B2B Trends in E-Commerce

Spire Digital
Spire Digital
Mar 9, 2018

What’s trending in E-Commerce these days? The ability for Enterprises to offer their ‘Business customers’ the same Digital Experience that Amazon’s latest B2B website, called “Amazon for Business”, provides. The key features in Amazon’s B2B website include:

  • Registration – Signing up multiple people in your company with multiple purchasing roles.
  • Tailored Products – on the site will be tailored by Amazon to address your business.
  • Tailored Products – in addition, some products are only available on B2B site.
  • Tailored Search – on the site is optimized for products applicative to your business.
  • Tailored Pricing – (depending upon various factors, volume, etc.)
  • LIVE Technical Support – questions answered (via chat or email immediately).
  • Custom Checkout – Configure “Purchase Order” with “approval limits” (as opposed to the traditional single credit card associated with the login account.

In essence, it’s “everything you love about amazon.com”, but instead, tailored for your business. It’s clear that Enterprise businesses are clamoring for this very B2B functionality for their business partners. So what’s the challenge? Twofold, likely your organization doesn’t have the “large army of engineers” that Amazon has on payroll. Secondly, migrating your existing B2C E-Commerce site to a B2B site is more than meets the eye, you’re going to have to rethink architecture and design.

From Monolithic to MicroService

For 10+ years now, small to large businesses have powered their digital business using B2C ECommerce frameworks such as Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. The majority of these manifest themselves as a “monolithic” application, tightly coupled (from backend to frontend). The trend is towards “microservices” that decouple as much as possible (backend services as well as the frontend). For example, the typical “services” Magento offers for a B2C site (where one goes and buys a product) include registration, login, searching for products, product pricing, shopping cart semantics, shipping and payment and finally a purchased order. Instead of having it all as one monolithic application, you could split out these list of services as microservices, such as:

  • Login Service
  • Product Service
  • Pricing Service
  • Shipping, Payment & Order Services

The key question is, what frameworks can I leverage that will provide me “Amazon for Business” B2B functionality? Below are three options that can jumpstart your migration path towards B2B functionality.

Option #1 – Extend Your Existing Technology Stack:

If you are currently using Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce, these vendors are already offering B2B modules and extensions. In addition, there are numerous 3rd party “Extensions” that you can integrate (free and for-purchase). If you are currently using the “Magento Community Edition” framework, you have the option of migrating to the “Magento Commerce – B2B Edition”, which is very rich in B2B features.

Option #2 – Go Headless:

Again, let’s say your are currently using the Magento framework, you can begin using all of the services Magento provides, but as a microservice. This new architecture is called “MagentoHeadless”, and provides a migration path to microservices architecture. Note in the following diagram, Mageno exposes all of its services over a REST API. The front-end (labelled Javascript Framework in the diagram) can then be decoupled from the backend. This in turn opens up the ability to implement your B2B site using a SPA-based technology (i.e. Angular, ReactJS or Vue).

One visionary company, Front Commerce, offers a “Magento-headless” approach accessed via their GraphQL server. This coupled with ReactJS components provides a great platform for rapid creation of your B2C/B2B storefront(s).

Option #3 – Step Into the Future:

Another visionary company, “OroCommerce” are building their new product from the ground up with B2B storefronts in mind. Gartner and others are “touting” them as “Visionaries” in this space. Why? Mainly because it is being built from the ground with microservices architecture. An interesting aside, all of the founders at OroCommerce were the original founders at Magento!

The End Game

Whatever migration path you decide upon, be sure that in the end, it will fulfill all of your B2B business requirements. If you are currently struggling with these very B2B E-Commerce challenges…feel free to give SpireDigital a call to discuss in greater detail the right technical path for your business.

References to Guide Your Decision Making Process


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