By 2005, eMarketplaces will claim 6% of all business-to-business (B2B) trade in the EU as up to a thousand online markets emerge to facilitate Internet business transactions. A new Report by Forrester Research B.V. (Nasdaq: FORR) outlines how these eMarketplaces will start off biased toward buyers and sellers, but will evolve into neutral, Pan-European venues that allow all participants to profit from their market reach and efficiency.

“Vast volumes of trade through eMarketplaces will trigger many buying and selling companies and third parties to seek a piece of the action over the next four years,” said Jaap Favier, senior analyst for Forrester Research B.V. “But only one in 20 of these initiatives will survive the battle for power and volume.”

Forrester’s interviews with executives reveal a bullish attitude about eMarketplaces — across all industries and countries in Europe, companies are shifting large portions of their trade to the Internet. Forrester believes that their enthusiasm is justified and that eMarketplaces will prosper in Europe. But strong differences between industries will allow some to commence business five years before others do. Three industries represent the bulk of eMarketplace trade: automotive, transportation, and electronics. Construction and industrial equipment firms are lagging behind, although within some slower verticals there will be niches that take off.

Half of all EU eMarketplace trade will take place in the UK and Germany by 2005. Regions that have strong ties with these giants, including the Benelux and Ireland, will be pulled into their slipstream, exhibiting high growth rates of more than 200% in 2003. Despite its leading position in business-to-consumer (B2C) trade, Scandinavia’s B2B trade is lagging due to its dependency on the German and English economies.

“Of the eMarketplaces launched in Europe by 2002, three types of venues will emerge: buyersites aimed at eProcurement; sellersites concentrating on channel sales; and neutral fairsites, which will be set up by third parties and will milk fragmented markets,” explained Favier.

The need for critical mass will cause an early eMarketplace shakeout. Fewer than half of the marketmakers in Europe will have the power or financial breadth to reach a minimum number of sellers and buyers. Those winners that gain traction will push forward with vertical and international expansion. Ultimately, biased buyer- and sellersites will be forced to become neutral fairsites. Forrester believes that extensive merger-and-acquisition activity will incite consolidation, bringing the total number of European eMarketplaces down to 50 by 2005. At that point, regulators will block further market consolidation to prevent monopolies.

For the Report “Euro eMarketplaces Top Hype,” Forrester interviewed 55 procurement and sales executives from international B2B firms as well as 20 marketmakers and technology providers. Seventy percent of the executives interviewed expect to conduct more than a quarter of their business via eMarketplaces by 2004. Moreover, four out of five companies interviewed hope to be equity stakeholders in one or more eMarketplaces. For this Report Forrester also carried out a detailed analysis of 14 industry supply chains across 15 European countries (figures available upon request).

Note: 1 billion = 1,000,000,000