B2B e-commerce is big business-and getting bigger. Forrester Research predicts that online b2b trade will be worth $2.7 trillion by 2004, or 17 percent of all b2b transactions in the United States. The new economy is taking advantage of new business models, such as reverse bidding and barter systems, leading to a boom that just keeps getting louder. But by far, the most popular and cost-efficient tool of business owners is the online b2b auction house.
With dozens of business auctions to choose from, covering everything from administrative services and agricultural products to employee training and warehouse storage or office equipment, you and your business can readily turn to the auction block of cut-priced goods and services. Shopping this way can save you precious cash and help keep your business afloat.
Online auctions abound, though, so it's tough to know which ones to browse. We've picked out a few b2b auction spots that are worth a look:
- ComAuction.com features a wide range of goods-tools for chemical processing, marine and agricultural equipment, financial and insurance services, and raw materials. In this case, broad reach can be both a strength and a weakness, depending on what your needs are. There are many categories but relatively few choices within those categories-in other words, they've spread themselves too thin. However, there's something for just about any kind of business, no matter how obscure, so this is definitely worth a glance before paying retail.
- Bulk consumer merchandise, military surplus, office electronics and more are all for sale, some at excellent prices, at Liquidation.com. A plus is that you can get a price on the shipping before you bid, or, in some cases, get a sample of the merchandise before you buy the entire lot. However, while the service is always free to buyers and sellers with basic listings, big sellers will only want to post big-ticket items, as the listing fee for "Featured Auctions" is around $100.
- If human resources are what you seek, there are auctions for that, too. At eLance.com, contractors and businesses with project-specific needs are brought together, and employees will bid on jobs that you submit, or you can simply hire a temporary work force from eLance's fixed-price marketplace. The sites feature categories from workers in more than 140 countries for everything from administrative assistants and law professionals to computer engineers and marketing professionals.
Karen Solomon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a San Francisco-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Industry Standard and Wired News.