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Modernise your B2B commerce operation & prepare for the next 10 years of growth, on Shopify

Written by
Luke Green
June 24, 2019

Want to improve operational efficiency and increase turnover? read on…

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The Facts.

Your B2B customers prefer to purchase online directly. Not a huge revelation, but it may surprise you to know that 93% of your B2B customers are expecting the same simple, forward thinking online commerce service they experience as B2C consumers.

It figures doesn’t it, why should anyone, in this day an age, be able to order almost anything they need, simply and quickly via a beautifully branded and designed consumer site, but then be subjected to a dry, hard to use or even totally absent online purchasing journey when ordering B2B services and products for their business?

The total share of B2B sales made through an online commerce sites is expected to grow from 9.7% in 2015 to 13.1% by 2021, amounting to a total of $1.8 trillion by 2023.

It’s for this exact reason that B2B businesses are and have been increasingly, moving online. If you’ve only made tentative steps, you can be sure that your competitors are already actively online, refining and improving their B2B operations.

The Challenges.

For most established business, making change within B2B commerce operations can be costly, especially if badly conceived. Generally it requires a lot of time, effort and internal organisation to achieve, which can be a huge barrier for key decision makers. However business stagnation is ultimately much more costly in the long run.

So what are the options? How can you successfully delivery B2B online improvements, mindful of reducing the time and cost burdens.

As always, there are some basic, simple steps, you can take.

  1. Assign an internal Project Manager
    Perhaps the first and most important step is to assign a dedicated internal project manager to the task. Without one, you are invariably stacking the odds against success from the very beginning. It’s vitally important to have the right person in this role to drive the project internally. Every project we’ve delivered with an internal project manager in place, has run smoother and been delivered in a more timely manner.
  2. Have clear business goals.
    This almost goes without saying, but so many projects start off with too broad a brief or a fuzzy purpose. Projects with laser-like clarity around the deliverables and business goals will run better and help inform the entire project, from the type of platforms and features you need, right through to the suppliers you engage with.
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel...
    Despite how unique you ‘think’ your business is, it’s likely that 90% of your specific B2B challenges are universal and importantly, already solved. You do not need huge custom spec sheets and complex project delivery, if you are fighting to solve the most basic operational processes then either you need to evaluate the complexity of your processes or you need to take an iterative approach to the project. Look to “solve and evolve” your business challenges, in the vast majority of cases, using the most commonly accepted processes is a smart move, because they work.
  4. …unless you absolutely have to.
    Where you absolutely have to innovate i.e. it’s a core aspect of your service or product, then make sure you have a team and a platform that’s agile enough to do that. If 90% of your needs are satisfied out of the box, then you’re already winning, allowing you to focus budget and time on that important 10% that’s vital to your business operations.

B2B Commerce On Shopify.

As a Shopify Partner for over 10 years, we’ve worked with a broad spectrum of B2C and B2B clients. Even though we do constantly evaluate our platform partners, we’ve ultimately specialised on the Shopify Platform making it a flexible and vital tool in our armoury for delivering cost effective and efficient B2B projects.

From delivering completely headless B2B implementations for companies like Cadline through to more simple B2B solutions for start-ups like Cheerful Buddha Coffee or established business like Whitby, these are some of the key reasons Shopify could be right for your next B2B project.

Custom flexibility, off-the-peg reliability.

For the vast majority of cases, most B2B needs are available out of the box, and in some cases Shopify Core, at just $29pm, can be a great fit alongside some minor development customisation and the right apps. Of course for more advanced needs, Shopify Plus which is $2000pm, features an entirely customisable and dedicated Wholesales Channel, which for many clients can streamline complex B2B operations right out of the box.

Shopify Plus features an entirely customisable and dedicated Wholesales Channel

While Shopify Plus is ideal for larger operations looking to cut the cost of ownership, smaller business can also cut cost and complexity with some creative and intelligent use of the of Shopify Core feature set, for example, solving basic B2B functionality such as VIP Pricing.

VIP pricing

  • Create A Customer List
  • Create an automated collection that includes all store products except the product type(s) you wish to exclude
  • Set the discount you have created to apply to this specific collection and limit the usage to the required customer group. This will mean only customers in this customer group, will be able to apply discount to the products within this collection, which will exclude the products they cannot discount.
  • Once the discount is created, Shopify provides a sharable link which when shared to the customer, will automatically apply the discount at checkout

Pre existing B2B solutions on Shopify.

Of course, over the last 10 years we’ve solved and implemented a huge range of B2B features on Shopify, many will be common pain points for your B2B operation, allowing us to leverage previous solutions and or code for your project, cutting complexity and time to deployment. Below are some of the key features we’ve delivered with Shopify in the past.

  • VAT validation on signup of online accounts
  • Line sheet ordering
  • Pattern buying collections for Fashion retailers
  • Set a minimum order value for wholesale orders
  • Lists. Empower users to create durable requisition lists for frequently purchased items.
  • Reorder Functionality
  • Catalogs. Define store catalogs for association with different companies.
  • Credit. Extend credit at an organisational level and enable users to check out accordingly
  • Allow Purchase on Net Terms
  • Optionally Expose product information without pricing to gain interest in product offering and gain SEO exposure
  • iPad & Phone EPOS — @ Trade shows through Shopify POS
  • Allow sales people on the move to process orders on the road
  • Take orders over the phone through the same admin
  • Email invoices / draft orders with payment link via mobile

The Take Away

With the right approach, clear goals, an awesome platform like Shopify and agile and knowledgeable team like ours, starting or improving your B2B commerce offering becomes a whole lot less daunting, cost effective and pain free.

Thanks for reading, we’re Inspira Digital.

We launched the 123rd store on Shopify, today we are one of the most experienced Shopify Experts in the world, delivering industry-leading Shopify services for fast-growing ambitious brands. We have helped build 100s of successful stores and have delivered 1000s of individual projects for Shopify and Shopify Plus clients globally.

Clients that work with us know we work passionately, to make sense of your commerce business, so if you want to talk to a team of experts about how best to take advantage of the Shopify platform, then let's talk.

Inspira Digital — High volume commerce handled beautifully.

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