Future of B2B Commerce: Unpacking Shopify B2B

Mar 01, 2023Mohammadu Mifras
Future of B2B Commerce: Unpacking Shopify B2B

The B2B commerce landscape has been on a significant growth trajectory, set to continue into 2023 and beyond. In order to capitalize on this trend, merchants need to distinguish themselves from the competition and meet ever-increasing customer expectations. This includes creating engaging, easy-to-use, personalized storefronts. In response to these needs, Shopify has introduced its latest offering: Shopify B2B. How does this compare to alternative setups like third-party solutions? Let's take a deeper look.

In the past, B2B buyers often had to contend with lackluster user experiences on plain, featureless websites or portals compared to their direct-to-consumer (D2C) counterparts. But the B2B e-commerce landscape has experienced a dramatic shift in recent years. Thanks to more sophisticated store setups, such as third-party apps, 65% of companies opted for online sales over in-person sales in 2022. Moreover, it's projected that 80% of B2B commerce will transition online by 2025.

Given these trends, it was inevitable that an e-commerce platform like Shopify, known for creating better experiences for merchants and their customers, would enhance its existing B2B offering, leading to the introduction of Shopify B2B.

Unpacking Shopify B2B

Shopify B2B is a suite of features designed to facilitate direct sales to businesses through your online store, eliminating the need for third-party apps or complex workarounds to accommodate B2B complexities. With Shopify B2B, you can set customer-specific price lists, payment terms, and currencies, and link multiple buyers and locations under a single company profile.

As for reporting, existing Shopify merchants can apply new B2B-specific filters to their reports, providing a clear view of their wholesale business using one storefront. The new B2B filters can be applied to a variety of reports, including sales, orders, profit margin, customers, and finance.

Shopify Wholesale vs. Shopify B2B

While Shopify's wholesale feature serves as an additional sales channel, similar to POS or Amazon, Shopify B2B integrates your B2B offerings directly into the Shopify admin, allowing you to manage both D2C and B2B operations from one place.

Shopify's wholesale feature currently includes two options: the Handshake marketplace or a separate, password-protected store, essentially an extension of your existing online store. The Handshake marketplace allows Shopify merchants to sell to retailers but operates independently of your existing store. In contrast, the separate, password-protected storefront allows you to offer custom pricing to wholesale customers, but its user experience can feel disjointed compared to your D2C store.

Shopify B2B stands out by integrating B2B operations directly into your existing storefront, offering a seamless, elevated experience for your B2B customers. Furthermore, it simplifies management for your teams, reducing the complexities associated with managing separate sales channels.

In conclusion, Shopify B2B serves as a robust, versatile solution for businesses looking to expand into or enhance their existing B2B operations. By seamlessly integrating B2B and D2C operations, Shopify B2B simplifies management, enhances customer experience, and positions your business to thrive in the growing B2B e-commerce landscape.

How to set up Shopify B2B

Establishing a successful Shopify B2B (Business-to-Business) store involves strategic decisions and adequate preparation. This comprehensive guide will demystify the process, allowing you to make the right choices, whether you're setting up a blended store that accommodates both B2B and DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) orders or a dedicated B2B store.

Approach: Blended or Dedicated

To begin with, you must understand the two paths you can take when establishing a Shopify B2B store.

1. Blended Store

This is an integrated store that caters to both B2B and DTC orders. When you utilize a blended store, B2B buyers access wholesale price lists and payment terms by logging into their accounts.
Advantages: Having a blended store keeps your business data in one location, simplifying store management.
Disadvantages: If your B2B customers need unique settings, a dedicated store may be more beneficial.

Key Features of a Blended Store:

  • Both B2B and DTC customers can use discount codes and gift cards if these features are activated.
  • Shopify Scripts, if activated, can impact B2B and DTC customers.
  • Both B2B and DTC customers share the same online store experience, including theme and navigation. However, you can customize your theme for B2B customers only by editing your theme’s code to use the customer.b2b liquid variable.
  • Most analytics will combine data from B2B and DTC customers, although sales reports can differentiate between them.
  • Inventory systems, abandoned cart emails, notifications, and shipping settings and rates are the same for both types of customers.

2. Dedicated Store

A dedicated B2B store enables you to establish unique settings for your B2B customers without having to use code.
Advantages: This store allows you to separate inventory and business data between your B2B and DTC operations. You can also use scripts and discount codes without worry, as only B2B customers use the store.
Disadvantages: Setting up a dedicated store involves creating a new store, setting up existing integrations, and managing store settings separately.

Key Features of a Dedicated Store:

  • You can activate discount codes, gift cards, and Shopify Scripts that affect line item discounts.
  • You can customize your store's theme, navigation settings, notifications, and abandoned cart emails for B2B customers.
  • Analytics reports only include B2B customer information.
  • You can use different inventory systems and shipping settings and rates.

Step-by-step Guide to Set Up Your Shopify B2B Store

After deciding on your approach, use this setup checklist to ensure a seamless process:

  1. Review B2B considerations: Understand the implications and requirements of running a B2B store.
  2. Choose the type of store: Decide if a blended or dedicated store is best for your business based on your specific needs.
  3. Create a company: Set up your company on the platform, adding company locations and associating customers with the company.
  4. Determine payment terms: Decide on the payment terms for your company.
  5. Create a price list: Review your multi-currency settings, then create a price list by uploading a CSV file on the Products page.
  6. Assign the price list to your company: Ensure that the price list is associated with your company for appropriate billing.
  7. Launch your B2B store: Configure the B2B customer login, review the B2B customer experience, and log in as a customer to test your setup.

By taking these steps, you can ensure a successful launch of your Shopify B2B store

The Advantages of Shopify B2B

Shopify B2B offers a multitude of features and benefits, making it an excellent choice for those seeking to streamline their business operations while maintaining a high level of customer service and experience.

Efficiency and Cost-effectiveness

One of the significant advantages of using Shopify B2B is the ability to reduce time and costs. The platform allows you to utilize the same setup as your D2C store, making management more straightforward since you can operate both from one place. With minimal coding required, the implementation and configuration process can be far more straightforward with Shopify B2B than with some third-party solutions. This efficiency means you can focus more resources on other crucial aspects of your business, ultimately reducing operational costs.

Preservation of D2C Features

Transitioning to B2B doesn't mean you lose the familiar and beloved D2C features. You'll still have access to Shopify’s wide array of customization options, including themes, discounts, and other functions. Furthermore, Shopify's partnerships with ERP providers such as Netsuite, Acumatica, and Brightpearl ensure that integration with your existing systems is seamless.

Customer Personalization

In a crowded market, personalization is a crucial element in differentiating your brand from the competition. Shopify B2B understands this need, offering 'company profiles' to provide your B2B customers with unique contact permissions, payment terms, price lists, and tax exemptions. With this feature, each B2B customer can view their specific prices directly before adding products to their cart. This allows you to maintain a personal touch, making each customer feel valued and enhancing their user experience. Additionally, you can manage all these records from one central company profile, including multiple buyers and locations from one business.

Ease of Pricing and Payment Terms

Shopify B2B makes it easy to set or change prices, a feature that is particularly handy for B2B operations often dealing with customer-specific pricing for products and variants, and creating percentage-off price lists for bulk orders. With Shopify B2B, you can create price lists for fixed prices and percentage-off, with the option to modify the currency if required.

Keeping international B2B selling in mind, Shopify enables selling in multiple currencies from one store. As for payment terms, you can assign them to created orders or draft orders from the Shopify admin. It allows companies to checkout without any upfront payment required and keep track of upcoming payments by logging into their account, making payment management and tracking more efficient.

In conclusion, Shopify B2B offers a comprehensive solution for businesses looking to expand into B2B operations or streamline their existing B2B operations. With its focus on efficiency, user experience, and flexibility, it's a platform designed to support your business as it grows and evolves.