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B2B with Shopify: Unlocking the Power of Business-to-Business Commerce

In today’s digital age, eCommerce has revolutionised the way businesses operate and connect with their customers. Shopify, one of the leading eCommerce platforms, not only caters to direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses but also provides robust features, which Shopify Plus merchants can utilise for business-to-business (B2B) transactions. This article explores the world of B2B on Shopify, its...

Last updated: 17 May 2023 - 14 mins read

Robin Creative Director

CONTENTS

In today’s digital age, eCommerce has revolutionised the way businesses operate and connect with their customers. Shopify, one of the leading eCommerce platforms, not only caters to direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses but also provides robust features, which Shopify Plus merchants can utilise for business-to-business (B2B) transactions.

This article explores the world of B2B on Shopify, its main features, and the benefits it offers to businesses looking to expand their reach.

How does B2B on Shopify work?

Before diving into the main features of Shopify B2B, it’s essential to understand how B2B transactions take place on the platform: B2B on Shopify Plus enables businesses to create a separate storefront tailored specifically for their business customers or transform their existing webshop into a blended storefront, simultaneously tailoring to both businesses and customers directly. No matter which option Shopify Plus merchants choose, they can easily set up their B2B storefront with different pricing, products, and a personalised buying experience that is completely distinct from their DTC storefront.

To access the B2B storefront, customers must be authenticated, ensuring that only approved businesses can view B2B pricing and place orders. This authentication process helps maintain exclusivity and confidentiality in B2B transactions.

B2B Store Formats

Shopify offers two store format options for B2B businesses: the Blended Format and the Dedicated Format. Below, we listed the main pros and cons of each format for you:

Blended Format

Pros:

Efficient management with one storefront: The Blended Format allows businesses to manage both B2B and direct-to-consumer (DTC) orders from a single storefront, simplifying operations and reducing complexity.

Shared data: With the Blended Format, data can be shared between B2B and DTC operations, providing a holistic view of customer information and insights.

Greater efficiency and time savings: The automation and self-service capabilities of the Blended Format lead to increased efficiency and time savings for businesses and B2B customers.

Cons:

Limitations in segmentation: Currently, some experiences in the Blended Format cannot be segmented by customer type (DTC vs. B2B) without theme customizations. All customers see the same store theme, notification templates, payment gateways, and shipping methods.

Inventory segmentation: The Blended Format does not allow for segmenting inventory per order type, which may require additional inventory management considerations for businesses with distinct B2B and DTC product offerings.

Dedicated Format

Pros:

Store customisation: The Dedicated Format enables merchants to provide a tailored buying experience specifically designed for B2B customers. This includes customising the theme, offering B2B-specific discounts, notification templates, and payment gateways, among other features. It allows businesses to create a cohesive and personalised environment for their B2B clientele.

Separate inventory flows: With individual inventory flows for B2B and DTC customers, merchants have better control and management of their stock. This ensures that B2B orders are fulfilled separately and allows businesses to maintain appropriate inventory levels for each customer segment.

Cons:

Separate storefront: Maintaining two storefronts can be challenging and time-consuming. Businesses using the Dedicated Format need to manage and update two separate online spaces, including product catalogues, pricing, and content. This requires additional effort and resources to ensure consistency and accuracy across both platforms.

Separate data: Customer data is not shared between the two stores in the Dedicated Format. This means that customer information, order history, and other data related to B2B and DTC customers remain separate. This lack of integration may result in inefficiencies and difficulties in tracking and analysing overall business performance.

It’s important for businesses to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of each store format and choose the one that aligns best with their B2B strategy and requirements. Whether opting for the Blended Format or the Dedicated Format, Shopify offers B2B businesses powerful tools and features to enhance their online B2B operations.

Main Features of Shopify B2B

Companies

Shopify B2B allows businesses to create and manage company accounts. This feature simplifies the management of multiple buyers within an organisation. Each company account can have unique settings, access controls, and payment terms.

Price Lists

With Shopify B2B, you can create custom price lists tailored to different customer segments or individual accounts. This flexibility enables businesses to offer competitive pricing and personalised discounts to their B2B customers based on their specific needs.

Payment Terms

B2B transactions often involve more complex payment terms than traditional DTC transactions. Shopify B2B provides the ability to set up customised payment terms for business customers. This feature allows businesses to offer payment options such as net payment, instalment plans, or purchase orders.

B2B Checkout

The B2B checkout process differs from the standard DTC checkout. Shopify B2B streamlines the B2B checkout experience by incorporating features such as bulk ordering, minimum order quantities, and custom fields for additional information required during the purchasing process.

Customer Accounts

Shopify B2B offers enhanced customer account management features specifically designed for B2B interactions. Businesses can set up customer accounts, manage access permissions, and provide personalised customer support for their B2B clients.

New Features of Shopify B2B (2023)

Custom B2B Buying Experience

Shopify B2B empowers businesses to create a unique buying experience for their customers. Through customisation options, businesses can tailor the storefront, product display, and navigation to align with the specific needs and preferences of their B2B clientele.

Custom Product Catalogues

Creating B2B catalogues on Shopify is a powerful way to customize the buying experience for your business customers. With custom product catalogues, you have the flexibility to set specific prices for different companies and apply adjustments to your product prices. For example, you can set an overall percentage adjustment to offer discounts or markups across your catalogue, while also setting fixed prices for specific products or variants. These catalogues allow you to tailor the customer experience by including all products or selecting a specific subset.

With custom product catalogues, businesses can also curate product offerings exclusively for their B2B customers. This feature enables businesses to showcase relevant products, highlight bulk purchasing options, and provide detailed specifications tailored to the needs of B2B buyers.

Quantity Purchasing Rules

To accommodate the purchasing habits of their customers, Shopify allows businesses to set quantity purchasing rules. This feature ensures that B2B customers can order products in bulk, meet minimum order requirements, or take advantage of volume-based discounts.

Payment and Shipping Customisations

B2B transactions often involve specific payment and shipping requirements. Shopify offers customisation options for payment and shipping methods, allowing businesses to integrate their preferred payment gateways, define shipping zones, and set up custom shipping rules based on the business’s needs.

Branding Customisation

Branding plays a crucial role in establishing a strong business identity. With Shopify B2B, businesses can fully customise the storefront’s branding elements, including the logo, colours, and typography. This level of branding customisation allows businesses to create a consistent and professional B2B presence that aligns with their brand identity.

Custom Themes & Templates

Shopify B2B provides a wide range of customisable themes and templates specifically designed for B2B businesses. These themes offer a professional and polished look, enhancing the overall user experience for B2B customers.

Metafields for B2B Buyers

Metafields allow businesses to add additional information and attributes to their products. With Shopify B2B, businesses can leverage metafields to provide B2B-specific details, such as SKU codes, technical specifications, or custom fields that B2B customers may require.

Streamline Your Payment Process

Efficient payment processing is vital in B2B transactions. Shopify B2B offers features to streamline the payment process, including:

Vaulted Credit Cards: Businesses can securely store credit card information for recurring B2B purchases, simplifying the checkout process for returning customers.

Payment Reminders: Automatic payment reminders can be sent to B2B customers to ensure timely payments and reduce administrative overhead.

Due on Fulfilment Payment Options: B2B customers can be given the option to pay for their orders upon fulfilment, aligning with common B2B payment practices.

Invoices for Draft Orders: Generate professional invoices for draft orders, allowing businesses to provide detailed documentation for B2B transactions.

B2B Discounts

Shopify B2B enables businesses to set up exclusive discounts for their B2B customers. These discounts can be based on order volume or specific pricing agreements, further incentivizing B2B buyers to choose your products or services.

PO Numbers

Purchase Order (PO) numbers are essential for many B2B transactions. Shopify B2B allows businesses to integrate PO numbers into the ordering process, ensuring accurate record-keeping and simplifying the accounting process for B2B customers.

Self-Service for Business Customers

Shopify B2B provides self-service capabilities for business customers, reducing dependency on manual assistance and empowering B2B buyers to manage their accounts, view order history, and initiate re-orders independently.

Checkout to Draft

The checkout-to-draft feature in Shopify B2B allows businesses to convert B2B checkouts into draft orders. This functionality is particularly useful for businesses that require additional review or approval processes before finalising B2B transactions.

Easy Re-Orders

B2B customers often have recurring ordering needs. Shopify B2B simplifies the re-ordering process by allowing B2B customers to quickly reorder previously placed orders, saving time and effort for both the customer and the business.

Selling in Multiple Currencies

As major business are often situated globally, selling in multiple currencies is a crucial aspect of B2B commerce, and with Shopify, businesses can easily cater to customers in their local currencies, enhancing their buying experience. There are two primary methods to achieve this within the B2B framework offered by Shopify: 

Firstly, by utilizing Shopify Markets, businesses can ensure that the prices in their online store, cart, checkout, and draft orders reflect the local currency of each customer. This automatic conversion is based on the customer’s shipping address and can be done using either automatic or manual currency exchange rates. Notably, the rules for rounding prices set in the Markets page do not apply to B2B customers, allowing for flexibility in pricing. 

Alternatively, businesses have the option to specify fixed prices for their products without undergoing a currency exchange. By manually setting a preferred currency for catalogues during their creation, businesses can maintain fixed prices for products, while prices with a percentage adjustment are converted based on currency exchange rates. With these capabilities, Shopify empowers B2B businesses to seamlessly engage with customers in their preferred currencies, fostering trust and facilitating smoother transactions.

B2B Welcome Email

A warm welcome is crucial when establishing relationships with B2B customers. Shopify B2B enables businesses to send personalised welcome emails to new B2B customers, setting the tone for a professional and attentive business partnership.

Flexible Shipping Address

In the realm of B2B transactions, it is not uncommon to encounter scenarios where multiple shipping locations come into play, or the necessity arises to ship items to different branches or subsidiaries. To combat these specific requirements, Shopify B2B provides businesses with the capability to establish multiple shipping addresses. This guarantees businesses a seamless order fulfilment process and directly caters to the diverse geographic locations of potentially international B2B customers.

Build Custom Solutions with B2B APIs

Shopify B2B offers an extensive range of application programming interfaces (APIs) that empower businesses to amplify the capabilities of the platform. These APIs facilitate smooth integration with diverse systems, empowering businesses to forge holistic B2B solutions that optimise operations and elevate the B2B experience. Through the employment of B2B APIs, enterprises can seamlessly incorporate their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, inventory management systems, and various other tools, resulting in the establishment of a unified B2B ecosystem.

B2B Compatible Apps

Shopify B2B is compatible with a wide range of third-party apps that cater specifically to B2B needs. These apps provide additional functionalities and integrations, allowing businesses to further enhance their B2B operations, such as order management, quoting systems, and advanced analytics.

Overview of all Shopify B2B Features

Shopify B2B vs the Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel

The key difference between Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel and Shopify B2B lies in their approach to B2B transactions. The Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel focuses on providing a dedicated wholesale channel within the main Shopify platform. It offers advanced features such as bulk ordering, tiered pricing, and custom catalogues to cater specifically to wholesale customers.

On the other hand, Shopify B2B provides a broader range of B2B capabilities that extend beyond wholesale, including custom pricing, company management, and tailored buying experiences.

Whether businesses choose Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel or Shopify B2B depends on their specific B2B needs and whether they require a dedicated wholesale channel or a more comprehensive B2B solution, however in most cases Shopify B2B offers the more extensive and worryless solution for Shopify Plus merchants.

Considerations for using Shopify B2B

Considerations When Using Shopify B2B While Shopify B2B offers a range of powerful features and capabilities to streamline and enhance B2B operations, there are certain considerations that businesses should keep in mind.

First, orders in the B2B system have a maximum limit of 500 line items, so if a customer places an order with more than 500 different products or variants, the order will fail. Additionally, subscriptions are not compatible with B2B transactions, so businesses relying on subscription-based models should consider alternative solutions.

It’s also worth noting that since B2B is a relatively new feature, some third-party apps may not be fully updated to work seamlessly with B2B yet. Furthermore, company locations have a maximum limit of 25 catalogues that can be assigned to them, providing flexibility in managing product offerings.

It’s important to be aware that certain features are not included by default for B2B orders, such as discounts, Shopify Scripts affecting line item discounts, purchasing with gift cards, and recovering abandoned checkouts. If these features are needed, contacting Shopify Plus Support is necessary to activate them. Additionally, some features are not currently available for B2B orders, including changing the customer on a B2B order, offering tipping options, non-physical products like services or digital products, local delivery, accelerated checkouts including payment wallets, and customisations to the checkout made by editing the checkout.liquid file.

By considering these factors, businesses can make informed decisions and leverage the full potential of Shopify B2B to enhance their B2B transactions.

In Conclusion

Shopify’s B2B capabilities provide businesses with powerful tools and features to unlock the potential of business-to-business commerce. Whether opting for the Blended Format or the Dedicated Format, Shopify offers flexible solutions for creating separate storefronts or blending B2B and direct-to-consumer operations.

The platform’s main features, including company management, custom price lists, payment terms, B2B checkout processes, and enhanced customer account management, cater specifically to B2B interactions. Furthermore, the new features of Shopify B2B, such as custom buying experiences, product catalogues, payment and shipping customisations, and streamlined payment processes, further enhance the B2B experience. With Shopify Plus, businesses gain access to built-in B2B functionalities out of the box, including managing customer accounts, custom pricing tiers, payment terms, B2B checkout customisation, and customer self-service options.

Overall, by leveraging Shopify B2B businesses can easily expand their reach, improve efficiency, and deliver personalised experiences to their B2B customers.

We at Flatline Agency are here to help you take your business to the next step, including custom development, design, and marketing. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us.

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