Portals are key to B2B survival

The future of business-to-business e-marketplaces lies in becoming part of broader workplace portals, according to research from...

The future of business-to-business e-marketplaces lies in becoming part of broader workplace portals, according to research from Summit Strategies.

Paul Donovan

The findings have been released as e-marketplaces around the globe, including one operated by PC vendor Dell, have run into financial difficulties and shut down.

The Summit report suggests that B2B markets need to be linked to hosted applications, such as financial software, or news and community services aimed at a single industry sector - often referred to as vertical markets.

Among the companies tipped for success by the analyst firm are AvantGo, Aether Systems and Sales.com, all of which are launching wireless workplaces including integrated hosted applications, specialised content and marketplace services.

Separately, market research firm Jupiter MMXI has produced a report predicting that four fifths of Europe's online market places will go bust.

"Fewer than 100 Net markets will survive out of the 500 existing today," said the report.

In order to survive, the markets need the right volume of transactions, the backing of the industry concerned and integration with telephone- and customer support.

The failure of Dell's online marketplace is the most high profile of a number of closures. Launched last September, Dell Marketplace sought to sell PCs and peripherals, as well as goods from third party suppliers. But only three companies - 3M, Motorola and Pitney Bowes - signed up, which caused the closure of the exchange.

According to the Summit report, further evidence of the need for more rounded e-marketplace services comes from the experience of companies such as VerticalNet and Portera Systems. VerticalNet, which runs 57 industry-specific content portals, found that introducing e-marketplaces to its sites increased its commerce revenues from 5% to 54%. It had previously relied on advertising for most of its income. Internet business service provider Portera Systems discovered that the addition of complimentary applications, such as Oracle Financials and extra news content, brought greater customer satisfaction.

Summit's findings show that wireless aggregators, and those focused on vertical markets, are moving more quickly towards the all-round solution than non-wireless and so-called horizontally focused marketplaces that aim to provide a single product category to firms from widely varying industry sectors.

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