Online marketplaces account for more than 50 percent of e-commerce sales globally,1 underscoring the popularity of this digital-first business model and the opportunity set before businesses. In fact, B2C online marketplace sales are predicted to reach $3.5 trillion by 2024, and B2B sales could reach $3.6 trillion.2 Within this growth, various kinds of marketplaces continue to emerge and evolve. And there are no signs of it stopping anytime soon.
And though this trend was well underway already, the global pandemic pushed businesses into a period of rapid digital transformation, achieving what may have taken a decade in as little as a few months. The stakes were high as businesses digitized across the board in response to government lockdowns and shifting consumer behaviors. From customer experiences and supply chains to treasury and payments functions, businesses needed a new way of doing business. In online marketplaces, they have found their solution.
To be sure, an online marketplace is a digital commerce platform where multiple B2B, B2C or P2P sellers offer their products and services. The owner of the marketplace website is known as the operator, and they facilitate purchases on the sellers’ behalf.
Online marketplaces provide organizations with the flexibility to take their e-commerce business in new directions and grow beyond the limitations of their own operations and infrastructure. For example, B2C businesses may operate a marketplace to achieve faster growth domestically and abroad, expand their product and service offerings, or even minimize the risks associated with stock management. B2B operators may find new digital efficiencies and transparency in the oft-cumbersome procurement space. While new use cases are continually being created for marketplaces, here are some of the common examples:
are available for any seller to offer their products or services.
provide a limited selection of brands that are complimentary to each other.
offer sellers a place to provide shoppers with used items—whether that’s apparel, furniture and so on.
enable individuals a place to rent items out to others like cars, computers, smartphones and televisions.
offers an easier way to make business purchases across products (e.g., office supplies and furniture), services (human resources, logistics and marketing) or spinoffs of internal services (supply chain networks).
Businesses that build online marketplaces have the chance to create a superior experience for all counterparties throughout the ecosystem—including the operator itself, customers, vendors, sellers, employees and contract workers. However, making these experiences as seamless as possible—near invisible to the users—creates a whole set of challenges within the treasury and payments function. If your business is thinking about embarking on this journey, regardless of the marketplace model, there are some key implications you should consider from the pay-in to pay-out and everything in between.
Operators need to consider the opportunities and challenges of how to manage the flow of funds, as well as the state and federal licensing requirements for the states they operate within. The big question is whether you’re going to be in the flow of funds or out of the flow. Being inside the flow of funds means your business creates a financial ecosystem for your sellers—offering value-added services like FX management. This is where solutions like wallets fit in. Of course, being in the flow of funds also means additional regulatory requirements like payments certifications and licensing.
Marketplace operators can provide an immediate, seamless and secure payments experience for your customers. Start with payments acceptance and enablement to ensure shoppers can pay for your goods and services the way they prefer. As well, consider how to incorporate more seamless financing into the purchasing process (i.e. buy now pay later). However, don’t forget about the additional complexity that comes with each new form of e-commerce payments—including transaction costs, regional regulatory requirements and new forms of fraud.
Your treasury and payments team has the opportunity to create a positive impact by ensuring payments and financing are made easier for your sellers. A good place to start is by critically thinking about the pay-in, pay-out and how you manage funds. Any form of friction may deter sellers from joining your platform. Treasurers need to support the ability to pay out to their sellers when needed in a locally relevant way—raising the importance of real-time payments, cross-currency solutions and virtual accounts. As operators engage with their sellers, they need to understand what currency to settle funds in and the respective regulations and taxes of each seller. All of this can increase complexity, raising the importance for simpler solutions like a single integration API platform that can reach multiple markets to better maintain sellers.
As businesses build online marketplaces across B2C, B2B and P2P spaces, they stand to capture new customers who crave a digital-first experience. No doubt, corporate treasury will play a major role in any successful strategy. On your journey, selecting the right partners from the beginning is critical to your success—including expertise in risk and technology. As an industry leader who not only understands the treasury and payments challenges of complex business models but also actively invests in innovation and the capabilities to help businesses win in a digital world, J.P. Morgan is committed to supporting you every step of the way.
Connect with your J.P. Morgan representative to find the right solution for your business.
“What Are the Top Online Marketplaces,” Digital Commerce 360, March 9, 2021. https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/infographic-top-online-marketplaces/
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