Shopify is a hosted e-commerce solution responsible for delivering just short of 2 million shops on the internet. It’s known for being pretty user-friendly and its premium version, Shopify Plus, powers around 5,000 websites from established brands like Penguin Books and Budweiser to modern, Instagram-friendly brands like Bootea and Leesa mattresses.
The B2B e-commerce market dwarfs that of the B2C e-commerce market, according to Statista, yet most of Shopify’s own case studies relate to consumer-focused food, beauty and clothing.
Obviously, huge parts of the B2B retail sector are dominated by wholesalers like AliExpress but there are many thriving businesses in the $7.7Tn B2B e-commerce space.
There are several key considerations when building a website in the B2B space.
Firstly, are you going to be B2B exclusively or offer a hybrid of B2B and B2C where trade suppliers can sign up for wholesale discounts?
Secondly, is the only goal of your website to have businesses purchase through your e-commerce or is lead generation and inquiry generation a part of your strategy?
Is Shopify fit for B2B retailers? What benefits are there from using Shopify? What constraints does Shopify have that could negatively affect your B2B model?
As we’ll explore in the rest of this blog, Shopify is a strong solution for building a shop but may strain at the additional requirements of a B2B retailer.
Shopify’s SEO limitations
Another important aspect for many B2B retailers is SEO: the ability to rank well on high-intent keywords in their desired market. If SEO is a key consideration of yours then you need to be aware of Shopify’s SEO limitations out of the box.
Duplicate content, duplicate page titles and 404 errors are some pretty devastating SEO issues that come out of the box with Shopify. They can largely be addressed but do require some SEO and technical know-how. This guide from Leanmetrics is a good place to start.
Other issues include needing to manually add schema.org schema to the theme, no control over the robots.txt file, no video sitemap and no image sitemap.
For those looking to maximise their SEO potential through good technical SEO will be left wanting by many aspects of Shopify.
The E-commerce market
If we look at the overall e-commerce market, thanks to BuiltWith, we can see that Shopify is a close second behind WooCommerce in the e-commerce technologies field.
Woocommerce is the free and open source solution that integrates with WordPress and brings all the power and flexibility of the WordPress ecosystem.
It should be noted that Shopify Plus represents just 56 of the top 10,000 websites in the world. This shows that scale can be achieved without the need of such a premium solution. Meanwhile, many of the mega brands using Shopify Plus such as Budweiser and Pepsico are using the platform for small volume transactions and rely on their giant and integrated wholesaling business for their primary revenue.
Shopify is a robust e-commerce platform that shifts billions in annual sales. It does not, however, offer many of the lead generation and landing page requirements that a B2B retailer would require. Shopify can also be costly both in transaction fees through regular Shopify and software fees on Shopify Plus. The SEO control required by a B2B retailer trying to aggressively target high-intent keywords in their niche is also lacking.
At Contact, we specialise in WordPress and Woocommerce and all the flexibility that brings, so we are in that respect biased. However, for B2B retailers, particularly hybrid B2B retailers that want leads as well as sales we would gladly recommend Magento and Woocommerce over Shopify and Shopify Plus.