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In the cutthroat world of B2B e-commerce, there's one company you should be keeping your eyes on: Shopify. And whatever you do, don't blink, or you might just miss their takeover.

Shopify, which has dominated direct-to-consumer (D2C) e-commerce for the last decade, is now revolutionizing B2B e-commerce.

How did this happen? When did it happen? And why should this even matter to you? Let's dive in.

Shopify's Evolution and Impact

For years, Shopify has been the go-to platform for D2C e-commerce, offering innovative tools and seamless integrations that have transformed the way businesses operate online. But now, Shopify is turning its sights on the B2B market, a space traditionally ruled by industry titans.

How did this happen? Through strategic innovation and a relentless pursuit of excellence, Shopify is rewriting the B2B e-commerce rules. Once overlooked and underestimated by industry titans, Shopify is now surprising everyone with its bold moves and rapid success in the B2B arena.

Current State of B2B Commerce

Let's face it, B2B commerce has been the red-headed stepchild of the e-commerce game. While B2C and D2C methods have evolved and improved, B2B has consistently lagged behind—far behind. E-commerce has technically been around since the early '80s, but B2B largely feels like it's stuck in those times. It's historically slow to adopt new tech, bogged down by tons of corporate red tape, and just generally pretty archaic.

Think fax machines, paper orders, and a whole lot of manual input. If you're one of the people still holding clipboards, we're sorry, but you know it's true.

Thankfully, things won’t be that way for much longer. B2B is getting an overhaul courtesy of Shopify, the largest e-commerce platform in the world with 4.3 million active stores and $7 billion in revenue in 2023. Now, they're bringing that expertise and slick software to save B2B commerce from dated technology... and clipboards... and fax machines.

Shopify's Innovations in B2B

So, how exactly is Shopify dusting off B2B e-commerce and bringing it into the 21st century? Through a series of strategic acquisitions and continuous development.

In 2019, Shopify acquired Handshake, an online marketplace designed to help B2B merchants sell wholesale to D2C retailers. In May 2022, they acquired Deliverr, an end-to-end fulfillment platform. This was Shopify’s largest acquisition to date, aimed at improving their fulfillment and logistics woes, which had been plaguing their B2B customers for years.

In June 2022, Shopify launched "B2B on Shopify," introducing much-needed features like Company Profiles, Price Lists, B2B checkout, Analytics, and more. Since then, Shopify has rolled out over four dozen B2B-focused features, driving explosive growth in B2B sales by Shopify merchants—a 130% increase between January and March 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

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Key B2B Features and Integrations

Shopify now offers complete B2B storefront customization, allowing wholesalers to transform their buying experiences while retaining Shopify's best-converting checkout system. Here are some of the standout B2B features and their benefits:

Trade Theme

Shopify’s B2B optimized Trade theme allows businesses to get up and running quickly with all advanced B2B features right out of the box.
Why it Matters: This theme simplifies the setup process, enabling businesses to launch their B2B platform swiftly without compromising on functionality or aesthetics.
Use Case: A wholesale electronics supplier uses the Trade Theme to quickly set up their online store, providing a seamless shopping experience for their retail partners, complete with customized pricing and bulk ordering options.

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Seamless Integrations

Integration with CMS, OMS, ERP systems like Acumatica, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Celigo ensures all your order and inventory software are on deck.
Why it Matters: These integrations streamline operations by consolidating various business functions into a single platform, reducing manual errors, and improving efficiency.
Use Case: A large manufacturing company integrates their ERP system with Shopify, allowing real-time updates on inventory levels and order status, which significantly reduces the administrative burden on their team.

Quick Bulk Ordering

Streamlines large orders by showing potential buyers a list of all products and options either directly on product pages or on separate order forms.
Why it Matters This feature simplifies the ordering process for businesses, making it easier for customers to place large orders quickly and accurately.
Use Case: A food distributor uses the bulk ordering feature to allow restaurant chains to order large quantities of ingredients with just a few clicks, ensuring they always have the stock they need.

Workflow Automation

Shopify Flow reduces fraud by automatically reviewing new orders and determining if they are high-risk before capturing payment.
Why it Matters: This automation saves time and money by minimizing the risk of fraudulent transactions and ensuring smoother operations.
Use Case: An industrial equipment supplier uses Shopify Flow to automate the review process for large orders, reducing the time spent on manual checks and preventing potential fraud.

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Sales Reps

Add sales reps to Shopify B2B with necessary permissions to access selected customers and place orders.
Why it Matters: This feature empowers sales teams to manage their accounts more effectively, enhancing customer service and boosting sales.
Use Case: A textile manufacturer assigns sales reps to specific regions, allowing them to place orders on behalf of their clients, track customer interactions, and provide personalized service.

Account Request Forms

Automatically save buyer information and allow for wholesale purchases upon approval.
Why it Matters: This feature simplifies the onboarding process for new customers, making it easier for businesses to expand their client base.
Use Case: A beauty products wholesaler uses account request forms to vet new salon partners, ensuring they can start placing orders as soon as they are approved.

Purchase Order Management

Shopify B2B Keeps Purchase Order numbers visible across administration, customer accounts, and the Orders API.
Why it Matters: This feature improves transparency and tracking of orders, making it easier to manage and fulfill large volumes of purchases.
Use Case: An office supplies distributor uses purchase order management to track large orders from corporate clients, ensuring timely and accurate fulfillment.

Market Validation and Success Stories

Shopify’s B2B transformation hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Forrester Wave report recognized Shopify as a leader in the B2B segment, surpassing top platforms like Adobe, BigCommerce, and Intershop. Shopify spent $1.7 billion on R&D in 2023 alone, fueling substantial innovation.

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Analysis from BuiltWith shows Shopify commanding a significant share of the e-commerce market, illustrating strong consumer trust and platform capabilities.

Case Study: Brooklinen’s B2B Transformation

Brooklinen, known for its high-quality bedding, initially struggled with offline B2B sales operations. With Shopify’s B2B functionality, they transitioned to an intuitive B2B site, integrating their D2C and B2B operations seamlessly. Automation features allowed them to spend 80% of their time on customer relationships, resulting in significant growth. Their annual revenue in e-commerce sales topped $84 million in 2023, with projections looking even better for 2024.

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Conclusion

Shopify’s ongoing commitment to B2B innovation is clear. More and more companies are considering Shopify for their B2B needs, recognizing its customizable, simplifying, and robust functionality. Shopify is now seen as a highly customizable B2B platform that simplifies complex processes.

If you’re ready to dive into the exciting world Shopify B2B, we can help you stand out from your competitors, elevate your e-commerce brand, and scale your business in no time. Check out our B2B Shopify Services.

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