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The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

www.emeraldinsight.com/0263-5577.htm

B2b eMarketplaces

A classification framework to analyse business models and critical success factors

Raffaello Balocco, Alessandro Perego and Sara Perotti

Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy

B2b

eMarketplaces

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Received 15 January 2010 Revised 15 March 2010 Accepted 13 May 2010

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to look in depth at the role of business-to-business (B2b) eMarketplaces in supporting B2b relationships, identifying the successful business models and the related critical success factors (CSFs), and to propose a new classification framework to classify eMarketplace business models. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on the analysis of 30 international eMarketplaces through case study methodology. Findings – Nine different business models are identified, which can be classified in terms of a service-provisioning model and supported processes between companies. For each business model, different CSFs are highlighted. Research limitations/implications – The study has been conducted on a sample of 30 significant international eMarketplaces. Future studies could apply the framework to other cases in specific industries. Originality/value – The paper offers an overview of the eMarketplace business models linking them with the most relevant CSFs. On one hand, the identified CSFs must be considered by managers and entrepreneurs launching new eMarketplaces or managing existing ones, in order to define the strategy, the business model, and the value proposition for the company users. On the other hand, managers facing the problem of adopting internet technology to support a B2b relationship with business partners must learn to distinguish between the different B2b business models, in order to understand their impact on processes and more precisely evaluate the potential value offered by a B2b electronic intermediary.

Keywords Electronic commerce, International marketing, Classification, Internet, Business-to-business marketing

Paper type Case study

1. Introduction When business to business (B2b) eMarketplaces[1] (also called online marketplaces) entered the market, they were supposed to dramatically improve the effectiveness and efficiency of commercial processes between companies, radically changing traditional procurement strategies, and restructuring supply chains, organizations, and industries. A number of contributions in academic operations management literature point out several benefits coming from the adoption of electronic applications to support

This research has been performed within the B2b observatory promoted by the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, in collaboration with the “ONCE” Association (www.connect-once.org). The authors would like to acknowledge Uday Karmarkar from Anderson School of Management – University of California Los Angeles – for his support.

University of California Los Angeles – for his support. Industrial Management & Data Systems Vol. 110

Industrial Management & Data Systems Vol. 110 No. 8, 2010 pp. 1117-1137 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited

0263-5577

DOI 10.1108/02635571011077799

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procurement and supply chain management processes (Ordanini and Rubera, 2008; Shoenherr, 2008; McIvor and Humphreys, 2006; Croom, 2005; Boyer and Hult, 2005; Bendoly and Schoenherr, 2005; Muffatto and Payaro, 2004; Carter et al., 2004; Emiliani, 2004; Pinker et al., 2003; Smart and Harrison, 2003; Beall et al., 2003; Vakharia, 2002; Tan, 2001; Lewis, 2001; Papazoglou et al., 2000; Min and Galle, 1999). However, after a first euphoric phase of development, eMarketplaces have quickly betrayed these expectations. Since the second half of 2000, many international eMarketplace project failures have occurred (e.g. Chemdex, E-Chemicals, MetalSpectrum, Steelscreen, Petrocosm, ProXchange, and GoFish) (Miller, 2001), and the real effectiveness of this eBusiness model has come into question. In the aftermath of the disillusionment phase, several eMarketplaces evolved the original business model – mainly based on the open transactions between buyers and sellers – into new models. Some of them tried to incorporate the concept of “software as a service” (Cherbakov et al., 2005), whereas others started to offer more complex services in order to support processes, such as supply chain management (Rudberg et al., 2002; Wang et al., 2007) and new product development (McIvor and Humphreys, 2004; Grieger, 2004; Dai and Kauffman, 2002) rather than commercial transactions alone. Yet again, others evolved into consulting companies. In this light, the paper aims at analyzing in depth the role and the value of these operators in supporting B2b processes. More specifically, the goal of the paper is twofold:

(1) to propose a new classification framework in order to analyze the various eMarketplace business models developed in the last years, starting from a traditional eMarketplace concept (i.e. a B2b intermediary focused on enabling commercial transactions between companies); and

to point out the main critical success factors (CSFs) – i.e. variables that are vital for a strategy to be successful (Daniel, 1961) – for each business model identified through the classification framework.

The paper is based on an empirical study covering more than 30 international eMarketplaces, analyzed through case studies mainly based on direct interviews with top management. The study was conducted in collaboration with the “Open Network for Commerce Exchange” (ONCE) Association (www.connect-once.org), an independent, international, not-for-profit organization devoted to accelerating the growth of global B2b eCommerce.

(2)

2. The eMarketplace phenomenon in literature Many contributions dealing with electronic B2b applications (based on both electronic data interchange (EDI) and internet technology) and – more specifically – with eMarketplaces can be found in the literature. A number of contributions in the literature point out the benefits coming from the adoption of electronic applications to support B2b processes. Malone et al. (1987) highlight that electronic communications in the supply chain can reduce the cost of coordinating economic transactions and the cost of coordinating production. Cagliano et al. (2003) identify four clusters of manufacturing companies on the basis of the adoption of three kinds of electronic applications (i.e. eCommerce, eProcurement, and eOperations), highlighting that better payoffs can be achieved by those companies that extensively implemented eBusiness solutions. Going into greater detail, as far as procurement process is concerned, several authors point out

a number of benefits for the companies that support this process through electronic applications: the reduction of purchasing costs, the decrease of inventory levels, the enhancement of process integration capabilities, the time savings in the sourcing and purchasing activities, and the increase of the pool of potential suppliers (Aboelmaged, 2010; Alarcon et al., 2009; Ordanini and Rubera, 2008; Shoenherr, 2008; Boyer and Hult, 2005; Bendoly and Schoenherr, 2005; McIvor and Humphreys, 2006; Carter et al., 2004; Emiliani, 2004; Pinker et al., 2003; Smart and Harrison, 2003; Beall et al., 2003; Min and

Galle, 1999). As far as supply chain management process is concerned, the main benefits pointed out for the companies adopting internet-based applications are related to the increase of productivity, the increase of service quality, and a more effective control of the material flows along the supply chain (Wang et al., 2007; Croom, 2005; Muffatto and Payaro, 2004; Tan, 2001; Lewis, 2001; Papazoglou et al., 2000; Vakharia, 2002). Authors

in the literature highlight that companies can choose between private applications

(developed by the company) or shared applications (i.e. B2b eMarkeplaces) to support

procurement and supply chain management processes. As regards eMarketplaces, Standing et al. (2010) propose a complete review of the papers dealing with eMarketplaces in leading information system journals from 1997 to 2008. A number of contributions classify these B2b intermediaries through several variables:

the industry/industrial scope, which can be vertical, i.e. targeted at a specific industry/supply chain, or horizontal, i.e. targeted at various industries/supply chains (Howard et al., 2006; Ratnasingam et al., 2005; McIvor and Humphreys, 2004; Barratt and Rosdahl, 2002; Raisch, 2001);

the type of products and services traded over the eMarketplace, which can be direct or indirect (Kaplan and Sawhney, 2000; Barratt and Rosdahl, 2002);

the purchasing types, which can be spot or systemic (Kaplan and Sawhney, 2000; LaCorte, 2000; Raisch, 2001; Barratt and Rosdahl, 2002); and

the ownership model of the eMarketplace, distinguishing between independent companies, consortia and private eMarketplaces (Ordanini et al., 2004; Milliou and Petrakis, 2004; Taylor and Terhune, 2001; Krammer et al., 2001; Whitaker et al., 2001; Raisch, 2001).

A study by Cullen and Webster (2007) identifies nine different B2b eCommerce

applications based on the connectivity and purpose. Among these, the authors point

out four types of B2b intermediaries (i.e. collaboration, marketplace, aggregation, and private trading exchange) on the basis of the number of buyers and suppliers involved

in the transactions (i.e. few vs many) and of the primary purpose of the user who

initiates the transaction. All the above-mentioned contributions focus on the analysis of eMarketplaces which enable commercial transactions. Some other contributions widen the eMarketplace concept and try to identify its role in the B2b relationship and the supported processes. Some of these consider eMarketplaces as intermediaries able to support B2b processes such as supply chain management (Rudberg et al., 2002; Wang et al., 2007) or new product development (McIvor and Humphreys, 2004; Grieger, 2004; Dai and Kauffman, 2002) and not only commercial transactions. Some authors point out an evolution of the offerings of B2b eMarketplaces, either due to increasingly experienced company users requiring differentiated and more specific services or to

.

.

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.

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help smaller companies to overcome the barriers in adopting B2b online services (Schoenherr, 2008; Hur et al., 2006; Schoenherr and Mabert, 2003). As far as the analysis of the CSFs is concerned, most literature contributions focus on technical issues or analyze industry-specific or region-specific eMarketplaces. Brunn et al. (2002), for instance, identify the following critical areas, which can influence the success of an eMarketplace: the focus of the eMarketplace, the internal governance, the features provided to the company users, the partnership strategy, and the consistency of the elements setup. Gengatharen and Standing (2004), in their study dealing with regional eMarkeplaces, identify both internal and external CSFs, such as the influence of the policy makers in stimulating the adoption of the eMarketplace, the profile of the potential company users, and the quality of the services provided by the eMarketplace (i.e. the content quality, the service/value-added quality, etc.). Ordanini et al. (2004) identify three main features at the basis of successful eMarketplace business models: the content (i.e. the customer focus and the nature of business), the structure (i.e. the revenue model and the service portfolio), and the governance (i.e. the relevant shareholder). According to Yu et al. (2002), the key eMarketplace success factors are influenced by the willingness of company users (both buyers and suppliers) to participate in the market, from the perspective of the market position of different operators. Other studies (Johnson, 2010; Standing et al., 2009) focus on specific industries, trying to highlight the CSFs starting from the analysis of the most relevant barriers to eMarketplaces adoption by companies. The literature analysis shows that few academic contributions analyze critically and in depth the various business models that have emerged in the last years. Moreover, the academic literature fails to point out the CSFs related to the identified business models that could help to identify the main determinants of the success/failure of the various types of eMarketplaces developed in the last decade. Starting from the literature contributions and a qualitative empirical analysis, in this paper, we propose a new framework to describe eMarketplace business models based on two variables (i.e. the supported B2b processes and the services’ provisioning model). This framework is used to point out the main CSFs of the various types of eMarketplaces.

3. The methodology of the empirical study The present research is based on the case studies defined by Yin (2003) as “empirical inquiries that investigate a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident.” Since the objective of the present research is to look in depth at the role of B2b eMarketplaces in supporting B2b relationships, identifying the successful business models and the related CSFs, this methodology seems to be the most appropriate for two basic reasons. First, through the case studies, we can get both qualitative and quantitative data by the combination of various data collection methods (interviews, questionnaires, archives, qualitative, and quantitative observations) (Eisenhardt, 1989). Second, the case study methodology can be perfectly suitable for building a theory (Gersick, 1988; Harris and Sutton, 1986) (Figure 1). When using a case study methodology, at least two different choices have to be made. First, the number of case studies to undertake (one or more) and second the type of the case study (explanatory, descriptive, or exploratory). The multiple explanatory case study approach has been chosen, since we have to examine the data closely both

1 City.biz Adquira Filters Agentrics Ariba Bayantrade Relevance of the operator in the B2b market
1 City.biz
Adquira
Filters
Agentrics
Ariba
Bayantrade
Relevance of the operator in the B2b market
Covering of all existing business models
Availability for direct interview
Bravosolution
Cc-Hubwoo
ChemConnect
Converge
Covisint
CPGmarket
e2open
Sources
eBaybusiness
30
Online sources
case studies
Offline sources
20 through direct interviews
6 through secondary sources
General data
Business model
Strategy and competitive positioning
Value chain and organization
Perfomances
eLance
eUtilia
Exostar
FirstIndex
IBX
Inttra
Ironplanet
Liquidity service
Ofs-portal
Pantavanij
Quadrem
Sciquest
Teleroute
The plastic exchange
Trading partners
Transora
W3net

B2b

eMarketplaces

1121

Figure 1. Methodology of the empirical study

on the surface, trying to highlight the various eMarketplace business models, and in depth, analyzing for each business model the CSFs. In order to describe the analysis, we have identified the following sections.

3.1 Design of the research

As suggested by Yin (2003), we identified the study questions first. In accordance with the research objectives, the research questions are:

RQ1. How is it possible to classify and analyze the business models of the online B2b eMarketplaces?

RQ2. What are the most significant CSFs for each business model?

Since qualitative questions (e.g. “how” and “what” questions) are likely to favor the use of case studies (Yin, 2003), they seem to be suitable for this research.

3.2 Realization of the case studies

The concept of population is crucial, because the population defines the set of entities

from which the research sample is to be drawn (Yin, 2003). The B2b eMarketplaces to be analyzed were identified using:

online sources, such as search engines and web sites focused on B2b eMarkeplaces;

offline sources, such as journals, research reports (from Gartner, Forrester, etc.), and press searches;

direct interviews with professors involved in internet studies at Anderson School of Management, University of California Los Angeles, during a visiting period; and

database of B2b eMarketplaces provided by ONCE Association.

.

.

.

.

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More than 100 eMarketplaces were identified. In order to gather some general information (company history, market focus, industry, etc.), the web sites of the 100 eMarkeplaces were analyzed. In the second phase of the research, the 60 most important and interesting cases – in terms of importance of the equity or industrial group, financial assets, brand awareness, business model features, and performance achieved – were identified. Our final objective was to select 30 eMarketplaces as our research sample. This size emerged as a reasonable compromise between representativeness and effort of the analysis. In order to identify the 30 eMarketplaces to be analyzed, a qualitative survey involving 36 top managers (i.e. chief executive officer or marketing/sales directors) of international B2b eMarketplaces was organized during the ONCE Annual Conference in Bangkok. All the top managers were asked to highlight the three most interesting online B2b eMarketplaces to be analyzed, out of the 60 proposed. Table I shows the results of the survey. All the case studies voted by the top managers of the B2b eMarketplaces were analyzed. In addition to the 18 eMarketplaces chosen from the managers’ survey, other 12 cases were selected in order to guarantee a more complete coverage of industries and business models:

(1) Covisint. (2) eBaybusiness. (3) eLance. (4) Intra. (5) Ironplanet. (6) Liquidity services. (7) Quadrem.

 

B2b eMarketplace

No. of votes

1City.biz

3

Adquira

8

Agentrics

4

Alibaba

2

Ariba

15

Bravosolution

3

CcHubwoo

15

ChemConnect

5

Converge

5

CPG market

5

E2open

5

Eutilia

1

Exostar

9

IBX

10

OFS Portal

1

Table I. Results of the qualitative survey in order to select the case studies

Pantavanij

1

Portum

10

sciQuest

1

Transora

5

(8)

Teleroute.

(9)

The plastic exchange.

(10)

Trading partners.

(11)

Transora.

(12)

W3net.

We did not select these cases randomly, because, as Pettigrew (1988) noted, given the limited number of cases which can usually be studied, it makes sense to choose extreme situations and polar types in which the process of interest is “transparently observable.” In this choice, we also considered the richness of online information and/or the pre-verified availability to be directly interviewed.

A total of 24 semi-structured interviews were carried out (six eMarketplaces were

analyzed through secondary sources). First, we used a formally structured schedule comprising five sections: interviewee and company details, description of the business model, strategy and competitive positioning, value chain and organization, and performance. However, due to the lack of information on this specific issue, we did not know all the necessary questions in advance. Therefore, we developed and adapted an open questions section as well. In this way, we benefited from both structured and

unstructured interviews.

A pilot test was performed with practitioners before the interviews. As a result,

the wording of some of the questions was changed to make them easier to understand. All the interviews were conducted in the same way to ensure comparable results (we offered the same stimulus to each subject) and proved to be successful, as all the questions were answered by the respondents. The interviews, conducted between September 2007 and July 2009, were given either in person or through telephone, lasted 1.5 hours on average, and were tape recorded and transcribed. After every meeting, the minutes were approved by the interviewees.

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3.3 Analysis of the data and interpretation of the case study evidence The responses from interviewees were summarized, interpreted, and tabulated from the transcripts, according to the arguments of the research questions. Specifically, data were coded within two documents: the central database (on a simple excel table) and a word document containing the complete resume of the interviews. If any information remained unclear and/or we felt more data were needed, informants were contacted later by phone for additional questions. The data analysis was conducted according to both a within-case and a cross-case method. The former seeks to generate insight (Gersick, 1988; Pettigrew, 1988), while the latter enables comparisons among cases, highlighting similarities and differences between responses.

4. The classification framework Starting from the models proposed by Baeza-Yates and Nussbaum (2007) and by Wang et al. (2007), which consider three main variables to analyze information architectures – i.e. process, technology and people (or collaboration), in this paper, we present a new classification framework which integrates and applies these three variables to B2b eMarketplaces. In this light, two main variables were considered:

IMDS

110,8

(1)

the service-provisioning model (that considers both the technology and the

(2)

collaboration variables of the mentioned models); and the B2b processes supported by the eMarketplace (that considers the process variable of the mentioned models).

4.1

Service-provisioning model

1124 For the first variable, three categories were defined:

(1)

with the other company users (the term “orthodox” is used here because this model fits the original and first idea of a B2b eMarketplace). Several “general” services supporting trade interaction between companies are offered. (2) Application service provider (ASP) – when the B2b eMarketplace provides the company users with a technological platform on a “pay-per-use” basis (very similar to an ASP model in the software industry), together with various value-added services related to its exploitation. The company users can exploit the platform in a remote way, which is “private” and safe.

Orthodox eMarketplace – when the eMarketplace web site is public and shared

(3) Process outsourcer – when some of the client-supplier processes are professionally managed on behalf of the company users and the technology is only a support tool.

4.2 B2b process supported

For the second variable, four categories were defined:

(1)

eSourcing, which refers to the tools supporting the search for new suppliers, the definition of their status, the online negotiation through electronic auctions, and request for proposals or request for quotes.

(2)

eCatalog, i.e. the recursive buying process of products and services, usually based on web catalogues, when the trade conditions have already been agreed upon.

(3)

eSupply

chain

execution,

i.e.

the

integration

and

digitalization

of

the

(4)

order-to-payment cycle, including logistics and administrative activities. eSupply chain collaboration, which refers to the collaborative activities between buyers and suppliers, including production and procurement planning (i.e. vendor managed inventory and collaborative planning, forecasting, and replenishment), new product development, supply chain monitoring, and control.

5. Discussion: the business models and the CSFs This section describes the main business models emerging from the analysis of the 30 case studies (Figure 2) on the basis of the proposed classification framework. Through the empirical analysis, the most relevant CSFs for each business model were identified.

5.1 Orthodox eMarketplaces

The study highlights four different categories of business models for orthodox eMarketplaces (Figure 2). Public exchanges. Public exchanges support the purchasing process of commodity products (chemicals, metals, information and communication technology products, etc.) through an “exchange platform.” They usually provide several services, e.g. financial

Independent eSupply "sourcing-based" chain Independent "integration-based" collaboration
Independent
eSupply
"sourcing-based"
chain
Independent
"integration-based"
collaboration
Consortium-based
eSupply
chain
Independent
execution
eCatalog
eCatalog
2 ˚hand goods
/overstocks
Transportation
industry
Sourcing proces
Suppliers
Public
outsourcer
scouting
exchange
eSourcing
Orthodox model
ASP
Process outsourcer

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eMarketplaces

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Figure 2. The main strategic clusters in the B2b market

services to handle credit (clearinghouse), logistics services, risk management services, and market intelligence services. ChemConnect and Converge are some examples in this category. ChemConnect started as a bulletin board web site and then launched a public exchange platform to support the trading of chemical products. Converge supports the exchange of semiconductors, electronic components, and networking equipment. By the last quarter of 2005, they had also started to offer an IT asset disposal service. Several mergers and acquisitions have occurred in the last years among these B2b eMarketplaces, determining a strong concentration in the market. Three main CSFs were highlighted by these operators:

(1)

to guarantee the anonymity and neutrality in managing the transactions

(2)

between buyers and sellers; to establish trust and relationships with their customers, especially for those

(3)

operators that offer services such as market intelligence and financial services; and to reach a high level of liquidity, due to the low level of gross margin per transaction and the high level of fixed costs.

The following managerial implications can be highlighted:

.

.

.

.

public exchanges are a real option only for those companies trading commodity products;

the value for the users is essentially related to the timely access to buying/selling opportunities;

the level of anonymity and neutrality of the exchange must be seriously verified by the potential users; and

the level of liquidity of the exchange is paramount, since it is the main guarantor of business opportunities for the users.

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eMarketplaces focusing on secondhand goods and overstocks. The second cluster comprises those eMarketplaces focusing on the sale of secondhand goods and overstocks through auction mechanisms. It is important for these eMarketplaces to guarantee the “credibility” of the sellers and to certify the quality of the products by means of different tools, such as user ratings, certification, and guarantee services. Many “horizontal” players have changed their operations in recent years to focus rather on specific kinds of products. There is also a trend towards concentration. GovLiquidation, LiquidBiz, and GovWholeSale, for instance, have merged into Liquidity Service, which supports the trade of secondhand goods, overstocks, and military/government surplus. Another interesting case is Ironplanet, owned by big companies such as Caterpillar, Volvo Construction Equipment, and Komatsu. The company supports the sale of used machinery between rental and financial companies and potential buyers, offering very accurate inspection services. Two main CSFs were highlighted by these operators:

(1)

to guarantee the “credibility” of the sellers and to certify the quality of the

(2)

products through different mechanisms; and to reach a wide number of “targeted” buyers through advertising activities.

The following managerial implications can be highlighted:

these eMarketplaces are very useful as an additional market to dispose of equipment at the end of its cycle life;

companies that are willing to exploit these operators to sell overstocks or secondhand goods must verify the effectiveness of the mechanisms used to certify the quality of the goods and the effectiveness of the advertising activities which are assumed to reach a high number of potential buyers; and

companies that are going to buy over these eMarketplaces must take advantage of the inspection services offered.

eMarketplaces focusing on supplier scouting. These eMarketplaces use RFx systems to scout suppliers selling highly complex products/services (e.g. engineered goods and services). The revenue model is based on subscription fees, and the buyers are usually big companies willing to find new suppliers, either worldwide or in local markets. FirstIndex, which deals with suppliers in highly engineered products, is a paradigmatic example in this category, its success being based on “local sourcing” on a global base. Three main CSFs were highlighted by these operators:

.

.

.

(1)

to increase brand awareness, in order to become a reference web site for the

(2)

specific kind of sourcing market; to deepen the knowledge about specific sourcing markets in order to provide all

(3)

the relevant information about the suppliers; and to ensure operational effectiveness, in order to interact with a large number of buyers and suppliers.

The following managerial implications can be highlighted:

. companies that are outsourcing the operations in foreign markets can take advantage of these operators in order to plan a “local” sourcing strategy; and

. companies that are already pursuing a global sourcing strategy can exploit these operators to test new suppliers and to compare them with already existing ones.

eMarketplaces focusing on the transportation industry. These eMarketplaces provide various services to the companies operating in the transportation industry, mainly focused on the exchange of “transportation capacity.” In this industry, the principal trend is towards the ASP model with the provision of “private” services to company owners. For instance, both Ocean Carriers and Teleroute started as orthodox eMarketplaces and then shifted to an ASP model. Ocean Carriers provides a private technological platform to company owners, and Teleroute has setup a common working platform for all transportation and logistics providers. Two main CSFs were highlighted by these operators:

B2b

eMarketplaces

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(1)

to focus on “unsold transportation capacity”, even if it is very difficult to shift

(2)

online a process operated by important intermediaries in a traditional way; and to reach a high level of liquidity, due to the low level of gross margin per transaction and the high level of fixed costs.

In Table II, the most relevant CSFs and the main trends for orthodox eMarketplaces are summarized. The following managerial implications can be drawn:

these eMarketplaces are useful for companies that want to buy extra transportation capacity, exceeding the contracts typically ongoing with their usual suppliers, just-in-time when needed and/or at low prices;

these operators can also be a resource for big logistics and transportation companies to trade unsold transportation capacity and to buy capacity from smaller companies; and

for some small transportation companies, especially for the one-truck companies, these eMarketplaces could be a valuable opportunity to get in touch with the market efficiently and effectively.

.

.

.

5.2 Application service providers ASPs can be grouped into four main categories (Figure 2). Consortium-based service providers. These online eMarketplaces provide companies in a specific industry, clustered in a consortium, with eSourcing and eSupply chain services that exploit the technological platform in a private and secure way. It is crucial that the companies in the consortium are fully committed. Many operators started by offering different services to company users (hub model), e.g. eSourcing, eCatalog, and eSupply Chain Collaboration. Nowadays, they focus mainly on eSupply chain execution services (e.g. data exchange and data alignment) through a customized platform. Additionally, in some specific industries (e.g. for retailers in fast-moving consumer goods), they also provide eSourcing services. Covisint, backed by the major US automotive manufacturers (General Motors, Daimler Chrisler, and Ford), was acquired in 2004 by Compuware, a software and technology provider. Supplyon is backed by some major suppliers in the automotive industry (Bosch, Schaeffler Group, Continental, etc.). Covisint now offers an integration platform which provides data exchange and data alignment services to the automotive and healthcare industries. Supplyon is mainly focused on XML

Important shift towards the “ASP model”, i.e. the private provision of services to company owners

in recent eMarketplaces

on specific kinds of product

Introduction of C2c models in the B2b market

on specific emerging

Several M&As in the last years

specific

by on public leading

years

in few

markets

“horizontal”

focused

Focus concentration

owned

markets

Concentration

Main trends

Focalization

commodity

failed

companies

exchanges

sourcing

Several

have

and

a reference

is very difficult to

all the

buyers

of liquidity established

provide specific

by

even if it transportation

of

the products through

relevant information about the

a process operated

“Credibility” of the sellers and

activities

become kind

in a

neutrality in

of “targeted”

and transactions

markets to about

suppliers Operational effectiveness

shift online intermediaries

the to specific

traditional way Awareness or liquidity

and relationship

quality of mechanisms

advertising

In-depth knowledge

Focus on “unsold

site market

Trust customers level

for i.e.

Anonymity the

Wide number

Awareness,

managing

important

capacity”,

sourcing

sourcing

different

through

High

Web

with

CSF

be exploited

RFx

sell highly

technological

selling processes for

Selling processes of secondhand

(through

overstocks through

of “transportation

systems) products/services

a also

usually

suppliers

Buying and products

Supported processes

mechanisms

can

through

which

Exchange which

of

commodity

“privately”

goods and

capacity”

Scouting

platform

complex

auction

focused on secondhand goods

eMs focused on the transportation industry

eMs focused on supplier scouting

Public exchanges

Business model

eMs overstocks

and

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Table II. CSFs and main trends for orthodox eMarketplaces

and web EDI services. In the fast-moving consumer goods market, the two major B2b operators backed by big retailers (GlobalNetXchange and Worldwide Retail Exchange) merged into Agentrics. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) market, backed by some big producers such as Nestle`, Danone, and Henkel, was acquired by Accenture. Another important player, Transora, backed by a second cluster of big producers, merged with UCCNet in August 2005 to setup 1Sync, which now operates as a not-for-profit subsidiary of GS1 US to help the industry maximize the value of data synchronization. Two main CSFs were highlighted by these operators:

(1) the commitment of the companies belonging to the consortium; in the past, many failures occurred due to a low level of commitment of the companies participating in the consortium, determining several problems in terms of governance; and

a high level of customization of the technological platform for the specific industry; the company users need to exploit a technological platform customized on the basis of the processes, activities, practices, and type of documents commonly used within the specific industry.

The following managerial implications can be highlighted:

companies belonging to the consortium must clearly define the governance mechanisms; and

companies that are willing to join the eMarketplace must verify both the governance rules and the level of customization of the technological platform to the needs of the specific industry.

Independent “sourcing-based” service providers. eMarketplaces in this group – for instance Adquira, IBX, and 1City.biz – provide eSourcing services through an ASP technological platform, mainly to large companies in different industries. Their biggest strength comes from the scalability of their technological platform. Some players offer eSupply chain execution services to support the exchange of documents and payment services (i.e. exchange of purchase orders, purchase orders responses, electronic invoices, etc.) to increase the loyalty of their customer base. The study reveals that some players are also offering eSourcing services as process outsourcers. Two main CSFs were highlighted by these operators:

(2)

.

.

B2b

eMarketplaces

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(1)

to focus on business development and market growth, in order to leverage the

(2)

investment made to develop the technological platform; and to guarantee the scalability of the technological platform; for these operators, it is important to offer their technological services in a standard way to companies belonging to different industries, with a low level of customization of the technological platform.

The following managerial implications can be highlighted:

.

.

these eMarketplaces provide useful technological platforms for eSourcing, but the process competences must remain within the user companies;

big companies that have already adopted “internal” eSourcing applications (i.e. extranets) can exploit these service providers to source specific kinds of products or to satisfy spot sourcing needs; and

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. small and medium companies can adopt these service providers to organize electronic negotiations with both existing suppliers and new ones.

Independent “integration-based” service providers. These operators offer eSupply chain execution services to exchange documents and to support integrated supplier networks. The operators in this category usually tend to expand their service by adding eCatalog to the basic eSupply chain execution services. CcHubwoo, for instance, which is one of the biggest players in the B2b marketplace, with a transaction volume of more than $5 billion in 2005, offers “private” eCatalogs and a “transactional hub” to support document exchange. Two main CSFs were highlighted by these operators:

(1)

to increase the number of suppliers, in order to reach a “critical mass” of

(2)

company users; and to deepen the knowledge of industry standards, in order to “translate” the documents in the different standards required by the company users.

The following managerial implications can be highlighted:

.

.

.

these eMarketplaces can be interesting alternatives to privately managed hubs or extranets;

the company users must look for value-added services in addition to the basic document exchange services, such as enterprise resource planning integration, data alignment, and process accountability; and

a fundamental feature of these eMarketplaces is the extension of the network of companies they can reach, either directly or via agreements with other providers.

Independent eCatalog service providers. The players in this cluster provide companies in a specific industry with eCatalog tools and services. The most critical control factors in this group are the technological platform, which should be customized on the basis of the buyers’ needs, and the operating model, which should manage the complex logistics of the end-to-end process. Many players have closed their operations in the past years (Agribuys, HTTPrint, PublicBuy, Procurezone, etc.) due to the buyers’ low level of adoption and the intrinsic operating hurdles to be overcome. Three main CSFs were highlighted by these operators:

(1)

in-depth knowledge of the buying process within a specific industry, in order to

(2)

offer a buying workflow customized on the basis of the industry needs; to develop a technological platform (catalog) customized on the basis of the

(3)

buyers’ needs; and to offer high-quality logistic services.

The following managerial implications can be highlighted:

. companies that are willing to adopt eCatalog services must analyze their present procurement process trying to highlight the activites that could be supported by the external provider; and

. the level of customization of the technological platform must be carefully checked by potential company users, in order to integrate the external eCatalog process with the internal procurement process.

B2b

eMarketplaces

In Table III, the CSFs and the main trends for ASPs are summarized.

5.3 Process outsourcers The research results show that there is only one important business model in this category: that of eSourcing process outsourcers. These operators manage the eSourcing processes on behalf of their customers and also provide consulting services. They usually focus on large and medium companies either on the supplier or on the buyer side. Many players in this category are extending their offer to include the ASP model. An important player in this category, Ariba, which started as a software vendor, operates as both a service provider and a process outsourcer. The strategy for the future is to push the sourcing services, moving toward an ASP model. As shown in Table IV, three main CSFs were highlighted by these operators:

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(1)

in-depth knowledge of the sourcing markets and product categories;

(2)

a large base of well-known suppliers; and

(3)

a highly effective and customizable technological platform.

The following managerial implications can be highlighted:

.

.

.

big companies that have already adopted “internal” eSourcing applications (i.e. extranets) can exploit these service providers to source new products/services or existing products/services in new markets;

small and medium companies can adopt these service providers to fully outsource the sourcing process of specific kinds of products and services; and

potential user companies must choose the degree of outsourcing, the technological platform alone vs the sourcing process as well, leveraging on the sourcing competencies of these service providers.

6. Conclusions The empirical study shows a high level of heterogeneity in the B2b environment. While a number of contributions classify the eMarketplaces using several variables (i.e. the industry/industrial scope, which can be vertical or horizontal; the type of products and services traded over the eMarketplace, which can be direct or indirect; the purchasing types, which can be spot or systemic; the ownership model of the eMarketplace, distinguishing between independent companies, consortia, and private eMarketplaces, etc.), few contributions give an overview of the business models emerged in the last years, showing the most relevant CSFs. As the results of our study show, new business models are creating value by supporting various B2b processes (eSourcing, eProcurement, eSupply Chain Execution, and Collaboration) through different service-provisioning methods (orthodox, ASP, and process outsourcing). The paper shows that for each business model identified, specific CSFs can be pointed out. One of the possible objections to our work is that the rapid changes in the e-commerce environment might undermine its value. We believe that this is not true.

eSourcing, eCatalog, and eSupply Chain Collaboration Now they focus mainly on eSupply chain execution services through a customized technological platform Only in some industries, they also provide eSourcing services Focus on large companies Great importance of eSourcing services Minor level of transactions through eCatalogs Some players also provide eSupply chain execution services Some players operate as process outsourcers Focus on large companies Enlarging from eSupply chain execution service to provision of eCatalog services Many players have closed their operations in recent years due to the buyers’ low level of adoption and to operating hurdles

They were founded with the aim of providing a broad range of e-services to the company users (hub model):

Main trends

Business development and market growth Scalability of the technological platform

Commitment of the companies in the consortium Technological platform customized for a specific industry

Number of suppliers Great importance of industry standards

In-depth knowledge of the buying process within a specific industry Technological platform customized to buyers’ needs Logistics efficiency

CSF

eSourcing and eSupply chain services to companies in an industry-specific consortium, which exploit the technological platform in a private and secure way

eSourcing services through an ASP technological platform to large companies in different industries and collateral eSupply chain execution services (to support the exchange of documents) and payment services

eSupply chain execution services to support the exchange of documents within integrated supplier networks eCatalog tools and services to the companies in a specific industry

Supported processes

Consortium-based service providers

Vertical eCatalog service providers

Independent “integration-based” service providers

Independent “sourcing-based” service providers

Business model

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Table III. CSFs and main trends for ASPs

The eMarketplace environment is dynamic, but the types of models are more stable. Our analysis is the result of a constant monitoring of this arena from 1998 to 2008 and the picture is now robust. We can expect changes in the business models of many eMarketplaces, and possibly new types of business models, but the framework is certainly established. Besides the managerial implications pointed out for each type of business model, it is possible to highlight a number of more general managerial implications both for the managers who are launching new eMarketplaces and for the managers of the user companies. Managers and entrepreneurs launching new eMarketplaces or managing existing ones should consider the specific CSFs in order to define the strategy, the business model, and the value proposition for the company users. The old idea of orthodox eMarketplaces where buyers and sellers meet to make deals is just one of a dozen possible business models and frankly not the most successful. For the managers of those user companies facing the problem of adopting eMarketplace services to support a B2b relationship with business partners, the emerging scenario is good news. There are many intermediated – via eMarketplaces – options that can support their supply and distribution processes in addition to a private, non-intermediated solution. This increases their plethora of available choices. Obviously, they must learn to distinguish between the different B2b business models, in order to understand the impact on inter-organizational processes and to evaluate more precisely the potential value offered by a B2b electronic intermediary. In particular, these key steps should be followed by those managers who are going to make use of eMarketplace services:

(1) Identification of the specific B2b company processes that involve external business partners (i.e. procurement of direct/indirect goods, exchange of commercial documents or technical information, collaboration in supply chain planning or new product development, etc.) with the aim of understanding which of them could be supported by internet-based electronic applications. (2) Analysis of the software solutions already in use by the company in order to highlight the main requirements in terms of integration with the legacy information systems. (3) Scouting and specification of the services offered by the most significant eMarketplaces, which could support the activities identified in Step 1, in terms of value for the company and adoption costs (i.e. technological investments,

B2b

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Business

model

Supported processes

CSF

Main trends

Sourcing

eSourcing processes on behalf of their customers, also providing consulting services

In-depth knowledge of the sourcing markets and product categories Large base of well-known suppliers Highly effective and customizable technology

More focus on small and medium enterprises Many players are also moving towards an ASP model

 

process

outsourcers

Table IV. CSFs and main trends for process outsourcers

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organizational investments, operating expenditures, etc.). In particular, this paper provides an overview of the various eMarketplace business models helping to highlight the value proposition for the company users.

(4) Definition of an internal private solution to support the processes identified in Step 1, which will be used as a baseline to assess the intermediated – e.g. based on eMarketplaces – solutions. (5) Comparison between the adoption of the eMarkeplace services and the development of the internal private model in terms of differential value and costs and more broadly in terms of organizational impact.

Choice and “change management plans”, which in the case of the intermediated solution means the development of integration and control tools, and organizational liaisons.

Anyway, we reckon that a full understanding of the managerial implications for the user companies would require another specific study which could be the subject of future research. More specifically, further research should better analyze the advantages and disadvantages of using intermediated solutions instead of internal ones, possibly developing analytical performance comparison models (to support Step 5 in the adoption process). It should also investigate how to reduce the risks when resorting to external services through the use of adequate monitoring tools (to support Step 6 in the adoption process).

(6)

Note 1. Web sites:

.

.

.

focusing on the support of the relationship between buyers and sellers, not necessarily allowing online transactions;

playing an intermediary role between buyers and sellers through a “many-to-many” business model; and

offering their technological platform to those companies interested in using them.

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Further reading Albrecht, C.C., Dean, D.L. and Hansen, J.V. (2005), “Marketplace and technology standards for B2B e-commerce: progress, challenges and the state of the art”, Information&Management, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 865-75. Cagliano, R., Caniato, F. and Spina, G. (2005), “Reconsidering e-business strategy and the impact on supply chains”, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 25 No. 12, pp. 1328-32. Cunningham, M.J. (2000), B2B: How to Build a Profitable E-commerce Strategy, Perseus, Cambridge, MA. Pinfield, L. (1986), “A field evaluation of perspectives on organizational decision making”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 365-88. Tung, L. and Rieck, O. (2005), “Adoption of electronic government services among business organizations in Singapore”, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 417-40.

Corresponding author Raffaello Balocco can be contacted at: raffaello.balocco@polimi.it

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