The Top 8 Wholesale Ecommerce Platforms to Shortlist as you Scale

January 4, 2023

The Top 8 Wholesale Ecommerce Platforms to Shortlist as you Scale wholesale ecommerce platforms

Selling wholesale B2B can be an excellent way for online brands to expand their business and increase their visibility.

But there are some technical hurdles to becoming a B2B wholesale business, the main one being the type of backend commerce platform you’ll need.

While the B2B customer is becoming increasingly like their B2C counterpart, there are some special requirements for those buying on behalf of a business rather than as an individual consumer.

So what online platform will allow you to serve your desired new customers best and drive your business forward?

In this post, we’re going to run through the best available B2B wholesale ecommerce platforms, pointing to the type of online businesses served by each of them to help you make the right choice and set you on the path to B2B wholesale success.

We’ll cover:

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How the best B2B ecommerce platforms help you as a wholesaler

tablet pos b2b wholesale selling wholesale ecommerce platforms
Credit: Cova Software/Unsplash

If you’ve confirmed wholesale is a good fit for you, you’ve likely started your shortlist for evaluating the best ecommerce platforms for wholesalers.

But before making that purchase, you want to know how B2B platforms give you the upper edge when selling wholesale.

How do they improve upon the B2C basics? What can they do to serve an increasingly online customer base?

The best platforms for wholesale ecommerce businesses will ultimately enable you to:

Give your customers greater access

Wholesale customers want all the convenience and accessibility that ecommerce offers.

In the middle of a busy working day, quickly checking on the progress of orders, tracking shipping, and quickly reordering inventory is invaluable.

A dedicated B2B commerce platform is tailored to the needs of business customers. Quick and easy access to customer accounts lets your B2B customers view the progress of their orders, check stock availability, and get instant quotes.

Instant, comprehensive access to this information provides a much-improved customer experience compared to having to deal with a one-size fits all store and fill in the blanks with calls and emails to your sales agents.

Allow for easy mobile shopping

Just like retail consumers, wholesale shoppers want to be able to buy through mobile devices.

An online wholesale store with a clean, smooth mobile-optimized user experience helps you meet this expectation.

A recent report found that 62 percent of business buyers wanted a dedicated mobile app they could use to make purchases.

But not every B2B seller has taken not—the same report found 52 percent of B2B customers experience frustration during the online purchasing process.

Automate complex transactions

Often, wholesalers have special requirements for pricing and discounts.

Manually processing these transactions can take a lot of time, but automating them through an online portal will cut that time significantly.

It’s a change that will benefit you and your customers.

Nurture customer relationships

Providing ease of access and individual areas for your wholesale customers will save them time and hassle and make them feel valued.

For example, having customer profiles that help them with repeat orders or similar product recommendations.

In addition, you can reallocate the time you save by automating processes into providing more comprehensive customer service.

It will allow you to develop solid and long-term relationships.

Gather better data

Selling through a B2B ecommerce site with dedicated customer portals helps you get a more centralized, accurate picture of your customers compared to gathering data from disparate sources like phone records and email chains.

Similarly, through site analytics and data gathered in your ecommerce platform, you can see what parts of your wholesale site are working well and if there are points of friction that could be optimized.

#cta-paragraph-fe#Building a shortlist of B2B ecommerce platforms? See our list of the best B2B ecommerce platforms.

Criteria for evaluating a B2B wholesale platform

Your site isn’t the only thing you need to get right. The B2B wholesale platform you choose for your backend functions is critical.

When evaluating your shortlist of features, make sure you pick a platform that is capable of:

Integration

Integration with your existing B2C software is essential, of course.

But when you venture into the world of wholesale, you might find the additional complexity of serving two different customer bases necessitates an upgrade of your CRM, PIM, or other business systems.

Your B2B platform needs to be capable of integration with other enterprise technology.

Similarly, one of the biggest draws of wholesale is the ability to reduce order fulfillment costs, so make sure you’re maximizing your advantage.

Opt for a platform that can support smart shipment and order routing technology.

Inventory management functionality

warehouse forklift wholesale ecommerce platforms
Credit: Petrebels/Unsplash

As well as being capable of integrating with third-party providers, a best-in-class wholesale ecommerce platform will offer some extended inventory management services.

The ability to update orders and stock levels in real-time across the retail and wholesale side of your ecommerce business helps meet the extra logistical challenge that wholesale poses.

Flexibility

If you’re running a site with separate B2B and B2C areas, you’ll need a platform that can accommodate both sets of needs.

Some companies operate on NET30 and NET60 invoicing periods, so they’ll need more flexible payment options than the simple bank card transaction that most DTC checkouts offer.

In addition, a platform with great customization features allows you to create personalized buying experiences for your B2B customers.

You should be able to target promotions and messaging at various points along the customer journey and change this messaging according to the type of customer.

And B2B sellers often have very specific needs when it comes to product display, search, and checkout. The commerce platform you choose should accommodate the exact needs of your business.

Customer categories

To provide advanced discount and pricing options, you’ll need your ecommerce platform to be able to group wholesale customers and handle them differently from B2C customers.

You don’t want your B2C customers to be able to view your wholesale prices, for example. So, you’ll want to cordon off a part of your site that limits access to just these B2B customers.

Being able to design messaging and target offers at B2B customers without having to worry about how it will impact your B2C side keeps these customer journeys separate.

You’ll also need flexible pricing options.

If your customers are making large bulk orders, you need to be able to offer discounts to reflect this. Setting account-specific prices is also a great way to make your B2B customers feel valued.

The 8 Best B2B wholesale platforms

Several online retailers have started to branch out into the world of wholesale ecommerce.

We’ve put together a list of eight of the best ecommerce wholesale solutions brands are turning to in order to make the leap.

They offer flexibility, support for B2B and B2C, and the capacity to provide the same outstanding customer experience that individual consumers now expect from ecommerce.

Magento/Adobe Commerce

adobe commerce magento wholesale ecommerce platforms

One of the leading ecommerce platforms, Magento comes in a version that is both open-source and enterprise-focused.

One of the main attractions of using Magento is its scalability.

However, its premium offering is at the pricier end of the spectrum, so this platform would suit larger brands looking to expand further.

Magento Commerce is built for ecommerce businesses operating at scale. This, plus its flexibility, makes it a good option if you need to process a significant volume of wholesale transactions.

Pros for B2B wholesale:

  • Combined B2B and B2C platform. Adobe provides B2B and B2C ecommerce services from the same platform so that you can use it for either side of your business.
  • Outstanding customer experience. Magento puts great emphasis on customer experience. Often, retailers have chosen it for its best-in-class personalization and omnichannel features. If you want to provide the same customer experience to your wholesale clients, Magento’s integrated platform is a good way to do it.
  • Flexible payment ordering. Selling wholesale means your B2B customers will need to be able to order in a variety of ways. Magento lets customers order by entering SKUs, uploading CSV files, or picking from customer-specific reorder lists.
  • Account-level customization. You can set credit limits for individual customers and deliver personalized messaging to different B2B customer segments.

Potential drawbacks for wholesalers:

  • No B2B features as standard on the free version. Magento Open Source is free, which is great for smaller-scale or niche brands. And if you’re just dipping your toe in the B2B marketplace, there are plenty of extensions you can get to help you out. Though, if you’re a scaling brand, you’ll need the enterprise version.
  • Large B2B wholesalers might need more. At the other end of the scale, Magento is a little lightweight for the needs of businesses handling huge order volumes. The sweet spot for Magento users is mid-size and scaling brands.

Pricing: Free for Magento Open Source. Adobe Commerce, the enterprise package, is priced on an individual basis.

Shopify

shopify plus wholesale ecommerce platforms

Offering ease of use, integration with a vast array of third-party software, and outstanding customer support, Shopify is the go-to ecommerce platform for many who want to set up an online store.

Shopify’s quick setup makes it an excellent option for those looking to get up and running quickly. However, larger brands may find the platform slightly too limited for their needs.

Pros for B2B wholesale:

  • Choose from a single store or a separate B2B ecommerce store. Shopify now offers the choice of managing your business’s B2B and B2C sides from one site or separating wholesale into a “dedicated expansion store.”
  • Flexible pricing. Set prices by order volume, give individual business customers discounts and customize your wholesale prices by a wide range of other variables.
  • Superior integration capabilities. Shopify has robust API coverage, enabling it to integrate with other software, such as your CRM and ERP. This is important if you want to track shipments, monitor stock levels, and build strong customer relationships.
  • Delivers outstanding UX. Like Magento, Shopify has powerful customer experience capabilities developed for their B2C platform. With an integrated B2B/B2C platform, you can wow your B2B customers with the same high-standard navigation and usability.

Potential drawbacks for wholesalers:

  • B2B features are limited to top-tier plan. Shopify limits their B2B services to Shopify Plus, so if your store runs on the standard Shopify plan and you want to start selling wholesale, you’ll need to upgrade.
  • Can be expensive. Shopify Plus offers custom pricing, which will make sense for many brands already operating a Shopify storefront and looking to scale. But for smaller brands, the asking price might be too much. And the advanced functionality of Shopify Plus may well be more than they need.

Pricing: Shopify Plus starts from $2,000 per month.

BigCommerce B2B Edition

bigcommerce wholesale ecommerce platforms

With extensive integrations with third-party apps and the ability to segment customer groups, BigCommerce is a popular B2B option that you should consider when rolling out the wholesale part of your business.

BigCommerce B2B allows you to manage your B2B and B2C sections from the same backend with what it calls wholesale channel management.

It also lets you run the two wings of your business on the same frontend but with separate B2B and B2C sections.

Pros for B2B wholesale:

  • Integrated platform. Like Shopify and Magento, BigCommerce offers B2B and B2C on the same platform, with similar customer experience and sales integration benefits.
  • Highly customizable. BigCommerce is adaptable to your needs, scaling with your business with easily addable extensions and services.
  • Robust and well-documented API. You can quickly connect BigCommerce to other enterprise software, giving you an integrated view of your business operations.

Potential drawbacks for wholesalers:

  • Expertise required. While integration and customization are achievable aims, you’ll still need a team with the right skills to get you up and running. This can have substantial cost implications if you have a large tech stack or very specific B2B requirements.
  • Enterprise plan may be too expensive for some brands. B2B functionality is only available as part of BigCommerce’s enterprise plan, with custom pricing depending on your needs. While this option makes sense for businesses with a large customer base and big sales, smaller B2B brands just starting out will struggle to justify the costs.

Pricing: Custom pricing applies to BigCommerce’s Enterprise plan.

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WooCommerce

woocommerce b2b wholesale ecommerce platforms

If your site is built in WordPress, you’re probably already familiar with this open-source plugin.

There are several upgrades that add B2B functionality to WordPress, and WooCommerce B2B bundles together several of them in one handy solution.

The plugin is easy to use and doesn’t require much technical knowledge to get started.

Pros for B2B wholesale:

  • Solid B2B commerce services on a budget. The combination of open-source technology and a competitively priced plugin makes WooCommerce B2B an inexpensive way to trade as a B2B wholesaler.
  • Basic personalization features. You can create customer segments and offer individual prices and catalogs tailored to your individual customers.
  • B2B-friendly checkout. It doesn’t always suit B2B customers to pay at the point of checkout. With WooCommerce B2B, you can offer delayed payment—the system accepts purchase orders or raises invoices as payment options.

Potential drawbacks for wholesalers:

  • B2B functionality comes as a plugin. WooCommerce B2B is a plugin for WooCommerce. This costs your business and adds some extra code to your site on top of installing WooCommerce itself.
  • Only works on WordPress. WooCommerce is the ecommerce app for WordPress and isn’t compatible with other site builders.
  • Not aimed at large brands. WooCommerce B2B offers substantial functionality for the price tag. But if you want more advanced personalization, shipping, or inventory tracking, this plugin is too lightweight for your needs.

Pricing: $99 (regular) or $199 (extended) for WooCommerce B2B plugin lifetime license

Prestashop

prestashop wholesale ecommerce platforms

PrestaShop has built a reputation as a reliable commerce solution for small and medium-sized businesses.

One of the big attractions of PrestaShop is the price—it’s free!

But despite this, it comes with more than adequate B2B wholesale functionality, including inventory management, inventory tracking, and CRM functionality.

Pros for B2B wholesale:

  • Ideal for small businesses. PrestaShop is the platform for you if you’re just starting with wholesaling and want to try things out without a heavy cost attached.
  • Customizable through extensions. If the basic, open-source version of PrestaShop isn’t quite enough to meet your needs, a wide range of add-ons make it easy to customize to the requirements of your online business.
  • Flexible payment options. For an open-source solution, PrestaShop allows you to offer a surprising amount of payment options to your business customers.

Potential drawbacks for wholesalers:

  • Limited functionality for larger brands. While PrestaShop is great for those just getting started, the scope and depth of B2B services it offers are too limited for larger businesses or those brands with ambitions to scale big.
  • You must pay for and manage hosting, payment gateways, etc. While the basic platform is open source and free, you’ll need to find a hosting solution and other auxiliary commerce services. The cost of these can mount up, plus you may be left managing disparate pieces of technology.

Pricing: Free

Netsuite SuiteCommerce

netsuite wholesale ecommerce platforms

The ability to connect your ERP to your backend commerce platform is a big concern of online businesses in the wholesale B2B space.

NetSuite by Oracle is an ERP that also offers a commerce platform service (called SuiteCommerce)—ideal for B2B sellers.

Pros for B2B wholesale:

  • Removes integration headaches. As NetSuite is primarily an ERP, there’s no need to worry about integrating your order management, POS, and other enterprise capabilities with your backend commerce platform.
  • All your business information in one place. Another advantage of an integrated ERP and commerce platform is the ability to view data from across your entire business operations in a single place, removing the need for multiple logins and giving you an instant picture of sales, inventory, customer experience, etc.

Potential drawbacks for wholesalers:

  • Not a standalone product. The major benefit of this platform is also the big drawback. You can only get the SuiteCommerce commerce platform as part of the broader NetSuite package. So if you have this part of your tech stack sorted out, it won’t make sense to get this package.
  • Adding third-party software is difficult. NetSuite is designed as a natively integrated enterprise solution. This has many benefits, but you might find you’re unable to integrate with other best-of-breed ecommerce solutions.

Pricing: Annual license fee comprising the standard NetSuite platform plus the number of modules you choose and users you have.

Xcart

xcart wholesale ecommerce platforms

X-Cart is an established B2B wholesale platform with advanced functionality aimed at medium-sized to enterprise-level online sellers.

X-Cart has carved out a niche in the automotive B2B market, which speaks to its ability to handle specialist search and ordering requirements and process large volumes of SKUs.

Pros for B2B wholesale:

  • Based on open source code. If you have the right team of developers on board, you can adapt the platform to your exact needs.
  • Strong technical support. X-Cart offers excellent customer service and support, which, given the complex nature of the platform, you may need.
  • No transaction fees. X-Cart doesn’t charge you for the transactions you make.

Potential drawbacks for wholesalers:

  • Technical knowledge required. X-Cart is designed for seasoned ecommerce businesses with the developer resources necessary to customize and implement the platform.
  • Complex interface. This platform is not as intuitive and user-friendly to navigate as others on this list.

Pricing: Platform – starts at $199 per month, Auto – starts at $299 per month, Marketplace – starts at $399 per month

Shift4Shop / 3DCart

shift4shop 3dcart wholesale ecommerce platforms

3DCart has been acquired and rebranded as Shift4Shop. For the most part, this has led to improvements.

One of the major drawbacks of 3DCart was the lack of a WYSIWYG page builder. Instead, you would have needed a working knowledge of HTML and CSS coding to edit your themes and set up a storefront.

But this has now been replaced by a feature-rich page builder.

Pros for B2B wholesale:

  • Easy to set up and use. There is extensive support to guide you through the setup process, making it easy for non-technical teams to configure and run 3DCart.
  • Clear pricing structure. While some platforms will only be able to give an actual price once you specify your exact needs, Shift4Shop has a clearly laid out pricing structure, with entry-level to enterprise B2B services unambiguously signposted.

Potential drawbacks for wholesalers:

  • Ease of use. While Shift4Shop has moved to a more user-friendly drag-and-drop page editor, eliminating the need for HTML and CSS coding, it is still one of the more cumbersome page builders.
  • Customer support. There have been reports of poor customer support and lengthy wait times when resolving technical issues.

Pricing: The basic B2B package is $379 per month, which offers an impressive amount of capacity and functionality. If that’s not enough, you can pay for add-ons.

Elevate your frontend B2B experience

Whatever B2B commerce platform you choose to facilitate your wholesale venture, you’ll need your online store to keep up with the extra requirements of selling to other businesses.

Implementing the technical specs that offer your B2B business customers a convenient buying journey is only one part of the equation.

To build relationships and win repeat business in the online B2B space, you’ll need to create a site capable of the same breathtaking customer experiences you give your B2C customers.

Shogun Page Builder is an intuitive way to create breathtaking shopping experiences that boost conversions for your Shopify or BigCommerce store.

 

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Rhys Williams

Rhys is a writer specializing in enterprise software, ecommerce, and SaaS. He describes himself as a geek and a wordsmith and relishes making complex, technical topics come to life in easy-to-understand web copy.

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