B2B eCommerce Software: Saving Now but Paying Later (Pt. 1)

Is it ever okay to cut corners to save money on your B2B eCommerce site? It’s a question each business must answer for itself with a full understanding of the issues. In B2B eCommerce, one of the areas where this often happens is in choosing an eCommerce software platform.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

That is what we heard as we saw water coming out of a dark spot on the top of our dining room ceiling.

A few months prior to this occurrence, we had a bathroom sink that kept clogging up. We used some Drano and things seemed to be better.

A little while later, we had a leak under our bathroom sink. My husband found the problem, replaced a part and we thought we were good. To make a long story short, the Drano eroded our pipes, the small leak turned into a much larger leak, which traveled into an adjoining bedroom, resulting in a buckled floor, a damaged ceiling, and a lot of needed repair work.

If we had called in a plumber when we first had a problem, we would have saved ourselves a whole lot of time and money.

It’s not an uncommon story. There are many places in our lives where it is tempting to make choices that are cheaper now but more expensive in the long run. The challenge is knowing how to identify those situations in advance – before it is too late.

We see problems like this frequently in the world of B2B eCommerce software.

So is it ever okay to cut corners to save money on your B2B eCommerce site? It’s a question each business must answer for itself with a full understanding of the issues. In B2B eCommerce, one of the areas where this often happens is in choosing an eCommerce software platform.
 
Three Types of Software

Option #1 – A Content Management System. Many software platforms are primarily built as a CMS. Examples of these software platforms are Word Press, Umbraco, and Drupal. You can often add eCommerce to these, but the eCommerce features are weaker because their primary focus is the CMS. 

I recently worked with a distributor that had their site built in WordPress. Over time they had added a lot of content pages. They eventually added another software solution to their site to enable eCommerce. The result was a system that was disjointed and confusing for users and difficult for their staff to maintain effectively. There were certain tasks that were frequently needed and they ended up paying an outside contractor to do it. The result was expensive updates that were slow to complete. They had not yet made their site mobile responsive, and the process of doing this was somewhat overwhelming as no one at their company had a full understanding of all of the customizations that had been made to their current site.  

I met with another manufacturer who was using WordPress for an eCommerce system. Credit card security had not been handled correctly and credit card numbers were being emailed to the customer service team when an order was placed. While this is quite an egregious offense (which soon was remedied), the truth is that CMS systems do not spend the time and attention on security that is necessary for a system handling credit card information.

Not unlike my leaky faucet, this company is able to put patches and fixes in place for now to keep it working, but eventually, it will reach a point where it is too painful to avoid any further. When it gets there it will be expensive and hopefully, it hasn’t caused too much damage in the process.

Option #2 – eCommerce Software. Many companies for whom B2B eCommerce is a priority, select software that is designed for eCommerce to develop their site on. Examples of these platforms are Shopify, AspDotNetStorefront, and Magento.

These platforms all have different strengths and weaknesses, but the one thing they have in common is that none of them offer strong CMS features. Many companies who start with these software systems end up either bolting on a CMS, which can result in the same issues as described above, or developing custom code to enable the CMS functionality that is needed. 

Option #3 – Enterprise Content and Commerce Software. Your third option is a more robust platform that has strong eCommerce and CMS features. Typically you are going to invest more up-front to set up a system like this. Examples of these platforms are Acquia, Episerver, and Sitecore. In addition, to getting a strong set of content and commerce features, these systems are designed for multiple users to edit content and products with ease as well as simplify the maintenance of multiple websites. You will have personalization features that enable you to dynamically tailor your users’ experience to their interests. These platforms can also offer benefits to companies who have an international presence through their localization features. 

Get Expert Advice Early

Our bathroom sink seemed like an easy problem that we could fix ourselves and save a few bucks. When we misdiagnosed what we needed, it ended up costing us more money and being a lot more hassle.

Don’t make the same mistake when it comes to your B2B eCommerce Software. It can be complicated to evaluate what you need. It’s good to pull in an eCommerce expert early.
  

At Brilliance, we’ve created B2B eCommerce Software Comparison Kit as a free tool to help you get started. It includes a 30 minute video training, a printable comparison chart, and our B2B eCommerce Planning Guide. Check out our resources and take us up on our offer of a free consultation to talk through your needs. We can help you identify what B2B eCommerce software solutions will be the best investment for you – both today and as you grow.

Lori McDonald

President & CEO

About

Lori McDonald

Lori graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer-Electrical Engineering and leads Brilliance Business Solutions with over 20 years of computer engineering and software development experience.  She is an Episerver EMVP, a Microsoft Certified Professional and a regular contributor on Practical eCommerce. Her status as a recognized industry expert has resulted in regular speaking engagements at business conferences.

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