B2B ecommerce SolutionsBinny Joseph
B2B ecommerce has outpaced the growth of B2C and encouraged many wholesalers to take the online route. With 3X more growth rate than its B2C counterpart, it holds a huge potential for wholesalers who have not yet explored the wonders of ecommerce.
Are you one of those entrepreneurs who own a wholesale business? Are you also keen on taking your wholesale business online to explore new markets and increase your business ROI?
Well, if the answer is YES, then the first thing you need to look for is a B2B ecommerce solution that can help you in taking your business online in a smooth way. You would have done a lot of research regarding the same and shortlisted a number of platforms that might fit the bill.
So, have you been able to narrow down on at least the top ecommerce platforms that are suitable to take your wholesale business online? Have you evaluated the key features in detail and assessed the limitations of the B2B ecommerce platform you are considering for your business?
You might have certainly considered some of the market leaders in enterprise ecommerce platform category along with their features and limitations by now. Given the popularity of StoreHippo and Shopify, the two leading platforms in this sector, it would be impossible for anyone to miss their features and comparative evaluation. If these two are your final contenders, you need to compare these vis-a-vis their strongest features and ease of use required for a successful online wholesale business.
Let’s make it easy for you by evaluating the 7 most important features of StoreHippo as well as Shopify wholesale ecommerce platform. The list begins;
Customization is one of the most crucial features for a B2B ecommerce platform as every business model may differ from the another. So an enterprise platform that gives a business the flexibility to customize the front-end along with the back-end is essential. StoreHippo and Shopify both offer unique ways for adding functionalities to customize the flow.
StoreHippo has a flexible front end and back end as well. You can easily make the required changes as per the requirements of your enterprise business right from the StoreHippo admin panel. This B2B ecommerce platform can help you in adding new entities and also allows to make modifications in the existing entities easily to suit your unique business needs. The learning curve is simple which makes it easy to implement changes.
Shopify provides the facility of front-end customization. When you use this platform you can add functionalities through the APIs and third-party applications. The customers are free to sync all these applications and achieve a certain flow depending on their business requirements. However, you need to be technically sound to be able to implement all these changes. Alternatively, you can hire a resource to tweak the platform with the help of APIs or third-party applications and achieve the desired flow.
Beautiful store design goes a long way in creating your brand identity. It also increases the stickiness of a website and makes it popular among customers. The B2B customers are conditioned to expect a beautiful store-design thanks to their B2C experiences. Hence, to create a brand value for your ecommerce business you need to invest some time and efforts in branding and designing the store.
With StoreHippo as your B2B ecommerce solution provider, customizing your store design is relatively easier as it comes with the drag-and-drop feature. You can choose your custom images and make changes to the design template. At StoreHippo DIY ecommerce platform you can be a designer of your website even with basic technical knowledge. Alternatively, if any of their design templates fits your brand you can go with it and make some changes if needed.
If you choose Shopify, you can opt for one of the themes and templates available in their gallery. All the themes and templates at Shopify are developed by independent professional designers. You can use the readymade templates that align with your brand image. Some of these templates are free but many are paid. However, if you have some technical-knack and can do some coding you can also create customized designs for your store.
It is very much possible that you feel the need to target multiple audience segments for your wholesale business with a unique storefront. This feature has a great advantage when you are targeting multi-product or location specific businesses. However, implementing this can be cumbersome if you have to manage different storefronts along with a separate admin for each.
StoreHippo B2B ecommerce solution has a built-in multi-store facility that offers a single dashboard for managing your multi-front online stores. StoreHippo’s single dashboard makes the complicated tasks of managing various things like products, orders, inventories etc. for different storefronts easy as you have a central admin with the collective database. Design themes, products catalogues, deals, discounts and many other aspects of various storefronts can also be handled easily with StoreHippo multi-store admin.
Using Shopify, you will need multiple apps to implement the multi-store feature. Depending on your requirements you can choose from the various multi-store apps and implement the multi-storefront feature with the help of a developer. You can also try it on your own if you have the requisite coding skills. Depending on the features these apps are priced differently and you can choose the one that is the best fit for your requirements.
White-labelling is one of the most sought-after features by enterprise businesses when they are going online. Creating a brand recognition online becomes easy if your ecommerce platform offers the white labelling feature. White Labelling helps you in customizing your online store, its communication channels, admin etc. These changes enable a wholesale business to create its brand value and recall among the customers thus giving it better visibility.
StoreHippo wholesale ecommerce platform offers white-labelling for your brand promotion. This feature lets you display your brand name prominently across various channels thus creating an easy brand recall and recognition. You can customize and display the logo of your brand on the front-end and the back end. You can easily customize your communications channels and notifications tools using your brand logo.
While using Shopify, you can create brand visibility only by using external applications that help in promoting your brand. As of now, Shopify does not offer the functionality to white label an online store using the brand’s own logo etc.
One way to make your B2B ecommerce business more successful is by listing multiple vendors on your platform. Once multiple vendors are listed in your marketplace, they can help you in improving your catalogue and product list with a variety of products. This can help in better conversions and higher ROI without additional investment in inventory or warehouse.
StoreHippo, with its inbuilt multi-vendor functionality, provides an easy marketplace solution to meet the needs of diverse B2B and B2C businesses. You can implement multiple use cases of multi-vendor marketplace with StoreHippo. Since the features are inbuilt you don’t need additional apps to convert an online store into a marketplace.
With Shopify, you can integrate an app based multi-vendor functionality. To implement the end-to-end marketplace functionality in Shopify, you will have to go for some apps and use them as per your requirement. You can achieve the complex workflow of B2B and streamline everything by getting integrated with the external apps.
Ecommerce is incomplete without shipping and finding a suitable shipping partner can be a tough job to accomplish. If a shipping solution comes integrated with the wholesale ecommerce platform that you choose then it can be of great help to you.
StoreHippo has built up its own ecommerce logistics aggregator platform ShipKaro which comes with a wide range of renowned logistics companies integrated with the platform. It helps in decreasing the manual efforts involved in shipping by making the process automated. It also provides discounted shipping rates and is serviceable for 20000+ pin codes.
Shopify, on the other hand, allows you to integrate shipping partners of your choice. However, the onus of shortlisting and negotiating with the shipping partners of your choice lies with you. After choosing the desired logistics partner(s) you can then configure it using Shopify tools. With a little extra investment, you can easily carry out your ecommerce shipping smoothly with the courier partners that suits best according to your budget and requirements.
Entrepreneurs are well aware that the flow of B2B ecommerce solutions might be pretty complex in certain scenarios. Thus, the clients may require after sale support at times when they are stuck at certain points. Often, there is a difference between the support provided before and after the sale of the product.
StoreHippo offers a very good pre and post sales support system. They provide full-time call support during the store setup process within a month of the purchase of the subscription. They guide you through the store creation process step-by-step and help you in getting your online business kick-started. With the multiple support channels like help centre, forums, calls and emails, you can easily set up your store.
Shopify support has the following channels, via emails, forum, help centre. They also provide call support for their customers in India. If you are not a techie then you might have difficulty in setting up your store without seeking help.
You might be looking forward to having a bright future for your online business. No one would understand your business better than you, so it is always your choice at the end of the day to pick a suitable platform. The practice of choosing a platform and evaluating the features in details can easily save your time and efforts and help in creating a full-fledged online store. Thus, all you need to do is focus on the features provided and the limitations of the platform before taking a subscription.