Today, when people are planning their vacations, they typically use an online marketplace like Travelocity or Expedia. Why? Because if you need to book a flight, hotel, rental car or some combination of the three, it’s much faster and easier to go to a single website that:
- Displays availability
- Provides ratings and descriptions
- Offers pricing comparisons
- Enables scheduling and booking
The cumbersome, time-consuming alternative is to research and compare each airline, hotel and car rental company individually before making a particular booking decision. The online marketplace model provides obvious benefits to the traveler in the form of convenience, simplicity and efficiency. Of course, the travel industry is just a single example. Online marketplaces have popped up across virtually every industry — and why wouldn’t they — the benefits they offer to buyers and sellers are undeniable.
Oddly, the B2B equipment rental industry has been slow to adopt the online marketplace model despite the fact that the granularity of the industry seems to make it a natural fit. There are more than 27,000 rental businesses in the U.S. and that number does not include many businesses that may not consider themselves rental businesses even though they do rent certain equipment.
It’s important to point out that there are currently a few online marketplaces that support the construction/heavy equipment industry; but equipment rental is estimated to be a $38 – $50 billion market, of which construction represents less than half. Businesses and organizations rent all kinds of equipment, for example:
- Medical equipment
- Laboratory equipment
- Audio/Visual equipment
- HVAC equipment
- Farming equipment
- Film production equipment
- Electronic testing equipment
- Environmental testing equipment
- Materials handling equipment
- Roadwork safety equipment
The list is practically endless, but the point is, equipment rental is big business and is ripe for an online marketplace that provides the technology to connect renters and suppliers across all industries in a more efficient and productive way.
In Part II we will discuss how an online equipment rental marketplace differs from traditional equipment rental sourcing and the advantages it brings.