Understanding sellers’ needs as a key factor in B2B marketplaces success

Aleksandra Owczarek
Aleksandra Owczarek | 5 min read

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Now more than ever, in the dynamic world of Business-to-Business (B2B) marketplaces, the foundation of long-term success and sustainable growth lies in a deep understanding of sellers' needs. 

two workers standing in a warehouse

Unlike traditional retail environments, where decisions may be made based on assumptions or internal strategies, thriving B2B marketplaces should recognise the importance of acting on direct feedback from their business partners. But it's easier said than done. Effective relationship maintenance is more than a transactional interaction - it's the foundation that can make or break the business, requiring a strategic blend of consistent communication, feedback exchange, and a profound understanding of sellers' goals and aspirations. All involve numerous different customers with unique needs and expectations. But there is a method to this madness - one we are happy to share.


In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of B2B relationship management and strategies for their development, exploring how marketplaces can leverage direct feedback to foster enduring connections and fuel sustainable growth. 


Understanding the needs of your sellers 

It might seem obvious, but to best accommodate somebody's needs, you first need to know what those needs are. It's a step many fail to take focusing more on financial goals than first-hand reports. Comprehensive evaluations of merchants' daily struggles, encompassing operational, logistical, and economic objectives, are essential to identify any needed improvements - particularly those that will require investments in both time and money.


Regular feedback sessions play a pivotal role in this process, and providing a platform for sellers to express their pain points candidly is necessary since it is crucial for extracting valuable insights. For example, according to our recent report, key factors contributing to a seller resigning from a marketplace include increasing commission fees (43%), payment delays (42%), and shipping and logistic challenges(31,2%).


Consistent and transparent communication is equally essential. Marketplaces must provide regular, clear, and timely updates to build trust with their sellers. Whether it's about project milestones, product updates, or market insights, proactive information sharing helps align expectations and prevents misunderstandings. This transparent approach fosters a sense of a close-knit partnership between the marketplace and its sellers, enhancing collaboration and long-term relationships and building brand loyalty based on positive experiences. And partners who treat each other with respect rarely part ways.


By understanding the needs of sellers, marketplaces can address challenges effectively and cultivate a supportive environment for sellers to thrive. This approach not only enhances seller satisfaction but also contributes to a marketplace's overall success and healthy inner workings.


Optimisations that work


In the case of Back Market, optimising - or introducing - a platform model to address operational inefficiencies that lead to seller dissatisfaction has proven to be a game-changer. The initial lack of operational efficiency, made especially clear by the cumbersome ordering processes, was a source of sellers' frustration and dissatisfaction. 


However, after introducing a more intuitive platform, optimising their processes, and improving the quality of packaging (which was now far more secure and sustainable), which has been a big problem for their customers, Back Market has observed an immediate improvement in seller satisfaction, which led to the growth of their retention rate and doubling the adoption rate of new customers within a single year. Thanks to the stability of the newly introduced reliability, Back Market established a stable whole new revenue stream by leaving the unreliability of a sub-optimal system behind. 


The success of these optimisations relied heavily on building trust and collaboration with sellers. Back Market's commitment to value co-creation, exchanging insights, and jointly innovating to address specific challenges was instrumental in gaining sellers' trust and buy-in for the platform improvements. Back Market improved seller satisfaction and retention and established a valuable revenue stream through ready-to-order, safe packaging, thus underscoring the significance of building trust and working closely with sellers to drive long-term success in the marketplace ecosystem.


New services for merchants

woman calculating inventory turnover ratio

With the basics sorted out, we are ready to start looking ahead at the trends and innovations shaping the future of the marketplace. It's time to leave behind cumbersome processes commonly associated with manual work and dreaded Excel sheets. Marketplaces can now introduce new services powered by cutting-edge technology to enhance seller efficiency and satisfaction in the world of evolving needs and demands for streamlined processes.


One area of expansion for marketplaces is the introduction of warehousing services. By offering warehousing solutions, marketplaces can provide sellers with a convenient and cost-effective way to store and manage their inventory, eliminating the need for sellers to invest in their own storage facilities. This streamlines the logistics process and enables sellers to focus on other aspects of their business.


Another emerging service that marketplaces can offer is enhanced problem management. This involves providing sellers with dedicated support and resources to address issues and challenges they may encounter while selling on the platform. By offering personalised assistance and guidance, marketplaces can help sellers overcome obstacles while building a relationship based on trust and gathering essential data necessary for improving their business model.


However, beyond these traditional services, there is a growing demand for niche offerings that cater to merchants' specific needs and preferences. Two such services gaining traction in the market are data analytics and insights (68% of sellers are interested or somehow interested in them) and dedicated packaging (65%).


Data analytics and insights provide sellers with valuable information and actionable insights into their performance in the marketplace. With the growing number of sellers expressing interest in or considering data analytics services, there is a clear opportunity for marketplaces to capitalise on this demand and offer comprehensive analytics tools to help sellers optimise their strategies and improve their results.


Dedicated packaging services are also in high demand among sellers. By providing sellers access to customised logistical solutions, marketplaces can help them enhance their brand identity and create a more memorable and distinctive customer experience. It can also serve as a new source of revenue, especially when reinforced with the marketplace offering to cover the costs caused by any damages done to sellers' products in transit... As long as they were using marketplace-provided packaging.


Additionally, sellers increasingly turn to AI-enabled tools to streamline their operations. Over 40% of respondents already use AI-enhanced solutions for creating product names and descriptions, inventory management, asset creation, and customer support. However, only a fraction of sellers (9%) currently have access to AI solutions offered by the marketplaces they sell on, presenting a clear opportunity for growth.


The long game

multiple kraft boxes with white ink

In the dynamic landscape of B2B relationship management, fostering long-term connections is not merely about closing immediate sales transactions. Instead, it entails cultivating enduring partnerships that drive mutual success and growth.


Central to this approach is the investment in after-sales support mechanisms extending far beyond the purchase point. By offering continuous value through ongoing assistance, troubleshooting, and guidance, marketplaces demonstrate their commitment to supporting their partners throughout their journey. Moreover, delivering exceptional service at every touchpoint reinforces trust and loyalty, laying the foundation for sustained collaboration and prosperity. 

In essence, prioritising long-term relationship focus in B2B interactions goes beyond the transactional nature of business; it embodies a dedication to nurturing meaningful connections that endure and evolve, ultimately driving the longevity and growth of partnerships in the B2B landscape.


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