What Is B2B E-partnering?
The current pandemic has only exacerbated a trend that has been going on for years. That is the shift of our economy online.
The world of ecommerce, once a niche sector, has become mainstream. Now every business is racing to get their share of online sales and large corporations offering ways to do so.
Companies can generally choose among three options to increase their online sales. Firstly, they can set up their own store online. Secondly, they can try to sell directly to the final customers on a B2C marketplace. And thirdly, they can sell to another company on a B2B marketplace.
Examples of gigantic platforms that offer these services include Amazon (B2C), Alibaba (B2B), and Shopify (B2B2C).
E-partnering: A New Way of Doing Business
There is another possibility now available for companies, and that is B2B e-partnering.
Now, if you want to sell online B2C, you will probably need an online distributor. If you want to sell B2B, you will need to go through a B2B marketplace where businesses buy in bulk.
What if you want to find a distributor that is not a gigantic online platform, with its own strict policies and strong bargaining power? What if you preferred to have recurrent orders instead of random bulk purchases?
In a word, what if you were looking for a long-term business partner?
In the world of technology, this may look outdated. You might have the idea of crowded trade fairs, or expensive meetings with export agencies. Maybe you even think of time-consuming missions, whereby the company’s management would embark on a journey to the other side of the planet to find a distributor or supplier.
Well, the idea behind e-partnering is that you can find your long sought-after business partner from your work desk, without the need of meeting in person.
Just think about it for a moment. What makes eCommerce possible is the massive infrastructure in terms of technology and logistics. That is applicable even to e-partnering: you need the right platform and a good video conference tool.
E-partnering platforms are B2B sites that look more like classified ads websites such as Craigslist. Because, if you are looking for a business partner, you will not be satisfied with the description of the physical product and a couple of images. You want to know who these people are, what their skills are, why they want to do business with you, etc.
The beauty of e-partnering platforms is that, by reviewing a large number of business opportunities, you will save a lot of time in selecting the right company and will approach only companies that match your requirements.
While still a niche sector, there are fast-growing platforms such as Globartis, EEN and UpInsales that will serve the purpose.
E-partnering: A Practical Example
The best way to describe e-partnering is through a real-life example.
That was the case of a construction company that received the contract for renovating a government building in a large European city. The contract with the local authorities required the company to renovate the exteriors and the interiors of the historic building. The construction company had excellent expertise in renovating old exteriors. However, they could not take care of the inside of the building alone.
Their options were:
a) Buy the required furniture in bulk and find a way to renovate the interiors, perhaps with the help of a consulting firm.
b) Request the assistance of an integrated furniture company that would take care of renovating the interiors completely.
The construction company believed that it was a better idea to partner with a firm that could handle the entire assignment independently. Since they had no direct knowledge of such firms and did not want to go through an intermediary, they posted their request and the necessary requirements on an e-partnering platform.
After a brief selection process of a few candidates, they closed the deal with a reliable and capable firm. This meant they were able to perform the renovation better and faster than anticipated.
Technology has revolutionized the way we do business. While eCommerce has become mainstream, there are other areas of B2B technology that have not been fully exploited yet.
One of these is e-partnering, a way of finding corporate partners for a specific project or long-term agreements online, using the power of data and technology.
While e-partnering platforms are still niche, their fast growth is a good sign for small businesses. They are the ones who will be able to find an alternative channel to sell and procure than mainstream marketplaces.