Tradeling celebrates second anniversary pushing for a $50 billion market
Mita Srinivasan
10x Industry

Tradeling celebrates second anniversary pushing for a $50 billion market

Tradeling recently celebrated two years of being one of the main search and sourcing tool for business buyers across the region. It has seen exponential revenue growth of more than 35 percent month on month since its inception. We asked CEO, Marius Ciavola, what he attributed to this phenomenal growth and what the future of his business looks like.

Tradeling, MENA’s business-to-business (B2B) e-marketplace, has seen exponential revenue growth of more than 35 percent month on month since its inception and its product selection increasing to over 700,000. Today, Tradeling has over 126,000 registered buyers and sellers from over 55 countries and has seen a notable 70,000 requests for quotations and inquiries.

As Tradeling ventures into its third year, it boasts a growing team of over 200 tech and business enthusiasts that is set to reach 450 people by the end of 2022 as it expands to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This expansion will continue to see Tradeling support MENA-based buyers to find the right products and materials, engage with new suppliers, and deliver end-to-end services for business-to-business trade engagement.

Digital Commerce C36 estimates that the collective growth of merchandise sales on B2B marketplaces grew by 130 percent to $56 billion globally from $24.34 billion in 2020 with B2B eCommerce growing 17.8 percent to $1.6 trillion.

Tradeling CEO, Marius Ciavola, explained this success.

Ciavola added, “Challenges that companies are facing around pricing, access to trade finance, logistics, last-mile delivery, and beyond contributed to this growth. Many have been moving towards marketplace mechanisms to overcome these challenges and consider different options. Not forgetting the impact of the pandemic on trade and business confidence which accelerated the adoption of digital services and enabled eCommerce and e-marketplaces to witness such growth.”

Tradeling conducted an independent study showing how the unprecedented challenges brought on by the global pandemic necessitated a new model of retail that is driven online. It essentially showed that COVID-19 caused many businesses to view eCommerce in a new, more important light.

Through the same independent study that the company launched last year, it interviewed 500 companies in UAE and KSA and found out the following:

  • Businesses reported increased the use of B2B e-commerce due to the pandemic with 82 percent, on average, citing that their use has increased.

  • In the UAE, 86 percent of businesses feel technology will assume greater significance followed by e-commerce at 84 percent, while both sectors are perceived to grow in importance in equal measure by Saudi respondents at 73 percent each.

  • 78 percent believe that e-commerce will play a big role in their business

  • 46 percent purchase most of their supplies online

  • Two fifths use online marketplaces most of the time

Within the more than 750,000 products listed in 14 categories in which Tradeling is focused, consumer electronics, F&B-related orders, and office supplies are the heaviest traded on the Tradeling platform. It also grew a critical mass on both sides of the marketplace where the platform now has more than 130,000 users.

However, one key challenge for the platform’s growth has been the supply chain. Ciavola added, “As product life cycles and clock speeds become shorter, supply chains must evolve to become faster and more efficient. Many companies today use a single supply chain for all products, despite the differences in these product’s life cycles. In the future, companies will have to develop different supply chains to accommodate these varying lifecycles and remain profitable.”

Moving forward, “integration of services is the way forward. This will reduce delivery times, and enhance customer experience.”

“Another area of improvement would be for companies to become flexible and agile to overcome any unprecedented situation, and that approach is part of Tradeling’s DNA,” Ciavola added. “It is also a matter of understanding the customer. The B2B customer is very different from the B2C customer. So listen to your customer and understand their needs, leverage your data and tech to close the gap between your business and your customers.”

The digital marketplace is no doubt the future of retail and in the new reality, it will record a stronger rate of growth compared to brick and mortar retail. McKinsey recently reported that 79 percent of suppliers have built, are planning to build, or are considering building a marketplace.

Studies also show that by 2025, 75 percent of the global workforce will be made up of millennials. This means professional buyers will be looking for easier and more seamless experiences when buying on the job. The increase of digitally-minded millennials in professional buying roles will change the course of the traditional B2B buying experience.

Ciavola is confident that the “one thing we will see more of in B2B eCommerce is an increase in payment options. Having a great selection of payment options is vital to the customer journey and success of the marketplace”.

B2B transactions in the Middle East online space still only make up a fraction – say 1 percent or even less than that – of a $1 trillion sized market. That’s quite an insignificant size given the kind of potential B2B online deals have in MENA.

“Our aim is to push that percentage to 4 – 5 percent and make it into a $50 billion size,” said Ciavola.