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Companies want more bang for B2B buck

New research shows that if B2B exchanges provided more tools and services, companies would be more inclined to participate.

If business-to-business exchanges provided more services, companies would be more inclined to participate, according to new research to be released Thursday.  

More than 80 percent of companies said they would be interested in trading online with suppliers that offer comprehensive services, such as collaborative product design or supply inventory applications, a new study from Jupiter Media Metrix found.

The study will be released at the New York-based Internet research company's Ground Zero Conference in Boston.

Additionally, 54 percent of companies would classify suppliers as "preferred" if they offered services that facilitated or even automated many of the processes involved in making a transaction online. Analysts say these type of services would get more buyers interested in doing business via online exchanges.

The new survey backs up what business-to-business marketplace critics have said for some time: Web sites are bound to offer companies little if they limit their offerings to simply the nuts-and-bolts of buying and selling goods online.

Many business-to-business exchanges and marketplaces have struggled. One of the main reasons cited for the slow adoption of the marketplace model is the lack of tools geared toward building better relationships between sellers and buyers.

But not all business-to-business exchanges have turned a blind eye to these kind of applications. For instance, auto exchange Covisint signed up NexPrise and Engineering Animation Incorporated (EAI) in October to provide participants with collaborative design and quotation management software.

Analysts say one reason for the lapse is when online marketplaces first began, they were funded by venture capital firms willing to throw money at anything related to e-commerce. That gave rise to transaction-heavy online ventures.

"The early focus was on transactions, but win-win business relationships are built by from collaboration--not just transactions," Jupiter Media Metrix analyst Tim Clark said.

But Clark said he has found that a growing number of companies are integrating collaborative tools into their own private exchanges, or private trading networks.

A separate study released by Jupiter on Wednesday found that 26 percent of executives said they would add features to their exchanges within the next 12 months so participants can conduct activities such as inventory monitoring and product design.

Both of the Jupiter surveys illustrate a significant demand by companies to use Internet exchanges as not just e-commerce portals, but also as a means to build business relationships with their suppliers, buyers and business partners.