when you are purchasing a single product online at eWorldTrade. Sometimes it’ll also involve getting an inside view of your supplier’s operations if they want to gain your trust. This is why it makes sense to build relationships with them over time so that you can negotiate better prices & terms. A healthy business relationship goes both ways – you should also provide good service too so that the supplier wants to keep doing business with you. If possible, find out what their customers think of them and see if they have any complains about their services or products which could affect your decision-making process.
Choosing Your B2B Marketplaces
As mentioned before, there are many B2B marketplaces out there so here are some of the major ones available to you.
The first option is LinkedIn which has both free & paid options. The main advantage of this is that it’s easy to use so most people prefer it over other options. However, there are limitations with what you can do – the free version of LinkedIn only allows connections with 1st degree contacts (e.g., your direct reports). If you want to connect with others (e.g., 2nd or 3rd degree contact) then consider upgrading to their premium account or look at other B2B marketplaces mentioned below which might suit your needs better.
One common mistake when using LinkedIn is not understanding how their algorithm works. For example, if you were only using LinkedIn to connect with your suppliers then that’s a different use case compared to what LinkedIn was designed for. When someone is looking at you on LinkedIn, they’re going to see some of your details from your profile as well as those who have viewed you recently & the number of people in common. So, for instance if a manufacturer has been searching on Google about “buy tools” and sees a link to your profile – it’s going to show them both you and how many other companies are interested in their products. So, make sure your business profile is fully filled out with all the relevant information including company description, logo etc. because it’ll be used when someone performs an online search or looks at how many times you’ve been viewed by other companies.
If you don’t want to use LinkedIn because of the price, then you could try BQool which is like a middle man between suppliers and buyers. They’ll help with the entire process – finding suitable suppliers, negotiating prices & terms and helping with marketing your product online. They charge fees depending on how much work they do for you but generally speaking its more cost-effective than using professionals to do everything yourself. For instance, if there are multiple people in your company who can manage social media then that’s fine since their monthly fee covers all of them. If, however only 1 person manages social media then consider whether you should still pay for others who aren’t doing because it doesn’t make sense financially.
The last B2B marketplace is eWorldTrade which has both free & paid options. It has a huge database of suppliers who are mostly located in China. You can search using specific parameters to find what you want but their biggest limitation is that they don’t have many tools for managing your suppliers. For instance, if you wanted to change supplier, you’ll probably need to contact them one-by-one which defeats the point of having a B2B marketplace. Also, there’s no feature for negotiating prices, no ability to track orders etc. so unless you’re happy with that then look at other options mentioned earlier.
Choosing Your Suppliers
When considering whether or not someone will be suitable as a supplier keep the following points in mind.
– The price in comparison to competitors in your local area
– Delivery times in comparison to competitors in your local area
– Revision requests/complaints rates in the last 6 months – if they have a high rate then that could be an indicator that their products are low quality so find out why customers are unhappy with them. If it’s due to late deliveries then consider whether you can put pressure on them to speed up delivery times, or reduce the number of revision requests by improving quality control when manufacturing your products.
You might want to look at having multiple suppliers for each component since this gives you more negotiating power. For example, if say one supplier increased prices by 10% compared to another supplier who didn’t then try finding another supplier whose price is still low but without affecting your bottom line. This of course means spending more time searching for suppliers which isn’t ideal but it’s a useful tactic if your original supplier is demanding too high prices.
Another way to go about this is by using B2B drop shippers that have access to a large range of different products from multiple suppliers. It doesn’t really matter so much whose product you choose like crude palm oil buyer since they’ll be the ones shipping it directly to your customers on your behalf. To determine which supplier provides the best quality & quickest delivery times then you can compare those factors between each drop shipper and factor that into pricing calculations as well as choosing the one that provides their own customer service.