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E-Marketplaces draw business buyers and sellers together in one virtual place, where participants can reduce transaction costs and reach new customers.  although they're evolving, today e-marketplaces  fall into six categories.


Like online trade magazines, these sites offer information and communications for specific industries.  They largely generate advertising revenue, but most are moving quickly to take commisions for  sales referrals and to stimulate trading on their sites. VerticalNet, with a collection of 56 such communities in industries from solid-waste management to pulp production, leads this pack.


these seller-driven sites digitize paper catalogs to provide easy search and one-stop shopping.  Many are starting to add richer services, such as meshing with software that handles a company's backend  operation-from order-taking to tracking inventory. in life sciences and PlasticsNet in polymers and resings focus on specific industries, while Grainer's sells supplies across many industries.

Procurement Hubs

Driven by buyers, these sites direct suppliers to particular companies or industries online in one place.  Software makers Ariba and CommerceOne led the charge in helping large companies set up their own procurement sites.  Lately, large traditional companies such as the Big Three auto makers have joined forces to form hubs.


For unique items such as used equipment, surplas inventory, and perishable goods, auctions are becoming the most popular sales channel.  They can be driven either by sellers (such as,  which runs acutions of advertising space on the Web and other media) or by buyers (such as FreeMarkets, which does reverse auctions of industrial materials and equipment).


Much the same way they do in stock markets, buyers and sellers meet, usually anonymously, to agree on prices on commodities such as energy or telecommunications capacity.  Examples include Altra Energy for natural gas and eLance for matching freelancers with projects.  They can be independent dot-coms or backed by major industry players, but their neutrality is key.

Collaboration Hubs

These emerging sites go far beyond the transaction phase to help companies get projects done, from design through manufacturing to distribution.  Bidcom, for instance, provides a single online  workplace for large contractors to collaborate with architects, store blueprints, work through permit processess, and purchase building materials.

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