Is Shopify suitable for B2B?

16 January 2023

Shopify is a brilliant solution for smaller businesses, proof of concepts, or brand launches, but how good is it for business-to-business websites?

At Absolute we can add some B2B features to the standard Shopify platform that means it's possible for businesses to operate trade accounts and benefit from functionality normally associated with trade customers.

What B2B features can Shopify Provide?

We are able to offer limited B2B functionality on the standard Shopify platform which includes:

Wholesale Pricing

If you want to offer wholesale pricing to approved customers but without varying price depending on the customer or quantity ordered, then why not set up a second Shopify store?

If you have an existing B2C Shopify store, then the products can easily be exported with an automatic price adjustment as part of the process. We can hide prices for non-approved customers and sync stock between the stores or import from an ERP.

We could also use Discount Codes for an entire customer group or multiple discounts for various customer tiers.

Tiered / Volume Pricing

This means varying price according to amount ordered, and can be facilitated on Shopify via a third-party App such as Bold’s ‘customer pricing or this can be developed as a bespoke by Absolute if you wanted to avoid monthly subscription fees and have more control over hosting / scalability etc.

Fast re-ordering

Ordering by SKU or Quick Order can be achieved within the theme. We can also pre-populate shopping carts by finding previous orders and then inserting all available products in the same quantities, which can be achieved without a third-party App.

Payment on account and balance payments

We can simply create a manual payment method = ‘pay on account’ - although this would depend on the level of pre-approval required. However, if you do want more control over approval and to restrict certain customer groups, this functionality can be added via an app. Likewise, Balance Payments can be managed with an app and we can suggest the right one.

Customer approval

Authorising customers can be achieved by adding an attribute once they have been manually vetted and approved. Customer Notes can be used to store additional information as part of the approval process.

VAT exempt customers

Using tax-excluded pricing, Shopify has various VAT exemptions built in which can be selected for designated customers.

Minimum order

Using metafields, Shopify can now specify minimum order levels for designated products at Customer or Product level. We also ensure quantities cannot be adjusted in the basket to contravene these minimum levels. We can also add quantity increments and a minimum order value for an order.

Shopify Plus

However, your business may require the full B2B suite that can be found in Shopify Plus. The B2B offering on Shopify Plus is now far more integrated, following the launch in summer 2022 of some core features:

  • You can operate a combined B2C and B2B store, or a B2B only store with trade specific messaging and content if preferred.
  • Once approved, B2B customers can have specific prices assigned by percentage or fixed price reduction.
  • Currency can also be assigned to customers, making overseas sales more streamlined.
  • Mutiple buyers and locations, plus levels of user permissions can be easily assigned to B2B customer profiles.
  • These customers can have different payment terms on checkout and can view upcoming payments in their account pages – all of which can be tracked from the site Admin.
  • Analytics have also been extended to work more efficiently with B2B customers.

With such a wide spectrum of options we can configure the B2B customer journey to reflect your ideal process – either through bespoke development on the basic Shopify platform via existing third-party apps such as BSS Commerce, or utilizing the built in features of Shopify Plus for larger businesses.

Shopify development costs are typically a third of an equivalent Magento 2 Open Source store, although there are some additional payment gateway charges on the basic Shopify plan if you don’t want to use the Shopify gateway. At around $1000 per month the Shopify Plus License fee does push up the cost but typically it isn’t until the third year onwards that the overall costs are greater on Shopify Plus compared to Magento Open Source (which has no license fee but will have ongoing hosting costs).

It’s a complex decision, but we are here to help advise on the best options for your B2B business.



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