Top 10 B2B eCommerce Platforms in 2020
Just as business-to-consumer commerce is transitioning online—to the tune of $4.8 trillion projected as early as 2021, no less—business-to-business commerce is also evolving and shifting away from its offline operations. Research from Forrester shows that B2B ecommerce in the U.S. is expected to top $1.8 trillion by 2023 and account for 17% of all domestic B2B sales. Furthermore, it will grow 10% annually for the next five years.
The trend makes sense, as businesses are seeking the same speed and efficiency as the average consumer, and it’s hard to beat the convenience of shopping online. Entrepreneurs can skip the hours-long phone calls with suppliers, mountains of accounting paperwork and overall hassle just by visiting a B2B ecommerce shop. It’s no wonder why B2B ecommerce solutions are gaining immense popularity.
This upswing in B2B ecommerce demand has spurred a surge in supply with dozens of providers promising that theirs is the next best wholesale ecommerce platform. That’s why it is important to do your due diligence and research all your options to find the best B2B ecommerce script for your business. In this guide, we’ll list some must-have features and the top 10 B2B ecommerce platforms in 2020. Read on to learn more.
How to Choose the Best B2B Ecommerce Script
Your chosen B2B platform is important because it is supposed to facilitate the simplified experience people are used to having while shopping online. They expect detailed product information while conducting searches, and they prefer a user-friendly platform that caters to their needs. Therefore, the customer experience should be the centerpiece of your search. As you consider different providers, these are some areas to keep in mind as you research the top B2B platforms to use in 2020.
B2B and B2C selling present different sets of challenges, so the platform should have specific functionalities to handle the complexities B2B ecommerce. In particular, the B2B purchasing cycle is longer with companies also having fluctuating budgets and inventory needs. B2B merchants order in large quantities on a recurring basis, which must be taken into account as well. These are daily tasks of B2B ecommerce sellers, so the functionality is an absolute necessity.
In 2020, it should be a no-brainer to have a site that adapts to the device on which the user is browsing. Even a B2B ecommerce platform needs to have a mobile friendly site, so you can research and purchase products and check on pricing information.
As commerce moves online, shoppers want to manage their orders and problem-solve on their own. A high quality B2B ecommerce solution will have self-service capabilities so you won’t be sitting for hours on the phone in a customer service queue.
Flexible Pricing & Payment Options
Companies typically purchase products in large quantities on a regular basis, and the best B2B ecommerce platforms will reward that with bulk discounts and competitive pricing for their most valuable customers. There will also be options to consolidate invoices or utilize partial payments. Ideally, pricing information can also be downloaded to present to managers for purchase approval.
A good B2B ecommerce script will make ordering a breeze, whether you’re ordering in bulk, placing an order online for the first time or reordering the same products as before. Additionally, if you have a B2C component to your business as well, the consumer will have the same convenient experience.
B2B Ecommerce Solutions
As you’re researching B2B ecommerce platforms, you’ll see a mix of SaaS, open source and cloud-based options. There are some differences in functionality and user interaction, so it is important to understand the basics of each.
- SaaS: Software-as-a-service gives you access to a platform on a subscription basis.
- Open source: These platforms are highly customizable because their code is openly distributed for end users’ own purposes.
- Cloud hosted: A third-party hosts the platform, which means end users are not responsible for site maintenance.
The pros and cons of these different solution types are mostly dependent upon your needs as a business and on your team’s technical capabilities. That’s why we’ve listed ten of the top platforms to take your B2B ecommerce to the next level. There is a wide variety, so you’ll be able to find the perfect fit.
CS-Cart B2B & B2C is a self-hosted wholesale ecommerce platform that powers more than 35,000 B2C and B2B ecommerce websites worldwide. The provider prides itself on its rich features and user-friendly platform, and it connects to many CRM, ERP, accounting, and analytics systems. Because it is self-hosted, there is some technical knowledge required to install CS-Cart on a server, but there is detailed onboarding documentation available. Once installed, you own it, rather than renting it like you do with a SaaS, and the platform supports multiple storefronts for easy separation of your B2B and B2C stores.
Magento is one of the most well-known of the open source ecommerce platforms, which offers almost endless customization capabilities for those who know how to code. There is a steep learning curve, but if your team has the expertise and the bandwidth, this option lets you mold your B2B ecommerce store to your exact specifications because the code is publicly available. However, less tech savvy businesses should consider the time and monetary investments of Magento before committing to it.
Shopify’s simplicity makes it popular among ecommerce novices, and the platform offers a cloud-hosted all-in-one solution that gets your store up and running in no time. It easily handles site maintenance and traffic flow, which means your store won’t crash as it gains popularity. Businesses that grow beyond $1 million in revenue are then eligible for Shopify Plus, which shines for its multichannel capabilities. However, technical specialists can find Shopify to be simple and that the platform hinders customization attempts.
First introduced in 2000, X-Cart supports B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses alike, although there is no clear division between the two. However, it offers both a downloadable and a cloud-based solution, so you can determine how much control you need to have over your website and choose accordingly. X-Cart’s main strength is that it integrates with popular business systems, and it includes all the must-haves of an ecommerce site. It just doesn’t have the widest range of B2B-specific capabilities and has to be customized if you want or need additional complexity.
BigCommerce is a powerful ecommerce SaaS solution that is most valuable for businesses that have a B2C as well as a B2B component. The main drawback is that there is no separation between B2B and B2C storefronts, so it can be difficult to run a hybrid business. However, many BigCommerce users champion the platform because it is cloud-hosted and alleviates them of the responsibilities of keeping their websites up and running. It is also far easier to learn than Magento, even though the cloud hosting limits customization.
SuiteCommerce by Oracle NetSuite is a cloud-based B2B ecommerce script built for multichannel retailers who sell in both brick-and-mortar and online stores. The multichannel capabilities and extensive integration opportunities (CRM, ERP and other business software solutions) are perfect for large brands because it can facilitate an entire B2B ecommerce ecosystem.
IBM Digital Commerce truly caters to the needs of B2B ecommerce businesses by streamlining the documentation process for each customer, giving them personalized experiences. Users also get the ability to create a knowledge base of information pertaining to the company and relevant industry so team members and customers can find this information whenever needed. This robust service’s main drawback is its steep learning curve and assumption that users already understand ecommerce platforms, so it may not be the best choice for those just starting out.
NuOrder, like Shopify, stands out because of its simplicity. The platform focuses on basic B2B processes such as bulk ordering and reordering, which makes it a useful tool for retailers and manufacturers but less so for distributors and wholesalers. If your goal is to streamline existing processes, NuOrder may be a worthwhile solution even if it is not immediately intuitive.
TradeGecko is a cloud-hosted B2B ecommerce platform designed with simplicity and automation in mind, making it the perfect choice for brands, businesses, wholesalers and others experiencing rapid growth. The cloud hosting removes responsibility for site maintenance, but it also limits the control you get over the site. Another top feature of TradeGecko is its built-in reporting and analytics tools, which makes up for its lack of hybrid store (B2B & B2C) support.
OROCommerce is one of the most flexible B2B ecommerce solutions available, and it is well suited to large wholesale corporations and enterprises. It is feature-rich and supports both B2B and B2C ecommerce, and it integrates into its own CRM, OROCRM, for customer contact and workflow organization.