The new European Digital Markets Act (DMA) is widely considered to have a far-reaching impact on the business- and operating models of so-called ‘gatekeeper’ platforms that enjoy significant market power over their market (i.e., Google, Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon). However, an often-overlooked effect of the DMA are the opportunities it provides to smaller challenger platforms, platform partners (including merchants) and most of all to the companies that provide B2B services to them. We encourage not only gatekeeper platforms, but especially other players in the platform ecosystem to conduct a broader impact assessment.
Using multiple marketplaces without losing data
The DMA provides disruptive opportunities to smaller platforms and companies that offer (B2B) services to partners that are active on gatekeeper platforms. For example, data interoperability obligations will enable business users to automatically export rating and reviews, transaction and listing data towards other platforms or channels. This obligation makes it easier for them to use multiple marketplaces at the same time without losing the previously locked-in benefits of their review and rating-enabled reputation.
Strong incentive gatekeepers to innovate partner service & experience
For gatekeeper platforms this will create an even stronger imperative to strengthen the relationships with their partners as these can more easily switch to competing platforms. For example, by investing in services that help their partners grow and be successful while offering them the same seamless omnichannel experience as consumers enjoy. In addition, they will need to consider ways how to keep partners attached to their platforms, like giving them increased influence over future policies, service development roadmaps and even revenue sharing schemes.
New room for fresh B2B propositions
While the DMA places a large compliance burden on the gatekeeper platforms, it offers new opportunities to three groups of other players: (1) smaller (niche) platforms, (2) marketplace/channel integrators and (3) companies that want to develop ‘Embedded X’ propositions:
- Normally a barrier of entry for new platforms is to attract sufficient trustworthy supply from external partners to become interesting for customers. Data portability provisions of DMA allow new/smaller platforms to build tools for new partners to automatically import their historic transaction, review and rating data from gatekeeper platforms with minimal effort. In this way, attracting sufficient supply specific customer segments / use cases becomes (much) easier for new or smaller niche platforms.
- Especially in online retail markets where merchants can use different channels and marketplace platforms to reach consumers, they make use of channel integrators (such as Channable, ChannelEngine, Tradebyte etc). The new obligations of the DMA on equal access to core platform services and better merchant data portability will likely provide these integrators with stronger capabilities, and as a result enable them to provide new and better services to partners.
- As online customer journeys are increasingly orchestrated by (and executed on) marketplace platforms rather than the websites or apps of individual suppliers, increasingly companies are looking to embed their services into these marketplace platforms.
Prepare for the unknown
In an impact assessment, we encourage gatekeepers, smaller platforms, and third parties to view the Digital Markets Act not only as a regulatory and technical compliance issue, but also as an opportunity for improvements to existing operating models and renewal of existing operating models. We recommend these players within the platform ecosystem to have a smart strategy in place to cope with these changes and stay relevant in the future.