The U.S. B2B eCommerce market is soaring. It was worth an estimated $9 trillion in 2018 alone, and a growing share of companies are now exchanging goods and services through B2B marketplaces.
These platforms aim to provide streamlined shopping experiences for corporate customers, allowing them to find services, compare prices and make purchases or bookings in one spot. Enabling such buying experiences has increased the popularity of B2B marketplaces across industries, from goods procurements to travel, helping businesses book flights, secure hotel rooms and rent cars.
B2B marketplaces bank on drawing customers to their platforms by offering convenient shopping experiences, much as consumer-focused eCommerce sites do. As a result, sellers are attracted by the opportunities to market their goods and services to these platforms’ ready customer bases, and they are willing to pay marketplaces to do so. In fact, 75 percent of marketing executives say selling through online marketplaces allows companies to directly reach customers where they prefer to shop.
B2B marketplaces that can deliver seamless shopping and buying experiences stand to generate significant revenue from their sellers. eCommerce giant Amazon boasted more than $10 billion in annualized sales from its Amazon Business B2B marketplace in February 2019, up from $1 billion when it launched in 2015. Moreover, half of the segment’s $10 billion in sales came from third-party sellers, netting fees for the company. Amazon charges its merchants a monthly $39.99 subscription cost in addition to selling fees that vary by item category.
Marketplaces that hope to remain competitive must continually justify charging sellers fees or risk losing business, and 31 percent of sellers cite service costs as reasons to leave marketplaces. Platforms keen on winning and retaining both buyers and sellers must make it easy for the former to not only find items, but also to pay for and receive them. Twenty-nine percent of merchants said they would leave platforms without enough registered buyers, and 49 percent of consumers claimed they would abandon marketplaces that tacked on shipping costs and sellers’ fees.
There are solutions that can ease these pains points, however, and APIs can help providers offer smoother payments and delivery experiences. One such platform-focused offering includes a customizable Braintree payment module that enables credit card payments without redirecting customers to other sites. It includes automatic chargeback management, merchant account creation capabilities, anti-fraud tools and more. Another solution, PayPal for Marketplaces, intends to facilitate aspects such as taking seller fees and commissions, while Dwolla supports marketplaces taking in payments and then disbursing automated ACH transfers to sellers.
Meanwhile, shipping-related APIs can help marketplaces offer better product delivery experiences and provide real-time shipment tracking, order management, access to a selection of carriers and shipping label printing options, among other things.
Once the products have been delivered and transactions are complete, marketplaces often prompt customers to rate their products and write reviews. These interactions can help foster trust in platforms and the items they sell, and rating and review APIs can help platforms manage and quickly respond to critiques, answer questions or address complaints.
B2B marketplaces can offer compelling revenue streams for platform providers that offer smooth and convenient services. As they work to please both buyers and sellers, such platforms would be wise to enhance their offerings through APIs.