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|B2B TRADE PORTALS
ARTICLE BY ROSALIENE BACCHUS
The World Wide Web has changed the way we do business in previously unimaginable ways. Using any
device with an Internet connection, we can communicate with others from any location on the earth's
surface. In the global marketplace, the Internet has leveled the playing field between companies of all sizes
across the globe. Today, our competitors are not only in our neighborhood or city but may also be in China,
India or other distant country. On the other hand, the Internet empowers small and medium-size business
owners through online networking, collaboration, marketing, and sales.
Over the past decade, a growing number of Business-to-Business (B2B) trade portals have emerged online
to facilitate trade among buyers, suppliers and service providers worldwide. B2B trade portals are global
marketplaces where exporters, importers, traders, brokers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and other
business people meet and trade. They are ideal platforms for the small and medium-size manufacturers of
consumer products. Service providers include professional and trade associations, and commercial and
Trade portals are designed to facilitate use by all registered users. Depending on one’s facility with
computers and the Internet, two or more hours may be required to learn and utilize the tools provided.
These tools allow suppliers to set up their company profile (sub-domain) and post their products for tender,
referred to as trade offers, with photos and product specifications. Search tools allow buyers to find potential
suppliers by product type or location. Trade alerts are available on a continuous basis, upon request, via
e-mail. Some portals offer country profiles, information on trade shows, discussion forums for problem-
solving or assistance, and market news. Contact with potential suppliers, finalizing the deal, and making
payment occur online with little or no physical interaction. Import and export documentation are prepared
online. Suppliers then ship goods with the requisite import documents.
In general, B2B trade portals offer registered users the option of free or pre-paid premium membership.
This determines the level of access to the services offered. For example, on Alibaba.com—the world’s
leading B2B international business and trade Website with almost 30 million registered users from over
240 countries and regions—free membership provides restricted access to buyers and products, and a
basic company Website. TrustPass® membership offers transparency and legitimacy by providing in-depth
company information and permits the display of an unlimited number of products.
By providing a platform for displaying one’s products and offering trade leads, B2B trade portals are
changing the way small and medium-size importers and exporters do business. A company profile on any
leading B2B trade portal becomes an invaluable marketing tool when properly administered. Importers can
research and compare products by global suppliers in a single marketplace, thereby reducing time and
costs in sourcing suppliers. To minimize the risks inherent in conducting online transactions and avoiding
fraudulent trade deals, all parties involved must perform their due diligence when selecting a trade portal
and trading partners. Success in the virtual marketplace comes with a persistent and pro-active presence.
Article published in the Guyana Journal, Guyana Journal Publication, Inc., New York, USA, June 2008, p. 10.
Reprinted with permission.