Shopify for B2B eCommerce - Part 2 of 2

from Pascal Nüesch at

In last week's article “Shopify for B2B eCommerce? - Part 1 of 2” we looked at the features and direction Shopify has taken in B2B eCommerce. For the current part 2/2, it was announced that we would be going one step deeper, which is what we are doing here. 😊.


As in our Evaluationen we shed light on Shopify in terms of:

  1. Product FIT functional requirements (in some classic B2B key criteria)
  2. Product FIT non-functional requirements
  3. Manufacturer FIT (only briefly)
  4. Cost FIT (only briefly)
  5. Customer FIT (as our overall conclusion)

1. Product FIT functional requirements (in some classic B2B key criteria)

We define the classic B2B key criteria as those requirement blocks that differ significantly from the systems for B2C end consumer stores. We list some of them here and evaluate how Shopify Plus meets them:

  • User administration
    • Fulfilled: Centralized mapping of the construct with companies, locations, and employees
    • Limitations: Currently exists in the existing frontend, where not all functionalities for managing the corresponding constructs are yet available. The focus here is on the trade theme announced in the Winter Edition 2024, which should be able to handle these specific B2B requirements.
  • Product variants incl. attribute filter
    • Fulfilled: The tabular display of all variants of a basic product frequently used in B2B can be added via the "Quick Order List" using the Theme Design Mode.
    • Fulfilled: With 3 variant attributes per product (with 100 values per attribute) it is possible to define up to 2000 variants per product, which should be sufficient for most applications.
    • Limitations: The dynamic attribute filters known from the product search are currently not offered for variant filtering within the Product Detail Page (PDP).
  • Prices (standard, customized, discounts)
    • Fulfilled: Luckily, it is possible to have a highly complex mapping: prices per product, customer-specific prices via catalogs (with display of the cheapest price if several catalogs apply to the customer), tiered prices including visibility in the PDP and in the shopping cart, discounts, shipping cost calculation.
    • Limitations: Multi-product pricing logics, e.g. tiered pricing across product groups.
  • Stock & availability
    • Limitations: The classic B2B real-time query of inventory and availability information is currently possible with in-house development using the existing API or an application.
  • Orders (history, status)
    • Fulfilled: A clear order history is offered, also with a good overview of all order information on the order details page.
    • Limitations: The overview of orders from all channels (ERP based), often required in B2B cases, requires in-house development / an app.
  • Favorites & order lists
    • Limitations: The feature set in the area of product lists for favorites, saved shopping carts or replenishment lists is not free from Shopify.
  • Assisted Mode (Order on behalf)
    • Fulfilled: For example, complete orders can be created for the customer (as a draft) via the Shopify backend and then finalized by the customer.
    • Limitations: There is no front-end view for support, e.g. to view and modify open shopping carts and complete them for the customer.
  • Offers
    • Fulfilled: Using the draft order construct, it is possible to map the B2B specific quote order process - i.e. quote management with draft orders in the order history in the "Pending" tab, which will become a normal order when completed.
    • Limitations: Orientation to this simple process flow is a prerequisite; a workflow for constantly moving quotes back and forth to the final version for completion is not implemented.
  • Shopping cart & checkout
    • Fulfilled: Mini shopping cart for quick overview is available on every page and is updated as products are added.
    • Fulfilled: Clear shopping cart display of products, including net prices and calculation of discounts and additional costs, comment fields, promotions/coupons, shipping costs, separate shipping and billing addresses, and different payment methods are offered.
    • Limitations: Standard display of total weight, credit limits at customer level, handling of constellations that prevent a purchase (and offer a quote request) are currently missing.

Interim conclusion on functional requirements

When it comes to these purely functional key B2B criteria, Shopify Plus is currently weaker than many well-known B2B stores that have been customized/developed for customers with varying degrees of implementation effort. The announcements and Shopify's general development efforts regarding B2B eCommerce promise to further close these gaps over the next 1-2 years.

2 - Product FIT non-functional requirements

However, the reasons why our customers are stuck with their old B2B shops and want to replace them are not functional, but non-functional: 

The system

  • is (technologically) end-of-life for the vendor.
  • does not fit the cloud strategy.
  • is outdated in the front-end for the customer in terms of look & feel and mobile capability.
  • offers no flexibility in the backend processes for the work of internal employees, as the processes are very rigidly integrated into the ERP.
  • does not provide satisfactory marketing functionalities in terms of lead generation, engagement, content, etc. - but also with regard to the automation of campaigns, for example.
  • lacks the sales functionality needed to manage this increasingly important channel (reporting, workflows, forecasting).
  • does not offer profitable AI (artificial intelligence) support, e.g. for generating product data, ensuring data quality, etc.
  • offers no support for dealing with other omnichannel touchpoints “on site” and marketplaces.

Interim conclusion on the product FIT (functional and non-functional): 

When you add in these marketing and sales requirements, as well as the need for basic flexibility in terms of data, processes, and technology, Shopify Plus for B2B eCommerce is suddenly in a much better position than it was after the initial functional requirements assessment.

If the B2B store is to be more than just a convenient digital ordering option for existing customers, now or in the years to come, then we recommend that these requirements be given very high priority when assessing the future viability of the new solution!

3 - Manufacturer FIT (only briefly)

We expect the implementation partner landscape around Shopify to continue to evolve. Not only smaller agencies, but also larger partners used to highly complex integrations in the B2B context will jump on the Shopify bandwagon.

4 - Cost-FIT (only briefly)

In terms of cost, Shopify Plus is very well positioned compared to existing enterprise B2B eCommerce solutions on the market. This applies to both licensing costs (important: be sure to consider the different payment provider options), as well as average initial project costs and development costs..

5 - Customer FIT (as our overall conclusion)

In summary, we can say that Shopify Plus is already in a promising position, and the "downsides" will become less and less over time. With detailed consideration of the relevant peripheral systems in the overall application landscape, there are already scenarios where we can definitely recommend Shopify Plus for complex B2B stores.

Shopify's complete package for B2B eCommerce is currently targeted at SMEs (in Germany = already larger companies in Switzerland) that are willing to adapt their eCommerce processes to the software.

We wish you continued happy eCommerce!

...and if you are currently facing an eCommerce evaluation or wondering if Shopify is right for you, just get in touch!


Pascal Nüesch

Chief Technology Officer & Partner