A robust ecommerce platform is an integral part of any online business. It’s the nuts and bolts of online operations and makes any web store either a success or a failure. Thus, the very act of choosing a platform should not be taken lightly. After a copious amount of research, opt for trial and testing before selecting an ultimate winner.
In this piece, we’ll look at the top B2B ecommerce platforms in 2022 and explore the essential B2B ecommerce platform features that make web stores running on them a success. Take your scratchpads and let’s get to it
Let’s start by taking a closer look at what B2B ecommerce actually is. In its broadest sense, B2B ecommerce, or business-to-business electronic commerce, is the process of marketing and selling products or services online between two companies via an online business portal, which is used to improve the efficiency of a company’s sales efforts.
Although there are similarities between B2B and B2C, selling to consumers and businesses are quite different, owing to the different purchasing needs and shopping behavior of business buyers and consumers. For example, while individuals might buy impulsively, business buyers act rationally. They plan for purchases and execute a budget that is often incomparably larger than the resources available to individual consumers. Moreover, unlike consumer shopping, where individuals are solely responsible for their own purchasing decisions, B2B purchasing is extremely complex — every business transaction hides multiple decision-makers under its hood.
A B2B ecommerce platform is what makes B2B ecommerce possible. To put it simply, a B2B ecommerce platform is the technology that allows B2B businesses to conduct business online, showcase their products and services, accept orders, and process payments. While one part of the platform is freely and readily available to visitors, another part of it is only accessible by registered customers with login credentials.
In the upcoming sections, we’ll look at the essential features of B2B ecommerce platforms in more detail.
Successful B2B ecommerce examples in 2022
Before we move on to the next section, let’s take a look at a few examples of successful B2B ecommerce ventures for inspiration.
Toyota Material Handling USA Inc. (TMH) is one of the largest manufacturers of industrial equipment. By closely observing the success of small ecommerce players in the automotive aftermarket industry, Toyota pushed forward with launching its own B2B parts online marketplace, MyToyotaStore, which now fulfills orders through the company’s network of authorized material handling dealers. After opening the store, the company saw parts sales increase by 220% year over year, an amazing result that was possible thanks to the agility of Toyota’s senior management, who quickly seized an opportunity and entered a relatively new and empty market.
ShipMonk’s story is just one of the many B2B ecommerce businesses that profited from the pandemic. Having started in 2014 with a string of $700,000 from student business plan competitions in a small office in Florida, ShipMonk has grown into an immensely profitable business that has just won another $290 million financing round. ShipMonk has built a fortune by providing ecommerce SMEs with a slew of technology-driven shipping, logistics, and fulfillment services. Given the ongoing COVID misfortunes, the business is nowhere receding.
Seeing the increasing interest from brands and consumers in a more sustainable business, noissue has launched a global packaging platform to make sustainable packaging accessible to companies of all sizes. With the growth of ecommerce and the creator economy, in particular, noissue’s business has been booming over the last couple of years, culminating in the close of a $10 million Series A financing round in November 2021. As plastic packaging waste is steadily growing and more companies are setting sustainability goals to try and counter rising waste, noissue is primed to capture the niche of what will (surely) soon become a universal requirement: packaging that is reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
Top eCommerce Platform Features & Capabilities in 2022
While different ecommerce platforms have different capabilities, they have a few standard features in common. We’ll discuss the most important ecommerce features you should look for in a platform as well as the must-have B2B features for B2B ecommerce platforms.
Most important ecommerce features
In this section, we’ll look at the core features of ecommerce software that many ecommerce platforms (both B2B and B2C) share, such as
A shopping cart is an integral part of any ecommerce system; it’s where your customers put their products before checking out and paying. A shopping cart must be simple and flexible. It has to give customers the option to add or remove products, change quantities, save products for a later purchase or to a wish list, and request a quotation under specific circumstances (which we’ll cover in detail later). Some ecommerce platforms have an abandoned cart module that serves to remind and notify customers about abandoned products in their shopping cart, which they can retrieve to complete their purchase. To significantly reduce the cart abandonment rate, it’s best to fit the required information within a single checkout page, rather than sprawled across several pages.
An order management module is an extremely important feature of any ecommerce platform as it allows quick access to the required information regarding order status updates, such as buyer cancellations, refunds, order verification, fulfillment notifications, and so on. The order management panel gives you complete control over the order management process, including searching and filtering to easily find necessary orders, creating and managing customer order updates, and exporting info to other systems or in different file formats.
Content management system
To ensure buyers have enough supplemental information regarding your products, provide as much detail as possible about what you’re offering, including product descriptions, warranty, technical specifications, high-quality images, and video. The information you provide serves several purposes: first and foremost, it educates your users and allows them to arrive at a purchasing decision faster; and secondly, it helps search engines discover your website and improves your search rankings. To be able to provide such information, your ecommerce platform needs to have a robust Content Management System that allows you to have complete control over the platform’s content and layout.
Marketing features and promotion tools
Your ecommerce platform should help your marketing strategy by providing a variety of marketing and promotion tools. Discount coupons, special offers, freebies, limited offers, customer reviews, and private sales for registered or subscribed users are extremely useful tools when it comes to closing a sale, upselling, or cross-selling.
One of the many advantages of ecommerce solutions is the ability to keep track of important KPIs, gather valuable data, and analyze market conditions. Hence, a built-in customizable reporting engine is a must-have feature for any ecommerce platform.
Ideally, an ecommerce platform should have a customizable reporting engine that can track any metric, segment the results, and integrate with third-party reporting engines and data analytics tools
Your ecommerce solution should be designed to handle multiple integrations of any complexity and with different systems, such as:
Your ecommerce solution needs to be safeguarded against cybersecurity threats and data theft. To ensure your digital assets are appropriately protected, you’ll need to observe at least the following recommendations:
eCommerce infrastructure refers to all the hardware, software, network, and services required to run an ecommerce business. Having the right infrastructure ensures your ecommerce platform can scale as your business grows. Your website must be equipped to accommodate large spikes in traffic and customer demand. To ensure your platform can handle scalability issues, opt for a cloud-based infrastructure with feature-based augmentations. Finally, have your efficient customer service team back it all up with extensive passive-load testing and optimizations.
Mobile responsiveness refers to a website’s ability to be functional and aesthetically pleasing on different mobile devices. It’s extremely important that your platform can handle mobile device compatibility and function perfectly well regardless of the device. After all, as of April 2021, nearly 57% of all web traffic originates from mobile devices.
There are different ways and steps to ensure your ecommerce website is device compatible. For instance:
Implement responsive design (and keep testing to ensure compatibility across multiple browser-device-OS combinations)
Simplify design and navigation
Optimize speed load
Keep the search option front and center
Ensure cross-browser and cross-device compatibility (and keep testing on multiple browser-device-OS combinations).
Must-have features for B2B ecommerce platforms
In this section, we’ll take a deeper look at B2B-specific ecommerce platform functionality, as it can significantly differ from B2C.
Corporate account management
A B2B ecommerce platform should be able to handle complex corporate account structures and allow for the addition of multiple business units, such as teams or branches. In a B2B ecommerce platform, users must be given an opportunity to configure their own account structures and purchasing rules so that they directly correspond to the structures and rules in their organizations. Flexible account management capabilities should be built into the admin console, so users can appropriately self-serve without unnecessary intervention from sales or development teams.
Corporate account management functionality should include the following set of features:
Corporate account management is an extremely important feature
in a B2B platform that directly differentiates it
from similar ecommerce platforms
that are mostly geared toward a B2C sector.
So, before choosing a solution,
see if it can incorporate complex account structures;
if not, then that solution wouldn’t work for B2B.
— Nikolay Sidelnikov, a Product Manager at Virto Commerce.
Access controls, roles, and permissions
Business customers have different degrees of accountability; therefore, it’s important to ensure users have access to the information and actions that directly correspond to their job functions. A B2B ecommerce platform typically has an administrative account that can grant access to users depending on the job function, and restrict information access to unauthorized users. This way, a purchasing manager gets to work with orders and RFQs and an account manager with invoices and taxes.
B2B catalog management, personalized for customers and account-restricted for sellers, is among the most critical features of a robust B2B ecommerce solution. With personalized catalog management, you can show different catalogs and prices to different companies and tailor your recommendations and promotional campaigns on an account basis.
B2B-specific order management capabilities
B2B order management significantly differs from order management in B2C. For one thing, B2C customers rarely order in bulk quantities or on behalf of other people. A B2B ecommerce platform, therefore, should address B2B-specific scenarios and provide the appropriate tools for sales/purchasing managers to assemble their orders quickly and efficiently.
A robust B2B ecommerce platform needs to have the following order management capabilities:
Pricing in B2B ecommerce is very complex because prices can depend on multiple factors, such as purchasing volume, quantities, discounts, purchasing frequency, and so on. B2B pricing can have a number of price points, tiers, and currencies, which only adds to its complexity. Your ecommerce platform needs to be able to account for such particulars and replicate contractually agreed-upon prices electronically.
B2B ecommerce pricing management should be able to accomplish the following:
Enable customer-specific pricing for B2B and B2C
Integrate multiple price lists with ERP and price engines
Include B2B account-based pricing
Feature contract-based catalogs
While in B2C, pricing is relatively fixed, for all consumers,
B2B prices vary per customer, contract,
and other less obvious factors.
When choosing a solution, you’ll need to see
if its pricing engine can cater to those complex B2B scenarios
and adapt to changing circumstances.
— Nikolay Sidelnikov, a Product Manager at Virto Commerce.
One crucial feature you should look for in a B2B ecommerce platform is the ability to create custom workflows for both seller and buyer-related processes. Everything from onboarding new sellers or buyers to receiving requests for a quotation should be customizable and easy to modify.
B2B-specific marketing (promotion) and merchandising capabilities
In order to provide a high-level user experience, a B2B ecommerce platform needs to satisfy user demand and expectations by showing personalized, relevant content. In B2B, personalization doesn’t end with showing contractually agreed-upon prices and catalogs for individual accounts. It also incorporates dynamic content and customized recommendations like bundling products or substituting parts.
Since many businesses operate multinational brands across different geographies (think currencies and tax regulations), it’s important that the B2B ecommerce platform is capable of supporting localization and has appropriate tooling to control multiple business units with varying business logic, e.g., different tax regulations, currency conversion, and so on.
Payment and billing options
While a typical ecommerce business is spoiled by choices in payment methods, few B2B companies are taking advantage of the multitude of opportunities ecommerce offers. Thankfully, there are a number of technology solutions that address the payment processing complexities in B2B and make the adoption of different payment methods quite simple. Your B2B ecommerce platform should connect to different payment processing companies and payment gateways to ensure you can take full advantage of different payment methods and offer your customers more choices when it comes to payment. Aside from purchase orders and credit/debit cards, some other payment options include: ACH, COD, BNPL, net 30/45/60, mobile wallets, and trade finance options.
How to Select the Best B2B eCommerce Vendor
Choosing the best ecommerce vendor is a serious business decision that should be approached strategically. Below, we’ll look at the essential factors to consider when choosing an ecommerce vendor.
Hosted, on-premises, or cloud: An on-premises solution is installed at the vendor’s data center, whereas a cloud-based platform is hosted and maintained by the cloud provider.
Open-source or proprietary: While an open-source platform gives you access to code, it requires additional developer resources to build and maintain. A branded platform’s code is inaccessible, but such platforms have other advantages like quick time to market or 24/7 customer service.
Essential B2B ecommerce features: Look for a platform that has all the essential B2B ecommerce features that are of particular importance to your business. Ensure the B2B functionality is flexible and can be modified to incorporate your unique business scenarios.
Certifications and compliance regulations: Some platforms provide PCI compliance and other important security protocols out of the box, while others do not. Make sure you understand your protection level when it comes to information security.
Costs: One of the most important aspects of every purchase is cost. Ensure your platform of choice fits within your budget.
B2B eCommerce Platform: Market Landscape Overview in 2022
According to recent estimates, the global B2B ecommerce market is estimated to bank a CAGR of 14.1%, reaching $18,771.4 billion dollars during the forecasted period for 2021-2027. While the B2B market is booming, the market of B2B solution providers appears stable and consolidated. A few solid market players continue to occupy strong positions without giving way to new entrants. The reason might be the amount of expertise that’s required in B2B, which can only be achieved with time and experience. The situation might change, however, as more web development companies mature and acquire the necessary experience.
Best B2B eCommerce Platforms in 2022
In this section, we’ll look at the top market players in B2B ecommerce.
The following B2B ecommerce vendors all have top-notch platforms that offer essential B2B-specific ecommerce features.
Virto Commerce is an open-source, API-powered, modular, composable, and headless solution that is specifically tailored for B2B companies. Virto’s platform is an advanced, cloud-based, high-load ASP.NET Core solution based on Microsoft technologies, which supports various integration methods, including SQL Server Integration. With Virto’s headless microservices and well-structured atomic architecture, you can assemble your own ecommerce solution using Virto’s .NET platform modules, your existing back end, and best-of-breed third-party applications. Virto provides all essential B2B ecommerce features out of the box and allows superior flexibility to build other features and modules on top of the native solution. While the platform’s code is open source, you can purchase Virto’s license and expertise for as low as $700 a month. Free trial, testing, and onboarding are all available.
Oro Commerce B2B ecommerce platform is an enterprise-grade ecommerce solution with a comprehensive set of features ready for any B2B ecommerce model. Oro’s enterprise edition includes a built-in CRM and out-of-the-box B2B functionality (such as corporate account management and pricing), and a large ecosystem of solution providers. Depending on your deployment needs, Oro charges a fee for hosting in OroCloud.
Spryker is a B2B cloud-based PaaS ecommerce solution that’s specifically tailored to accelerate transactional B2B use cases. The platform provides all the necessary features out of the box, including corporate account management, approvals, personalized pricing and catalog management, CPQ, and dynamic order processing, among others.
Mirakl is a B2B ecommerce marketplace platform tailored to accommodate complex business scenarios and environments. Mirakl’s solution is cloud-based and API-powered, so scalable and extensible by default. Perhaps the most expensive solution on the list, Mirakl is a powerful platform specifically built for larger enterprises (manufacturers, wholesalers, and so on). Apart from essential B2B ecommerce features, with Mirakl, you’re getting multi-vendor order management and other marketplace-specific features, which can be further tailored to meet your particular business needs.
Sana Commerce’s ecommerce platform is part of the Sana Commerce Cloud, Sana’s premier product that combines a content management system and other cutting-edge technology that covers both B2B and B2C-specific scenarios. Sana B2B ecommerce solution provides essential B2B features out of the box, including streamlined order and corporate management.
NetSuite SuiteCommerce from Oracle is an ecommerce solution and a mobile-optimized, feature-rich cloud ecommerce platform that suits both B2B and B2C merchants. SuiteCommerce B2B ecommerce solution might be particularly relevant for merchants that use other NetSuite services. It seamlessly unifies NetSuite operational business systems, providing a single view of the customer, order, inventory, and other critical data for an integrated cross-channel experience.
Magento Commerce is an enterprise-grade version of Magento Open Source or Community Edition. Magento from Adobe is a powerful ecommerce platform that can work for both B2B and B2C businesses, scale, and extend by default. Magento provides all essential ecommerce features out of the box, has open-source code, and powerful tools to confidently launch, manage, and scale your ecommerce business. It includes the ability to host multiple instances on one platform, cloud deployment, and integrations with native and third-party apps. Magento Commerce is resilient, built to handle multiple sales channels, brands, and geographies, so it’s even suitable for a B2B ecommerce enterprise with international ambitions.
Top B2B eCommerce Examples: Best B2B Sites in 2022
Instead of concentrating on well-known and offbeat players like Amazon Business, Alibaba, Made in China, or TradeIndia, which we’ve covered in detail in prior articles (such as Best B2B eCommerce Websites or What Is a B2B Marketplace?), we’ll look at some other successful B2B ecommerce ventures, which are just as (if not more) inspiring. While some companies featured below are well-established businesses, others are promising startups that have just successfully closed another investment round.
Packhelp is a Warsaw-based, eye-catching custom packaging business with an operational focus on Europe that’s been riding a successful wave of the ecommerce boom since 2015. In roughly six years, the startup has amassed more than 50,000 customers across 30 countries, including H&M and Uber Eats, and spawned some 50 million pieces of packaging. In November 2021, Packhelp announced a €40 million Series B round, one of the biggest in Central and Eastern Europe, to fuel its growth and expansion, which follows a $10 million Series A round in 2019.
Qualtrics: experience management for B2B ecommerce
Qualtrics is an American experience management software owned by SAP and based in the U.S. Since its foundation in 2002, the company has reached $723 million in revenue, up 41% from a year ago and above the company's guidance range, with subscription revenue, in particular, up 49%. With its shares priced at $45, the company’s valuation has reached $27 billion, almost double the amount SAP paid in the acquisition. In January 2021, Qualtrics made it to the stock market, raising $1.55 billion in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq, following its unprecedented growth in customer base (more than 13,000 companies) and revenue.
ultimate.ai: customer service automation for B2B ecommerce
ultimate.ai is a next-gen virtual customer service agent bot-builder platform that can automate 80% of customer support interactions in more than 20 languages. ultimate.ai’s flagship product, its AI-first, no-code tool, empowers both B2C and B2B users to get the most out of AI by designing agents or super savvy customer service robots that can handle complex customer interactions. ultimate.ai closed a $20 million Series A round of funding in December 2020, bringing its total raised since inception to more than $25 million.
Deliverr provides fulfillment services to ecommerce merchants on marketplace platforms like Shopify, Amazon, Target, and Walmart, using predictive analytics to anticipate product demand based on different variables, such as demographics and geography, and prepositioning items close to demand. Deliverr’s technology was created to safeguard merchants against supply chain disruptions and continue providing customers with affordable fulfillment services and speedy product deliveries. Deliverr’s approach includes 80 warehouses, cross-docks, and sort centers near places of demand to reduce the distance products must travel. This has resulted in Deliverr’s merchants growing 90% year-over-year and Deliverr’s valuation boost of $2 billion.
Founded in 2020, Gr4vy is a cloud-native payment orchestration platform (POP) that helps merchants simplify, manage, and scale payment infrastructure in the cloud, as well as expand and control their payment stack from anywhere. The company raised an $11.1 million Series A funding round last year and recently unveiled an additional $15 million in Series A extension funding to fuel its unprecedented growth.
B2B ecommerce use cases from Virto Commerce experience
Since Virto Commerce has extensive expertise working with B2B companies, we wanted to share a few successful B2B use cases from Virto’s experience.
Bosch Thermotechnology (Bosch Thermotechnik) makes heating and air conditioning solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Traditionally, the company relied on its distribution channels for completing the final sale. To gain access to important customer information and insights into how and where customers used the company’s products, Bosch decided to build a loyalty solution. At this point, Bosch sought Virto Commerce’s development expertise and used Virto Commerce modules to build the final product. The result is the development of the Bosch Thermotechnik Sales Digital Unit, a B2B ecommerce loyalty portal where partners register Bosch Thermotechnik products in return for points, which they later spend for marketing materials, professional tools, or clothing — all related to the Bosch brand.
Looking to strengthen its position in a fiercely competitive online book sales market, Standaard Boekhandel, Belgium’s largest book retailer, embarked on a digital transformation. Unfortunately, the existing platform didn’t answer Boekhandel’s ambitious goals, so the company chose to replatform. Replatforming to Virto Commerce allowed Boekhandel to extend its product offerings, manage millions of products daily in real time, integrate efficiently with different channels, and improve the search functionality for its two brands.
Zoeller Company is one of the USA’s oldest family-owned manufacturers of submersible pumps, systems, and controls for moving and treating water. Since Zoeller’s B2B ecommerce solution was far from perfect, the company sought Virto Commerce’s help to solve existing problems. During the Virto Commerce tenure at Zoeller, Virto helped the company develop several modules, such as real-time inventory for its distribution centers, and effective contract, pricing, and payment management modules, among other things. Thanks to its partnership with Virto Commerce, Zoeller significantly increased its search rankings and sales, which equated to significant numbers in added revenue. The most important achievement was that Zoeller was able to self-implement after one week of training. Self-implementation allowed Zoeller to massively reduce the total cost of ownership and reliance on expensive implementation partners without sacrificing the solution’s quality, functionality, and upgradability.
Top B2B eCommerce Trends to Watch in 2022
Even before the pandemic, online sales were steadily increasing, but as we’ve clearly seen, the pandemic has certainly given ecommerce, and B2B ecommerce in particular, a much-needed boost, propelling B2B sales and transforming the B2B industry forever. Based on the latest estimations, B2B ecommerce sales are expected to reach nearly $1.77 trillion in 2022, a 12% increase from the previous year. As buyer expectations continue to evolve, we expect B2B companies to concentrate on crafting more personalized, B2C-like, mobile-friendly shopping experiences and take advantage of a pool of opportunities that online marketplaces offer. More sophisticated and technologically-oriented companies will experiment with cutting-edge technology, such as augmented and virtual reality, 3D mapping, and product builders, while others will concentrate on improving existing functionality and tinkering with social commerce. In short, it looks like the future of B2B is bright, so companies should look for and try not to miss these opportunities.
In this article, we’ve looked at the essential B2B ecommerce features you should look for when considering an ecommerce platform, have examined the 7 best platform vendors on the market in 2022, and taken a closer look at a few successful B2B companies that continue to inspire. As the ecommerce market is booming, the future for the B2B ecommerce industry looks incredibly bright and we are thrilled for the new opportunities and exciting news that 2022 will bring.
What is an ecommerce platform?
An ecommerce platform is a software application that facilitates electronic transactions between two parties, a seller and a buyer.
What is a B2B ecommerce platform?
A B2B ecommerce platform is a software-based solution that facilitates business transactions between two companies via an online portal.
What’s the difference between a B2C and B2B ecommerce platform?
While a B2C platform is meant to handle transactions between a business and a consumer, a B2B ecommerce platform facilitates transactions between two or more businesses.
What is the best B2B ecommerce platform?
Virto Commerce is a sound cloud-based ecommerce solution and arguably, the best B2B ecommerce platform in 2022 that is specifically built to handle complex business scenarios. Virto Commerce’s B2B ecommerce platform is open-source, headless, API-driven, modular, composable and provides essential B2B features out-of-the-box.