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B2B Platform Revolution

Speakers: Matthias Walter, Barbara Buades, Oliver Birk, Remi Julien and Pauline Pezerat.

Platforms and marketplaces are well established in B2C, but how about B2B? During this round table with B2B platform founders, we had a deep dive into B2B platforms, how different they are and how to build and scale them.

If we look at the recent market study by fastbreak, one, which identifies and analyzes over 400 B2B platforms in Europe, we can see that a yearly +30% growth rate strongly signals that B2B platforms are on the rise and you can find them in all sectors and parts of the value chain.

After that initial proof that there is a case for B2B platforms, we want to better understand the details and therefore Matthias Walter, Barbara Buades, Oliver Birk and Remi Julien lay out their perspectives:

1. What are the differences between B2C and B2B platforms?

Major differences are identified in the approach and relationship building toward users. While B2C users in most cases are also the users and “pay the bill”, in B2B platforms the decisions are taken by multiple users of the same company. This can cause slower growth and network effects as you need to convince more users with different objectives to participate and make decisions. At the same time, when you gain such customers, this can mean more stickiness resulting in stable revenues in a SaaS business model.

2. How to solve the chicken-egg problem?

As a B2B start-up platform, you might want to partner early with larger companies to gain a critical mass of users quickly. In an established B2B business, as a platform, you need to manage the impact of the platform approach on the core business. So, in both cases, you need to consciously manage your stakeholders in the ecosystem.

3. How to unlock network effects?

To unlock the flywheel and accelerate network effects, often in B2B platforms, you need to build a “high touch” relationship with your users – which at the same time gives you a great opportunity to connect with user´s existing IT Systems and processes and maybe even outsource technological solutions to your platform resulting in additional services revenue.

4. How to earn money with a B2B platform?

The study by fastbreak shows that taking a transaction cut is the preferred monetization strategy. But we often also see in B2B platform businesses such hybrid business models, e.g. marketplace-enabled SaaS solutions. This combination of pure marketplaces with software (subscription-based model) proves that in B2B you need to deliver more value than just matchmaking of supply and demand.

Written by: Oliver Birk & Matthias Walter.

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