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B2B Marketplace

Before You Launch: 9 Key B2B Marketplace Statistics

headshot of Nautical Commerce team member Nicole Kahansky
Person looking at marketplace statistics

The world of B2B ecommerce is in a constant state of flux. New trends and challenges crop up all the time: technology improves, costs fluctuate, customer expectations change – businesses need to stay on top of these shifts if they want to remain competitive. 

But where can you source accurate information? Reading through the latest online marketplace statistics is a good place to start. 

In this Forrester Consulting Study commissioned by Nautical, researchers dove deep into the most common B2B marketplace trends and challenges. Forrester surveyed 121 expansion strategy decision-makers between March and May 2023, uncovering key industry statistics and insights when launching a marketplace.

Online marketplace statistics show double-digit growth potential

Incredibly, online marketplaces account for over one-third of global ecommerce shopping orders. Companies like Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart, eBay, and AirBnB leverage the online marketplace model to reach billions of buyers more conveniently and increase their ROI.

Marketplaces aren’t just for the giants, though. In the Forrester study, respondents of all sizes saw double-digit growth in revenue and average order value (AOV) after adopting an online marketplace, providing a strong business case for online marketplaces at different scales.

This article reviews 9 important statistics. 

1. 59% spent $3M or more to launch their marketplaces

Launching a B2B online marketplace is a substantial investment, with 59% of businesses spending $3 million or more on the endeavor. 

But costs vary significantly across the industry. Businesses spend more or less depending on how they approach the build vs. buy question. Should you build your marketplace technology to your exact specifications – the much more expensive option – or buy a solution with a proven track record? 

According to online marketplace statistics, businesses opting for self-built marketplaces are 43% more likely to spend $6 million or more on the launch than those who chose technology vendor solutions, according to the study. The upfront costs for self-built marketplaces are substantial, emphasizing the strategic decision-making involved in the launch process.

More than half of respondents' firms spent $3m or more to launch their marketplaces

2. 81% agree it took longer to launch their marketplace than initially anticipated

Patience is key when it comes to launching a new B2B marketplace, with 81% of businesses sharing that their launch took longer than anticipated. The complexities of launching a marketplace – from technical intricacies to stakeholder alignment – contribute to these extended timelines.

Businesses that embrace a crawl, walk, run approach in their launch strategy encounter fewer growing pains and more successful rollouts. Taking a phased approach allows businesses to get to market quickly and validate the business model by launching in increments. 

3. 61% agree that resolving internal skills and knowledge gaps was one of the most challenging parts of launching a marketplace

It’s impossible to talk about launching a new marketplace without considering the human element at the center: 61% of decision-makers highlighted the challenge of addressing internal skills and employee knowledge gaps when launching a new marketplace. 

Your employees are what will ultimately decide the success of your project. Bridging knowledge gaps and reducing adoption lag is crucial if you want to seamlessly integrate a marketplace platform into your existing business. Organizations that opted to build their own marketplace were more likely to experience challenges with the internal teams' ability to use new technology than those that purchased a vendor solution. In the case of the former, 70% found it challenging, vs. 47% of the latter.

4. 78% agree that cloud-native architecture is essential to their marketplace platform 

At the foundation of every successful online marketplace is a solid infrastructure. According to online marketplace statistics, a significant 78% of decision-makers emphasize the importance of cloud-native architecture for their marketplace platforms. 

This shift to cloud-native solutions indicates a departure from traditional on-premises models, aligning with broader trends in the industry.

🔵 What is cloud native architecture? 🔵

5. The ease of setting up and managing product information and data on a marketplace platform increased in importance by 25% post-launch 

50% of decision-makers found that post-launch, the importance of managing product information and data on the marketplace platform was higher than anticipated – a 25% increase from how many respondents felt it was important before launching a marketplace. This underscores the ongoing evolution and optimization required for marketplace success. 

Forward-thinking businesses need to consider not only what marketplace features are essential at launch, but also what features will be needed to support evolving needs. 

6. 93% agree that improving the buyer experience is an important outcome of launching a marketplace  

Enhancing the buyer experience is a primary objective for online marketplace retailers, with 93% of decision-makers emphasizing its importance. 

Why do businesses turn to marketplaces to improve the buyer experience? A marketplace allows you to expand your product inventory and availability and offer a one-stop-shop for customers. With the rise of mega-marketplaces like Amazon, this convenience is something both B2C and B2B customers expect from their shopping experience.

The success of an online marketplace is intricately tied to creating a seamless, user-friendly platform that fosters trust and satisfaction among buyers.

7. Businesses that launched a marketplace experienced 44% customer growth

The impact of launching a marketplace is evident in customer growth: businesses post-launch experienced an average increase in customers of 44% year-over-year according to online marketplace statistics. 

This substantial growth underscores the role of online marketplaces in expanding customer reach and driving engagement. With a marketplace, your business grows its product catalog by bringing in new vendors, who bring in new customers, which in turn attracts new vendors.

8. Businesses that launched a marketplace experienced 42% revenue growth

Revenue growth is – of course – a key metric for any business, and marketplaces have a proven track record of increasing revenue. Respondents in the Forrester survey saw an average of 42% year-over-year increase after launching a marketplace. 

According to one ecommerce manager, revenue growth has been exponential since launch:

“[In my first year at the organization], we were doing maybe a million [USD] in revenue,” they said. “Then in year two of the site, we did $3 million. Year four, we did $10 million. Last year, we did $17 million, and this year we’re on pace to do $25 million.”

9. Businesses that launched a marketplace experienced 36% AOV growth

Businesses launching a marketplace witnessed an average of 36% year-over-year growth in their average order value (AOV) according to Forrester’s online marketplace statistics. 

This number showcases the positive influence of marketplaces on transaction values, contributing to overall revenue expansion. Assortment expansion allows buyers to purchase more of what they need from your site — which leads to bigger cart sizes. This is one of the primary benefits marketplaces offer. 

reported year over year growth after launching a marketplace

Success starts with understanding the marketplace landscape

The journey to launching a successful B2B online marketplace is challenging, but as the statistics show, with proper investment, time, and strategic decision-making, navigating this transformative process brings massive rewards.

🔵 Want to delve deeper into these online marketplace statistics, insights, and strategies? Download the full Forrester Opportunity Snapshot to learn more. 🔵

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