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Vertical Marketplaces: The Next Big Wave of B2B Marketplaces

Niche vertical marketplaces, catering to a specific business audiences, are disrupting B2B selling. Here’s what you need to know about them.

In this article

Marketplaces are massively disrupting B2B selling. We’re getting tons of questions from forward-thinking manufacturers and distributors looking to do something about them. One question we keep getting from top B2B sellers is:

Should we go wide or go deep?

While giants like Amazon and Alibaba continue to take a horizontal approach – trying to cross all industries and many different products – we’re seeing a massive vertical trend. In other words….

Niche marketplaces are making HUGE waves online.

Vertical or niche marketplaces cater to an audience that is very specific, with a unique focal point. The advantage of selling (and buying) within a particular niche is that buyers have common needs. That makes creating a strong customer experience much easier, as self-service experience is much more defined.

The size of the B2B ecommerce market, especially for distribution, continues to experience massive growth, while personalization continues to be the driving factor for a winning CX. B2B marketplaces are predicted to reach $3.6 trillion in five years, to 30% of all B2B online sales.

Niche marketplaces are on the rise for a few reasons:

  • New revenue opportunities
  • Ability to cater to specific desired buyer experiences
  • Uniting buyers and sellers within a particular niche
  • Meeting needs for new and used products
  • Allowing B2B relationships within a vertical to grow
  • Building communities so buyers and sellers can get to know the people and companies they’re doing business with
  • Building confidence and trust
  • Compete against giant corporations who struggle to provide a certain level of intimacy and connection

It’s clear that smaller, niche marketplaces are making big waves in B2B. It’s not hard to find the biggies in this industry – you know the ones…Amazon, Alibaba, TradeIndia, to name a few. There’s no doubt that you have to figure out where marketplaces fall in your ongoing online strategy. But we’re also interested in finding the vertical stars. Here’s a list of a few niche marketplaces to watch in 2020 and beyond. As part of an omnichannel selling strategy, it might be worth considering one of these players.

The chemical industry continues to be a leader in niche marketplaces, with two that caught our eye.

  • Chemnet is a global chemical network that offers just about any chemical component you could think of, from agrichemicals, to dyes, to instruments that measure and mix these elements.
  • Whether it’s an oxymoron or not, Elemica is the biggest niche marketplace for giants like Dow, Shell and others buying their materials and products through a highly sophisticated, curated marketplace.

Global supply chains are getting a boost from several new hot players in the transport and logistic industries.

  • Flexport is a market for freight forwarding with a leading-edge technology platform with a mission to become the “circulatory system for global trade.”
  • uShip is arguably on the oldest marketplaces for LTL shipping, and still doing over $100M in revenue per year.

Automotive industries are also getting a boost from vertical marketplace.

  • A solution for buying and selling used auto parts is PartCycle, which emphasizes trust and quality of the parts sold through their site.
  • Another site offering used car parts is Parts Market, which makes it quick and easy to buy parts on their website with a simple search and a few mouse clicks.
  • Car-Part.com specializes in giving auto part recyclers a place to showcase what they have available and for those looking to buy parts to find them on a local and national level.

Building and construction materials have a number of marketplaces– and this particular niche has been active online for many years.

  • Brickhunter is a UK-based marketplace that’s expanded globally. Brickhunter’s US division utilizes a cloud-based inventory of types of bricks available countrywide.
  • SupplyHog is a one-stop-shop for not just building materials but also hardware, tools, storage and organization solutions, lawn and garden care, plumbing, electrical, doors and windows, farming and ranch needs and even housewares for a finishing touch.

The aerospace industry has two particularly significant marketplaces within the niche.

  • ePlane allows members to buy, sell, exchange and even loan aircraft parts with their “nose-to-tail” sourcing solution.
  • GoDirect Trade is a large network for used aerospace parts, fostering trust and confidence in the second hand parts sold through its marketplace.

The B2B electronics industry is serviced especially well by these two vertical marketplaces.

  • Arrow brings together more than 200,000 of the world’s leading manufacturers of electronic technology for use in home, business and daily life and facilitates purchasing online.
  • CDW specializes in IT and has a significant catalog of hardware and software for computers and networking.

Industrial heavy machinery has a thriving niche, with five marketplaces in particular capturing our attention.

  • Kitmondo lets businesses buy and sell used machinery safely and includes many industries such as broadcast and film, medical and laboratory, process and packaging, plastics, metalworking, construction and mining, printing, woodworking and more – including complete plants!
  • Similarly, Machinio is a comprehensive online marketplace for used machinery in agriculture, construction, machine tools, materials handling, printing, processing, lab and medical equipment and trucks.
  • If a company or professional only has a temporary need for a heavy machine, BigRentz arranges rentals through its network of 8,500+ locations across the country.
  • If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to new machinery, industrial equipment and even trucks and lifts, IronPlanet has both an online marketplace and in-person auctions for used products.
  • When it comes to horizontal construction, ConConn is the place to go for classified listings that make buying and selling easy via their website and companion mobile app.

Manufacturing parts and equipment get a lift from niche marketplaces.

  • Asseta presents parts and equipment buyers and sellers a simple way to buy and sell in the secondary market. Buyers can connect with multiple sellers and select the best option.

There’s of course, many other marketplaces to consider when you get vertical specific. If marketplaces don’t seem like the right fit for you, you might consider investing in your own ecommerce solution to meet your unique business requirements and the demands of your customers.


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