B2B Marketplaces: The Future Of B2B Ecommerce

The B2B ecommerce industry has had a complicated relationship with marketplaces over the last 20 years. Around the turn of the millennium, marketplaces went looking for business from B2B buyers and sellers, but the resulting actions were not successful. The technology was inadequate, buyers and sellers on a wide scale were not interested, and competitive differences kept industry marketplace coalitions from working together.

Looking to the future, it is predicted that marketplaces will be the most popular way to buy and sell in the B2B market. This growth is based on projections from Digital Commerce 360.

Sales on business-to-business marketplaces increased 131% to $56.5 billion in 2021 and are projected to grow at a similar pace to $130 billion in 2022.

Since the pandemic started more than two years ago, buying and selling between businesses has changed a lot. It’s now common for businesses to buy and sell products and services online, using marketplaces especially for businesses. Sales on these business-to-business marketplaces are expected to grow more than five times from 2020 to 2022.

More and more B2B marketplaces are becoming mainstream. In 2022, B2B marketplaces grew 7.2 times faster than all B2B ecommerce, according to a projection from Digital Commerce 360.

Digital Commerce 360 was following 75 to 100 B2B marketplaces 3 years ago. Today, the B2B Marketplace 400 research report has metrics and analysis on 400 commercial and vertical marketplaces across 18 industries.

In 2020, 1.8% of all B2B ecommerce sales, or $24.60 billion, were made through marketplace sales. In 2022, it is predicted that 6.9% of all B2B ecommerce sales, or $130.00 billion, will be made through marketplace sales.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, many people could not buy things in person anymore, so they started buying things online instead. In March 2022, when Digital Commerce 360 asked business buyers how the pandemic had changed their buying behavior, the most common answer was that they had started buying things from online stores because there is more selection.

57% of buyers said they were purchasing more from B2B online marketplaces,17% said they were buying significantly more, and 35% said they were buying at least half of their shopping from marketplaces.

Amazon Business is the most popular marketplace for B2B buyers and 43% of them expect to spend more money on it in 2022.

Despite difficult economic conditions, investors continue to invest money in B2B marketplace companies, says Bowery Capital. In 2021, there were 111 deals completed, and the number of deals has not decreased in 2022. So far in 2022, there have been 63 deals.

So far, the biggest marketplace deal that Bowery Capital has tracked is $2.2 billion for Flexport. That service sector has seen $7.05 billion in marketplace funding in the past 12 months, which is more than any other category.

There have been 21 deals in the Labor sector worth $2.31 billion in the past 12 months. Additionally, there has been $2.35 billion in funding in the Manufacturing & Industrials sector, $1.40 billion in Retailing, and $1.24 billion in Agriculture.

There are many B2B marketplaces besides Amazon Business. In 2021, the top 10 B2B marketplaces had a Gross Merchandise Value of $4.4 billion, while Amazon Business had a GMV of $31.4 billion.

Bank of America Securities projects that in 2022, Amazon Business will post $41.5 billion in gross merchandise volume. This would be a 31.7% increase from the projected $31.5 billion in 2022. If these projections are correct, Amazon Business would account for 31.9% of all B2B marketplaces sales, or one in every three transactions. By 2025, Amazon Business could post annual gross merchandise volume of $83.1 billion.

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