Decentralized Markets, Local Skills Boost B2B Wholesale eCommerce in Europe

Ankorstore, eCommerce, b2b, Europe, international, wholesale

Walking into a supermarket and purchasing grocery items all in one place is an easy and straightforward task for consumers. For businesses, however, purchasing supplies involves dealing with multiple wholesalers at different locations, which can come at a heavy cost to their bottom lines.

But as an increasing number of traditional business-to-business (B2B) firms move their operations online, B2B wholesale eCommerce has been gaining traction, with more and more online marketplaces helping retailers save time and resources when buying goods in bulk.

When it comes to Europe, the high market fragmentation requires that these platforms decentralize their operations and acquire local knowledge and expertise that can enable them to effectively address local needs in the different markets.

Fast-growing wholesale marketplace Ankorstore, founded in 2019 in France, seems to have all those elements covered. “We recognize the universal need for change within wholesale but also recognize European markets are different,” Jina Kwon, the company’s U.K. country manager, told PYMNTS.

Apart from the differences between markets, trying to disrupt the traditional wholesale market and convincing brands and retailers to change the way they consider purchasing and wholesale can be difficult for a young, fast-growing company like Ankorstore, Kwon said.

But that “healthy skepticism” is a good challenge for the firm, she added, which has already gained the trust of over 16,000 brands and 200,000 retailers across Europe that have listed over one million products on the platform to date.

SMBs Dominate in Europe

According to data from the European Commission, small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) represent 99% of companies in Europe, making this group of business owners a core target of many businesses operating in the region.

For Ankorstore, it boils down to using its technology to remove the administrative and operational burden that smaller, independent retailers typically face, acting as the center of the retail ecosystem and providing a platform where smaller brands can reap the same benefits as bigger players.

“Our merchants and brands have a huge need for software to help them better manage their business, which is where they look to us for support,” Kwon explained, adding that a range of business and sales tools are offered to enable brands to seamlessly run logistics on the platform.

“Ankorstore supports its network by adapting B2C [business-to-consumer] practices for B2B needs, including logistics support. We’ve partnered with UPS and integrated their sending tools in our backend so things like tracking numbers and shipping confirmation are automated,” she added.

To further help these merchants drive business growth, the business-to-business (B2B) firm offers them flexible payment options at checkout with up to 60-day payment terms free of charge.

“Retailers can also test sales at a low minimum order quantity, unlike the minimums typically imposed by other wholesale marketplaces. This allows us to simplify relations between the brand and retailer, creating a more frictionless relationship,” Kwon said.

Ethical Buying and Consumerism

On emerging trends shaping the European wholesale marketplace space, Kwon argued that the B2B eCommerce sector and its role in the broader retail ecosystem is becoming increasingly important, as eCommerce platforms no longer cater to the B2C market alone.

“These platforms allow for greater transformation — the modern B2B buyer’s journey is complex, and its differences and nuances need to be treated with care; to ensure the space in which they operate is as efficient as possible,” she explained.

There’s also been an increase in the number of “eco-conscious” shoppers in the wake of the pandemic, with more consumers now sensitive to the environmental impact of their shopping decisions.

“I believe we will see ethical buying and consumerism grow. This is reflected on our marketplace too, with eco-conscious brands representing over 45% of our most popular [brands] on the platform,” Kwon added.

Currently active in 23 countries with offices in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K., the French unicorn firm has recently raised 250 million euros (about $275 million) in a Series C round earmarked for its expansion to other regional markets, starting in Italy and Spain.

Read more: Ankorstore Unicorn Status Increases Buzz Around France and Europe VC Ecosystems

The B2B wholesale platform also plans to scale both horizontally and vertically by adding new product categories and features, starting with the recent additions to its core product categories: sports & wellbeing and pets.

As Kwon said: “Ankorstore will continue to be the driving force behind the growth of independent retailers in Europe throughout 2022.”