Choosing a B2B eCommerce Solution: Site Builders vs ERP-Integrated Platforms

25 February 2022

According to a survey done by McKinsey in November 2021, ecommerce ranks as the most effective channel for business-to-business (B2B) sellers, surpassing in-person interactions for the first time. Ultimately, online selling helps you scale your business by reaching more potential customers and leveraging digital sales interactions and self-serve features. While it may be easy to see how ecommerce can help you grow, it can be confusing trying to figure out the best way to create your online store. When it comes to ecommerce software for B2B sellers, you have two options: a site builder or an ERP-integrated ecommerce platform.

Keep reading to discover the benefits and drawbacks of both and learn how to choose the right solution for your business. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What Is an ERP?
  • Relationship Between ERP and Ecommerce
  • B2B Ecommerce: Site Builder vs. ERP-Integrated Platform
  • How To Choose the Right Solution for You
  • Final Thoughts — Choosing a B2B Ecommerce Solution: Site Builder vs. ERP-Integrated

What Is an ERP?

ERP stands for enterprise resource planning and refers to internal software businesses use to manage daily operations, including inventory management, transactions, accounting, and customer relationship management (CRM) updates. ​​

Screenshot of Microsoft Business Dynamics 365 ERP field service dashboard

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Using an ERP system helps you centralize your business information, resulting in higher efficiency, improved customer relations, and lower operation costs.

Examples of ERP software solutions include Acumatica, Microsoft Dynamics and SAP Business One.

Relationship Between ERP and Ecommerce

As a business owner, you may have an ERP platform to manage your day-to-day activities and a separate ecommerce solution that lets you sell online. If you choose an ecommerce platform that integrates with your ERP software, you can streamline your business processes by creating a single source of company and customer data.

Keep in mind ecommerce refers to any sales channels that facilitate online transactions, like an online store on your website. Most businesses use an ecommerce system, such as k-ecommerce, to create online stores that integrate with ERPs.

B2B Ecommerce: Site Builder vs. ERP-Integrated Platform

If you’re ready to invest in ecommerce as a sales channel, you’ll need software to help you create your store and manage order fulfillment.

Ecommerce solutions can be divided into two broad categories: site builders and ERP-integrated platforms.

Both types of software will enable you to create an online store, take orders, and receive payment from customers. However, the two differ in how they share data with your ERP software and facilitate the B2B online buying experience.

Site Builder Benefits and Drawbacks

Ecommerce site builders, such as Shopify or Squarespace, let you create an ecommerce website for your business without any coding experience. They offer user-friendly features and are usually priced as a monthly subscription.

Screenshot of Shopify site builder.

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Site builders are often used for B2C products, but you can get all the B2B features you need (such as custom pricing and customer login to see pricing) by paying for a higher service tier or using add-on features and paid plugins.

Most site builders don’t offer native ERP integrations, which means you’ll probably need to pay for a third-party connector to integrate the two platforms.

Without a connector, your online store orders and business data (such as inventory levels) get stored in different places. That means you need to manually update product information changes and inventory information on your online store.

The benefits of using a site builder include:

  • Ease of use
  • Secure and reliable hosting
  • It can be customized with plugins and add-ons

ERP-Integrated Ecommerce Benefits and Drawbacks

ERP-integrated ecommerce solutions give you the tools you need to build an online store, and they integrate seamlessly with your ERP software.

A native ecommerce integration means the two platforms can share data, including orders, transactions, and supply chain management metrics.

Laptop with a B2B website on the screen

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When your ecommerce provider integrates with your ERP software, product and pricing changes are automatically reflected on your online store, and you can customize pricing based on the customer.

ERP-integrated ecommerce platforms are especially beneficial for B2B and direct-to-consumer (DTC) sellers. Unlike site builders that offer the same standard pricing tiers for each user, ecommerce ERP platforms often customize pricing based on your business needs.

The benefits of using an ERP-integrated ecommerce platform are:

  • Accurate pricing
  • Product information management automation
  • Increased product visibility
  • Better ecommerce UX for B2B customers
  • Reduced manual data entry
  • Having a single source of data for customer and company information

Some drawbacks of using an ERP-integrated ecommerce platform are:

  • Can require more time to implement upfront
  • A bigger learning curve — may require employee training

How To Choose the Right Solution for You

If you already use ERP software to manage product information, inventory data, and offline order management, it’s a no-brainer to go with an ERP-integrated ecommerce platform.

Likewise, if you’re considering investing in an ERP solution in the near future, you should look at ecommerce platforms that integrate with ERP software.

Connecting your ERP with your ecommerce platform lets you automatically update product information on your online store whenever changes happen in your ERP. For B2B sellers, you also get features such as custom pricing or displaying pricing only when members log in to their accounts.

Although a site builder might get your store up and running a little quicker initially, they require a lot more time and investment to integrate with other business functions as you scale.

You may end up paying thousands for a premium tier or require the help of a third-party connector to get all your data in one place.

Final Thoughts — Choosing a B2B Ecommerce Solution: Site Builder vs. ERP-Integrated

Unlike B2C ecommerce businesses, B2B sales rely on a relationship-based business model. You need a solution with features like custom pricing, reorder support, and real-time inventory.

While you can get these features using a site builder, you’ll need to invest heavily in plugins, add-ons, and a third-party connector if you want to scale. Choosing an ERP-integrated ecommerce platform lets you connect your ecommerce and ERP data right from the start.

Over time, ERP-integrated ecommerce platforms just make more sense for most B2B (and DC) sellers. They allow you to create an online customer experience that’s just as high-quality as an in-person sales call.

To get started on your online selling journey, discover how k-ecommerce integrates seamlessly with cloud ERP software to support B2B sales.