WeMarket: ‘B2B e-commerce is still in the dark ages’

The founder of WeTransfer, the Dutch rival of Dropbox and Box, has spent the past two years’ developing a user-friendly, easy-on-the-eyes online marketplace for B2B trading - the first of it’s kind.

B2B e-commerce is still in the dark ages,” Gijs Van Den Broek says. Online trading needs a facelift, he says, and the the WeMarket team have spent two years developing an online trading place that looks more like a consumer facing site - with great user experience at its core. Major online marketplaces for business have never been so attractive.

In 2012, the founder of popular file-sharing site WeTransfer, Bas Beerens, decided to craft a marketplace that cut long-winded communications across international, national and regional sales teams - channels that have a detrimental impact when a business needs to get stock moving quickly.

Currently, traditional trading sees retailers spending 4-6 weeks to push a slow moving product on the shelves, WeMarket’s COO Van Den Broek tells ComputerworldUK. He hopes that WeMarket will eliminate this problem and puts senior level sales directors directly in touch with their distributors, in just a few clicks.

How does WeMarket work?

WeMarket allows users to buy or sell products easily online. Over 100 companies are signed up, mostly in the fashion space, Van Den Broek says. T-Mobile and Philips are on the list of clientele who will pay $500 a year for unlimited trading.


Traded items could include next year’s product line-up, overstock, refurbished products and return merchandise.

While rivals like Ariba, now owned by SAP, offered a similar service for old inventory, WeMarket is aimed at selling stock directly, in a controlled environment.

“Directors will have direct contact with distributors, monitoring if sales are down and pushing items within WeMarket,” Van Den Broek explains.

WeMarket hopes to have one million businesses trading on its site next year, which equates to over $500 million in trading, it says. If WeMarket manages to secure just 1 percent of total worldwide trading volume, Van Den Broek says, it would be sitting pretty.

Trustworthy trading with feedback feature

Similarly to Uber, the market will have a recommendation feature so sellers and distributors can rate each other. The WeMarket Kharma tool is based on 25 elements including the size of the company, its credit score as well as trading feedback from other businesses.

“With trading, you don’t know if someone is reliable or not. With WeMarket Kharma you know who you should do business with. You cannot fake it in our marketplace and that is reflected in our mission statement which is to be the most trusted, smartest trading place for international businesses,” Gijs van den Broek says.

WeMarket is privately funded by WeTransfer's Beerens. WeTransfer completed a $25 million Series A round of funding from Highland Capital Partners Europe - which previously invested in Matchesfashion.com and Rent the Runway - in February this year. While it is already a profitable business, the funds will be used to expand internationally, after it was approached by investors.

While the cloud-based market wants to differentiate from its file-sharing predecessor, it operates with two core principles in mind, both passed on from Dutchman Beerens. This includes the technical and architectural expertise to secure data using AWS cloud and the simplicity and design that made WeTransfer a hit, offering a great user experience.

“We want B2B trading to seem like consumer-facing e-commerce. Now, trading should feel as if you are buying a new pair of shoes.”

A team of 20 have been building the infrastructure for over 2 years, next to the WeTransfer offices in the Netherlands. Around half of these employees are in the development team, creating the marketplace that has been “built from the ground up”. It is currently on a hiring drive, searching for technical staff that can help it grow internationally.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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