We are a commerce platform, not a marketplace. So, what’s the difference?

We are a commerce platform, not a marketplace. So, what’s the difference?

Jay Bhatia

CEO - Agilis Chemicals Inc

All marketplaces are commerce platforms. But not all commerce platforms are marketplaces. Confused? Indeed, there are many similarities between the two models – both are designed to connect buyers with sellers, provide information about products, and help process transactions. Both models can cater to a broad audience or specialize in certain products or services. Both strive to bring efficiency to the process of buying and selling. So, what are the differences between the two models and why does Agilis uncompromisingly position itself as commerce platform, and not a marketplace? We broke it down to four key elements.


Marketplaces disrupt, commerce platforms value relationships. The marketplace industry wears the term “disrupt” as a badge of honor. Large online retailers are proud to have unsettled the way products and services are bought and sold. When an online marketplace moves in, many of the existing players go out of business, supply chains crumble, partnerships wither. At Agilis, we see things differently. Buying and selling chemicals is not the same as selling books, furniture, or even cars directly to the end-user. This industry has a complex value chain that is built on closely-cultivated relationships, especially with distributors. A commerce platform like ours, that’s purpose-built for a specific industry, thrives on supporting and improving existing workflows and processes, providing value to all players along every step of the supply chain.


Marketplaces act as intermediaries, commerce platforms help you do business on your own terms. Most online marketplaces serve one main purpose – to connect online buyers with products they seek, and sellers with potential customers. A well-designed ecommerce marketplace can make it easy for the customer to find products, compare prices, submit payments, and generally take the hassle out of online shopping. Sellers benefit from access to a pool of potential customers under the umbrella of the marketplace. An industry-specific Commerce platform offers customers a broad choice of purchase options from reputable suppliers and all of the above benefits of marketplace, but that’s not all they do.


  1. commerce platform provider allows key players in the industry to build their own branded portals and offers value-added services like marketing expertise and lead generation. At Agilis, we provide a cloud-based software solution to chemical producers and distributors that can be configured to support their unique workflows and make it easy for their customers to do business with them. We still have an online space where buyers and sellers can find each other – but our main goal is to build an environment where all parties can securely and transparently conduct business – from start to finish – improving existing processes, methods, and connections.


Marketplaces create value for some players, commerce platforms focus on complete value chains. Marketplaces cut out the middle man. For many products, this is indeed a perfect way to increase efficiency; but buying industrial chemicals is not something that most companies can (or want to!) do without knowing who the buyer or seller is, or what their track record looks like in producing, handling, and delivering specialty chemicals. They would want to know what backup services and support (e.g. technical help in using the product) they can provide. This is not a place for matching buyers and sellers anonymously or throwing a product onto a public domain; and this is why distributors continue to play a vital role in the chemical value chain, and trust between parties is often nurtured for decades. At Agilis, we firmly believe that this industry could benefit from a solution that enables market players to digitalize existing supply chains, relationships, and workflows while reaping the enormous benefits of digital technology. Our solution augments the role of distributors and creates value for all players.


Marketplaces connect buyers with sellers, commerce platforms add visibility from producer to end-customer. Chemical products are used in a variety of industries – from agriculture, to industrial manufacturing, to food processing, but producers of raw materials often don’t have any way to trace what their products are ultimately used for. Agilis enables chemical producers to digitize their supply chains and gain full visibility into the end-uses of their products. Having access to this data helps producers set more accurate production goals, understand market patterns, and analyze price fluctuations. It’s not just about finding a buyer – it’s about having transparency and visibility throughout the products’ entire value chains.


Not all commerce platforms are created equal, but we believe that at Agilis, we found a secret sauce that helps us bring the chemical business into the digital age without disrupting workflows and relationships that have been perfected and nurtured over many years. This industry is unique and requires specialized knowledge and understanding of complex processes – and so far, our customers have been telling us that we may have just cracked the code on how to enable online commerce for players of all sizes.


Visit us at https://agilischemicals.com to see what Agilis can do for your business.

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