B2B eProcurement Platforms: A Rapidly Evolving Landscape

Next-gen stakeholders, digitalisation, consumer-centricity, resource efficiency, one-stop marketplace solutions and purpose-driven procurement are transforming global B2B procurement ecosystems.

Table of Contents

  1. A new generation of procurement stakeholders
  2. Digital and consumerised interactions and experiences
  3. Saving resources and boosting efficiency
  4. Heavy migration towards one-stop online B2B marketplaces
  5. The age of vertical solutions
  6. Purpose-driven procurement
  7. The foodcircle way: all of the above!

It's no secret that B2B procurement has long-lagged behind its significantly more tech-savvy and consumer-centric B2C counterparts across all industries. From food to fashion, polymers to office supplies, we outline some of the changes the B2B realm has been rapidly undergoing in general, as well as zoom in on some of the pioneering procurement platforms and solutions providers.

A new generation of procurement stakeholders

Across all industries, the ways businesses are doing business with each other is rapidly changing. One of the key drivers? Expectations laid out by the people handling and managing the supply chain day-to-day.

According to a recent comprehensive study about next-generation B2B purchasing by MIRAKL, ORACLE and WBR INSIGHTS, millennials in the workforce are helping accelerate change. In fact, in some businesses, millennials already make up the majority of the B2B customer base. But it’s not just millennials. Stakeholders from older generations, including Gen-X and Baby Boomers, are yearning for better digital B2B experiences

Similarly, industry experts note advancements in expectations on the delivery front and speed, flexibility and ease of experience are all cited as relevant drivers. The advent of savvy digital and analytic tools is also carving the way for new forms of transaction management in procurement departments.

>> B2B Procurement Pioneer: HUBS | hubs.com  

Hubs — an up-and-coming Protolabs company — is an on-demand manufacturing and rapid prototyping provider that helps businesses order custom parts online. Promising “quotes in seconds, parts in days”, Hubs caters directly to a young, tech-savvy B2B audience by focusing on speed of delivery and ease of use. 


 

Digital and consumerised interactions and experiences

In yet another example of how the pandemic has forced entire industries to adopt more agile approaches to doing business, over the past 20 months, B2B stakeholders swiftly managed the 180-degree shift from primarily physical interactions with business partners to fully remote communication. The resulting time and money businesses have saved on travel expenses is immense. According to a McKinsey study in October 2020, up to 80% of decision-makers in the B2B realm now prefer maintaining online relations at all points along the purchasing cycle. And, in 2021, that number has only increased further. The result is driving innovation in B2B sales.

Mirroring the demographic demands outlaid earlier in this article, B2B stakeholders are increasingly expecting to be treated less like businesses and more like B2C consumers. Thus consumerised experiences include systems and features that are more customised, user-friendly and adaptable.

>> B2B Procurement Pioneer: Choco | choco.com 

Gastronomers, restauranteurs and ingredient suppliers alike welcome solutions like Choco. This state-of-the-art app makes it easier for food industry stakeholders to place and receive orders with a fully-mobile toolkit. Clean interfaces and streamlined processes replace endless spreadsheets, menial manual tasks and traditional order inefficiencies.

>> B2B Procurement Pioneer: Knowde | knowde.com 

The US-based marketplace for ingredients, polymers and chemicals allows raw materials industry customers to connect with over 3,500 suppliers from around the globe. Knowde’s service portfolio is built around the need for businesses to work smarter and faster to become more sustainable and maintain their competitive edge in globalised markets. 

 

Saving resources and boosting efficiency 

The time-consuming, tedious and often repetitive nature of traditional procurement processes has resulted in a bad rep and headaches for many procurement departments. The pandemic has highlighted many supply chain inefficiencies that B2B industries have been grappling with for decades, making room for long-overdo digital solutions designed to drastically improve resource management and boost efficiency in procurement departments on both sides of the coin. 

Procurement stakeholders breathe a huge sigh of relief both on the customer and the service provider side as a string of tech-focused procurement platforms take to the stage. The rise of the B2B digital marketplace marks the dawn of a new era with simplified processes and increased transparency emerging as top priorities.

>> B2B Procurement Pioneer: Scoutbee | scoutbee.com 

Another exciting example is Scoutbee, a supplier discovery platform committed to fully digitising the supplier search journey. Via a unique combination of AI-driven Longlists, advanced assessments, collaborative platform and 360-degree overview, B2B buyers are empowered to make faster, smarter and more strategic buying decisions.


 

Heavy migration towards one-stop online B2B marketplaces

The key benefits of the emergence of online B2B marketplaces include increased transparency and availability of products, services, suppliers, pricing and purchasing terms. Unlike the B2C industry, until recently, many B2B businesses have failed to set up all-in-one solutions, resulting in fragmented and complex procurement processes.

With the likes of Exporthub, Alibaba and Amazon laying out new expectations for services and features B2C customers can expect whilst shopping, B2B procurement providers are tapping into this potential too. Stakeholders are now harnessing the power of one-stop shopping tools, like provision of detailed specs, price comparisons, personalised recommendations, financial solutions and payment options, premium logistics, speedy returns and easy refund payments, amongst other value-added services and fulfilment support. 

>> B2B Procurement Pioneer: Mercateo | mercateo.com 

Hailing from Germany, Mercateo is a German B2B procurement platform providing European businesses with everything from office supplies to building services. From financing support to contact templates, Mercateo proudly positions itself at the intersection between a marketplace, procurement platform and international business network.


 

The age of vertical solutions 

We are also seeing the rapid emergence of vertical solutions. Roland Benedetti from SVP aptly highlights how modular services are steadily replacing the traditional approach to procurement where providers worked in service silos. Thus, businesses built only to serve single parts of the supply chain, such as ingredient sourcing or payment providers, are now facing competition from an increased number of integrated solutions platforms.

>> B2B Procurement Pioneer: Metalshub | ​​metals-hub.com 

As one of the world’s leading global platforms in B2B sales of ferroalloys and metals, Metalshub provides customers with cost-efficient, productive and compliant trading solutions. Metalshub’s features even include price indices which allow customers to monitor changes in the market and adapt their buying strategies accordingly. 

>> B2B Procurement Pioneer: Foursource | foursource.com 

Looking towards the apparel and textile industry, there is Foursource. The team at Foursource is committed to building smart, efficient and sustainable sourcing solutions which help customers react to fast-changing global sourcing conditions in real-time.

 

Purpose-driven procurement

Gone are the days when procurement was just a question of getting goods from A to B safely. Following global trends, the pressure is on businesses to move products in more socially responsible and sustainable ways. And the ability to communicate these efforts is proving to be a key USP for many B2B companies. As such, Forbes highlights how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is no longer a question of donating to the right charity. Factors like CO2 footprint and adherence to internationally recognised certification standards are ingrained in business’ DNA. Thus, procurement partners who support these efforts with features like transparent sourcing and fair wages are proving quick to gain a foothold in any market.

>> B2B Procurement Pioneer: Collectiv Food | collectivfood.com 

In an effort to promote farm-to-fork approach throughout the food industry, Collectiv Food shortens food supply chains by working directly to connect a network of carefully vetted suppliers with next generation buyers.

>> B2B Procurement Pioneer: ​​Full Harvest | fullharvest.com 

In a unique take on reducing food-waste, Full Harvest is bringing together farmers and buyers in their online marketplace for oddly-shaped and surplus produce. As such, Full Harvest is committed to creating a food system in which all harvested edible produce finds its way onto consumers’ plates. 
 

 

The foodcircle way: all of the above! 

At foodcircle, we pride ourselves to take part in revolutionising B2B food procurement! By studying our stakeholders’ needs in great depth and aligning these with a consumerised approach, we guarantee the best possible experience for our customers and suppliers alike. By continually developing our vertical solutions, we empower our customers to save time and money every step of the way. 

At foodcircle, we believe that the future of food procurement is digital. At foodcircle, the future is now. 

Images: (1) Ruthson Zimmersen, (3) Samantha Borges & (6) Marcel Viragh via Unsplash.com; (2), (4) & (5) via foodcircle.com
 

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