B2B marketplace report series: The B2B marketplace digest

Louis Carbonnier
Co-Founder and Co-CEO

Here at Hokodo, we’ve spent a lot of time conducting research in the world of B2B marketplaces and studying individual marketplaces ahead of publishing our series of blogs on the matter - the most recent article in The B2B Marketplace Report series can be found here.

The following collection of articles and reports provided us with a great deal of food for thought when gathering our learnings and getting our key takeaways down on paper. So, we thought it only fair that we compile and share these resources back with the community. 

This compendium is organised around the following categories: 

  • 10 essential marketplace readings
  • The dawn and rise of B2B marketplaces
  • Managed marketplaces
  • Building a marketplace business
  • Scaling a marketplace business
  • Liquidity and pricing
  • Marketplace network effects
  • Links to other reading lists on b2b marketplaces

We’ll be continuously updating this list, so don’t hesitate to point us in the direction of any other resources using the "Add a B2B marketplace resource" button below. We hope you find them as useful as we did! 

10 essential marketplace readings

1- Article: Smart marketplaces bridge the implicit and complex, TechCrunch (October 2018), 11 min read
Marketplace businesses are in essence linked to the technologies that enable them. As these technologies have evolved, marketplaces have become able to facilitate increasingly complex exchanges in new environments and industries. Bart Dessaint, associate partner at Mosaic Ventures, takes a look at marketplace evolution and discusses the new era of sMarketplaces.

2- Blog: Roadmap: B2B Marketplaces, Bessemer Ventures (February 2020), 7 min read
In this Roadmap, Bessemer Ventures Partners share their learnings following their B2B Summit with over 50 founders, discussing emerging trends in B2B commerce and payments.

3- Blog: Andrew Chen on Marketplaces, Stripe, (August 2019), 20 min read
Andrew Chen, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz shares key considerations, crossroads, and predictions for online marketplaces.

4- Blog: How to Kickstart and Scale a Marketplace Business, Lenny's Newsletter (November 2019), 11 min read
This great blog series by Lenny Rachitsky, former supply growth lead at Airbnb, summarises lessons learned from over a dozen marketplace founders, covering everything from demand generation to supply curation and other key success factors.

5- Blog: Four Paths to Marketplace Success, Andreessen Horowitz (February 2020), 8 min read
Following the Marketplace 100, this article reveals that there is more than one way to build a successful marketplace. Understanding which marketplace model your company falls into is essential to navigating the path to success.

6- Blog: A Primer on B2B Marketplaces: Challenges and Opportunities, Point Nine Capital (May 2020), 8 min read
In this article, Julia Morrongiello dives into some of the opportunities and challenges that this new generation of marketplaces faces, and shares her view on the future for B2B Marketplaces.

7- Blog: Why marketplaces fail: the role of engagement on a marketplace, Breadcrumb (May 2020), 9 min read
In this post, Sameer Singh focuses on the impact of engagement, and how it can mean make or break for some types of marketplaces. 

8- Blog: You Can’t Live Without Marketplaces, Battery (March 2019), 3 min read
Sophisticated marketplaces in a variety of markets represent some of the world’s most high-profile consumer businesses, generating a large amount of value for investors. To track this trend, Battery shares 36 of the world’s largest marketplace companies in their Marketplace Index.

9- Blog: The a16z Marketplace 100, Andreessen Horowitz (February 2020),12 min read
This post ranks the 100 largest and fastest-growing consumer-facing marketplace startups and private companies.

10- Blog: The Marketplace Glossary, Andreessen Horowitz (February 2020), 9 min read
Explaining marketplaces, from a conversational perspective is almost as hard as scaling them. This glossary takes the confusion out of the jargon and terminology used to describe the dynamics of these businesses, making it more accessible to founders, operators, and tech-savvy readers alike. 

Download the digest

The dawn and rise of B2B marketplaces

• Report: The Spring of B2B Marketplaces, Roland Berger (April 2017)
With the development of B2B marketplaces seeing positive momentum, this report from Roland Berger explores four strategies, based on in-depth reviews of multiple B2B marketplace initiatives, that legacy players and startups consider to leverage marketplace potential.

• Blog: Infographic: B2B Marketplaces and the Disruption of B2B Distribution, Applico (October 2018), 3 min read
Nicholas L. Johnson shares a landscape of US B2B Marketplaces while drawing comparison to the growth of international B2B marketplaces.

• Report: B2B Marketplaces are blossoming, Roland Berger (June 2018)
Following “The Spring of B2B Marketplaces”, this Roland Berger publication deep dives into the new and updated B2B Marketplace strategies, and the challenges that players need to overcome to be successful.

• Blog and podcast: What’s Next for Marketplace Startups?, Andreessen Horowitz (November 2018), 13 min read
Marketplace startups have performed well, reinventing the way consumers shop for goods, but less so for services. In this article, Li Jin and Andrew Chen from Andreessen Horowitz argue that a breakthrough is on its way. You can also listen to the podcast on the subject: here

• Blog: Marketplace Trends predictions for 2019 at Market One Capital, Market One Capital (February 2019), 6 min read
Marcin Kurek shares Market One Capital’s marketplace predictions; their views on the trends which will shape the marketplace category, and the new era of sMarketplaces (as termed by Bart Dessaint).

• Report: Create Enterprise Marketplaces to Accelerate Digital Business, Sandy Shen, Jason Daigler, Gartner (July 2019)
According to Gartner, “By 2023, 15% of medium- to high-gross-merchandise-value digital commerce organisations will have deployed their own marketplaces, thereby creating an entirely new digital ecosystem.”

• Blog: B2B Marketplaces: Their Failure in the Dotcom Era and Why This Time is Different, Applico (August 2019), 5 min read
B2B Marketplaces struggled in the late '90’s, but they are now here to stay. With predictions of trillions in sales, Kirk Enbysk explains why it is different this time.

• Blog: The Rise of B2B Marketplaces, Magento (February 2020), 7 min read
According to Gartner, at least 70% of enterprise marketplaces launched will serve B2B transactions by 2023. This blog explores what’s behind this trend and the key reasons why merchants are building B2B Marketplaces.

• Blog: More vertical marketplaces are dotting the B2B landscape, Digital Commerce360 (February 2020), 4 min read
This article from Mark Brohan explains how vertical industry marketplaces are becoming a bigger driver of B2B e-commerce.

• Blog: B2B Marketplaces 2.0, Software Platform Consulting (February 2020), 7 min read
Robert Salomon reflects on how far B2B Marketplaces have come in the last 20 + years.

• Report: Now Entering the Summer of B2B Marketplaces, Roland Berger, Mirakl (March 2020)
This joint report dives deep into the new phase of B2B marketplaces: with manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and group purchasing organisations all climbing aboard the marketplace model. 

• Report: The 2020 B2B Marketplace Report Series: Part One, Digital Commerce 360 (March 2020)
The first report in the series explains how and why B2B marketplaces are making a bigger mark on business-to-business digital commerce; exploring growth trends, buy and sell on marketplaces and more.

• Blog: Why I love B2B Marketplaces, JME Ventures (June 2020), 3 min read
Cesar Tapia from JME Ventures shares his optimistic vision for B2B Marketplaces and their role as intermediaries between buyers and sellers.

• Blog: How B2B marketplaces are changing procurement, Point Nine Capital (June 2020), 6 min read
In this post, Point Nine’s Robin Dechant talks about the reassessment of supply chains triggered by Covid-19, making it an excellent opportunity for new tools that can help companies in sourcing and managing their suppliers, and why now is a great time to build a B2B Marketplace. 

• Blog: Reimagining B2B Commerce with Faire, Y Combinator (July 2020), 3 min read
Y Combinator’s Anu Hariharan and Nic Dardenne believe that upcoming B2B players now have the tools to overcome historical constraints, and that large B2B commerce aggregators will emerge over the next decade. In this post, they walk us through Faire’s opportunity as a B2B marketplace for independent retailers and brands, and discuss what its success means for the future of B2B commerce companies.

• Blog: B2B marketplaces will be the next billion-dollar e-commerce startups, Exceed via Tech Crunch (Nov 2020), 3 min read
Merritt Hummer, partner at Bain Capital Ventures, discusses the many flavours of B2B marketplace business models and why the next decade of e-commerce innovation will be dominated by B2B marketplaces. 

Download the digest

Managed Marketplaces

• Report: Two-Sided Markets: A Progress Report, IDEI (November 2005)
In this paper, Jean-Charles Rochet and Jean Tirole focus their attention on two-sided Markets: markets in which the structure, and not only the level of prices charged by platforms matters.

• Article: Matchmakers and trustbusters, The Economist (December 2005), 5 min read
This article from the Economist highlights Jean Tirole’s work on 2-sided businesses that earned him a Nobel prize.

• Blog: Come for the tool, stay for the network, Andreessen Horowitz (January 2015), 2 min read 
In this article, Chris Dixon, partner at Andreessen Horowitz coins the expression “Come for the tool, stay for the network” to describe the idea of attracting users over a single-player tool and, over time, getting them to participate in a network. 

• Blog: Anatomy of a managed marketplace, Tech Crunch (May 2017),15 min read
Ezra Gaston sets us straight on what it means to be a true “managed” marketplace, what characteristics to look out for when spotting the hottest categories of venture investment.

• Report: Marketplaces: “The Platform Revolution”, Mirakl (2017)
In this eBook, the founders of Mirakl share their vision on the Platform Revolution: the transformation from Retailer, Manufacturer or Distributor, to Platform Operator. 

• Blog: Come for the network, stay for the tool, Point Nine Capital (March 2019), 4 min read
Julia Morrongiello, Investor at Point Nine Capital, challenges Chris Dixon’s view of coming for the tool and staying for the network, arguing that coming for the network and staying for the tool may be a more effective approach.

• Report: B2B marketplaces: Welcome to the Platform Economy, Mirakl (February 2020)
This whitepaper discusses why B2B companies are turning to the platform economy to facilitate a more desirable customer journey, where traditional e-commerce channels fall short, and shares the best approach for adopting and implementing a best-in-class B2B marketplace. 

• Podcast: Marketplace mechanics
This podcast series shares interviews and insights from people creating two-sided marketplaces.

Download the digest

Building a marketplace business

• Article: Thoughts on building successful vertical marketplaces, Fabrice Grinda (March 2013), 7 min read
In this post, Fabrice Grinda shares his thoughts on the construction of successful marketplaces, focusing on the examples of eBay and Craigslist.

• Blog: The Anatomy of a Marketplace, Noteworthy (December 2017), 5 min read
The founder and former CEO of TaskRabbit, Leah Solivan (now a general partner at Fuel Capital), discusses the complexities of marketplace businesses, and how automation has revolutionised the building and scaling of marketplaces and streamlined the user experience.

• Blog: Ten Best Practices To Effectively Launch And Manage A Marketplace, Mirakl (March 2017), 4 min read
Mirakl shares how some of the world's most successful retailers have achieved success with a marketplace, and the 10 best practices to emulate to give your marketplace the best possible chance of success.

• Report: Making Markets, Harvard Business Review (January 2018)
This publication from Harvard Business School discusses tactics for building trust and liquidity when launching a new marketplace, as well as the challenges encountered as marketplaces mature.

• Blog: The Case For B2B Marketplaces - The 4 Kinds of B2B Marketplaces, Point Nine Capital (August 2019), 6 min read
Robin Dechant shares some of the tools used to assess the market, as well as the different structures that make up the four types of B2B marketplaces.

• Blog: The Six Factors You Should Obsess Over When Building a Marketplace Business, Battery (August 2019), 8 min read
The team at Battery share the six key areas marketplace entrepreneurs should consider when building “long-term, defensible business”. 

• Blog: Winning Strategies for Service Marketplaces, Point Nine Capital (March 2020), 7 min read
After evaluating multiple service marketplaces, Point Nine Capital’s Julia Morrongiello, provides us with a strategic analysis of what it takes to build a successful service marketplace. 

• Report: Pourquoi le modèle marketplace connait-il autant de succès ?, Wizaplace (March 2020)
This French Ebook presents how and why the marketplace model is becoming the new e-commerce model.

• Blog: Buying versus Building B2B Marketplace Infrastructure, Software Platform Consulting (April 2020), 5 min read
In this article, Robert Salomon takes a closer look into B2B Marketplace infrastructure vendors and operators.

• Blog: 7 Hacks for Building and Scaling B2B Marketplaces, Point Nine Capital (June 2020), 5 min read
Julia Morrongiello from Point Nine Capital reveals the tips and tricks from the webinar held about B2B Marketplaces. You’ll find at this end of her article the links for the videos of the event. 

Download the digest

Scaling a marketplace business

• Blog: B2B Marketplaces and the Problem of Supplier Variability, Software Platform Consulting (December 2015), 3 min read
Robert Salomon argues that B2B Marketplaces can only survive if their market values supplier variability, yet too many B2B marketplaces have failed to take the lack of supplier variability and “breakage” into account when creating their business models.

• Blog: 10 Marketplace KPIs That Matter, Andrei Brasoveanu (October 2016), 11 min read
Andrei Brasoveanu, Venture at Accel, into some of the common characteristics shared by marketplaces, as well as some of the KPIs that every entrepreneur intent on building a world-class marketplace should be able to rattle off the top of their head! 

• Blog: Etsy: Defining the Future of Wholesale, Ivey Business Review (April 2018), 11 min read
This article takes a closer look at Etsy’s business model, competitive advantage, and opportunities in the B2B space.

• Report: Using Urgency to Drive B2B Marketplace Conversions, Perfect Channel (September 2018)
This whitepaper discusses how to use the power of urgency to increase conversions, prices, and profitably, in B2B marketplaces, regardless of the model used.

• Blog: The NFX Marketplace Scorecard, NfX (November 2018),12 min read
James Currier shares NfX internal scorecard for assessing the potential of a marketplace. The deck provides a useful framework for founders to evaluate their strengths and risks.

• Blog: 28 Ways to Grow Supply in a Marketplace, The Startup (June 2019), 26 min read
After 7 years at Airbnb, ex product leader on Supply Growth Lenny Rachitsky shares with us his key learnings and wisdom from growing supply at Airbnb. This article is packed full of tips and best practice that can be applied to your marketplace business.

• Report: Marketplaces 2019 B2B Ecommerce Strategies for Amazon, Alibaba and Others, eMarketer (August 2019)
In an effort to expand their online sales channels, B2B sellers often turn to the likes of Amazon and Alibaba. This report explores how and why sellers use marketplaces, and how these platforms are innovating.

• Blog: Marketplaces & Scalability: Lessons from Uber and Airbnb, Breadcrumb (February 2020), 6 min read
Sameer Singh shares his vision on the geographic scalability of marketplaces. Marketplaces with cross-border network effects, such as Airbnb creates a lot more value for investors than those with hyperlocal network effects such as Uber.

• Blog: Defensibility x Scalability = The Marketplace Matrix, Breadcrumb (February 2020), 6 min read
In extension to his previous article “Marketplaces & Scalability: Lessons from Uber and Airbnb”, Sameer Singh takes a look at defensibility, to understand how marketplaces can safeguard themselves against competition and copycats at scale.

Download the digest

Liquidity and  pricing

• Article: 8 strategic hacks for building marketplace liquidity , The Next Web (December 2013), 7 min read
William Hsu, co-founder and managing partner of MuckerLab shares common strategies employed by successful marketplaces to increase the chances of success in building liquidity.

• Blog: Take Rates for B2B Marketplaces, Software Platform Consulting (August 2015), 5 min read
This post from Robert Salomon pays particular attention to “take rates” or the price B2B Marketplaces can charge for their services based on their layers of value.

• Podcast: Paving The Way To Marketplace Liquidity, Greylock Partners (June 2017), 49 min
In this podcast, Eventbrite VP & GM Brian Rothenberg and Greylock Growth Advisor Casey Winters discuss starting and scaling Marketplaces.

• Blog: WTF Is Marketplace Liquidity? Point Nine Capital (October 2019), 7 min read
Julia Morrongiello from Point Nine delves into the marketplace’s most critical aspect, liquidity - sharing Methodologies for understanding and measuring marketplace liquidity.

• Report: Tout savoir sur la gestion des paiements sur une marketplace B2B, Lemonway (May 2020), 4 min read
This French article from Lemonway explains how payments work on B2B marketplaces, and how marketplaces can use payment methods to satisfy buyers and sellers to make the platform more attractive. 

Download the digest

Marketplace network effects

Blog: Network Effects Aren’t Enough, Harvard Business Review (April 2016), 20 min read
With inherently low cost structures and fat gross margins, marketplaces are the perfect business model, yet they remain extremely difficult to build. In this article, Andrei Hagiu of Harvard Business School and venture capitalist Simon Rothman of Greylock Partners uncover the hidden traps in building an online marketplace.

• Blog: The Network Effects Manual: 13 Different Network Effects (and counting), NFX (January 2018), 35 min read
According to James Currier of NFX, some of the most impactful and significant companies in the world, including PayPal, Microsoft, Facebook, Uber, Twitter, and Salesforce. have a single property that defines them all and lies behind their success - network effects. This article takes us through the 13 network effects and how they actually work.

• Blog: Hidden Networks: Network Effects That Don’t Look Like Network Effects, Andreessen Horowitz (July 2019),15 min read
This article from Andreessen Horowitz digs into some of the non-traditional network effects that are not seen in standard metrics, hidden in plain sight.

• Blog: When network meets Saas, Breadcrumb (March 2020), 8 min read
Sameer Singh discusses how startups can combine SaaS and network effects to gain structural advantages.

• Blog: Hierarchy of marketplaces - level 2, Sarah Tavel (June 2020), 5 min read
In her second instalment of The Hierarchy of Marketplaces, Sarah Tavel discussed “tipping” a marketplace and identifying and maximising “tipping loops”.

Download the digest

Links to other reading lists in B2B Marketplaces

Required reading for marketplace startups: The 20 best essays, Andrew Chen, 8 min read
Andrew Chen, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz shares his list of 20 essays on marketplace startups:

         1. Liquidity hacking: How to build a two-sided marketplace 

         2. Paving The Way To Marketplace Liquidity

         3. How the 100 largest marketplaces solved the chicken and egg problem

         4. How Modern Marketplaces Like Uber and Airbnb Build Trust to Achieve Liquidity

         5. Lessons Learned Scaling Airbnb 100X

         6. The Three Stages of Online Marketplaces

         7. The Evolution of Managed Marketplaces

         8. The Next 10 Years Will Be About “Market Networks”

         9. 10 Marketplace KPIs That Matter

         10. Marketplace liquidity

         11. Marketplace KPI Dashboard

         12. Uber’s virtuous cycle. Geographic density, hyperlocal marketplaces, and why drivers are key

         13. Online Marketplaces

         14. All about Network Effects

         15. Four Questions Every Marketplace Startup Should Be Able to Answer

         16. Four Strategies to Win Big with Low Frequency Marketplaces

         17. The Anatomy Of A Marketplace: Marketplaces As Living, Breathing And Complex Organisms

         18. All Markets Are Not Created Equal: 10 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Digital Marketplaces

         19. The Ingredients for a Successful Marketplace

         20. The Perfect Store: Inside eBay

Required reading for Marketplace Entrepreneurs, Andreessen Horowitz, 6 min read
This article gathers 20 recent, interesting pieces and books that helped shape their thinking on the business dynamics, historical context, and future of marketplace companies:

         1. How to Kickstart and Scale a Marketplace Business

         2. Tales of a Marketplace Founder

         3. Platforms vs. Verticals and the Next Great Unbundling

         4. What’s Next for Marketplace Startups: Services 

         5. WTF Is Marketplace Liquidity?

         6. An Important Marketplace Metric: Search to Fill

         7. Eight Things to Consider When Building Managed Marketplace Companies

         8. Making Markets

         9. Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber

         10. Marketplaces and Network Effects

         11. The Anatomy of a Marketplace

         12. Shopify and the Power of Platforms

         13. Money Out of Nowhere: How Internet Marketplaces Unlock Economic Wealth

         14. Managing Tensions In Online Marketplaces

         15. The Oral History of Travel’s Greatest Acquisition

         16. A Guide to Marketplaces

         17. State of Marketplaces

         18. Why It’s Hard to Escape Amazon’s Long Reach

         19. The NFX Marketplace Scorecard

Download the digest

By clicking “Accept All”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.