If there was ever a function ripe for transformation, traditional B2B procurement is it. While B2C consumers might automatically opt for online shopping at home, many B2B buyers still rely on Rolodexes, phone calls, and faxes to do business with a select set of suppliers they know and trust.
Luckily, the B2C market has found and tested a better procurement model that B2B businesses can follow: online marketplaces.
B2C marketplace household names like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, and Rakuten have done most of the hard work. They’ve figured out the best ways to attract buyers and sellers, and manage online payments.
The systems are in place. So now, the biggest challenge for B2B marketplaces is building trust online with suppliers and buyers.
As Blue Fish Group explains, sellers sign up with Amazon and eBay because they know the level of exposure they will get, what transaction fees they will be charged, and what will happen if there are returns, delivery issues, and complaints.
Buyers, in turn, are willing to buy products from small stores they may never have heard of because they are part of the Amazon marketplace.
While traditional B2B procurement relies on building relationships first, then securing orders, on B2B marketplaces the business transaction comes first. If the experience is good, trust follows.
It’s a leap of faith for buyers and sellers, which makes trustworthiness essential for B2B marketplace operators.
Here are five ways B2C marketplaces build customer trust online, and how B2B marketplaces can implement similar tactics.
Verify buyers and sellers authenticity for trusted transactions
Businesses choose their suppliers because they can fulfill specialized orders and meet timelines and operational requirements. If they’re going to take a chance with a new supplier on a B2B marketplace, they need to know stringent vetting and onboarding processes are in place.
B2B marketplace operators can build trust online with both parties by ensuring a thorough verification process, including:
- credit and other financial checks
- business license checks
- key management checks
- confirming physical addresses and contact details.
But all of these checks demand a massive amount of paperwork, and when it takes an average of 15 days to get paper-based contracts signed, that’s not much better than traditional procurement.
Luckily, B2B marketplaces can make these processes a whole lot easier by digitizing paperwork processes—Instacart uses eSignatures to simplify contractor onboarding paperwork and increased completion rates from 70% to 96%.
By adding many trusted suppliers to your marketplace fast, you instantly become more appealing than traditional procurement methods.
Build trust with buyer and seller reviews
According to 2020 Trustpilot research, 89% of global consumers check online reviews before buying. That’s why consumer marketplaces often display public reviews to help buyers and sellers cement their reputation as good business partners.
Trustpilot found that people value authenticity and transparency, and 53% want a mix of positive and negative reviews when making a purchase decision. So, apart from being a clear incentive to offer better services, negative reviews can also help identify problem vendors and create a sense of authenticity on any platform.
Plus, by proactively seeking feedback and reviews from buyers and sellers about your marketplace itself, you can build even more trust. At worst, you’ll identify gaps and problems with your current offering. At best, you’ll have an industry recommendation that could drive more businesses to trust and try your platform.
Deliver payment options your users can trust
Just like traditional B2B procurement, B2B marketplace transactions can be complex. And as a marketplace operator, it’s your job to make transactions easier than the legacy alternative.
For starters, it’s often standard practice to issue an RFP for suppliers to respond to, or parties will sign NDAs before an order is placed to protect their IP.
And on the payments side, many B2B businesses are used to negotiating volume discounts or accessing dynamic pricing. Most use term payments, and many need to be invoiced against purchase orders. Others might need staggered delivery, or the option to return unsold stock.
While B2C marketplaces have demonstrated the importance of secure online payments, B2B marketplaces need to build in the transaction options relevant to their industry.
Flexible payment options that let buyers and sellers select their preferred method—invoice, credit card, something custom—demonstrates the marketplace operator really understands the industry needs and can move these time-consuming manual processes online—a key element to building marketplace participant trust.
Trust is just the tip of the iceberg
Building trust online is just one element of running a successful B2B marketplace, but it pays to get it right—and from the beginning.
With B2B global eCommerce market size expected to reach US$25.65 trillion by 2028, B2B online transactions will be worth three times the total value of B2C eCommerce.
So any way you can start building trust into your B2B marketplace today is going to pay dividends as the market grows.
To find out more about some of the digital tools—like eSignatures—that can help your B2B marketplace operate more efficiently, take a look our latest e-guide, How eSignatures eliminate transaction complexity for B2B marketplaces.