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Singapore is Changing the B2B Market

Featuring Local Business-to-Business Online Marketplaces and Platform Builders

By Ash

· marketplace,eCommerce,SME,B2B,Singapore

Asia's World-Class Technology and Business Hub

As a result of evolving technology and perhaps the initiatives taken by the government to encourage SMEs to go digital, business-to-business online marketplaces in Singapore have learned to streamline the procurement, transactions and supply process. The extensive network created by the internet has made it easier for our businesses to not only fulfill orders faster, efficiently and more securely but to collaborate and grow as a thriving market. Today we examine the challenges and triumphs such enterprises have encountered. A few of them have been so kind to share their insights with us at SourceSage.

There Must Be An Eezee-r Way

"We are not in the hardware industry, we are the in the business of procurement" - Mr. Jasper Yap CTO of Eezee

SourceSage was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Jasper Yap, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Singapore's only online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers in the industrial hardware and supply industry. With a background in aeronautics and aerospace technology, we were curious to hear how Jasper came about entering the hardware industry. During his days at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, he tells us he was appointed the responsibility of collecting materials and equipment required to organize freshman orientation events. He was overwhelmed with the tasks of researching proper suppliers himself, waiting for price quotes that may never come in, as well as physically obtaining the materials and transporting them as far as Changi back to school. Through this experience Jasper identified a real market in procurement that desperately needed a digital upgrade.

Eezee's marketplace began as a two-man start-up back in 2017 and stayed that way for a year before they finally hired full-time employees. Today, Eezee now has over 2,000 products listed by multiple merchants that have all been fully profiled by Eezee ensuring reliability to their users. Eezee is more than just a hardware distributor. Eezee prides itself in being in the business of solving the inefficiencies in procurement and customer service. Instead of divulging into the details of their customer experience processes, Mr. Yap politely suggested we read their Google Reviews as their 4.9 star average seems to speak for itself.

Zeemart: Singapores First F&B Procurement App

"Tracking logistics causes some challenges- (Our) secret is that we are very close to our users. So we shape Zeemart based on their feedback on how things should be- the approach is very useful" - Mr. Keith Tan CEO and CFO of Zeemart

Mr. Keith Tan CEO and CFO of Zeemart, Singapore’s first B2B platform in the food and beverage industry, gave us some insight on the challenges of procurement in the Horeca industry. He described F&B procurement as traditionally being fragmented and manual as many suppliers in Singapore (as well as Indonesia) are processing order fulfillment via messaging applications, a popular choice being WhatsApp. Unlike other commodities like rubber and oleochemicals, it is not unlike buyers in horeca market to be making purchase orders several times daily.

Zeemart makes it easy for businesses to profile potential suppliers and view their prices even if they are not on the platform. If a supplier is apprehensive about having to manage their own account on the platform, Zeemart will operate the profile on their behalf by listing the supplier’s catalog and contact information on the platform for them. By ensuring everyone has an opportunity to be on the platform, Zeemart enables even the oldest suppliers to gain from this digital expansion in the B2B eCommerce market.

Traditional Industries and the Digital Age

June 11, 2019 marked the launch of Singapore's own Seafood XChange.

Times are changing and that is evident by Seafood Xchange expanding to the internet. Much like other raw materials and commodities, the fish trade has been around for centuries and now has been condensed onto an application. Congratulations on your launch, Seafood Xchange. We look forward to seeing your industry thrive.

Drawing Observations

One of the reasons why the B2B sector has the potential to be so profitable is because unlike B2C transactions, B2B purchases occur on a regular and consistent basis. As pointed out by Mr. Tan, even on a daily basis! The F&B industry for example, where bar managers and kitchens may have to procure ingredients multiple times a day. That is why a platform like Zeemart with catalogs and contact information available at the palm of one's hand is such an attractive asset.

It seems to be, that buyers in these B2B marketplaces are expecting a more B2C customer service and seamless payment experience while the seller or marketplace navigates how to receive traditional types of remittance (e.g. credit terms 50% now 50% upon delivery) through online gateways. With that being said, if businesses are expecting to be treated like consumers, we are glad to have companies like Eezee and Zeemart setting the example by prioritising the needs of their buyers and sellers.

Another area of improvement are logistic services. Companies must decide who will be responsible for making timely, reliable delivery of goods. Shall they take it upon themselves or joint-venture with a third-party? As the gig economy in Southeast Asia expands, more local options are becoming available thanks to Ninja Van, Parcel Santa, and even Grab Express just to name a few. If you were not around to experience the holidays last season, know that SingPost has recently experienced some difficulty in making deliveries onset by the growth of online shopping. It was by no fault of their own, nobody predicted this massive expansion of online commerce hitting so hard. But perhaps in order to address the online shopping that businesses are conducting too, a new logistics market that only engages in B2B deliveries could be in the future.

Key Take-Aways Regarding B2B Marketplace Needs

  • Secure payment gateways that offer credit-terms and potentially cross-border payments 
  • Demand for reliable logistic services at fair rates 

Platform Builders and the Marketplace Ecosystem

Not every business is going to have it's own team of talented developers like SourceSage does. Not many businesses are able to build their website from scratch. Many ventures small, medium and large hire builders to handle the technical details so they may focus on other things business related. For example, the relationships with their customers making meaningful experiences. Deskera, Violaah and WGrow are a few companies most popular in Singapore. They offer services in regards to website building, IT and marketing. These companies lessen the burden on small businesses trying to break into the multi-vendor market.

Choosing a PlatformType

There are two general categories when it comes to selecting your platform builder. Some services are better suited toward B2C markets. These markets typically facilitate transactions to individual customers on an inconsistent basis. Platforms such as Shopify or WooCommerce offer the best rates for merchants to list their products in a way that is user-friendly and cost effective.

Other builders offer their services to marketplaces in the B2B industries. In this category transactions are usually made on a consistent, high-volume basis. Therefore, the platform must be made accordingly.

A good platform builder can usually offer:

  • A user-friendly and simple registration process for your merchants
  • Built-in review system for buyers and merchants- key in B2B sales
  • Can categorise digital, physical or combination of goods
  • The ability to make you a platform with an integrated payment processor

All Your Solutions in One Source

SourceSage is a plug-and-play fintech platform which aims to allow companies to build marketplaces, payments, financing and logistics gateways.

Our mission is to digitise and conduct transactions in traditional industries which have fragmented procure-sales-to-pay processes.

Our vision is to be the world's global operating system for all things business-to-business.

SourceSage is a venture-backed fintech company founded in early 2015 by serial entrepreneurs, and a former government researcher who graduated from University of Oxford and Princeton. Our seed and series A investors include Angels, Wavemaker Partners, Crystal Horse Investments and iGlobe Partners. Our company is headquartered in Singapore with subsidiaries in Vietnam and India. Kairos Venture, another subsidiary, also helps create communities of entrepreneurs in South East Asia.

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