December 15, 2016, 8:37 AM

Katun Marketplace launches as a web portal for imaging supplies

The marketplace lets imaging professionals buy and sell used equipment as well as connect with a global base of dealers and distributors. The company joins a growing roster of B2B companies establishing marketplaces.

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Katun Corp. specializes in selling new and re-manufactured parts for office printers, copiers and other imaging equipment through several online catalogs as well as offline channels. Now it’s offering a web portal, KatunMarketplace.com, for users of imaging equipment to buy and sell merchandise amongst themselves as well as with an international base of dealers and distributors.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Katun launched the KatunMarketplace.com last month, making it available only to its base of more than 12,500 customers. Companies or individuals who are not already Katun customers must sign up for a Katun account before participating on the marketplace.

The new Katun marketplace continues a growing phenomenon in the B2B world, as companies look to mirror the success of B2C marketplaces, such as those operated by Amazon.com Inc., eBay Inc. and, more recently, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Marketplaces not only enable companies to buy and sell new and used equipment, they offer a low-cost e-commerce entry point for smaller businesses seeking an online sales presence. Building out from scratch a customer-friendly and useful B2B e-commerce site can take months or even years, says Andy Hoar, an e-business analyst at Forrester Research Inc. who specializes in covering B2B e-commerce. But one way many sellers start out—and continue to hone their online selling skills, while learning how online buyers respond to their product offerings—is through e-marketplaces.

Amazon Business, formerly Amazon Supply, is the bellwether for B2B marketplace growth, expanding its business accounts about 30% in each of the first two quarters in 2016. In its financial report for the second quarter ended June 30, Amazon said Amazon Business had more than 400,000 business accounts. That’s at least a 33% increase from the end of the first quarter in March, when it said it had more than 300,000 business accounts, and a 100% increase from the 200,000 accounts it reported as of the end of last year. In effect, that means Amazon Business is adding about 100,000 accounts per quarter.

Businesses set up accounts on Amazon Business to buy or sell. The total included about 30,000 sellers as of mid-year.

The gross transaction value of products sold over Amazon Business is projected to grow about 30% year over year, from about $4 billion in 2015 to $5.2 billion in 2016, says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which helps companies sell through e-marketplaces.

Recent marketplace rollouts by manufacturers include Canon U.S.A. Inc., whose online marketplace consolidates its imaging technology and services offerings on one landing page accessible by authorized dealers. Canon says the portal, dubbed the Canon Business Services Platform, will help dealers enhance customer relationships by making it simple to order subscription-based Canon document and information management products—such as software, services and imaging equipment—and to access support information about products and services.

The marketplace launched in August and is part of what Canon U.S.A calls “One Canon,” its centralized strategy to unite its business-to-business divisions and create a tighter bond with its dealers.

And Deere & Co., the manufacturer of John Deere brand tractors and other equipment used in the construction and agricultural industries as well as in home lawn care, is working with Apttus Corp., a provider of B2B e-commerce technology, to deploy a new e-marketplace. The new shopping site is designed to serve as a multifaceted portal for end-customers and dealers to purchase products from Deere factories as well as from other suppliers of agricultural equipment. Deere has not directly commented on its plans for the marketplace.

Additional features of the marketplace include the calculation of sales tax across each state with a sales tax; the ability of resellers on the marketplace to manage pricing and bundling of products for sale. Deere is No. 36 in the B2B E-Commerce 300.

In Katun’s case, there are no fees to join the marketplace, but it charges transaction fees and also earns revenue by selling advertising display space to sellers. The company did not immediately return a request for information on the marketplace’s fee structure and its numbers of participants and transactions.

“We have a huge international customer base, and many of them are interested in either selling or buying used copier and printer hardware,” says Cornelis Alderliest, marketing director for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. KatunMarketplace lets visitors choose among two languages—English and French—but will have more language options available in the coming weeks, Katun says.

Katun, a privately held company founded 37 years ago, sells new products through an online catalog at Katun.com, where it also makes available downloadable digital catalogs.

For companies that want to sign up for an account, Katun provides several links at Katun.com to online applications designed for North America; Europe; Central Eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East; and Latin America.

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