A new crop of B2B e-marketplaces lure manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors with promises of new markets and growth—but they can also represent tough new ...
The seller aims to give its wholesale customers better access to pricing and inventory levels.
Home furnishings manufacturer and seller Company C has moved its retail and business-to-business e-commerce sites to MarketLive Inc.’s software-as-a-service platform. Company C, founded in 1994, says it sells its rugs, fabrics, bedding, furniture and home accessories wholesale to more than 1,000 companies around the world.
Company C wants to present itself differently online to consumers versus businesses, says Walter Chapin, the manufacturer’s president and co-founder. “The B2C site will have much more ‘romance’ copy and storytelling, really engaging the consumer,” he says. “The B2B site will focus primarily on functionality like ease of ordering, access to pricing and inventory levels, the ability to order collateral and store signage.” Company C says 10% of its sales come from online shoppers. Company C also operates three retail stores, one each in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
MarketLive’s web-hosted platform includes a “dedicated B2B portal” for wholesale shoppers, the e-commerce technology vendor says. MarketLive provides e-commerce platform services to two consumer brand manufacturers—Fossil Inc. and A/X Armani Exchange—as well as eight retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, which ranks companies by their annual web sales. Fossil is No. 205 and A/X Armani Exchange is No. 329 in the Top 500.
Company C, which can control both of its e-commerce sites from one central administrative tool, pays a one-time implementation fee plus a subscription fee for the platform services. Neither Company C nor MarketLive immediately gave more details about that cost.
Earlier this year, MarketLive reported that web sales grew 26.5% year over year in 2013 for the more than 100 clients the software provider tracks in its quarterly Performance Index. MarketLive expects more growth via its B2B e-commerce service, says Ken Burke, MarketLive’s founder and CEO. “Being able to serve those merchants and manufacturers who want to provide a very focused B2B solution, with more of a consumer experience in the path to purchase, is important to MarketLive,” he says. “Demand for these capabilities is growing very quickly and we feel we are in a prime position to provide a uniquely designed offering that provides the B2B capabilities needed.”
The Company C move follows a B2B trend: 50% of B2B companies plan to change or upgrade their e-commerce technology by mid-2015, compared with only 12% of business-to-consumer companies, Forrest Research Inc. recently reported after conducting a study with Internet Retailer.
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