Cracking the Code: B2B eCommerce Explained

What is B2B eCommerce?

As the name suggests, this form of online trading is focused around platforms designed exclusively for businesses transacting with one another. B2B eCommerce involves dedicated websites or portals where 'on-account' or B2B customers can place orders with their suppliers. These are often hidden behind user logins and offer a tailored experience rich in unique features, including customised account management, pricing structures and payment terms that cater specifically to B2B dynamics.

Why is B2B eCommerce important?

For businesses that trade with others, the streamlined features of B2B eComm are invaluable: automated data entry reduces supplier workload and errors; customers benefit from a user-friendly and visually engaging platform, enhancing their overall experience; and promotional capabilities are built-in, allowing strategic upselling. These platforms cater specifically to their customers, creating ease-of-use, brand loyalty and ultimately fostering a lasting relationship between suppliers and buyers.

What’s next in B2B eCommerce?

B2B eCommerce is evolving; we’re seeing a marked increase in the integration of B2C-like features including retail-style promotions, upsell and cross-sell functions, and loyalty programmes. The rise of B2B marketplaces like Upstock, Faire and Joor further emphasises the importance the market is putting on this area of commerce.

Customer account management is one area progressing most dramatically - basic, B2B-as-an afterthought-type functionality has been swallowed by the need for advanced features. These include elements like custom quotes, integrated marketing materials, sales rep activity and direct communication, as well as common B2C elements like tracking and tracing orders and payment options.

Where ALTSHIFT Plays:

ALTSHIFT / BDO Solutions works with all the B2B eCommerce platforms, including BigCommerce, Pepperi, Brandscope, SparkLayer (for Shopify), and Shopify Plus B2B, which we speclialise in. This platform requires minimal customisation and offers native Shopify functionality, making it ideal for those already on Shopify for B2C or POS. We have also created our own solution, which can be applied to any of the main eCommerce platforms or sit directly over the top of an ERP system. It’s platform agnostic with a custom front-end and no limitations on the number of features.

If you are interested in learning more about B2B eCommerce, drop us a line at; we’d love to hear from you.

Mastering Workflow: A Guide to Choosing the Right Software

When it comes to selecting employee management solutions, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of options available. Here we break down how to choose and some platforms to know about. 

How to Choose:

With market factors like increasing compliance requirements and labour shortages, it’s never been more important to choose the right workflow software. We recommend that businesses always start by mapping out the employee lifecycle from end to end. We then suggest reviewing what tools and resources are needed at each step. Two key things to consider are automation and ease-of-use; employees will be able to best utilise a system that’s engaging and straightforward.

Four Platforms to Know About:

As platform-agnostic providers, we can subjectively recommend which services can best suit your business. Below, we've rounded up some of our favorites:

  • Deputy
    • Offers powerful rostering and timesheet management for larger workforces
    • Boasts strong awards management, e.g. overtime, additional entitlements
    • User-friendly and engaging for staff
    • Adapts to a multitude of industries, including healthcare, hospitality, construction, manufacturing and agriculture
  • Bamboo HR
    • Comprehensive HR management system
    • Ideal for internal HR functions
    • Rich in HR-specific features covering areas like recruitment, onboarding and certifications
    • Built to seamlessly integrate with payroll, LMS (learning management), and time & attendance
  • iPayroll
    • Provides an outsourced legal service alongside the HR software
    • Ideal for businesses looking to outsource the HR function
    • Developed here in New Zealand
  • PayHero & Droppah
    • Ensures payroll compliance with the Holidays Act
    • Integrates rosters and timesheets
    • Ideal for SMBs with employees on variable hours

What’s Next?


If you’re interested in increasing your workplace efficiencies through software, drop us a line to connect. We’d love to discuss your options. 

Changes ahead for WorkflowMax in 2024 - Xero to retire WorkflowMax

Xero has announced its plans to retire the WorkflowMax product.

After considering many options and balancing those against competing priorities, the difficult decision was made to retire WorkflowMax on 26 June 2024. This means the WorkflowMax product will no longer be available to use from this date.

From the date of announcement (23 March 2023), you have approximately 15 months before WorkflowMax is retired and right up until that date, Xero are committed to maintaining the current product and support experience for existing customers.

Talk to us about what this means for you as a WFM user:

Small businesses nurse $230k in pandemic stock hangover

Small businesses nurse $230k in pandemic stock hangover

04 April 2023

A survey finds firms have thousands of dollars locked up in products  accumulated when supply chains and transport networks were log-jammed.

Small businesses are nursing a stock hangover from the pandemic worth an average of $230,000 according a report by inventory management software specialist Unleashed.

Transport and supply issues during COVID had generated an oversupply and most SMEs had yet to course-correct, the company said.

“You can’t blame Australian businesses for taking on extra stock while supply chains were lagging behind,” said Unleashed head of product Jarrod Adam. “Thankfully, we are now in a place where we can safely define what too much stock is, and where businesses can afford to free up cashflow as economic conditions tighten.”

Unleashed analysed 148,142 products, ingredients and components stocked by 660 Australian SMEs and found an average of $231,700 in additional product or ingredients versus ideal stock levels. Ideal levels were calculated using industry-standard formulas that considered both the rate of sale and delivery lead times for individual items.

The figure varied from sector to sector, with personal care ($115,165) and beverage companies ($73,244) carrying the least overstock while

industrial machinery, raw material and equipment ($358,427), along with building and construction ($370,528) had the most.

Australian firms also had a higher average overstock position than those in NZ  ($200,733) and the UK ($186,500) although were in a slightly better position than their North American peers ($236,391).

BDO senior manager Josh Ambler said high stock levels could creep up on a business due to a lack of visibility.

“Traditionally, there haven't been great tools to identify overstocks or under- stocks, or be able to order just-in-time. Typically, people developed their own logic outside of systems to try manage that,” he said.

He said that broad-brush approach of the past was being replaced by more detailed analysis and clarity about a firm’s stock level could make a big difference to its cash position.

“There have been three or four tools come to the market that can do that at a very affordable price and so it's changed the game for those small-medium wholesalers and retailers.”

He said some sectors, such as the wine industry, which had long experience with overstock had become good at dealing with it. However, sectors that operated on big margins or which relied on disposable income, such as luxury goods, could suffer.

“Comparing, say, beverages and construction, you’re often looking at very different inventory models. Unlocking cash from surplus inventory is way simpler if you have a short cashflow cycle – some relatively simple adjustments in resupply orders can quickly mean more cash in the back pocket,” Mr Ambler said.

“For businesses with a slow cashflow cycle, ordering will take place at set times or in higher volume to secure a good price. These companies may instead need to consider how they can move off excess stock before it comes obsolete.”

“We might see more businesses become made-to-order or what we've seen in the beverage industry, for example, is they don't hold any stock at all – it's all outsourced typically now.”

For photographic lighting retailer Hypop, this year has meant moving away from the just-in-case model used during COVID and back to just-in-time.

“During the pandemic our stock literally doubled as we tried to manage all of the delays from equipment purchased around the world — and sometimes that meant holding too much of the wrong thing,” said Hypop owner Rob Ranoa.

“This year we decided to start cutting down this excess inventory in order to move to a more stable operating model. That’s meant some sales and promotions, which can hurt in the short term, but leaves us in a far better position in the long run.”

Mr Adam said the report’s findings could make a real difference for businesses pressured by inflation and supply chain shocks.

“We know that unlocking cashflow is a priority for our customers ahead of this new financial year,” he said. “It's all about finding ways to control the controllables – that can mean anything from improving internal efficiencies, to using a more granular, data-based approach to rebuying.”

Mr Ambler said expanding sales channels was a key strategy for tackling too much stock, especially when sales were slowing.

“The advice has always been look for other channels to market and a really good one at the moment is Amazon,” he said.

“Amazon Australia is maturing rapidly and is hungry for unique products. People maybe create a white label of their product, or a slightly different brand version of the product, and launch them to Amazon. It might be slightly discounted but it helps get volume.”

He said it could also open up fresh markets, and Australian and New Zealand businesseses had successfully launched into the US using the online sales giant.

Other traditional strategies were being revived, such as wholesalers cutting out the middleman and going direct to market with online websites.

Mr Ambler expected stock levels to return to normal levels as demand eased.

“People have to get clever around reducing their stock holdings but they certainly won't be buying more than they need to,” he said.

“The supply chains are smoothing, freight charges are coming down, it's all falling back into a normal routine … and now we’ll see reduced demand.”

The Unleashed report looked at the stock positions of 1,886 firms in Australia, NZ, the UK, the US and Canada, and calculated optimum levels for 381,000 individual product and component lines.

All the firms analysed were manufacturers, manufacturer wholesalers or manufacturer retailers with less than US$25 million in turnover.

Unleashed is cloud-based software that gives product businesses clarity and control across suppliers, production, inventory and sales. Founded in NZ in 2009, it was acquired by the UK’s Access Group in November 2020 and has thousands of users in more than 80 countries.