Is the third time the charm for B2B?

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Is the third time the charm for B2B?

“The first two waves of B2B e-marketplaces generally failed to prosper. But the next wave may benefit all of their participants-even the markets themselves.”

The McKinsey Quarterly, 2001 Number 2

Policy relevance:In April 2001 Commissioner Liikanen stated that e-marketplaces created new challenges for enterprise policy, competition and standardisation, adding that B2B is the main driver of e-business. The new challenge is that efficient e-marketplaces can be developed in Europe. This will give another boost to the internal market, with even more choice and competition. But whereas the internal market was mainly completed by legal harmonisation and mutual recognition of national laws, e-marketplaces will be shaped mainly by the market, by business services, standards and new rules of the game.

Main conclusions:

  • The life blood of a marketplace is liquidity;
  • There is a massive “chicken-and-egg” problem;
  • The real gains from online B2B commerce will come not from trading but from better access to and the sharing of information;
  • The idea is to choose a different purchasing model for each kind of transaction;
  • Certain buyers really are extremely price sensitive whilst other purchases will continue to involve information-rich bilateral relationships;
  • “e-distributors” lie between the two extremes of the stand-alone marketplace and the consortium and reach hard-to-find buyers, such as small ones;
  • This last kind of B2B might turn out pretty well…for you too.

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