How can a B2B marketplace contribute to a company’s CSR policy?

8 March 2023

Business Insight

The link between the B2B marketplace and the idea of fairer, more responsible, and more sustainable growth is actual. For a few years now, platforms that put buyers and sellers in contact with each other have been able to adapt their business model to meet expectations in terms of sustainable development and make it a new growth lever for their business.

Thus, B2B marketplaces can help improve your company’s CSR approach, reduce its carbon footprint, and improve its image by meeting the growth challenges of tomorrow. Decipher it in this article.

What is the challenge of a B2B marketplace?

A B2B marketplace allows professional buyers and sellers to exchange products or services.

Even if the word “marketplace” immediately brings to mind B2C e-commerce players such as Amazon, eBay, or CDiscount, B2B marketplaces (Amazon Business, Alibaba) and French platforms such as Malt or Agri-échange) have been growing rapidly for several years.

A study by PYMNTS, in collaboration with American Express, estimates that 80% of B2B buyers’ and suppliers’ transactions could be conducted electronically by 2025! This spectacular success is because marketplaces specialised in B2B respond to numerous current issues, such as the fluidity of exchanges or the possibility of reducing certain costs.


For a company, setting up or using a B2B marketplace can serve several purposes:

  • Create a reference offer on its market by constituting a broad, relevant, and varied offer.
  • Reduce costs by digitising specific processes.
  • Sell products or services to a broader B2B customer base.
  • Rationalise and streamline supply flows.
  • Access an additional source of data on market trends and competition.
  • Let merchants focus on complex sales by referencing simple purchases on a digital platform.

Read also: The B2B marketplace as a financial optimisation tool.

What is the link between the B2B marketplace and CSR?

More and more citizens and consumers are interested in environmental issues broadly. Some of the answers to these concerns can be found in the transformation of our current production and consumption models.

To meet these expectations and participate in the construction of a more sustainable and fairer world, companies are committed to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives.

Building a better and more liveable world in the long term

A CSR policy is a process that integrates social, environmental, and ethical concerns into an organisation’s strategy. The organisation will then implement concrete actions, such as using local suppliers, using fewer polluting materials, and digitising specific internal processes… All of this is to reduce its global environmental impact.

→ Because their primary objective is to save money and streamline specific processes, B2B marketplaces are obviously at the heart of this rethinking of our production and marketing methods. B2B marketplaces have all the assets to become credible alternatives to the current dominant model, which can be summed up in three words: “produce, consume, throw away.”

With B2B marketplaces, professionals have within their reach an immense and stimulating territory of conquest and experimentation that is entirely in line with the CSR approach, and a good number of companies have taken the lead with highly innovative projects in the field of the circular economy and the rationalisation of purchasing processes in particular.

Circular economy marketplaces

In the face of dwindling natural resources, the circular economy concept is gaining traction within private-sector thinking. The circular economy is a concept that aims to maximise the use of resources while reducing environmental impact, taking a systemic and holistic approach to products, materials, and waste.

Circular economy marketplaces are online platforms that connect sellers and buyers of second-hand products, recycled materials, recoverable waste, or eco-friendly products. These marketplaces are designed to foster a responsible and sustainable approach by using resources more efficiently and limiting waste and environmental impact.

The Suez group has launched its Organix marketplace, which connects organic waste producers with those who will buy and process it. It is also the only trusted third party to offer a delivery service for this waste.

Other examples in the construction field: B2B platforms such as Backacia, Cycle Up, and Waste Marketplace (an internal initiative launched by the Vinci Construction group) allow the recovery or reuse of construction materials that would otherwise have been thrown away.

The SDS group, a specialist in household appliance parts, has set up a platform to reuse unused electronic components. This project was recognised as a “program of the future” by ADEME in January 2021.

E-procurement marketplaces and digitalisation of the purchasing function

With purchasing accounting for an average of 50% of a company’s turnover and 25% for indirect purchases, it is evident that its impact could be more neutral and that the stakes are numerous. This is why some companies are also exploring the B2B marketplace model to streamline, simplify and digitalise their procurement flows.

E-procurement marketplaces have been booming for a few years now because they are a response to the growth challenges of tomorrow. They reduce costs, save time, improve inventory, and facilitate supplier management. Thanks to ergonomics similar to those of B2C marketplaces, catalogue optimisation, easy search, and centralised processing, e-procurement platforms help reduce the entire procurement cycle.

They are part of a sustainable development approach by allowing purchasing managers to source from suppliers who respect specific ethical and environmental standards and claim sustainable and responsible practices in their production and supply chain.

One example is Hello RSE, a marketplace dedicated to “responsible” professional purchases of IT resources or educational solutions. The B2B marketplace systematically suggests three choices for each product: the cheapest, the closest geographically, and the most virtuous based on CSR criteria.

Anti-waste law of 2020: an opportunity for B2B marketplaces?

While some companies are taking the lead in the circular economy and sustainable development, those who need to catch up to speed quickly anyway. Indeed, the AGEC law (acting against waste and for a circular economy) voted in 2020 invites companies to review their bad habits.

For example, it prohibits the destruction of unsold non-food items – a change that took effect on January 1, 2022 – and, in general, suggests that people should think more carefully before throwing them away.

B2B marketplaces are also encouraged to promote a more sustainable economy by sorting, reusing, and recycling unsold products and materials. It’s a constraint, sure, but by adopting a circular economy approach, B2B marketplaces can become key players in preserving our ecosystems and combating rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Read also: Anti-waste law: what impacts for your marketplace?

B2B marketplaces and CSR: multiple opportunities

B2B marketplaces represent an opportunity for companies to implement an effective CSR policy without compromising their profitability objectives.

By promoting reuse rather than purchase, a B2B circular economy or e-procurement marketplace helps to reduce the costs associated with the destruction, storage, and production of unsold products and, thus, create additional added value and launch experiments without taking risks in terms of extra revenues.

Read also: B2B marketplace project: when to choose your PSP?

CSR without the perverse effects of greenwashing

In addition to increasing the productivity of an organisation, B2B marketplaces also allow companies to reduce their environmental impact without falling into greenwashing. Implementing a unifying and genuinely helpful project will increase the social value of a company without the risk of being confused with a banal communication operation or an attempt to improve its image.

In sum, B2B marketplaces can be vital for companies to improve their CSR performance while increasing profitability.