Originally published March 6, 2018. Refreshed March 1, 2021.
Compare The Top 6 B2B Ecommerce Platforms for 2021
In the wake of COVID, 66% of B2B decision-makers now claim that self-service is more important to customers than directed selling. That’s up from 48% before the pandemic.
But comparing B2B platforms is overwhelming.
That’s why we put together a FREE chart comparing the top 6 B2B ecommerce platforms in 2021. We start with 2 key metrics:
- Company revenue. This is a useful metric because it generally correlates with the revenue throughput of your digital channel. Revenue throughput, in turn, correlates with the amount of resources which you can spend on the solution.
- Depth of integration required. Integration to your ERP isn’t a trivial matter. The deeper the integration you need, the more robust your architecture needs to be.
Click to download the full chart:
Top 6 B2B Ecommerce Platforms 2021:
In our B2B platform chart, we compare:
- SAP Commerce Cloud (formerly called hybris)
- Salesforce B2B Commerce
- Corevist Commerce
Which B2B platform is best for your organization? Download the chart now to get all the details and start building your short list.
B2B Ecommerce Platforms: A Deeper Dive
Want to go deeper?
Beyond B2B platform features and functionality?
1. Who’s on the hook for your entire B2B ecommerce solution?
As you compare B2B ecommerce platforms, keep this in mind: most vendors sell you the B2B platform alone. You’ll buy the software license from them, but when it comes to implementation, hosting, management, and growth, you’ll have to engage 3rd parties or hire resources in-house.
Not only do we provide licensing for our B2B platform, Corevist Commerce, but we also host, implement, and manage the solution—plus we consult with you on your growth goals. With one vendor responsible for your B2B e-commerce solution, you’ll never get caught in the middle trying to coordinate multiple 3rd parties and SIs. We cover your B2B eCommerce stack from top to bottom (including that pesky ERP integration).
2. 16 essential features of top B2B ecommerce solutions
While the list will vary depending on your needs, here are the most common essential features of a B2B ecommerce platform:
- Dynamic, real-time personalized pricing governed by customer contracts and/or price breaks by quantity.
- Real-time inventory availability and/or ATP (available to promise) calculations.
- Mobile readiness and ease of use on any device.
- Cross-sell/upsell via related products in the catalog.
- Personalized pick-lists and catalogs driven by ERP data.
- Accurate total order weight in the shopping cart.
- Smart SKU substitution for discontinued or forbidden SKUs.
- Tiered user privileges (for example, separate user types that can 1) build orders without seeing pricing, 2) can place orders without seeing pricing, and 3) can place orders AND see pricing).
- Multiple ship-to/sold-to associated with ecommerce user account.
- Real-time credit status by customer account displayed in the B2B e-commerce solution.
- Fast order entry by SKU for professional buyers who don’t want to bother with a catalog and rich content.
- Upload carts/saved carts so professional buyers can place bulk orders (and repeat orders) with minimal effort.
- Configurable products and self-service configuration screens.
- Visual parts ordering so customers can reorder the right spare parts from interactive exploded diagrams.
- 100% error-free order posting to your ERP system.
- Electronic payments integrated to your ERP system.
While not every business will need every item on the list, these are the kinds of features which top B2B platforms should offer.
Here’s the best part: Corevist Commerce offers all 16 and more. Keep that in mind as you compare top B2B ecommerce solutions.
As you evaluate user-oriented feature sets, consider the big picture, too. How does your B2B platform of choice score on these 2 essential points?
- Flexibility and scalability. Will the B2B ecommerce platform work for all user types—Sales, Customer Service, and your customer segments?
- Internal effort required. Will the B2B ecommerce platform place increased demands on your IT staff? Note that SAP hybris, for example, requires 12 full-time employees to maintain, while 1/3 of Corevist Commerce clients have no on-staff resources dedicated to supporting the B2B platform.
So how do you achieve flexibility and scalability with minimal internal effort?
The #1 B2B ecommerce feature to look for is real-time ERP integration
Direct, real-time ERP integration is the key to a robust, scalable B2B ecommerce platform.
Unfortunately, top B2B ecommerce platforms often neglect it.
They treat ERP integration as an afterthought. This is especially true in the marketing materials published by leading B2B ecommerce vendors. While the “integration last” approach may work fine for B2C (the market where many ecommerce platforms got their start), it doesn’t work in B2B. Without real-time ERP integration, you have to rebuild ALL your relevant business rules in your B2B e-commerce platform. When those rules need to be updated, you have to keep them synced in two places.
Don’t underestimate the burden of getting integration to work “after the fact.” Trust us—we’ve seen too many ecommerce projects fail because of it.
If a B2B e-commerce solution is really going to work for global corporations, it needs to start with ERP integration at the very core. (Hint: That’s how Corevist Commerce is architected.)
We’ll talk more about real-time ERP integration below. But at a high level, here’s why it matters. Real-time ERP integration means:
- The B2B ecommerce platform will inherit ERP business rules for dynamic personalized pricing by customer account. It doesn’t make sense to rebuild these business rules in ecommerce, which is what you’ll have to do if you don’t choose a solution with real-time ERP integration.
- The B2B ecommerce platform will display up-to-the-minute inventory data (or ATP/available to promise by customer account). If you depend on batch updates to sync ecommerce and ERP, your customers won’t be able to see real-time inventory.
3. B2B ecommerce platforms: Understanding ERP integration
ERP integration is the #1 hidden obstacle confronting B2B ecommerce solutions. It may be more important than you think:
- Unreliable inventory data is the #2 problem for B2B ecommerce platforms.
- Users need accurate contract pricing that scales by quantity. When you’ve already invested in building those business rules in your ERP system, it doesn’t make sense to rebuild them in ecommerce if you can present them on the web via integration. (Hint: That’s what Corevist Commerce does.)
- Order errors in your ERP system can occur if your integration isn’t well-architected. If that order error now requires manual intervention from a Customer Service representative, your B2B ecommerce solution isn’t doing its job–it isn’t providing 100% self-service to your customers.
This is why your B2B e-commerce platform should start with your ERP system at the core.
Putting ERP at the core of B2B ecommerce solutions
Here’s the hard reality: top B2B ecommerce platforms don’t put your ERP system at the core. Rather, they’re standalone systems that require a 3rd party to integrate them.
Note: Corevist Commerce is different. We start with your ERP system and build out to the web. With our prebuilt, configurable integration to SAP, we save you from rebuilding your business rules in the ecommerce solution. Ultimately, that saves you money and keeps you from working with multiple SIs (who’d love nothing more than running up a tab in time and materials as they build a complex integration from scratch).
The best part? Our 53-point integration to SAP is already built. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel—we’re integrated to your ERP system on day 1.
Learn more here: Our 53 SAP Integration Points.
Understanding middleware (the alternative to “ERP at the core”)
Even for top B2B ecommerce platforms, middleware architecture is the most common way to get ERP and ecommerce to talk to each other.
Middlware works fine for simple scenarios (like B2C), and for situations with low data refresh rates. However, because it introduces a 3rd system to the ecommerce/ERP architecture, middleware can also introduce architectural weaknesses which aren’t present in a direct, real-time integration.
Check out this infographic for more:
The bottom line: B2B ecommerce solutions that rely on middleware will work fine for some scenarios. However, for complex B2B business models, middleware adds an extra layer of potential cost and liability which you don’t encounter with a direct real-time integration. Keep that in mind as you evaluate top B2B platforms.
On a related note, consider the importance of integration and scalability when it comes to global rollouts. If your B2B platform doesn’t integrate to your ERP system, what’s the real cost of standing up B2B ecommerce in multiple geographies?
Let’s talk about B2B ecommerce rollouts.
4. B2B ecommerce rollout methodologies
If you only need one B2B ecommerce store, you can skip this section. However, if you have multiple geographies, sales areas, or brands which need a B2B ecommerce solution, you should consider your rollout methodology (and find out how easy it is to launch your top-choice B2B platforms for multiple geographies).
In our experience, the best B2B ecommerce platforms follow an Agile Rollout Methodology for global ecommerce.
Here’s what that looks like for a sample project, launching Corevist Commerce in 10 global storefronts:
Moving forward: FREE chart download
No doubt about it, comparing B2B ecommerce platforms is a crucial stage in the ecommerce journey. To help you evaluate your options and pick a solution that works for real people, download our full B2B eCommerce Platform Comparison chart below.