B2B sharing economy, threat or opportunity for you?

B2B sharing economy, threat or opportunity for you?
Are you already familiar with the sharing economy? Have you ever shared your home through Airbnb, borrowed tools through Peerby, booked a car with Car2Go (now ShareNow), or hailed a taxi via Uber? Consumers are increasingly realizing that ‘having access to’ is almost as valuable as ownership. Why buy something when you can borrow or rent it (for a fraction of the price)?

Foto door Ryan Mcquire

Foto door Ryan Mcquire

Marktplaats has already turned everyone into retailers, but with apps like Airbnb, you can suddenly become a hotelier. The line between individuals doing business with each other (C2C, consumer-to-consumer, e.g., through Marktplaats) and companies selling something is getting smaller. The hotel and taxi industries see this sharing economy primarily as a threat and try to hinder this development through regulations. But shouldn’t they look at the opportunities instead? We are currently exploring what the B2B sharing economy can mean for companies doing business with other businesses (B2B, business-to-business). We discuss the reasons for this development, share some articles to learn more about it, and mention some potential consequences for the B2B market.

The sharing economy is not entirely new, of course. Years ago, Marktplaats already made it possible to buy and sell items directly (second-hand). But in recent years, the transaction costs have significantly decreased, and location-based technology can show us much better and faster who, what, and where is available. As a result, we can essentially break everything down into time units and provide it as a service. Who is driving to Paris NOW, hitchhiking to Paris (the old-fashioned way), and booking accommodation for a few tens of euros from people who are not currently there and are making their homes available? All of this is made possible by precise time and location determination and, not to forget, resources (housing, transportation, assets, etc.).

“How further this develops, the greater the consequences for the (traditional) economy. The demand does not decrease, but the way supply and demand come together is changing radically.”

Changing traditional models is always challenging. That’s why taxi companies and hotels are suing Uber and Airbnb massively. But, as we all secretly know, trends like these can only be slowed down. In a few more years, ‘sharing’ will be as common as putting your items on Marktplaats, where we used to say, ‘I don’t want strangers at my doorstep.’

We find these articles fascinating, as they delve into the background and consequences for consumers:

B2B Sharing Economy: Threats and Opportunities

PWC’s article emphasizes that several industries failed to see the opportunities and threats posed by sharing in time, putting them under significant pressure. We all know the story of music, film, and TV with Napster and later peer-to-peer file sharing. Especially music is still undergoing significant changes as a result, while the automotive industry shows that it can be done differently. Companies like BMW, GM, Avis, and Daimler, for example, were not taken by surprise and each has its sharing branch or participation. What threats could arise in your market, and perhaps more importantly, what opportunities do you have to respond? We came up with the following two examples:

  1. Unified Procurement – Several large companies already jointly purchase legal advice, and it is only a matter of (little) time before this happens in many other service markets. But even a manufacturing company could experience this. Joint procurement saves time and money. Why not take the initiative yourself as a connector and facilitator? What benefits can you gain from this?
  2. Sharing Production Capacity – There is always an excess or shortage, think, for example, of machines running overtime or standing still. Usually, companies choose to shrink (save) or expand (invest). Often, this is a choice based on a snapshot. Why not take a break and share capacity with another company or even with competitors?
  3. Office Space/Desks – The office space market is already under significant pressure, but in a labor market that is becoming increasingly flexible, it will continue to change in the coming years. Why not rent out these facilities yourself?
  4. Employees and Systems – Your organization may have developed a lot of knowledge, skills, or systems that enable certain tasks or quality. By efficiently providing these for other companies, you can maximize the potential of these assets. Easier Access to Capital – The entry barrier to your market has always been significant, but easier access to production resources and capital (e.g., through p2p lending) makes it easier to enter a market (and compete). For you, the question is which aspects of your organization provide genuinely sustainable differentiation, and how will you expand or emphasize them?

We have given you a first introduction to the B2B sharing economy in this article, but we have also framed it in a way that provides you with professional insight into how this trend could affect your market. Hopefully, you are inspired, and our general examples have got you thinking about your specific market. We are happy to talk to you about your specific challenges. If you already have a vision of this trend or the opportunities in your market, we would love to hear that too. You can reach us via our contact form, but also through Twitter or LinkedIn!


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