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Introduction

It is the year 2021 and most Australians are using online shopping. Online shopping is also known as B2C (Business-to-Consumer) e-commerce. B2C  rocket itself into relevancy in 2020 due to the Corona Virus pandemic when people did not want to go to shops. People did their shopping online at stores Woolworths.com.au and Coles.com.au to avoid physically going to shops for fear of catching Covid. This article compares Cin7 and Dear Systems and a little bit of Trade Gecko (aka Quickbooks Commerce) and their respective B2B and B2C e-commerce offerings.

While many people’s hope for 2020 was seeing flying cars and hoverboards, software developers manage to solve a fundamental problem. Shopping on computers on a big scale. In 2020, B2C thoroughly solidified with a mix of fear being the catalyst pushing the technology to overnight success.

With the new record – and volume of transactions, I suspect that Australians virtually built a no-return threshold. I also believe no business has an excuse for not offering their clients something similar. 

Before and After 2020

Before 2020, and over the last decade, e-commerce adoption was steadily increasing. Still, the average benefits did not outweigh the effort and cost-benefit analysis for most people. Ten years ago Cin7 and Dear Systems did not even exist.

Except, it is the year 2021 and things are changing. The world might not have flying cars or hoverboards, but B2C is a force to recognize. Inventory-keeping businesses should take note; now is the time to implement e-commerce.

Retail businesses should not just be offering B2C, but they too should use e-commerce to make their purchases online. Consider for a moment how they buy from their suppliers? For the most part, it is still via phone, email or spreadsheet. How can that possibly be if they were to survive longterm?

What is B2B

That is where B2B comes in. Unlike the concept of B2C, not many people have heard of the term Business-to-Business. We believe every SME business owner should know about B2B as the technology is fast becoming an affordable reality.

Business-to-Business refers to the transactions between businesses like manufacturers and wholesalers, and retailers. B2B e-commerce refers to all the information exchange to conduct transactions over a computer network.

Not Rocket Science

These transactions trade in different ways, including electronic file or database communication, API calls, or enabling stock visibility. But again, since we are not talking about IBM’s Watson computer here let’s keep it simple, let’s break it down.

B2B for SME’s is merely offering your business clients an online platform like a website page with a username and password login. This way, they can easily place their orders online, view previous invoices and statements and communicate with you.

So what’s the difference?

What is the difference between B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce? Well, the answer is not that much, but the small differences are significant and logical. 

The similarities between B2B and B2C has an ingenious design allowing a B2B solution to function as a B2C, but it cannot be the other way around. They were both built from the same base.

There are four main differences between B2B and B2C.

  • B2B has a formal account with login detail, and you cannot check out as a guest.
  • Specific pricing with special discounts for each client, not a generic retail price.
  • Purchases are mostly made on Account whereas B2C requires you to pay on the spot.
  • Historical Invoices and Statements are available, whereas B2C might have it, but generally, for B2C it is not a significant thing.

Formal Account with particular login details

Have you ever phoned a wholesaler only to hear you cannot buy from them directly? The sales rep might say you need a formal account and point you to a retailer. If you did, then you will understand this. 

The same principle is true for B2B e-commerce sites. Buyers can only purchase products once log unto the online store with appropriate login and password. You cannot buy as a guest or as a visitor.

These accounts are activated manually for some companies, and your application has to go through vetting to get approved.

Specific pricing with special discounts

Unlike B2C or standard online shopping, B2B can offer specific pricing for each business customer (or group of customers). Additionally, discounts that apply to the one group may not apply to another group. Price management usually is more complex to manage for B2B and trying to do this on multiple places, or Excel sheets are begging for trouble. 

Having the ability to change customer-specific prices and then let that feedthrough to your B2B is magic. But in the case, of Cin7 and Dear Systems (and Trade Gecko aka Quickbooks Commerce), this is indeed what happens.

On a side note, in addition to managing and uploading relevant and appropriate pictures for each product, managing pricing can take a long time and a bit of effort, so getting around this problem fast and quickly should be a no brainer.

Luckily Cin7 and Dear Systems allow for this functionality.

When using Cin7 and Dear Systems B2B, Purchases are mostly on Account.

B2B stores typically offer an additional payment option over and above B2C namely “Account” or “Credit”. King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 6:9 wisely said: “The bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, and while Accountants say cash is king selling on a Credit is a risky reality but needed.

Being able to sell to your customers online, and putting the invoice due on credit will help you sell more, and manage your cash flow while planning day to day operations. Buying on account means the customer’s order will automatically skip through to generate a warehouse picking slip, and then once packed and shipped, an invoice will be printed and emailed.

Payment on Account, not PayPal

The invoice can then fully reflect on your inventory system (like Cin7 or Dear Systems) and your Accounting solution (like Xero or Quickbooks). 

These days, similar to your council invoice, business owners can easily show payment options like BPay, PayPal, Stripe, Bank Transfer or Credit Card on invoices and statements. Once paid, the payment is allocated to the invoice either through Xero or Cin7 and Dear Systems and reflects on paid invoices.

Historical Invoices and Statements are Available.

B2C customers rarely need to go back to previous purchases unless they become a recurring supplier like Vet food or medicine. Online giants like Amazon and eBay have become giants due to their ability to offer this feature, but generally, B2C does not provide this. 

However, for B2B customers, due to the higher number of transactions, they must track each order individually and collectively.

Most B2B platforms, including Cin7 and Dear Systems, offer the end-client the ability to view historical invoices and outstanding balances due. Administrators can use their accounting system like Xero for sending out account statements at the end of the month.

I am bringing it all together with Cin7 or Dear Systems.

Yes, flying cars would have been excellent in 2020, and having no Coronavirus in 2021 would be fantastic. But let’s face it, things are going to take a while to settle down. Let’s address where we are, and work through what we have, making the most of what is currently available. Cin7 and Dear Systems.

Fortunately for us, there is a lot we can do to improve business systems and to automate processes while bringing SME businesses into the future of e-commerce.

With the evolution of the internet, we all were witnesses to colossal speed and functional improvements. Software and business features previously only available to larger corporations are now available for all.

As little as a few years back, this was not possible, but now SMEs can enjoy having access to all their systems with just a simple internet connection. 

The purpose of this article is not to tell you how all of the ecosystems building blocks fit together, for that you can read more on this website, but rather which e-commerce options you can use with Cin7 and Dear Systems or a little bit on Trade Gecko as well.

Cin7 and Dear Systems in more detail

Cin7’s e-commerce options.

Cin7 offers quite a several integration options (550 in total 1 being their B2B and 4 for B2C) to link into your favourite e-commerce platform while allowing you to grow your online sales without increasing operating expenses rapidly.

The Cin7 B2B and B2C solution offer inventory management, stock locations and e-commerce into one automated solution while updating stock figures in real-time. 

With Cin7, you can say goodbye to employees manually entering data, manipulating spreadsheets, and welcoming accurate inventory and visibility.

Discussing Cin7‘s B2B

Thankfully, Cin7‘s B2B solution is a native platform that seamlessly works with background data and pricing synchronisation. Very little has to be done to enable and use the B2B solution.

Enabling and inviting customers to use it, it also very easy, and can be accomplished within a few minutes. In short, Cin7‘s B2B platform’s smart thing is its “no-fuss let’s get going” attribute.

Within a few clicks, your B2B site can be ready for taking orders. Additionally, the B2B backend allows for necessary theme modifications like choosing colours and branding.

It is also entirely possible for the more technical to have your website domain (name) or sub-domain and point your B2B portal URL to it. That way, a client can easily navigate to your website and not get confused.

Although some clients find the Cin7 B2B platform lacks street appeal, it boasts some powerful features, which most B2C big players cannot offer. We have a few clients that use Cin7‘s B2B platform as a B2C.

Enabling Cin7‘s B2C

When moving on to the B2C platforms that you can link up to Cin, your options are quite exceptional. Cin7 is the platform of choice, offering the most optimistic and complete integration with top suppliers.

I suspect most people reading this are already familiar with at least one or two of these platforms. They are:

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce (Only Cin7 offers this – Dear Systems & Trade Gecko does not)
  • WooCommerce
  • Magento

For complex industries that do not sell straight forward products, I would recommend WooCommerce, or if not successful use Magento. These are suppliers selling custom products.

Shopify and BigCommerce are both very stable, and although Shopify is the world-leading e-commerce supplier, our analysis showed that BigCommerce would give you more bang for your bucks in the long run.

That being said, Shopify does have more integration partners, and links with more inventory systems than BigCommerce does, so thoroughly plot out your business software and distribution plan before making your final decision.

If you were going to choose Cin7, my B2C platform suggestion would be BigCommerce, even though we are experts in Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce.

Some of Cin7’s Advantages

Cin7 stand out above smaller players is its well established EDI connections to big distributors and retailers like Amart, Kmart, Big W, Coles Bunnings, Amazon, Walmart, eBay and Etsy to name a few. 

The Cons of using Cin7.

New Cin7 users might find it challenging to use and understand the workflows. The user interface has been described as clunky, and sometimes monthly pricing is complex. For those looking for support, that is why we exist.

A summary on Cin7

We are delighted to see that Cin7 has simplified its pricing model recently. After the recent acquisition from an American based company, things are being tidied up. The website has a new look-and-feel, and branding has been updated. It would be great to see Cin7 using more local suppliers and providing better training/help information.

As experts, we would suggest Cin7 for larger businesses looking to tap into large corporates to enlarge their supply chain and distribution business. Our business has a few clients who stand by Cin7‘s outstanding features and who are happy about the fair price point, especially compared to much more extensive and expensive ERPs.

Dear Systems e-commerce options

After some investigation, we found that Dear Systems offers around 50 integrations in total, with 1 being their B2B and 3 for B2C.

Like Cin7, Dear Systems also offers B2B and B2C solutions for easy inventory, locations and e-commerce management. 

Even though Dear Systems has fewer integration points than Cin7, in conjunction with Xero, for example, and including all its capabilities, you will have a pretty decent solution.

Brilliant Dear Systems B2B

Similarly to Cin7, Dear Systems also has a native B2B solution with seamless background data and pricing synchronisation. It is super easy to enable and use the B2B solution and compared to Cin7; it is arguable more powerful, comfortable and better looking.

Using the B2B system is intuitive, and enabling products to sell on the platform, changing prices and inviting customers cannot have been made easier.

When we first set up the B2B portal, the surprising thing was its flexibility, menu customisation, and professional look. You can point your website to the B2B platform or feel free to ask us for help. 

Dear Systems B2C options

If you are considering moving to a B2C platform that integrates with Dear Systems, this section is for you. You will be glad to know that Dear Systems offers the same options as Cin7, except for BigCommerce. So three major players can work as your preferred B2C provider.

The Dear Systems B2C integration partners are:

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce
  • Magento

Considering Dear System’s Pros

In our opinion, Dear Systems stand out above other players because it is easy to use. The user interface (UI) works great, and it has fairly low monthly fees. Besides, the help documentation and videos are excellent help.

Is there any Dear Systems Cons

What makes Dear Systems less desirable, but only because we compare it other more mature systems, is the lack of integration partners. We are fairly sure that Dear Systems will add more modules over time. Just because I feel it would be fair to include something negative here, Dear has fewer retailer API connections than some competitors.

In Summary for Dear Systems

We think Dear Systems is a great solution that offers enough functionality to enable advanced business operations. Yet, the design is keeping it simple to allow new users to understand their next step.

As Dear Systems resellers and implementation partners, we are happy to partner with such a great system and can confidently recommend it to our customers.

The fact that it links up with Xero makes it a real contender for systems like Netsuite and Sage Intacct and other cloud-based ERPs, not to mention their drive to expand their Warehouse and Manufacturing modules.

B2C e-Commerce Quick Analysis

Shopify offers a quick start with a few easy add-on modules. Due to the lack of customisation and completeness, it is not our first choice.  Our assessment score for Shopify is 80%. 

BigCommerce is a rather smart solution and compares closely with Shopify. Its offer focuses on the actual online store with a few cosmetic options. Their advantage above Shopify, in our opinion, is openness and WYSIWYG, and it is complete. It allows for customisation, complex pricing and robust settings. It might be worth noting that Big Commerce has a smaller market place than Shopify, but well worth investigating. We score them 85%.

WooCommerce, although a bit more tricky to get started, offers the client the most flexibility with code customisation and add-on modules. It is more technical, and not recommended for beginners, so we give them 75%.

Magento used to be the industry leader in e-commerce platforms, but due to its early success and higher technical skills required to main the code, we only give them 65%. If possible, try and avoid Magento, it will work our more expensive.

Diagram

e-commerce options
Cin7, TG, and Dear e-commerce Diagram

When to use which B2C solution

For more complex industries that do not sell straight forward products, I would recommend WooCommerce, or if not successful use Magento. These are suppliers selling custom products.

Shopify and BigCommerce are both very stable, and although Shopify is the world-leading e-commerce supplier, our analysis showed that BigCommerce would give you more bang for your bucks in the long run.

That being said, Shopify does have more integration partners, and links with more inventory systems than BigCommerce does, so thoroughly plot out your business software and distribution plan before making your final decision.

If you are going to choose Cin7, our B2C platform suggestion is BigCommerce. Even though we are experts and partners with Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce for Cin7 we saw some good stuff from them.  Our recommendation is either WooCommerce or for simpler stores, Shopify, for those who want to use Dear Systems.

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