Digital marketplaces for business-to-business (B2B) purchasing are growing rapidly. These platforms provide consumer-like experiences for business buyers and are modeled after business-to-consumer (B2C) sites such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba.

Business buyers like having the convenience, pricing transparency, personalized service and purchasing ease they know so well from consumer platforms. A study found 94% of business buyers conduct online research of services and products before buying.[1] B2B digital marketplaces enable them to quickly browse, gather product information and pricing, and enjoy hassle-free purchasing.

B2B digital marketplaces are appearing in several industry sectors, including steel; industrial heavy machinery; parts and equipment; distribution; freight transportation; maintenance, repair and operations (MRO); and fashion wholesaling.[2]

Growth has occurred more quickly outside the United States, but U.S. platforms are catching up. Amazon Business and eBay Business Supply are the largest B2B digital platforms among those that offer a broad array of business products.[3] In specialty sectors, sites such as Microsoft Azure Marketplace, Fiverr, IronPlanet, Steel Spider, Kinnek, SupplyHub, JOOR and Uber Freight have found investors and are growing their platforms rapidly.[4]

Experts believe the next big innovation in B2B digital marketplaces is the incorporation of blockchain technology. Blockchain is a series of distributed ledgers that carry information on products and services from their inception and throughout their lifecycle.[5] By using blockchain for B2B digital marketplace transactions, business buyers can eliminate middlemen suppliers due to the technology’s transparency and embedded smart contracts in its code.

Microsoft, Intel and other technology companies have joined together to develop a “Coco Framework” for blockchain that provides business buyers with confidentiality, governance, performance and processing power. This framework enables trusted transactions using blockchain on shared B2B digital marketplace platforms.[6]

[1] “Are B2B Digital Marketplaces the Next Buying Revolution?” guest post by Matt Royle, Spend Matters Network blog, July 25, 2017. Available at: http://spendmatters.com/uk/b2b-digital-marketplaces-next-buying-revolution/

[2] “Infographic: B2B Marketplaces and the Disruption of B2B Distribution,” by Nicholas L. Johnson, Applico blog, Aug. 25, 2017. Available at: https://www.applicoinc.com/blog/b2b-marketplace-disruption-infographic/

[3] “Infographic: B2B Marketplaces and the Disruption of B2B Distribution,” by Nicholas L. Johnson, Applico blog, Aug. 25, 2017. Available at: https://www.applicoinc.com/blog/b2b-marketplace-disruption-infographic/

[4] “Infographic: B2B Marketplaces and the Disruption of B2B Distribution,” by Nicholas L. Johnson, Applico blog, Aug. 25, 2017. Available at: https://www.applicoinc.com/blog/b2b-marketplace-disruption-infographic/ and “Are B2B Digital Marketplaces the Next Buying Revolution?” guest post by Matt Royle, Spend Matters Network blog, July 25, 2017. Available at: http://spendmatters.com/uk/b2b-digital-marketplaces-next-buying-revolution/

[5] “Blockchain May Give Rise to Even Smarter B2B Marketplaces,” by Joe McKendrick, Forbes Tech blog, Aug. 16, 2017. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2017/08/16/blockchain-may-give-rise-to-even-smarter-b2b-marketplaces/#4bfaa331cc4e

[6] “Blockchain May Give Rise to Even Smarter B2B Marketplaces,” by Joe McKendrick, Forbes Tech blog, Aug. 16, 2017. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2017/08/16/blockchain-may-give-rise-to-even-smarter-b2b-marketplaces/#4bfaa331cc4e

This news is provided as a service to you by Marlin Business Services Corp., a nationwide leader in commercial lending solutions for the U.S. small business sector. Marlin’s equipment financing and loan programs are available directly and through third-party vendor programs, including manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers, to deliver financing and working capital that help build your success.