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Tailoring Magento to B2B e-commerce

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As Magento is ever growing in popularity as an e-commerce platform, B2B business owners are also increasingly looking to Magento as a basis for their online efforts. Below are the biggest weak points of Magento when it is to be used as a buiness-to-business store along with solutions for them.

– No built-in quotation proces
Most business to business transactions follow this flow: there is a request for proposal, there is some negotation, a quotation is made and sent to the requester, and the requester accepts the proposal. Only in that last step a transaction usually occurs. Because Magento is a B2C platform, it does not facilitate this process out of the box. Luckily there is a module called Cart2Quote that adds this full quotation process to your B2B/B2C Magento store.

– Purchase after login
In some B2B sites, only logged in customers can order. (For instance to assign the right pricing rules to the customer.) This module offers this functionality.

– Pricing per customer
Out of the box Magento can assign prices to customer groups. In B2B often special pricing arrangements are made with individual customers. Specific pricing for particular customers can be achieved through this module.

– Hiding product prices and disabling of purchase
In stores where not all products are to be ordered directly, for example because they are too complex to fit into a web form, a B2B store may want to hide prices and make ordering them impossible. Magento does nog offer a clean way to do this but a module called Not2Order takes care of both wishes.

– Quick ordering based on product attributes
Often a B2B customer is a returning customer who knows exactly what he needs. B2B stores can facilitate these customers by offering a quick order funcionality. This usually is achieved through a form where SKU’s or other defining product attributes can be entered and submitted, immediately placing these products in the cart. An example can be found here. 

– ERP integration
Existing B2B sellers may have large existing systems to support their business processes, price discount rules, logistisc, etc. Unfortunately, integrations between ERP and Magento will almost always be a custom project. The same can be said for tying ERP to almost any serious e-commerce platform however.

Summarizing: by default Magento is not a B2B commerce system, lacking in a couple of essential areas. Several modules exist to overcome these drawbacks and make Magento a serious choice for a business to business commerce platform.

The Author of this post is sander

Versatile web enthusiast. Especially interested in user experience design and blogs about that on GraphicMania.

15 Responses »

  1. Thank you for the post. At this moment I am starting up some B2B projects that require similar functionality. I think this post is a great starting point for setting up a B2B store

  2. Good post!
    It shows that with right modules or customizations, Magento can fit almost every particular need.

  3. With regards to your ERP integration comment that “Unfortunately, integrations between ERP and Magento will almost always be a custom project.”…if the company in question runs SAP’s R3 platform (ECC, All-in-One etc.), my company actually offers a cloud based “out of the box” B2B integration with Magento. Little to no customization is required. The same cloud based integration is available for the simpler B2C scenarios as well.

    Sam

    • Hi Sam, thanks for your comment! I think a lot depends on the implementation of the ERP solution here. Our experience is that we’ve seen companies spending more on an integration project than on the actual e-commerce solution. Even in cases where a standard integration solution was available. Standard solutions will (out-of-the-box) only work in a standard environment. But yes, it’s great to hear that this market is actually becoming more mature now and that solutions are becoming available that give companies the possibility to do an integration project much easier.

  4. Nice post man! Just what I was looking for.
    I’m the IT manager in the company I work for. We are planning on migrating to a new platform because our is a really old one.

    Magento is in the top of my list but I’m stil evaluating other options like SpreeCommmerce or Open Cart. Do you think Magento is a better fit for B2B shops that the other two I mentioned before?

    • Hi Juan, thanks for the compliment. For a B2B store almost always the requirements are different compared to B2C shops. Generally you could say that as well Magento as Open Cart were developed from the B2C perspective. Magento is of a higher level in our opinion though, we use it ourselves for instance in Europe for a B2B store doing more than 1.5M per year. We do not have the knowledge to give a fair comparison with Srpeecommerce at this moment. Good luck!

  5. I have a couple b2b clients looking for this functionality. Looking for a developer thanks

  6. Magento’s extendability is one of its biggest advantages. One of the only drawbacks we’ve found in using Magento as a B2B platform is the lack of being able to set up Master/Child accounts for companies that have many buyers (all of who want their own account that link through the to a ‘main’ company account).

    As for ERP integration, if a business is utilising SAP Business One as their system, there are more and more out-of-the-box solutions coming along. At least to manage Accounts/Sales Orders/Order Status/Products. Beyond that, it becomes a much bigger project.

  7. Thanks for a great article, I have also noticed that integrating with ERP systems is quite expensive. So far estimates to integrate with our businesses Dynamics AX system is between 10 to 20k . I’m just an intern trying to bring a little new functionality to the companies digital presence, and the best system I could figure out only using free modules was to set the only checkout method to invoicing. The invoice is then sent to our sales department via email and they enter the order in manually to dynamics. Sure this is a bit dated method of handling orders (it’s really no different than getting their inquiries/orders per email, just a little more organized for them), but I am also bringing a new ordering option to a company that handles thousands of accounts without spending a dime of their money. A week ago I knew nothing about E-commerce, and only had experience setting up a basic Joomla website in the past. I’m still tweaking the system on my local mamp server on my macbook pro to get it perfect, but I think it works pretty well given how frugal the project has been. If you have any other suggestions as to how to run the system differently, or any extensions that would help me with my goal, I would love to discuss them with you :) Thanks to articles like this and others all around the web, I have been able do take on a project I had no clue about, thank you.

  8. Looking to integrate a B2B web storefront to the Epicor P21 (Prophet 21) ERP system that runs our company. Any suggestions for a modifiable B2B web storefront software?

  9. Hi,
    What other b2b platform do you recommend after all?
    Do you know something that can host both b2b and b2c?

    I am looking for a reasonably priced solution and help w this.

    Thanks!

  10. We are a company from Germany and also focused on B2B ecommerce with Magento. Therefore, we are offering a lot of extensions like customer specific pricing, price list, category prices, sub-logins, customer documents and much more. Check it out on http://www.mageb2b.de

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