The pandemic has highlighted the importance of technologies such as eCommerce in helping businesses build resilience. As companies begin to explore the B2B eCommerce marketplace, one of the first questions they need to answer is whether to buy a vendor-based B2B eCommerce platform or build a bespoke solution from scratch. Although boxed solutions are more popular today, more companies start viewing tailor-made eCommerce software as a long-term investment that will enable them to better position themselves in the market now and in the future.
Let’s see when it might be appropriate to create your own eCommerce software instead of buying a vendor-based product.
When Does It Make Sense To Build Bespoke eCommerce Solution?
You work in a highly regulated industry
Many businesses operate and sell goods in highly regulated industries. For example, if you supply pharmaceuticals or HVAC equipment, you may need to verify the purchasing company’s credentials and license. Some products may not be approved for some particular markets. If you are operating under the Byzantine regulatory system, building a custom eCommerce platform may be a good fit for you.
If your organisation has offices in various locations, each responsible for a different product or serving a specific segment of customers, the out-of-the-box solution may not work. In addition, the requirements of your back office (internal hierarchies, access restrictions, approval processes, reports) and requirements for customer-centric websites can be more complicated than the capabilities of a vendor-based solution.
You need to manage complex workflows
Some companies sell custom products or need to combine products with value-added services such as consulting or integration. Others may require complex checkout or shipping rules that should differ from one customer to another. These configurations may be difficult to reproduce digitally with a vendor-supplied solution.
You need to connect multiple business systems
Many ready-made eCommerce solutions do not integrate with a wide range of ERP, PIM, CRM, purchasing, accounting, and other widely used systems. If you’ve developed one of these systems in-house, integration may not be possible, prompting you to consider building your own eCommerce solution.
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You want to offer alternative payment methods
Your customers may want to opt-out of a credit card in favour of bank transfer, ACH, and other payment methods. Others may wish to pay on an extended period or credit. Building your own system can be attractive for B2B merchants who need more control over their payment types.
You need more robust CMS capabilities
Your eCommerce content management system (CMS) is the heart of your sales, marketing and content strategy. If your eCommerce provider has a weak CMS or can’t integrate with the CMS of your choice, it might be worth creating a bespoke solution that suits your needs.
Bespoke vs Off-the-Shelf eCommerce Software: Pros and Cons
A custom eCommerce platform is best for businesses that require complete control over their online retail strategy. They may want to carefully design a personalised customer experience, develop an ecosystem of third-party integrations, or streamline internal operations by integrating with other enterprise applications.
Bespoke eCommerce Development: Pros
There is no limit to how you can develop your eCommerce presence as long as you are willing to invest time and money. You can seamlessly align your eCommerce solution with your business and customers’ needs and only build features your customers need.
When you create a proprietary solution, you completely own it. This means that there is no middleman between your software and your business. Taking complete ownership of your sales infrastructure gives you more flexibility to meet customer expectations, adapt to industry changes, and increase your business’s resilience.
No license fees
In addition to saving money on your platform’s monthly license fee, you can also save money with your own development and support staff. This benefits large companies looking to maintain complete control over their eCommerce strategy, operations, and customer service.
Bespoke eCommerce Development: Pros
A dedicated B2B eCommerce platform requires a significant investment of time and human resources. Before you kick off, you will need to specify your project, gather requirements, find experienced engineers, organise the software development process, check the quality, coordinate change management, and more.
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No warranty or support.
There is nothing worse than downtime in eCommerce. The sooner you fix the problem, the sooner you will get your sales back on track. When things go wrong (and they most likely will), you will have to rely on your employees, technology partners, and hosting providers for solutions.
As time passes and your business grows, it becomes difficult to scale the platform without facing implementation challenges. SEO, marketing, payments, execution and other components of your online retail solution will need to be constantly tweaked and modified to work together.
You will need a whole team of tech writers and business analysts (BAs) to ensure that knowledge of how the system works is available and not tied to the core team that developed it.
Software development errors
A considerable amount of work goes into developing an eCommerce platform. Developers will face the daunting task of recreating many of an off-the-shelf B2B e-commerce platform’s capabilities. And since many of these functions are very complex, the development process will be lengthy, which increases the likelihood of errors and bugs.
Are you looking to jump fast on eCommerce tech bandwagon or upgrade and modernise your existing online retail solution? Get in touch with us to see our portfolio of bespoke eCommerce applications, sign up for a discovery session or learn how we can save you time and money on custom eCommerce development.
Off-the-shelf eCommerce Platforms
Why build custom eCommerce software when boxed platform providers already have extensive experience with real customers and their needs?
To stay competitive, vendors continually test their features against existing market needs and trends. What’s more, platform providers strive to create world-class products that address a wide range of potential use cases that you might not have considered.
B2B is ready to go
The eCommerce provider’s challenge is to create a solution that can be implemented as quickly as possible. This way, you don’t have to do software research, development, and testing.
Security and stability
With a vendor-based solution, you don’t have to worry about security management, certificates, or fraud protection. This is good for your peace of mind and even better for clients who want to be sure they are dealing with a trustworthy business.
Many eCommerce platforms use customer service as a powerful factor. Most vendor-based platforms offer phone, live chat, or email support. Self-service is also available, such as video tutorials or community support.
Cost-saving and shorter time to market
Creating a custom eCommerce platform requires a significant upfront investment and takes much longer to market than vendor-based platforms. These months of delays result in lost opportunities and slower customer acquisition.
A vendor-based solution puts an invisible layer between your customers and your business. Price hikes, feature rollbacks, or other restrictions can interfere with your growth plans.
It’s easy to spend some extra money on an eCommerce solution by purchasing a data plan with features you will never use. Costs can spiral upward for implementation, integration, hiring within a company, or using a technology provider’s services.
Many B2Bs want to control certain eCommerce stores. If your vendor does not offer integration, plug-in, API, or customisation, you will need to accept the given parameters when implementing the project.
Getting the Best of Both Worlds
What if you need a custom solution’s flexibility with the reliability and infrastructure of a vendor-based solution? Then you take the best of both worlds.
You choose a vendor-based solution where the core B2B eCommerce features are already thoroughly researched and built for you, while still giving you the flexibility to fine-tune and customise the implementation to suit your business needs. Popular eCommerce platforms originally built for B2C simply cannot serve complex B2B relationships.
However, platforms with architecture designed for B2B will instantly satisfy 50-60% of your project requirements. All you’ll have to do is build the rest as bespoke software either in-house or through a technology partner like Evolve.