SMEs constitute the beating heart of our country's economy, and in the age of digital, their success increasingly depends on their ability to open up to the world and adopt targeted marketing and sales strategies. In this context, B2B marketplaces emerge as crucial allies of companies.
There are 61% of B2B companies in Italy with revenues over 2 million euros active in e-commerce sales with their own B2B site, open or reserved for active customers, or with B2B marketplaces, the latter growing by +12% over 2021 (source NETCOMM B2B DIGITAL COMMERCE Report 2023).
B2B digital channels represent 11 percent of total sales for these companies, a figure they estimate will rise to an average of 25 percent in the next three years. These data show us how active and growing the Italian B2B sector is in digital commerce. A strategic sector for our country, considering that our industrial fabric is mainly composed of B2B companies.
But what is the level of knowledge of the tools and what are the activities, channels, organizational and project aspects that characterize B2B models and their evolution over the years?
Regarding the perception and awareness of B2B marketplaces among SMEs, they are increasing significantly-among the most popular are Alibaba.com.
The use of marketplaces for marketing, lead generation or sales purposes is also increasing. Among the services offered, digitized catalogs and product sheets are the main service used.
Developing the brand and finding new customers, finding the right distributors, and choosing the most appropriate channels and markets are confirmed to be the objectives that benefit most from digital channels and models. Compared to the past, there is a growing perception of a greater impact of B2B e-commerce tools on the goals of loyalty, after-sales service and collaboration between customers, distributors and channels.
It is now clear, then, that the opportunities offered by B2B e-commerce relate to the effectiveness and efficiency of processes and the many new business opportunities that companies will be able to pursue. These include improved customer experience, 'increased sales, greater accuracy in inventory management, increased process transparency, and increased competitiveness.
In conclusion, these trends confirm the growing value of B2B marketplaces as strategic partners for SMEs.
Structured platforms such as Alibaba.com stand as catalysts for this change, supporting the sales process of SMEs in multiple ways, for example, enhancing competitiveness by giving access to a wide range of business opportunities and improving market competitiveness, and again by providing access to global markets and opportunities to expand beyond national borders, reaching customers around the world. Also not to be overlooked is the optimization of costs and resources, which reduces waste and increases efficiency. And finally, increased visibility through increased online exposure and visibility that can contribute to continued growth.
Globally, the data also speak for themselves: today 61 percent of B2B transactions begin online, and 51 percent of buyers use social media for their initial supplier search. When the supplier is identified and has B2B e-commerce in 65 percent of cases the sale is completed directly online. Most buyers have learned to use tools to process and purchase the products they need online.
B2B e-commerce is no longer just an online shop but is a structured sales channel that enables remote interactions, self-service activities and the personalization of One-to-One relationships.
B2B e-commerce has become a must-have without which companies lose market share and sales opportunities to not only traditional competitors but also possible new entrants to the industry.
The success or otherwise of a B2B ecommerce project is often the result of a digital transformation project that is limited only to sales and distribution processes, or that involves the entire company.
Companies like Alibaba.com are committed to supporting SMEs in this changing environment. The ultimate goal is to provide stability for businesses, creating fertile ground for new business opportunities, reducing risk and optimizing overall economic performance.