Feature

Collective Gains

B2B online marketplaces help SMEs reduce costs and lead time by offering a more transparent and faster procurement process

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For many of us, until recently, e-commerce revolved pretty much around Amazon and Flipkart. The B2C or the consumer-oriented marketplaces were cool, sexy and investors’ darlings, whereas B2B e-commerce was old school, boring and everything that B2C was not. It took almost over a decade after IndiaMART – the country’s first online B2B directory - was established in 1996, for the next set of players to emerge in this space. But things have been evolving.

According to data by Tracxn, B2B e-commerce start-ups in 2017 raised $196.5 million—the highest in 10 years. Power2SME with its $35 million series E round, and Moglix, which raised $12 million, were among the prominent names. The same year also witnessed the entry of Amazon in the B2B space with the launch of Amazon Business. Meanwhile, Chinese giant Alibaba, who sold goods worth $547 billion in FY17, has been trying a different model in India by focusing on cross-border wholesale trade. Alibaba’s B2B platform has been there for some years, but hadn’t scaled up much. To better the situation, the company is entering into a series of partnerships with DHL, Delhivery and the likes for providing domestic and international logistics support to Indian sellers and offering financial aid through its tie-ups with Aditya Birla Group’s NBFC arm and Kotak Mahindra Bank. 

Launched in 2012, Power2SME is the biggest online procurement platform for SMEs and sources raw materials such as steel, chemicals and polymers for manufacturers. With 400 suppliers on its platform the company has catered to around 70,000 SMEs till date. After clocking revenues of Rs.865 crore in FY17, Power2SME is aiming for Rs.1400 crore in FY18. And a revival in the manufacturing sector is resulting in increased pre-orders for raw materials. A cluster-wide focus and a wider product portfolio have also contributed to the company’s growth.

R Narayan, Founder, Power2SMEFounder R Narayan believes his strategy for growth has been simple. Prior to starting out, he noticed that in order to get better prices, SMEs were bunching

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