B2B marketplaces are the fastest growing eCommerce channels.
What does this mean for Partner and Eco-system Marketers?
Helen Curtis, CEO, Coterie Community
B2B marketplaces are a growing phenomenon accelerated by COVID-19, where B2B buyers took to purchasing via the internet. The facts speak for themselves:
- 57% of B2B buyers have bought somewhat or significantly more via marketplaces since 2020.
- 25% are now buying more than half of purchases via marketplaces
- Sales via B2B marketplaces increased by 131% in 2021
- They are the fastest-growing eCommerce channel. 
What makes marketplace partner marketing different to normal partner marketing?
For the customer, the benefits of buying via a marketplace are ease of purchase, a simpler procurement process, faster delivery, better commercials, and what we classically call a one-stop shop.
The main advantage for B2B sellers joining marketplaces is their ability to reach a large, captivated audience. The marketplace marketing team focus on the trends, updating search strategies, refreshing pages, and optimising content. When combined with the range of brands updating offers and adding or removing products, SEO gets driven up which leads to more inbound traffic . This is great news for vendors supplying via the marketplace but they do need to adapt their partner marketing. Traditionally, their products would have been sold via multiple resellers. That is probably still the case, but now B2B buyers have the option of purchasing directly from the marketplace or for a vendor reseller to fulfil a purchase via the marketplace. This means that now as partner marketers, the key difference is that you need to know your different audiences because it’s become complex.
The above diagram demonstrates this complexity and what it means for you as a partner marketer. So how do you go about tackling this complexity?
1. Sart by mapping the B2B customer buying journey and think about all the possible touch points i.e. which sales teams might reach out to them and what marketing may land in their inbox. Being cognizant of all these different channels and touchpoints for the B2B customer is critical. In the diagram, you can see:
- Marketplace direct sales team
- Vendor direct sales team
- Push marketing from the marketplace (information on the website)
- Push marketing from the vendor
- Traditional vendor resellers’ sales team
- Traditional marketplace resellers’ sales team
2. The next step is to build one core joint value proposition for the vendor and marketplace. Together what value do you bring to the B2B customer? This could be joint technical benefits as well as commercial and service.
3. Once this base has been built, then spin the value proposition and layer in the value that both types of resellers layer on top of the joint value proposition e.g. integration or advisory services.
4. Think about the “sell to” message for the various sales teams e.g. what are the pains of the marketplace direct and reseller sales teams and how does this joint proposition benefit them? The same for the vendor direct sales team and the vendor resellers.
5. Finally, it is important to note that it is likely that your products/services will be sitting on the marketplace side by side with competitors. So uniquely standing out with a compelling joint value proposition is key, making sure you get promoted and making sure all possible sales teams understand your unique value, is more important than ever.
As partner marketers, we are used to complexity because we’ve always had to think about marketing to, through, and with but for me, it’s now a whole other level of complexity with all these additional layers added.
What would be three pieces of advice for someone tackling marketplace partner marketing?
- Map out all the different possible interaction points that your product could have with the B2B customer and make sure you build these into your marketing plans.
- Make sure that even though you have one core foundational value proposition think about how you spin it for those different sales teams in a way they will understand.
- Take extra care to proactively communicate to these different groups to avoid any possible channel conflict or miscommunication