eBay Launches eBay Business Supply, a Rebrand of its B2B Offerings

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eBay recently launched eBay Business Supply, a new rebrand that brings together its business and industrial category, SAP Ariba Spot Buy and eBay Wholesale Deals solutions to a single platform. eBay said that Business Supply “centralizes” the e-commerce company’s business-to-business offerings and gives companies of all sizes the opportunity to buy and sell supplies and equipment in several product categories.

eBay already brings in a large number of B2B sales — more so than even Amazon Business. eBay reports it generated $4 billion in annual B2B sales, above the $1 billion Amazon Business (formerly known as Amazon Supply). However, Amazon Business has been around for only a year, and even $1 billion in sales during that first year is impressive, according to Spend Matters opinion.

eBay has added features to its B2B sales offerings in recent years, partnering with SAP Ariba in 2014, for instance. The partnership allows procurement professionals to buy certain supplies from vetted eBay sellers within Ariba’s e-procurement solution. The deal, as Spend Matters pointed out back in June 2014, offered some value for corporate procurement organizations.

As Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer at Spend Matters, wrote in a previous article, the partnership meant procurement practitioners that were Ariba customers would be able to “help their requisitioners find stuff while staying ‘in context’ of controls of e-procurement — and also helping to reduce maverick spend and improve the quality of the requisitioner experience.”

However, Mitchell also questioned the partnership between eBay and SAP on multiple fronts, and, now that it’s been two years since the announcement, and with the introduction of eBay Business Supply rebrand effort from eBay, Mitchell’s questions seem to persist:

“This latest announcement from eBay and SAP Ariba is about eBay trying to catch up with Amazon Business. There’s nothing much here for procurement organizations to cheer about. I don’t dispute the historical B2B volume advantage of eBay over Amazon, but Amazon Business is a fundamentally orienting itself to the needs of B2B buyers - not just sellers. For example, the eBay Wholesale Deals capability is geared towards business re-sellers, not business end users. In a spot buy scenario, procurement wants speed, selection, ease of use and controls from whatever eProcurement system it’s using. For smaller organizations with no eProcurement system, Amazon has been clever to offer simple eProcurement-like functionality natively. The only thing new here is SAP Ariba’s Spot Buy Customers being able to curate a controlled product catalog of a handful of US suppliers who’ve signed up. This obviously doesn’t support the breadth of items needed in a true spot buy scenario. I don’t usually call out competitors, but the Tradeshift Shop product is a much more innovative and elegant approach.”

Note: The Tradeshift Shop functionality is described in a short paper that can be read here. We’ll be reporting on this announcement in a few days.

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