Online shopping is hardly a new trend, but one aspect that is changing is who is doing all the buying. More eCommerce sites are successfully breaking into the wholesale and B2B sectors.
Amazon and eBay, for example, both are finding such success in B2B commerce, and their wholesale sites are even proving to be more popular than their standard retail sites.
Take, for instance, Amazon Supply, the website offshoot of Amazon’s regular site. In just two years, it has grown from a beta site with over 500,000 products to a wholesale-distribution giant of 2.2 million items in its inventory, according to TopTenWholesale.
“If 2.2 million products doesn’t sound like a staggering figure on its own, consider that the average wholesaler sells closer to 50,000 products online,” explained Forbes contributor Clare O’Connor, in a recent article.
New kids on the block
However, Amazon is not the only rookie just hitting the big leagues in online B2B sales: eBay has also been finding success.
According to Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which helps online companies sell through Amazon, eBay and other e-marketplaces, eBay is seeing positive results in its Business & Industrial (B&I) sales category – an area devoted to B2B sales.
Specifically, in the fourth quarter of last year eBay reported B&I sales were growing at an annual rate of 17 percent, compared with 12 percent overall for eBay.com, Wingo told Internet Retailer.
“My educated guess would be, with Amazon growing overall in the mid-20’s, B2B there is growing in the 25 percent to 35 percent range,” Wingo told the news source.
Even with Amazon Supply’s increasing industry power, not everyone is convinced that it will necessarily be “disruptive” to the wholesale industry.
Lindsay Konzak of Modern Distribution Management, contends Amazon Supply lacks “on-site service capabilities, such as inventory management — in high demand from some B2B customers right now – and a deeper understanding of the B-to-B market.”
“Amazon has always focused on how people buy, not what they buy,” Konzak told TopTenWholesale News. “In some categories, that may be very powerful and disruptive; in others, customers may need a much higher level of expertise on product selection and service from their suppliers, which may include installation and ongoing maintenance to keep, for example, a production line from going down.”
A growing market
Regardless of the critics, one thing is for certain: the B2B wholesale marketplace is growing. Last month, PYMNTS.com discussed how the site TopTenWholesale saw its number of consumer products listed by sellers grow to more than 1.1 million as of June from less than 600,000 in January.
Additionally, the popular online marketplace Etsy recently launched a wholesale site. After being in beta for a year, Etsy said that it was ready to offer sellers an opportunity to grow their business and connect them with independent boutiques in the U.S. and abroad.
Online wholesale opportunities are not looking to lessen anytime soon, which can likely only mean positive things for the B2B marketplace. The larger question seems to be, which wholesale site are businesses going to choose?