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Does Shopify cater to both B2C and B2B?

It doesn’t matter whether you sell to other businesses or directly to consumers, choosing the right platform for building your website is crucial to your success.

Shopify is one of the world’s most popular and powerful eCommerce website builders. When researching which platform to use, many businesses put Shopify at the top of their list. But is it suitable for both B2B and B2C business models?

B2B and B2C businesses each have unique differences and requirements in how they operate and sell to customers. In this article, we’ll discuss whether Shopify is a suitable platform for both business models and explore the depth and variety of features and functionalities that it offers to each.

How does B2C and B2B eCommerce differ?

B2B stands for business-to-business, and B2C stands for business-to-consumer.

Whilst B2B eCommerce websites may look similar to B2C websites, often, the processes going on behind the scenes are quite different. This is because the nature of selling B2B is often quite different to selling B2C.

Let’s examine the key differences between B2B and B2C eCommerce.

Longer sales cycles

B2C sales cycles are usually short and straightforward as they are direct transactions that rarely require negotiation. In comparison, B2B generally has longer and more complicated sales cycles because B2B transactions can involve multiple stakeholders, negotiations, and approval processes. 

Larger average order value

While B2B sales may be harder to win, average order values for B2B are generally much higher than for B2C. B2C transactions usually only involve a handful of items at most, while B2B transactions are often wholesale or bulk orders.

More complex products and pricing

B2C usually involves standardised products and pricing. However, B2B often deals with more complex or customised products or services, including bulk and wholesale transactions. This means pricing must be flexible and may involve negotiations, quantity discounts, or contractual agreements.

These key differences between B2B and B2C sales processes require a different set of website features and functionalities. 

Let’s find out how Shopify caters to each business model’s requirements.

Shopify for B2C

Shopify’s user-friendly interface, speed of setup, and huge range of features and functionalities have made it one of the world’s most widely used eCommerce platforms for both B2B and B2C businesses. However, it’s only over recent years that it’s really begun to focus on developing specialised features and functionality for B2B. 

Shopify is still predominantly used by B2C businesses. At its core, Shopify is a website builder platform that makes it simple and fast for small and medium-sized eCommerce businesses to set up an online store and start selling their products to consumers. 

customer opening a package on their bedStrengths of Shopify for B2C

  • All-in-one solution – Shopify offers B2C businesses a comprehensive eCommerce platform that makes it simple and fast to build an online store and start selling directly to consumers online.
  • User-friendly interface – With a huge range of templates and straightforward SEO tools, Shopify simplifies the process of creating an attractive, high-performance eCommerce website.
  • Shopify app store – Shopify’s app store features over 8,000 apps to help B2C businesses enhance their store’s functionality.
  • Multi-channel selling Multi-channel selling helps businesses reach more customers and increase sales. Shopify integrates seamlessly with various sales channels popular with B2C businesses, including social media platforms and online marketplaces.
  • Payment gateways – Supporting multiple payment methods helps B2C businesses provide customers with flexibility and a smoother checkout process. Shopify supports multiple payment methods, including PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, and Apple Pay.
  • Multi-currency option – Shopify’s multicurrency feature makes it easier for B2C businesses to expand into international markets and fuel business growth.

Limitations of Shopify for B2C

  • Transaction fees – As well as a monthly subscription fee, Shopify charges a transaction fee on all payments not made using its own Shopify Payments system. This extra expense can add up, particularly for small B2C businesses.
  • Limited blogging tools – Content marketing can boost brand awareness and add value for customers. Shopify’s blogging and CMS capabilities are not as advanced as other platforms like WordPress.
  • Limited free templates – While Shopify offers 63 paid templates, it only offers ten free templates.
  • Additional costs for apps – The Shopify app store offers over 8,000 apps. However, many of these apps come at an additional cost and businesses that use lots of apps can find that these costs add up over time.

Shopify for B2B

According to Wunderman Thompson’s ‘The B2B Future Shopper Report 2023′, 49% of all B2B spending is online, and 68% of B2B buyers say they will increase their use of digital shopping channels in the future.

While Shopify has always been popular with B2B businesses, Shopify features for B2B have evolved significantly over recent years.

Strengths of Shopify for B2B

With Shopify Plus, businesses can access B2B on Shopify, a service that allows businesses to operate a blended Shopify store that serves both B2B and B2C markets from one place. Alternatively, B2B businesses can set up an expansion store that focuses exclusively on serving B2B clients.

Shopify Plus offers a whole suite of specialist Shopify features for B2B, including the following: 

  • Company profiles and customer accounts.
  • Custom catalogues and price lists.
  • Automated custom payment terms.
  • Self-serve customer accounts.
  • Automated and customised B2B checkout.
  • Purchase order numbers.

Shopify is continuing to expand the range of features available for B2B selling – as demonstrated in its Shopify Winter Editions 2023 update, which offers several new B2B features and functionalities, including the following:

  • New B2B customisation options – add quantity rules for products and variants.
  • Streamlined B2B order process – receive customer orders as drafts to review and approve.
  • A wider selection of B2B APIs – create custom solutions for your business needs.

Shopify Plus offers B2B businesses everything they need to sell online and provide customers with a customised buying experience.

For B2B businesses that aren’t yet large or established enough to justify paying for Shopify Plus, there are plenty of third-party apps and workarounds that can be used to add B2B features and functionality to eCommerce stores built using one of Shopify’s standard plans. Some popular Shopify B2B apps include:

  • B2B/Wholesale Solution – An all-in-one wholesale solution. Features include a wholesaler registration form, custom pricing, order limit, quantity increment, manual orders, tax control, and discount codes.
  • Wholesale Pricing Discount B2B – Features include B2B wholesale pricing, volume and tiered discounts, net payment terms, and shipping rates.
  • B2B Login/Lock & Hide Price – Features help B2B businesses control access to specific content to increase B2B signups.
  • Wholesale Gorilla – Features include B2B custom pricing, discounts, inventory management, and automated order processing and shipping rules.

warehouse filled with boxes of wholesale stockLimitations of Shopify for B2C

  • Shopify Plus subscription fee – Shopify Plus plans start at $2,000/month, which is steep for small and medium-sized B2B businesses. Whilst it is still possible to access many of the same features without Shopify Plus (using Shopify apps and workarounds), this can be complex to set up and manage.
  • Limited integrations – B2B for Shopify is relatively new, so not all third-party apps support it.
  • Subscriptions unavailable – Subscription services cannot yet be implemented on B2B for Shopify.
  • Maximum orders – With B2B for Shopify, orders cannot contain more than 500 different products or variants.

Is Shopify the right platform for your business?

Choosing the right eCommerce platform is a pivotal decision for any business, regardless of whether they are in the B2B or B2C space.

As we’ve learnt in this article, Shopify is a versatile platform that can accommodate both B2B and B2C businesses. It offers a range of functionalities tailored to each business model’s unique needs.

For B2C businesses, Shopify offers a user-friendly interface, over 8,000 apps, and multi-channel selling. The platform has also made significant strides over recent years to cater to B2B requirements. The introduction of Shopify Plus’s B2B on Shopify and a host of B2B-focused apps has made Shopify increasingly suitable for B2B businesses.

Ultimately, though, businesses must consider various factors when deciding whether Shopify is the right eCommerce platform for them, including business size, budget, and specific requirements. Small and medium-sized businesses should assess if the steep subscription fee for Shopify Plus is within budget or if their needs could be met using workarounds and third-party apps.

Partner with Create8 to design and build B2C or B2B Shopify stores

Whether you’re planning to launch a new eCommerce store or enhance an existing one, Shopify could be the solution you’re looking for.

At Create8, our Shopify web design team can help with setting up Shopify for B2B or B2C and tailoring Shopify’s versatile features to fit your unique business needs.

Ready to take the next step in your eCommerce journey? Contact Create8 today to start your project and discover what Shopify can offer your business.