Amazon Business or Own B2B Platform: What to Choose?
It does not require operating a physical store for selling goods these days. You can sell entirely online without having a brick-and-mortar store. Moreover, you don’t even need a website to sell goods and services online, there B2B platforms on which you can sell virtually anything that is available and permitted for trading.
Thus, the big question is whether you should use a B2B platform such as Amazon or Alibaba, or you’d better invest in the development of your own B2B marketplace. Opening an Amazon Business account is relatively easy and Amazon is a global B2B marketplace with both B2B and B2C companies selling their products there. Although using a “rented” platform like theirs offers a cheap start for your online business and other advantages, developing an own B2B marketplace pays off in the long term. Why?
Advantages of Amazon Business
Online marketplaces like Amazon offer you access to a readily available user base you can rarely have if you are just starting your journeys as an online seller. They are also global, which means you have access to markets in both your location and globally.
It is also cheaper to start on a B2B marketplace as you usually pay a flat monthly fee as compared to investing in the development of features, hosting and IT maintenance of an own B2B website and marketplace. Some marketplaces also charge a percentage on the cost of any deal you close but it depends on your plan and the specific platform you use. Overall, the cost is balanced not to discourage new sellers and not to force growing business out.
Your physical storage facilities aside, you need no infrastructure other than opening an Amazon account to start selling. The same applies to IT infrastructure and digital marketing tools, which you get with any business account on Amazon.
Amazon’s B2B platform, therefore, enables you to hit the market running and develop online retail or B2B service with ease and without much investment in personnel and infrastructure.
But what if you are an already established business or you are expanding fast as a supplier of products or services.
Advantages of Owned B2B Platform
Starting an own B2B marketplace requires an initial investment but it pays off in the long-term as you can develop and customize features to which you have no access on platforms like Amazon. Running your own marketplace software enables you to make custom platform configurations and tweak options to which you do not have access to “rented” platforms like Amazon. Furthermore, as we said, you have direct contact with your customers, which helps you build brand awareness and boost your brand image as a whole.
On your own marketplace, built-in SEO and online marketing tools are great for reaching out to more prospects when you just start. These features on Amazon won't be given for free. Moreover on Amazon, you sacrifice direct access to customers and prospects. They hide contact information, so you close a deal but you cannot communicate with this customer outside Amazon. Running your own B2B marketplace enables you to both search for clients and develop strong long-term relationships with prospects and customers.
Flexibility is another marked advantage of developing your own marketplace. When you run an online B2B marketplace of your own, you have full control over everything – from physical locations of stored goods through shipping routes to customizable user accounts. You can design your own B2B platform as you like, add or remove features as you deem appropriate and freely select payment processing providers. You have also access to all the analytics data about your customers and their purchasing journey.
If you are a small local business and you want to keep it that way, it’s probably good to stick with Amazon Business as they take care of the IT infrastructure and the sales processes and procedures. The same is true for starting businesses that have no financial backing or resources to invest in fast digital growth.
Build and develop an own B2B marketplace once your customer/user base grows or when you plan for national or global expansion from the very beginning. Amazon can nurture your business during the initial stages of business development but running your own B2B platform is what gives you the freedom to grow and develop as you wish.