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B2B Ecommerce Platform: How to Choose the Best Solution For Manufacturers And Wholesalers

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B2B Ecommerce Platform: How to Choose the Best Solution For Manufacturers And Wholesalers
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B2B Ecommerce Platform: How to Choose the Best Solution For Manufacturers And Wholesalers
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More than ever before B2B customers purchase online, so companies are embracing B2B ecommerce solutions to keep ahead of the competition. 

With so many options, it can be a daunting task to do the right thing when selecting the platform. Not all ecommerce solutions are equipped to deal with B2B transactions. 

In this article, we’ll give you a piece of advice on B2B platform evaluation factors and share a list of top 7 B2B ecommerce platform to launch your website.   

What is B2B commerce?

In comparison to B2C “business to customer” ecommerce where an individual customer purchases a product from an online store, B2Bbusiness to business” ecommerce is an online business model that relates to sales transactions between different companies through online channels. 

B2B ecommerce facilitates sales transactions between wholesalers manufacturers and retailers and is typically a more complex process. For example, the B2C sales transaction is when a customer buys a dress or orders food from your website. An example of B2B sales would be an online retailer that sells computers to companies as its main objective is another business. 

B2B businesses have many stakeholders, unique compliance requirements, longer sales cycles that make the sales processes more complex.

B2B commerce
B2B. Image credit: Medium

Market overview of B2B ecommerce platforms

The B2B ecommerce market has been growing fast due to the significant influence of the worldwide online ecosystem and changing nature of B2B shoppers. According to Statista, in 2019 the worldwide B2B ecommerce market was estimated at $12.2 trillion. The US B2B ecommerce is forecasted to get $1.8 trillion by 2023.

These ecommerce statistics prove that it is high time for B2B businesses to change their strategy and adopt B2B ecommerce software in order to reap the benefits of this growing market. 

In our article, you’ll get an in-depth comparison of  top 7 B2B ecommerce market players of 2020:

  • Bigcommerce
  • Shopify Plus
  • Open Cart
  • Prestashop
  • SAP Hybris
  • Salesforce Commerce Cloud
  • Magento Commerce

Depending on the budget and scalability of a business, these solutions provide the advanced functionality tailored to industry-specific needs. Adopting mentioned ecommerce platform will give the possibility for B2B businesses to save time and resources and improve operational efficiency.

Features of B2B ecommerce platform to look for

Frequently, ecommerce brands try to adjust their B2C experience to the B2B sector, but this won’t function well. B2B purchasing is much more complicated than B2C, as customers have particular requirements and high expectations.  Let’s check out the essential features a B2B ecommerce store should have to attract new customers and keep loyal shoppers happy. 

Access options, roles, and permissions 

In a B2C sale, the customer searches for a certain product, finds it online, decides to purchase and pay with the credit card to fulfill the order. B2B transactions aren’t that easy. 

In a B2B sale, transactions include numerous decision-makers with various levels of purchasing authority. Taking into account the specific factors related to selling items to other businesses, it is crucial to guarantee that the B2B customers have access to the data required to perform intended tasks effectively. 

The platform should give the possibility for B2B store owners to define the roles, permissions, and responsibilities and allow/limit access to particular sections of your website on a case-by-case basis.

Customer Pricing 

Unlike B2C, a B2B ecommerce solution should offer a personalized pricing model based on the different customers or a number of orders for particular products. Your platform should give a possibility to determine a list of individual prices to handle the complex cost structure.

B2B customers expect a pricing model to be negotiated according to your business relationships or the number of their orders. Moreover, most parts of B2B sales depend on relationship and loyalty, so regular customers expect special pricing for their loyalty to your services. 

Multiple Payment Options

B2B shoppers purchase in large quantities and on a periodic basis. The platform should provide multiple payment options such as paying one or several invoices, subscription payment model, partial payment or payment in debt. 

With a flexible payment model you can offer your customers a possibility to divide the costs for their orders into small sums of money that could be paid with different credit cards. With the B2B platform, you also need to offer credit lines to high-value customers and set credit limits for each account. 

Systems Integrations

The next factor to consider is how your platform will integrate with your resource planning systems, logistics programs, inventory management systems, marketing, analytics, and marketing tools. 

Opt for the platform that integrates smoothly with your CRM (customer relationship management), PIM (product information management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), accounting and tax management, and more. 

Personalized experience

More and more B2B companies move towards a personalized UX (user experience). Your B2B ecommerce solution should allow you to develop an ecommerce store that’s mobile-optimized, has easy navigation, simple to customize, and is SEO-friendly.

Moreover, the platform should provide advanced tools such as personalization plug-ins, cross-sells, up-sells,  reward and loyalty programs. If you want your B2B brand to become popular among customers, your store should make interaction with your brand more enjoyable.

Inventory Management

Usually, inventory information is restricted to basic “in stock” or “out of stock” options. The B2B ecommerce platform should offer powerful inventory data. B2B customers need to have access to order tracking, shipping information, one-click reordering, quote approvals, and any other features that help to handle their accounts on their own. 

Self-service inventory management gives B2B customers an opportunity not only to place their orders in a fast and efficient way but also helps to avoid expensive backorders.

Product Catalog Management

Product catalog management is the key business performance driver for B2B store owners. Your product content can be messed up if you’re managing a great number of product catalogs in all various formats from your suppliers. Sometimes, it can be quite problematic to organize this information and get it prepared for product listings. 

Ensure how the chosen platform deals with complex product catalogs. On certain occasions, you might need to integrate a PIM (product information management) system. With PIM systems, ecommerce companies can run, organize, enrich, and distribute product data from various sources and in various formats across multiple channels.

Advanced SEO Tools

Being on the first page of search engines has a direct impact on the purchasing decision, regardless of the business model you’re using. The best marketing investment you can make is in search engine optimization (SEO).

Typically, all B2B ecommerce platforms have an SEO system. However, it’s crucial that you select a package with tools that can enhance the SEO of your website. 

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B2B ecommerce platform comparison 

B2B ecommerce platforms are strategic tools for attracting new customers and boosting revenue. Here are the best B2B ecommerce platforms you should take into account in order to get ahead, stay ahead and beat out the competition.

Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus provides all the necessary features to start selling and shipping your products online to other businesses. Shopify is popular among B2B companies as it has low start-up costs and an intuitive interface. 

Shopify Plus
Shopify plus. Image credit: Crowd

It is not necessary to be a skilled web developer to launch your B2B store, as Shopify provides dozens of free and paid themes. 

The major benefits you get as a B2B business owner opting for Shopify Plus are:

  • Multiple product catalogs and price-lists
  • Intuitive and robust on-site search
  • Multiple purchase options
  • Mobile-responsive and customizable storefront
  • Self-service reordering and management
  • Launching multiple websites from a single backend 
  • Sync with existing admin and marketing integrations
  • Online account signup and registration
  • Advanced custom pricing 
  • 24/7 support guaranteed by a hosted solution

BigCommerce

BigCommerce offers an advanced set of out-of-the-box tools for B2B businesses aimed to start selling fast. BigCommerce provides B2B merchants with responsive website design, advanced shipping options, third-party integrations, and easy checkouts. 

Big Commerce
Big Commerce. Image credit: Pcmag

Here are the main benefits BigCommerce offers to B2B businesses:

  • Advanced catalogs 
  • Purchase orders and credit authorization
  • One-click purchasing
  • Quote management and approvals 
  • Easy account management
  • Flexible checkout options
  • Automated business cycle with ERP and CRM integrations
  • Automatically applied volume discounts
  • B2B exclusive payment solutions
  • Smooth segmentation for customers

Open Cart

OpenCart is one more popular B2B solution we want to mention. OpenCart provides customers with an appealing design and comes with basic features to build a B2B store straight away.    

When you decide to integrate into the B2B sector, you should install the Opencart B2B module that is aimed to transform your website into a powerful B2B marketplace. 

Open Cart
Open Cart. Image credit: Fixq

OpenCart provides a great variety of responsive themes, integrates smoothly with third-party systems. Moreover, with Open Cart you can organize multiple customer groups and appoint unique permissions to each group of customers. 

The key features Opencart B2B module offers are:

  • Request for quotations
  • Vendor sub-domain
  • Commission configuration
  • Customer segregation
  • Flexible shipping models for different merchants
  • Catalog module configuration
  • Customer group-specific pricing
  • Separate dashboard for handling orders from B2B buyers
  • advanced store management tools
  • Transaction status tracking

Prestashop

PrestaShop gives B2B merchants access to a great collection of premium templates, multiple payment solutions, unlimited listings, integrated customer service tools and more.

Presta Shop
Presta Shop. Image credit: Cappasity

If you decide to opt for PrestaShop, there is a number of modules enabling you to personalize the user experience and apply it to the B2B market. 

The major benefits you get selecting PrestaShop are:

  • Powerful catalog and site management
  • Professional account (B2B)
  • Customer relationship tracking
  • Price hiding options
  • Customer membership and registration
  • Private products for B2B
  • Payment by a credit check

SAP Hybris

SAP Hybris is a leading B2B ecommerce platform designed for the current needs of the B2B sector. This solution provides smooth integration with third-party systems and offers multiple currencies and languages for global coverage. 

SAP Hybris
SAP Hybris. Image credit: Financesonline

Let’s talk about the top features why B2B companies trust Hybris for building their online stores:

  • Backoffice integration
  • Self-service account management
  • Robust order management
  • Custom catalogs and pricing
  • Integrated sales quotation processes
  • Multi-dimensional products
  • Account credit limit management
  • Advanced product search
  • Complex product types and configuration 
  • Integration with SAP software

Salesforce Commerce Cloud (Cloud Craze)

CloudCraze offers a B2B commerce technology that is built on Salesforce infrastructure that allows B2B shoppers (retailers, wholesalers, and distributors) to buy products or services from a company. Salesforce acquired CloudCraze in 2018 and renamed its managed package into B2B Commerce.

CloudCraze. Image credit: Salesforce

The major benefits you get as a B2B business owner opting for CloudCraze are:

  • Robust pricing engine
  • Advanced pricing and order management
  • Personalized product and service selection
  • Powerful subscription management
  • Seamless product updates
  • Rich mobile user experience
  • Multi-site, multi-language, multi-currency capabilities
  • Order tracking
  • Coupons system
  • Reorder widget

Magento Commerce

According to Forrester, Magento was announced to be the top B2B ecommerce platform. Magento Commerce is a scalable platform providing a great variety of built-in features that perfectly fit the B2B sector. With Magento 2 B2B, you have a possibility to scale from B2B merchants with a limited product line to a company that manages millions of products. 

Magento B2B
Magento B2B. Image credit: Medium

Magento came out as one of the most robust, SEO-friendly, mobile-optimized, flexible, and scalable platforms in the ecommerce market. You can hire a Magento development company to build a fully-functional ecommerce Magento 2 B2B store.

The major benefits you get choosing Magento Commerce are:

  • Advanced Account Management 
  • Access options, buyer roles, and permissions 
  • Payment on credit and manager credit status
  • Quote requests (RFQs) support
  • Customer segmentation and personalization 
  • Dynamic rule-based product relations
  • Content staging and preview
  • Quick ordering tools
  • Custom catalogs and pricing 
  • Group orders with multiple ships to locations
  • Quick ordering by SKU
  • Requisition lists with frequently purchased products
  • Quotes submission and negotiations available
  • Smooth backend system integration
  • Multi-source inventory and order processing
To find out more information about Magento B2B, we recommend reading our full guide:
Choose Magento
Top Magento 2 B2B Feature List That Will Scale Your Ecommerce Business

B2B ecommerce platform cost

As you can see, implementing a B2B ecommerce platform gives you access to multiple features that can help you to improve operational efficiency, deliver better customer service, and grow sales. It is a very profitable solution. 

Let’s check the B2B ecommerce platform cost. The table below gives you a general idea of the license cost.

PlatformPricing
Shopify PlusShopify Plus license starts at $2,000 per month. When you reach $800,000 profit per month, the costs transform into a revenue-based model and you’ll need to pay 0.25 % of your monthly profit.
Big CommerceLicense price starts at around $29.95 monthly for the standard plan, and $79.95 monthly for the plus plan, $299.95 monthly for the pro plan. 
Open CartThe B2B marketplace extension is $299 monthly.
Presta ShopCosts start at $30 per month depending on the different plugins that you require. However, be ready to pay more for the modules needed to set up fully-functional B2B stores.
SAP HybrisLicense costs for Hybris begin at $54,000 per year but can go up if you require more complex solutions. The company provides tailored offers for different businesses.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud (Cloud Craze )Salesforce Commerce Cloud is fairly closed about the prices. They operate a “Shared Success” model, implying the higher the merchant profit, the higher the monthly fees. 
Magento CommerceMagento Commerce license cost starts at $24,000 annually. Magento Commerce Cloud Edition license cost starts from $40,000 annually. The pricing system is based on a tiered model, linked to GMV (gross merchandise value). 

 The best B2B  ecommerce platform – which should you choose?

There are many wonderful B2B ecommerce platforms available on the market, all with their own unique advantages for business owners. When choosing a B2B solution for your company, it’s significant to make sure that the platform has all the functionalities to manage the versatility of your sales processes. 

Shopify Plus is a great solution for those who need high-level features combined with an easy-to-use back-end. OpenCart is a good choice if you need flexibility and full control over the platform to meet your business requirements. If proprietary design, usability and custom selection of functionalities are top priorities for your business opt for PrestaShop

BigCommerce and Salesforce Commerce are good options for those businesses that are looking for SaaS (software as a service) solutions. If you’re looking for an ecommerce platform with scalable merchandising and ability to automate even the most complex B2B processes choose – SAP Hybris.

B2B businesses searching for an industry-leading B2B ecommerce solution should choose Magento Commerce. Magento for B2B provides a rich set of built-in B2B features, easy customization, and backend integration in less time, and with a lower TCO, versus any other solution. 

Want to build a B2B store on Magento Cloud?

We build Magento B2B stores for manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers.

Learn more

Which ecommerce solution will you select to get your online B2B store up and running? Let us know in the comments below!

FAQs about B2B ecommerce platforms

01 Are there any free B2B ecommerce platforms available on the market?
02 How much does it cost to build a B2B store?
03 What is better: a SaaS solution or open-source for the B2B store?
04 Should the B2B store be optimized for mobile devices?

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