June 22, 2022

Commentary: Shopify doubles down on B2B commerce

Merchants should be pleased & competitors should be on notice

Perspective from Streamlined CEO Boris de Souza

If you're launching a DTC brand, Shopify has long been a no-brainer: it’s the industry leader in providing everything you need operationally so that you can focus on what you sell.

B2B, though, has been a different story until now. The changes announced Wednesday are a huge milestone in Shopify’s commitment to B2B commerce: they’re not playing around.

First, here’s some long-standing feedback we’ve heard from brands who sell on Shopify...

1) Brands want a unified platform for DTC & B2B

It’s much easier to have ops use one unified platform than two.

2) B2B shouldn’t be an afterthought for product development

Even the best B2B tools for Shopify have often had to rely on workarounds within a DTC-focused universe.

3) Analytics for B2B needs to be segmentable from analytics for DTC

This has been the dealbreaker for many brands wanting to use Shopify for B2B over the years. Without the ability to easily split out data by channel, some brands have seen the introduction of a B2B channel turn the metrics they’ve used to run their DTC business unintelligible, leaving them scrambling for hacky workarounds.

4) Brands need the ability to customize pricing based on volume or relationship

If you’re expanding into a B2B channel after starting DTC, you quickly realize that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for wholesale buyers.

So what's changing? Brands are getting what they’ve been asking for...

1) One unified storefront: No more creating a second store specifically for wholesale

These stores were already secondary to the main store and were challenging to maintain. Merchants can now easily sell B2B using their existing Shopify store. You can now extend your theme for wholesale. App developers can leverage theme-level App blocks and App embed blocks to enrich the b2b experience and the post-checkout experience.

2) Companies as customers: Adapting core product for the B2B use case

The addition of Company profiles allows brands to set net payment terms, save tax ids, and set billing addresses that are different from shipping addresses: these are needs that are ubiquitous in B2B (and non-existent in DTC).  This is a great signal to brands and developers that B2B is no afterthought for Shopify.

3) B2B analytics: Can now split key reports between DTC and wholesale lines of business

Brands will be able to apply new B2B-specific filters to their reports and have a clear view of their wholesale business when using one storefront. The new B2B filters will be available on all reports under the following sections: Sales, Orders, Profit Margin, Customers, and Finance.

4) Wholesale pricing:  Set relationship-specific wholesale pricing & discounts for your existing products

Until now, the only way to do this was to create a wholesale product or use a 3rd party app. Now, every wholesale relationship can have different pricing or discounts added based on volume.

Put together, we see these updates as an indication of where Shopify’s priorities lie.

The focus on B2B creates a virtuous circle from the perspective of brands who’ve grown up on Shopify’s DTC offering and face the challenge of extending into B2B as they mature.  The latest updates will further encourage developers to consider the wholesale experience as they build apps and themes, making it more appealing for brands to grow their B2B channel within Shopify.

In a time of change—with macroeconomic uncertainty, declines in ad effectiveness, and an inventory glut—building a B2B channel has become more appealing than ever to DTC brands.  We think Shopify’s release today strikes a major blow toward keeping these sorts of brands on Shopify. We’ve heard brands weigh the pros and cons of turning to higher-priced marketplace solutions for access to their wholesale-specific features. One way to interpret today’s news is that Shopify has heard this too, and acted.

At Streamlined, we’re glad Shopify is focused on making itself the best option as its brands expand to the B2B channel. Our purpose-built solution integrates seamlessly with Shopify to help brands get paid as quickly and efficiently as possible by their wholesale customers while worrying as little as possible about invoicing.

A growing list of modern ecommerce brands use Streamlined — if you’re a Shopify merchant looking to make your wholesale invoicing easier, let’s talk!

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