Are you a B2B company thinking of building a digital store for the first time, or considering switching platforms? Well, a perfect place to start would be on an open source B2B e-commerce platform. Open-source platforms enable your business to bring your dream B2B e-commerce Platform to life without any limitations.
What’s an open-source B2B e-commerce platform?
An open-source e-commerce platform is an e-commerce website builder that provides businesses the software and its source code, allowing them to modify as they see fit. With this platform, businesses can launch customizable online stores with how-to resources, support communities, and third-party developer directories, among many other possibilities.
In 2020, the market size of the global B2B e-commerce market was valued at USD 6.64 trillion. And, analysts predicted a growth rate of 18.7% annually up to 2028. For B2B players, this means there is so much revenue to go around. But, you need the right tools to benefit.
In this article, we will explain why an open-source B2B e-commerce platform is what you need to get ahead of the competition. However, before getting there, here is what you should know regarding open-source B2B e-commerce.
Examples of open-source B2B e-commerce platforms
There are a lot of open-source B2B e-commerce platforms, however, in this article, we will highlight the best in the industry:
OroCommerce – a B2B e-commerce platform that develops self-service e-commerce websites, wholesale portals, and customer portals. It has a Community Edition that features multiple shopping lists, inventory management, a dynamic pricing engine, etc.
Magento open-source – a popular e-commerce platform that powers over 25% of online stores. This software boasts a plethora of plugins, a community, and several unrivaled customization options. With Magento, it’s easy to build whatever you wish.
PrestaShop – renowned in Europe, this platform was launched in 2008 and supports over 300 thousand online stores. The PrestaShop software was developed in PHP, like its predecessors, but this version can handle digital products.
WooCommerce – a flexible and highly customizable open-source platform that comes with over 600 extensions and numerous plugins. WooCommerce is based on the WordPress content management system and is highly flexible on financial processes. It can accept bank transfers, credit cards and execute automated tax calculations, etc.
Why should you choose an open-source B2B e-commerce Platform? The best 5 reasons
An open-source e-commerce platform can usually be acquired free of charge or at a fixed price. This is different from a proprietary solution where you pay for everything: the software’s license; server hosting maintenance; security costs, etc. This enables you to save money for use in other critical areas of the business such as Enterprise Resource Planning(ERP) integration, marketing and sales, etc.
2. Vendor Lock-in
According to a Forbes survey, 65% of businesses today choose open-source software to avoid vendor lock-in. In simple terms, vendor lock-in is where the customer cannot use another vendor without attracting additional switching costs. This is common with proprietary platforms such as Shopify. Open-source software is free of vendor lock-in, the user assumes full control from the start.
3. Personalized Experience
Since an open-source B2B e-commerce platform can easily be modified, you can add features that embellish customer experience on your platform. This promotes customer engagement and retention. About 52% of customers today expect offers to always be personalized. 98% of marketers also believe that personalization improves customer relationships.
4. Flexible payment options
Business-to-Business transactions are complex. To simplify them, one needs sophisticated functionality — one that can deliver a B2C-like shopping experience, but with an impeccable design for big catalogs and partitioned pricing B2B transactions often involve. Open-source ecommerce solutions offer you the flexibility to upgrade your payment systems to meet your specific business needs.
About 55% of businesses believe that open-source e-commerce solutions deliver superior security compared to proprietary solutions. This is because your in-house team can easily audit and fix security issues. They can build security patches in the source code to minimize vulnerabilities. Also, it’s easier to make frequent security updates if that’s needed. This is far better than blindly trusting your vendor for your security, like the case with proprietary solutions!
When you start a business, you want to grow in the long term. An open-source e-commerce solution makes scaling up much easier. This is because there is always room for editing the code and adding or removing more functionalities. According to some statistics, 58% of programmers think that open-source scales better than proprietary software.
A company needs to operate a unique IT architecture that is built for specific products. Open-source solutions can make that possible through their easy-to-modify source codes. You can always integrate all your online and offline channels. Also, it’s easier to link with any third-party software you need, for example:
- CRMs; accounting software;
- Shipping vendors;
- Payment gateways, etc.
The demand for integrations on all business functions will continue to rise. According to Gartner, by 2022, a typical e-commerce experience will rely on a minimum of 30 integrated applications. Choose a platform that makes it easy to accommodate new systems.
Open-source platforms are driven by community support. This means, there are fewer limitations regarding what the software can be designed to do. If a certain functionality does not exist, the community can make it available in no time. That’s right, 77% of developers agree that there is minimum implementation time when involved in a community.
What are the alternative platforms?
Other than the open-source ecommerce platform, businesses can use use the following:
The hosted (proprietary) platform
A hosted e-commerce platform enables users to get an already built online store, which is an all-inclusive shopping cart software that comes with no additional infrastructure requirements. Unlike with the open-source platform, the software proprietor offers a subscription-based model.
On-premise vs cloud-based proprietary solutions
The hosted ecommerce solution can be on-premise or cloud-based. On-premise means that the solution is installed at the data center of the owner. It’s connected to the user through the internet and the proprietor is responsible for maintaining the server. The cloud-based platform is hosted on the cloud. A third-party service provider is in charge of the data center, security, and networking operations.
Examples of hosted (proprietary) platforms include:
Shopify: an ecommerce platform that comes with dedicated storefronts and sales channels. Shopify is one of the most popular hosted platforms, offering custom 24/7 support. Pricing ranges between $2,000 to $40,000 monthly. Pricing shifts from a fixed subscription fee to revenue based-fee (of 0.25% monthly) when a business starts making over $800,000.
BigCommerce: one of the big guns in the business-to-business e-commerce space. It comes with tools for customer segmentation, abandoned cart recovery, payment processing, etc. You can do a bit of customization like changing the site’s language without the coding stuff. Although integration is limited compared to open-source platforms, users can integrate third-party apps such as Avalara Tax, Webgility, ActiveCampaign, etc.
Over to you
An open-source B2B e-commerce platform offers you the necessary tools to survive in the e-commerce industry. However, before you make your decision, consider your business goals. Also check if:
- you have customizable products;
- you want custom integrations with other applications; or,
- you need a unique website that provides customers a personalized experience.