By the year 2023, the B2B eCommerce segment will gain 1.8T dollars in the US only, which will be twice more than the volume of sales in the B2C segment. This forecast by Forrester Analytics means that in the nearest future business-to-business sales sphere will become much more competitive. So you need to make sure that the capabilities of your B2B eCommerce platform allow you to keep the pace and grow your business.
What features a B2B eCommerce platform should have?
Unlike B2C stores, B2B stores usually need much more customization. They use more complex scenarios of interacting with their customers and need specific integrations with the corporate systems.
That’s why it’s preferable that the B2B platform is being an open-source one or giving access to an open API. All the platforms from the list below meet this requirement.
Other crucial features of B2B eCommerce platform include:
With that in mind, let’s move to the platforms.
nopCommerce is a powerful free solution that allows you to build a B2B store according to your specific requirements. Multi-vendor and multi-store features in this platform are available right after the installation, so there is no need to search for any extensions for that.
The platform allows you to use advanced B2B accounts and product settings. You can make particular sections of your store visible for some users only with access control the list on products, categories, and manufacturers. It’s possible to set different prices for different groups of your customers and hide prices for extra-valuable items to make customers contact a sales team (request a quote feature). You can set custom shipping and payment rules for your B2B customers. The platform also supports phone orders and PDF order receipts.
Since nopCommerce is developed upon a high-performative Microsoft framework, the platform will be a good choice for working with large catalogs (you would not have to pay developers to improve the performance of your site, since it will work fast by itself). This framework also provides in-built security.
Pricing: the platform is free to use; there is a $250 white-label fee to remove the “Powered by nopCommerce” link from the footer of the site.
Magento offers many advanced features for B2B stores, though most of them are available in Enterprise Edition only. It’s also possible, of course, to make a B2B store on Magento Community Edition, but it would be necessary to build B2B functionality from scratch or to buy add-ons on the marketplace.
Here are some of the most useful B2B features in Magento Enterprise Edition. The store owner can set up flexible catalog permissions to show different catalogs and prices for different groups of customers. It’s possible to make only some of your products visible to specific companies. B2B customers can be provided with access to manage their company accounts and set up multiple tiers of buyers with specific roles and permissions.
Magento Enterprise also offers various options for order placement and checkout. B2B clients can quickly make orders by entering SKUs, uploading CSV files, and choosing products from pre-set requisition lists. The platform also supports ordering by phone and request a quote feature.
There is no multi-vendor feature available out-of-the-box but you can buy the plugin for that. They are available for Community and Enterprise Edition both. The prices for them start at $149.
Advanced B2B functionality, multi-store functionality
Pricing: the price for Enterprise Edition starts from $22.000 per year; custom price for the plugins.
PrestaShop would be a good choice to quickly launch the store with basic B2B functionality. The platform allows you to choose preferable payment methods, set up price rules, including different prices for different customers’ groups, and configure one-page checkout.
To use specific B2B features, you would have to buy add-ons on the PrestaShop marketplace. Here you will find, for example, the plugin that changes the store to a private B2B space (to show the prices and add to cart button only to the customers verified by your store admin). Another module will allow you to make the optimized listings of your products to let your customers make orders quicker, without the need to enter the product tabs to select combinations.
Of course, since PrestaShop is an open-source platform, you can address the developers to add some custom functionality to the store. You would probably need their help if you are operating the large catalog to optimize the performance of your store.
PrestaShop supports multi-store features out-of-the-box. There are also the plugins for multi-vendor features available on the marketplace (the prices start from 119 euros).
Pricing: free for basic functionality; custom price for plugins with specific B2B features
As Prestashop, OpenCart is another popular free platform for B2C customers, which features can be extended with the plugin for marketplace creation.
Besides that, the platform itself allows you to use advanced account settings. Registered customers can be categorized into different groups. The store owner can set up different prices for different groups of customers or show the prices for the registered users only. Among other specific B2B features is purchase orders support.
The platform allows you to manage multiple stores from a single installation. However, there are no multiple warehouses support available out-of-the-box. This functionality can be added with another plugin from the marketplace (which costs $120).
Pricing: OpenCart software is free to use. The prices for the B2B marketplace extension vary from $39 to $299.
CS-Cart software is available in different versions, so the store owners can pick up the one that fits their needs. For each version, the license the client buys is perpetual. But it gives you only 1-year access to upgrades, so in the future, you would probably have to pay for the license once more to upgrade your store.
With CS-Cart B2B you get access to such features as: membership levels and access permission rules, multi-vendor feature, and flexible price options (the prices can be hidden, you can set up personal prices for the purchasers and allow them downloading the price lists). One customer account, e.g. for one company, can be assigned with multiple users.
CS-Cart B2B does not support work with stores and warehouses and does not offer a multi-store feature. To use that, the store owner needs to upgrade to CS-Cart B2B&B2C which price is almost twice higher. But with the last option, you get a 6-months free technical support, while on B2B plan only 30 days of free technical support available.
Pricing: the license fee for CS-Cart B2B is $2,450, for CS-Cart B2B&B2C - $4,750.
The choice of the platform will definitely depend on your business’ needs and specifics.
If you need advanced B2B features, multi-vendor features, and plan to scale your store, then both nopCommerce and Magento Enterprise would be a good pick. Though with nopCommerce you will get the functionality you need for free (which, of course, does not exclude the costs for site hosting and maintenance, but the same thing with Magento).
OpenCart and PrestaShop with additional plugins would also allow you to build a B2B store you need, though they might not be the best choice for big stores or marketplaces because of the possible performance issues. But you can always fix them with the developers’ help.
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