The fast-growing economy of monetizing unused or underused assets goes by many names: the “sharing economy,” the “gig economy,” the “on-demand economy,” and the “collaborative economy.” Whether sharing goods as in Uber, renting homes as in Airbnb, or serving up micro-skills as in TaskRabbit, consumers are using technology to find and buy one another’s extra resources. These companies are peer-to-peer marketplaces focused on C2C or B2C sharing.
So, what about marketplaces for B2B sharing? Instead of consumers trading goods and services, the B2B sharing economy is when businesses share services and assets among each other. Sharing resources among businesses will make the companies more efficient as they pay for what they need when they need it instead of making expensive investments on owing assets. With B2B sharing, companies can focus on their strengths and outsource the rest, developing better products for consumers while still providing the same experience that a more traditional organization would. This lean operating model will ensure companies react quickly to market changes in a less expensive and more efficient manner.
Players In Business-to-Business Sharing
Though peer-to-peer marketplaces dominate the current sharing economy, the number of B2B sharing companies that are adopting technology to share everything from collaborative office spaces to underutilized equipment is growing steadily.
Let’s look at a few of the top front-runners of the B2B sharing economy:
- Breather is the B2B Airbnb for office space and meeting rooms.
- Flexe lets organizations rent out extra or unused warehousing spaces.
- Floow2 allows companies to share everything from trucks and equipment to facilities, professionals, and materials.
- Share My Office is an online portal to let businesses anywhere in the world to share their spare desks or office space.
- Storefront allows stores to rent retail spaces for pop-up shops.
- Uber and Airbnb, the flagships of the sharing economy, have both realized the potential of the B2B sharing opportunity and have released business versions of their products.
- WeWork is an international group that provides entrepreneurs with an office and a community, eliminating the need for young companies to make large investments in office space. If you’re interested in a co-working space, call Business Link for a list of co-working spaces near you.
- Yard Club connects construction companies to share their underutilized equipment by renting it out.
Looking for a made-in-Alberta example? Check out eXmerce, which uses a twist on the traditional barter system to facilitate B2B transactions.
Fast Growing B2B Sharing Economy
These companies and many others stand to disrupt how businesses think about professional services, equipment, supply chain management, and space management. These services are enabled by their online digital platforms, making it easy for the companies to order exactly what they need when they need it for a fraction of the usual cost and with minimal effort.
Given this new reality, nearly every vertical supply chain will be crowded with tech startups to support B2B marketplaces—following the success path of P2P in the Sharing Economy!