Amid the increasing automation and digitization of traditional business practices using smart modern-day technologies, we witnessed the start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The term was introduced by Klaus Schwab – the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
From modern product development methods to digitized human resources, disruptions have engulfed almost every business. For instance, in the Business-to-Business (B2B) industry, organizations are gradually switching to B2B eCommerce software solutions to start an online store in order to address the rapidly changing consumers’ shopping behavior, expectations, and preferences worldwide.
B2B eCommerce is the online buying and selling of products/services (usually in bulk) between wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, and other sellers. It is among the fastest-growing eCommerce sectors with Alibaba.com, made-in-china.com, Thomasnet.com, and Tradekey leading the industry dynamics.
B2B eCommerce sales are surging rapidly as buyers increasingly prefer digital channels over physical retail. For instance, according to a survey published on Mckinsey, nearly 80% of B2B buyers prefer remote interactions or digital self-service as B2B sales leaders embrace digital commerce as the next big step for industry growth.
Source: McKinsey & Company
Moreover, according to a report by Grand View Research, the global B2B eCommerce market valued at $6.64 trillion in 2020 is expected to reach $25.65 trillion by 2028 growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7%.
This reflects the increasing demand of the B2B industry and an opportunity for businesses to invest in its digital commerce. To capitalize on this demand, businesses are looking for an off-the-shelf platform to kickstart their B2B eCommerce operations quickly.
What is a B2B eCommerce platform?
A B2B eCommerce platform is a turnkey solution to start an online B2B store swiftly. B2B ecommerce platforms are inherently designed to minimize development hours, reduce time to market, and facilitate B2B eCommerce transactions.
Investing in a readymade B2B solution allows B2B sellers to leverage digital commerce functionalities in order to better manage suppliers/customers, sell more to existing customers, reach new customers, and make better decisions with comprehensive data analytics.
How do I choose a B2B eCommerce platform?
Amid the growing demand and business opportunities in B2B eCommerce, for businesses to capitalize, it is equally important first to identify the right B2B eCommerce platform that meets your business requirements.
Fortunately, there are several factors that one can consider while choosing an ideal B2B eCommerce platform for business. Let’s discuss the five best factors here:
Essential B2B features – Your B2B ecommerce solution must include essential eCommerce features like the Request For Quote (RFQ) module, Enabling minimum order quantity, flexible payment options, integration to backend systems like ERP, CRM, and more. These are critical modules or integration essential for all B2B businesses to operate and streamline operations.
Hosted or Self-Hosted Platform – A hosted solution is a complete package that offers everything from website hosting to eCommerce functionality and support. These solutions take care of your security concerns as well as any issues with bugs/errors but there is limited or no customization to personalize your store. Hosted solutions are subscription-based platforms that charge a monthly/annual fee plus transaction charges and other associated fees. Also, store owners are tied to using SaaS APIs for any integration with an existing business system. Shopify, BigCommerce are two prime examples of a hosted solution.
On the other hand, a self-hosted solution is one that provides complete control over your B2B eCommerce store, allows complete customization, provides source code ownership, and enables businesses to host their store at the preferred hosting partner. These B2B ecommerce platforms are flexible enough to integrate with existing business systems, allow implementation of new security measures, and ensure compliance with stringent policies such as GDPR compliance. Yo!Kart is a popular example of a self-hosted B2B solution.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – The total cost to set up and manage the eCommerce store is termed as TCO. This cost includes software license cost (recurring in case of hosted solutions), recurring transaction charges (if applicable), maintenance cost, additional modification/customization cost, and more. Estimating the TCO is a critical evaluator when choosing a B2B eCommerce platform.
Capable of meeting the desired outcomes – A strong B2B eCommerce strategy is often based upon growth, revenue, scalability; and your B2B platform must reflect this approach. The ideal solution should allow automation for tasks like shipping management, tax management, and more. This will help meet your business goals.
Handle B2B complexities well – From dynamic product catalogs to real-time inventory updates and advanced search capability, there are various B2B complexities that your selected eCommerce platform should be equipped to handle. While some platforms lack basic integrations or the capability to integrate essential modules, handling even essential B2B requirements can be burdensome. Hence, it is imperative to look for a B2B eCommerce platform that is backed by a reliable team and is proven effective for handling the complexities of eCommerce.
While there are plenty of off-the-shelf B2B eCommerce platforms, here we will discuss the top 5 reliable solutions.
Yo!Kart is one of the leading B2B ecommerce platforms for entrepreneurs, small-medium businesses (SMBs), and enterprises to start an online marketplace. The B2B solution is highly flexible, scalable, and fully customizable to meet individual business requirements.
The self-hosted solution is designed using an in-house framework, comes with an in-built content management system (CMS), and much more. With every Yo!Kart purchase, you get source code ownership, lifetime license, and no recurring charges or transaction fee.
Yo!Kart B2B marketplace platform is a proprietary eCommerce solution that makes it easier for smaller businesses to test run their B2B business model and for established/larger enterprises to launch & scale rapidly. The software comes populated with all essential features and integrations right out of the box.
UNI Diamonds and Bozinga are two of the prime B2B marketplaces powered by Yo!Kart B2B.
Key B2B Features of Yo!Kart:
Multiple Seller types as Distributor, manufacturer, and service provider
Individual vendor storefront
Product catalog management
Request for Quote module with an option to accept, reject, or place a counter offer
Store level configuration to enable “Buy Now” or “RFQ” feature
Easy re-ordering and minimum order quantity
Volume discount option
Intuitive user interface with an in-house content management system
SEO-Friendly B2B Platform and more
Fully customizable and scalable
Yo!Kart B2B software has no free themes
First-time users need to invest time to learn and operate the system completely.
Pricing: Yo!Kart B2B ecommerce platform pricing starts at $1999 for startups looking to start their B2B marketplace. This pricing includes standard design, lifetime license, and free technical support.
Overall Rating: Yo!Kart has a rating of 4.7 on G2 and 4.1 on Capterra.
A billion-dollar Fortune 500 firm trusts Yo!Kart B2B to run its brewery marketplace in Africa
BigCommerce is an open-source Saas-based eCommerce platform that comes with a variety of B2B features and tools to modernize buying for retailers, distributors, and manufacturers. The B2B eCommerce platform enjoys an abundant library of third-party plugins for businesses to embed into their business.
The platform is fully secure, feature-rich, and has two prominent plans – pro and enterprise, specifically targeted for the B2B sector. Apart from this, BigCommerce has also partnered with BundleB2B – a B2B enterprise software – to leverage businesses to fuel eCommerce and ensure a better buying experience. The B2B edition is essentially BigCommerce’s enterprise plan with a pre-installed BundleB2B app and six pre-installed themes to choose from.
Key B2B Features of BigCommerce:
Abandoned cart saver
Multiple payment methods
Real-time shipping quotes
Request for Quote option
Bulk buying discounts and custom promotion feature
Corporate account management to set up buyers roles and permissions
Invoice portal to manage and pay invoices online
Payment method visibility control to manage or restrict access of certain payment options
Requires paid third-party plugins for several essential functionalities like automated shipping management
Comes with similar themes
Has Limit on yearly sales, forcing an upgrade
Support isn’t reliable
Pricing: BigCommerce comes in four unique packages – Standard at $29.95/month, Plus at $79.95/month, Pro at $299.95/month, and Enterprise Plan at RFQ. Also, the BigCommerce B2B edition is essentially an enterprise plan + BundleB2B app.
Overall Rating: BigCommerce has a rating of 4.2 on G2 and 4.3 on Capterra.
Shopify Plus is an enterprise eCommerce platform by Shopify, designed solely for enterprises. It is a popular eCommerce solution with omnichannel support, automated workflows, flexible APIs, and more. The platform is highly intuitive with a streamlined checkout system.
Shopify Plus enables enterprises to manage both B2B and DTC businesses with separate storefronts. There are more than 10,000 brands that use Shopify Plus worldwide to streamline business operations. The platform allows businesses to enhance the retail experience with customizations via third-party integrations through Shopify apps and Partners.
Key B2B Features of Shopify Plus:
Volume-based pricing with minimum/maximum thresholds
Automate and review wholesale account signups
24×7 self-serve ordering
Review orders before invoicing
Customized invoice email to pay the invoice using a preferred payment method
Real-time sales tax calculation during checkout via Avalara AvaTax
Set different prices for different customers or a fixed price for variants
Set shipping rates for customers
Any customization to the back-end is either limited or not possible
Limited APIs minimize store’s flexibility
Lack of in-depth native reporting functionality for large stores
Locked checkout functionality restricting complete access over checkout funnel
Pricing: Shopify Plus pricing starts at $2000/month for standard installation and integrations. For businesses with large volumes, a variable fee is charged as per the requirements. Contact Shopify Plus experts for more details.
Overall Rating: Shopify Plus has a rating of 4.4 on G2 and 4.8 on Capterra.
Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform written in PHP for businesses to cater to the unique eCommerce demands of buyers. The platform is highly flexible and suited for both B2C and B2B businesses. Magento is owned by Adobe and comes with an enterprise offering called Magento commerce.
The popular B2B eCommerce platform, Magento offers intelligent digital solutions to manage wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers in a B2B online store. Magento comprises a vast extension library of resources to build a flexible eCommerce store. The platform is suitable for both small-scale businesses and large-scale enterprises.
It is a fully customizable platform that allows businesses to create, manage, and edit B2B eCommerce websites, creating a personalized experience. The platform requires a dedicated development team to build a B2B eCommerce store with complete control over the operations.
Key B2B Features of Magento:
Request for Quote directly from the shopping cart
Self-service tools to manage buyer roles and permissions
Faster re-ordering in a couple of clicks
Flexible fulfillment options, including shipping and in-store pickup
In-depth insights and reports with native business intelligence tools
An automated order approval process as defined by the businesses
Managing multiple buyers and complex organizational structures
Drag-and-drop merchandising and content tools to easily manage your store
Unlike other B2B eCommerce platforms, Magento is an expensive solution. While Magento open-source requires a dedicated development team, the cost of Magento commerce is even higher.
Finding the right Magento development team that delivers actual results is difficult
Magento structure is large and highly complex
It requires a dedicated hosting server to ensure optimal performance and loading speed
Pricing: Magento open source is free to use but requires a dedicated development team. The pricing for the Magento commerce edition depends upon annual gross merchandise volume (GMV) and average order value. Below is a reference of cost structure for the Magento commerce and Commerce cloud edition.
Average Gross Sales Revenue
Magento Commerce Cost
Magento Commerce Cloud Cost
Overall Rating: Both Magento Open Source and commerce have a rating of 3.9 on G2.
NetSuite’s B2B eCommerce platform SuiteCommerce is designed for B2B sellers to maximize their efforts while saving time. Suitecommerce comes well supported by NetSuite’s inventory management system, Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Customer relationship management (CRM) system, and more.
With unified offerings from NetSuite; wholesalers, distributors, and retailers are better equipped to manage stock supplies and speed up order fulfillment. The platform comes with mobile-optimized pre-designed templates, a centralized repository of customer information from all channels, quick drag-and-drop editing functionality, and much more.
SuiteCommerce is a highly adaptive, customizable cloud-based solution offering complete control/visibility to business owners. The platform enables businesses, including brick-and-mortar stores, to engage with customers on multiple channels building a personalized experience. NetSuite’s native eCommerce offering is scalable, comes with an intuitive user interface (UI), and is designed to optimize the B2B eCommerce experience for businesses
Key B2B Features of Oracle NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce:
Native integration with Netsuite’s eCommerce, point of sale (POS) system, inventory management, and more
Request a quote and automatically convert quotes to sales orders once approved.
A centralized dashboard for buyers to view invoices and make full or partial payments
Set up automated checkpoints to hold or approve wholesaler registration
Drag-and-drop functionality to edit and publish site changes
Real-time reporting and analytics
Native and third-party extensions to easily implement new features/functionalities
Streamlined and secure checkout process to minimize cart abandonment
Limited capability to integrate third-party products (not included in NetSuite)
Complex setup and overwhelming for a beginner to learn the system
Development and new integrations can be challenging, requires a dedicated NetSuite developer
Not intended for an online marketplace setup
Pricing: NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce pricing starts at $40,000/year. This includes the core platform, optional modules, and the total number of users. The installation fee is charged extra.
Overall Rating: NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce has an overall rating of 3.1 on Capterra.
Now that we’ve reviewed the best B2B eCommerce platforms, this will narrow down your choices and help you identify a stable off-the-shelf solution that meets your business requirements. Remember to evaluate all your options, take a live demo (if possible), review customization possibilities, and more before making the decision.
B2B eCommerce FAQs
1. How is an online B2B store different from a B2C store?
In a B2B store, online transactions and sales are facilitated between two business entities (such as a wholesaler, distributor, or manufacturer) whereas, in a B2C store, a business sells products/services to customers directly. Alibaba.com is a B2B eCommerce store whereas Amazon.com is a B2C store.
2. What is B2B2C eCommerce?
As the name implies, Business to Business to Consumer is a streamlined business model where one business firm partners with another company/business to sell its product/service to the end consumers online. The goal is to create a connected eCommerce platform where B2C firms assist B2B businesses in selling directly to consumers online while B2C firms earn revenue from the individual sales transaction. Instacart, for instance, is an example of B2B2C eCommerce where grocery stores are company 1 that sell their groceries to consumers via the Instacart website.
3. Is Amazon a B2B or B2C company?
Amazon is both a B2B and B2C company. Amazon.com, a more popular offering, is a B2C eCommerce store whereas Amazon Business is a B2B eCommerce store with more & more businesses queuing up to list/sell on Amazon Business.
4. What is a B2B Wholesale platform?
A B2B wholesale platform is an eCommerce solution designed to deliver an intuitive online store where buyers purchase goods in bulk. Here, most sellers are wholesalers that offer goods only on bulk purchases.
5. What are the types of B2B eCommerce?
There are mainly five types of B2B eCommerce:
B2B2C commerce, where a business interacts with the end customer either directly or by partnering with a B2B seller.
Wholesalers commerce where sellers offer goods in bulk
Distributors commerce where distributors work with manufacturers to deliver goods of high quality and increase sales
Manufacturers commerce where finished goods are sold to other manufacturers/wholesalers
Lastly, B2C businesses switching to wholesale B2B
Still have queries on identifying the right B2B eCommerce platform for your business?