July 19, 2022
7 min. read
What is B2B SaaS? Top 5 B2B e-commerce Platforms
By Ton Koop
B2B SaaS refers to software as a service for businesses, not end-users. Read on to learn more about B2B SaaS and the best five eCommerce platforms for B2B companies.
More than ever, the SaaS industry has gained so much prevalence in today's world. By the end of 2022, the industry is expected to experience its largest annual growth, reaching a worth of approximately $172 billion.
According to BetterCloud, it is also speculated that by 2025, 85% of applications used by organizations will be SaaS-based. This figure has increased year-over-year and is projected to skyrocket in the coming years.
This article will examine everything you need to know about B2B SaaS, including its definition, how it differs from B2C SaaS and the top 5 B2B eCommerce platforms worldwide.
What is B2B SaaS?
The term "B2B SaaS" consists of two key acronyms---B2B and SaaS.
B2B, an acronym for Business to Business, refers to companies selling products and services to other companies. In other words, a business would be involved in a B2B transaction if it sells its goods or services to another business.
On the other hand, SaaS stands for Software as a Service. It refers to a software delivery model where a cloud provider---a third-party provider or the software vendor---hosts software applications and makes them accessible to the users via the internet and a web browser.
When explaining what SaaS is, it is better understood by comparing it to on-premise software like Microsoft Word.
To use Microsoft Word, you must pay a one-time license fee, download the program and install it on your computer. But, with Google Docs---an example of a SaaS application, you can access it via your internet without downloading it onto your device. This is because SaaS-based applications are provided via the cloud.
Since software vendors take over the tasks of deploying, installing, maintaining, and virtualizing the applications, users can easily access a copy version of the app via the internet anytime, anywhere.
Now that you understand B2B and SaaS, you can probably guess what B2B SaaS is all about.
B2B SaaS refers to cloud-based software solutions sold by businesses to other businesses on a subscription basis. These solutions are designed to help companies automate their processes, function effectively and boost their revenues.
Businesses require software for various tasks, including managing customer relationships, accounting, word processing, surveillance, etc. And B2B SaaS companies, in turn, provide cloud-based solutions to these businesses to solve their problems.
The applications are developed, managed and updated from a hub and accessed by the businesses via the internet.
The companies then subscribe and pay a monthly or annual fee to use and access the solutions.
An example of B2B SaaS is the Customer Relation Management (CRM) tool. CRM is software for managing interactions with customers and prospects. It allows business owners to track and consolidate all communications, interactions, and purchases associated with their customers in one place.
B2B SaaS vs. B2C SaaS
Earlier, we mentioned that B2B companies sell products and services to other businesses. In contrast, B2C ---which stands for Business-to-Consumer---companies sell their goods and services to the end-users. So, B2C SaaS companies sell their software as a service to customers buying it for personal use.
Although both business models have certain things in common, like the subscription basis, they have many differences. Let's examine a few.
It is almost impossible to see B2B buyers making spontaneous purchases. They can, at most, register for a free trial but would not make a purchase immediately.
The B2B sales cycle takes way longer than B2C. This is because it has to go through a list of approvals before it is completed.
Businesses do not buy solutions in haste; they consult and weigh their options before deciding.
For B2C SaaS, the cycle is substantially shorter. B2C buyers make impulsive purchases and cancel the subscription later if it doesn't work for them.
Social Media Channels
Another difference between B2B and B2C SaaS companies is their preference for social media channels.
While both categories use social media platforms to engage their clients and prospects, they have differences in the platforms they tend to gravitate towards.
B2B SaaS companies will prefer to use professional channels like LinkedIn, while B2C SaaS companies will more likely prefer less official channels like Instagram.
B2B and B2C marketing techniques differ. B2C brands tend to deliver their content in a more fun and less formal way---in layman's terms, whereas B2B marketers focus more on formal and educational techniques, using industry terminologies.
Businesses that require SaaS have budgets set aside for subscription fees, unlike an average consumer who is most likely not prepared to pay ahead for services when making B2B purchases.
This is why B2C SaaS marketers persuade prospects to sign up for free services, with the option to upgrade to premium services later at fair prices.
Top 5 B2B Platforms to Consider for Your Business
We've talked extensively about B2B SaaS---the definition and how it differs from the B2C SaaS model. Now, let's examine a few popular B2B eCommerce Platforms.
In the past years, B2B eCommerce has grown tremendously. The global B2B eCommerce market was valued at $14.9 trillion---about five times that of the B2C market in 2020.
It is also projected that by 2023, B2B eCommerce will account for 17% of all B2B sales in the United States.
Due to this rapid growth, more business owners are moving from having physical storefronts to online stores. To help you choose the right B2B eCommerce platform for your online business, we have put together this list of top B2B digital commerce platforms.
Shopify Plus is an upgraded version of Shopify.
While Shopify is a go-to eCommerce solution for small and midsize businesses, Shopify Plus is designed for larger businesses selling thousands of products daily.
It combines all the best features of Shopify alongside advanced features required to satisfy the requirements of B2B sales.
For instance, Shopify offers flat pricing, free shipping, and calculated delivery rates when shipping items. But with Shopify Plus, you can use a shipping script and alter your shipping choices based on your customers' purchases.
In summary, Shopify Plus offers better flexibility for large-scale businesses than Shopify.
Features of Shopify Plus
- Customizable checkout page
- Unlimited staff accounts
- Flexible API integrations
- Shipping script editor
- Dedicated analytics dashboard
- Merchant success program
BigCommerce is a top B2B eCommerce platform for mid-market and enterprise brands worldwide.
Initially, it was known for its B2C eCommerce services. In fact, more than 60000 businesses use BigCommerce for their B2C sites.
But, since the launch of the B2B edition in 2021, BigCommerce now provides over 400 eCommerce features that support the complexities of B2B businesses.
One of its major selling features is its easy integration with other eCommerce platforms. BigCommerce allows users to sync their data across multiple tools like ERP, PIM, CRM, etc.
Features of BigCommerce
- Customizable shipping costs
- Quote generation tools
- Account Management
- API integrations for ERP, OMS, and CRM
- Multiple shopping lists
Adobe Commerce, formerly called Magento, is another popular eCommerce platform designed for B2B brands. It provides eCommerce businesses with flexible shopping cart systems, SEO tools, product catalogue management and customizable online stores.
Adobe Commerce provides everything you need to manage B2B eCommerce websites for numerous brands.
The platform has a website builder with a drag-and-drop interface, which business owners can easily use to create customized web pages without prior knowledge of coding. Business owners can customize their storefronts to suit the style and feel of their brand, and provide excellent user experience for their customers.
Features of Adobe Commerce
- Customizable websites
- ERP integration
- 1500+ Adobe Commerce extensions
- Multi-sales channel management
- Multiple payment gateways
WooCommerce B2B is a WordPress eCommerce plugin library designed for B2B brands to optimize and customize their online store for their customers. And the best part is that it is free.
B2B merchants can get all the eCommerce features they need in the WooCommerce B2B plugin instead of installing multiple plugins. The plugin was built by integrating five best-selling plugins on WooCommerce and adding additional B2B features.
With B2B WooCommerce plugins, users can hide goods from nonmembers, provide discounts, remove taxes etc.
Features of WooCommerce B2B Plugin
- Product visibility by user roles
- Quotes request
- Prices & Tax Display
- Tax exemption
- Enable/Restrict Shipping methods
- Configure different payment options
- Price configuration for Different User Roles
NetSuite is another popular eCommerce platform committed to providing top-notch eCommerce and Point Of Sale (POS) solutions for B2B and B2C organizations.
The cloud-based solution offers businesses tools to provide customers with customized pricing, existing credit memos, invoices, etc.
With NetSuite, you can expand your company, cut unnecessary costs, and boost efficiency.
B2B buyers can also request price estimates from the brand's webpage and convert the quote into an online order without contacting the brand.
Features of NetSuite Commerce
- POS solutions
- Effective orders management
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Support multiple sales channels
- Unified inventory management system
My name's Ton, co-owner at Afosto and holder of a master's degree in International Business and Management. At Afosto, I take the lead in driving our clients' entrepreneurial success. My extensive expertise in e-commerce and a deep-seated passion for business development are central to my approach in supporting retailers. Leveraging Afosto's advanced headless commerce platform, I provide inventive solutions that boost efficiency and foster business growth. I'm all about sharing knowledge – it's through this we achieve success together.Meer van Ton Koop