The leading B2B marketplace “WLW” has conducted a survey on “The role of platforms and marketplaces in B2B purchasing”. Around 1,300 buyers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland were questioned in September 2017 about their use behavior and the challenges they encounter in connection with platforms and marketplaces. Result of the online study: Online platforms and marketplaces are particularly appreciated for the quick findability of products, but provide too little detailed product information.
The most important results summarized:
- Most important usage factor: Fast searchability of B2B products (36.3 percent)
- Approximately 45 percent of the participants confirm that new procurement markets are easy to access thanks to B2B platforms
- 36 percent see in the dominance of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA) an increasing dependence of Europe against the US
The status quo – B2B online platforms and marketplaces for SMEs increasingly important
In addition to the still most important source of supply in purchasing, the direct contact (59.4 percent), buyers mainly use online shops (53.4 percent) and market places (45.9 percent). Trade shows (36.9 percent), industry directories (27.8 percent), their own delivery systems (11.1 percent) and other sources (11.9 percent, personal recommendations being the most common). Most of the participants use platforms and marketplaces mainly to find products (67.3 percent) and to seek new suppliers (47.9 percent). Only around a third of respondents also make orders. “The survey shows that online platforms and marketplaces are becoming increasingly important for companies to search for products,” said Peter F. Schmid, CEO of Wer Liefert Was and Chairman of EUROPAGES. “In the trend, the personal contact is only relevant after the buyer has already informed himself online about the possible suppliers,” explains Schmid.
Quality of the offerings – Which B2B platforms are used and what are the hurdles?
The most important factor for the use of platforms and marketplaces is that 36.3 percent of buyers surveyed say they can find products there quickly. The comparability of prices (18.9 per cent) and products (13.6 per cent) as well as a wide range of products (16.6 per cent) follow. “The survey has shown that online platforms and marketplaces are very efficient and therefore very popular,” says Peter F. Schmid. The CEO of “WLW” and Chairman EUROPAGES recognizes in the results of the survey also untapped potential.
“Companies have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to providing enough detailed information online” said Peter F. Schmid. The reason: around 45.8 per cent of the participants consider the lack of detailed product information as well as a lack of search function (35.9 per cent) as critical. It was also criticized that contact information was hidden and difficult to find (33.9 percent). According to Schmid, the B2B marketplace “Wer Liefert Was” has already reacted: “Detailed product information can even be integrated automatically and updated each day.” he says.
Platform economy – does Google & Co. push Europe into US dependence?
Overall, the respondents look optimistically into the future and draw a positive picture. Platforms and marketplaces are seen above all as drivers of their own business, they make the easy opening up of new procurement markets (45.5 per cent), lower costs in purchasing (39.2 per cent) and are growth drivers, but above all important innovation drivers (41.8 percent). Only 4.6 percent of respondents said there would be no changes. However, with all confidence, the interviewees also recognize the dominance of GAFA and fear that Europe will increasingly be pushed into dependency (36.4 percent).
What do B2B buyers in other European countries think?
The survey was carried out simultaneously by the European B2B platform EUROPAGES. Some 900 international participants (mainly from Europe) took part in the survey. Overall, the results are similar in all areas. The most important source of supply for the buyers is direct contact (63 percent), followed by online shops (45.6 percent) and market places (36.9 percent). The platforms are mainly used for the research of specific products (57.9 percent). On the other hand, the platforms used show a different picture compared to the DACH area: Alibaba (52.7 percent) is much more common in the English-speaking world than other platforms. In France, the Chinese company ranks second (37.3 percent) – behind EUROPAGES (51.1 percent). The main reason for the use is the fast searchability of the products (24.6 percent), the biggest hurdles are hidden contact information (37.6 percent) and missing or incomplete product information (40.1 percent). The advantages are also recognized here: 41.3 percent stated that new procurement markets can be easily opened up by means of B2B platforms and marketplaces, and that medium-sized companies can reduce costs in purchasing (35.6 percent).
“The study clearly shows that B2B platforms and marketplaces continue to gain relevance. Buyers now recognize their potential – but also see that Europe is increasingly driven into a dependency. It is all the more important that European players establish themselves as counterweights “said Peter F. Schmid, CEO of EUROPAGES.
About the study methodology
The study was conducted by “Wer Liefert Was” from 21 August to 25 September 2017. A total of 1,313 buyers from the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) were surveyed.
- 44.6 percent of the participants work in a company with 1 to 9 employees.
- 35 percent of the participants work in a company with 10 to 249 employees.
- The remaining participants work in a company with 250 or more employees.
The participants indicated the following B2B sectors in which they work:
Electronics and electrical engineering, surface engineering, measurement and control technology, refrigeration, air-conditioning and ventilation technology, packaging technology, construction, machinery and vehicle construction, transport and storage, retail and wholesale trade, energy and water supply, production of metal products, metal production Trade of motor vehicles, Other.