Build vs Buy? Exploring your B2B eCommerce options

Buy vs Build

An eCommerce platform is an essential consideration for most modern businesses. 

While that is true, these platforms should also provide a system that’s easy to use for the user and should be powerful enough to support backend operations. For businesses that have applied eCommerce, and for a business that plans to implement it, it should connect seamlessly with business processes. Ideally, they should be: 

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  2. Inventory management
  3. Warehouse Management Systems 
  4. Order fulfilment
  5. Content Management Systems
  6. Payment Integrations and Gateways 

Most importantly, they should focus on building long-lasting customer relationships. With what we’ve achieved in eCommerce today, let’s look back at how experts did it back in the day. 

A Look at the Days Gone By

Before eCommerce platforms became mainstream, companies built their web solutions with their own IT resources or with the help of software development companies. 

It was a time-consuming process that took up most people resources. They didn’t really scale properly. Improper updates, security flaws, poor integration were the prime culprits. Often the integrations were built from scratch and used in the first iteration. 

Even In the modern context, companies build their eCommerce stores from scratch. The flip side is that they get complete and total control over their processes, but the giveaway to this is that it’s not “modern”.  Moreover, it leads to security and maintenance concerns, on top of hiring a full-time staff that takes up costs. 

From the Past to The Present

Nowadays, things are not so rigid. Companies can choose what type of system they can wish to apply to their process. They could either go for their eCommerce platform or go for a hybrid system that is a combination of multiple systems in place. 

In the modern digital landscape, going with a binary option is entirely your own choice. 

But still, some businesses ask themselves whether or not they intend to build or buy? True enough, there are specific B2B eCommerce platforms in the market that offer significant benefits to industry people. However, the functionalities provided are built on top of a B2C solution. 

From the outset, that seems beneficial. Down the road, however, you are limited in terms of the feature you can gain from it. Considering the current and projected growth of the market, and the performance of these B2B eCommerce platforms, it’s not short-sighted if business owners go towards the in-house model. 

Even though that is true, there are specific nuances that owners have to consider before going for an option.

Reasons to Go for the “Build” Option

You want freedom and control

These two words are the foundation stones of a custom-built solution. Besides the benefits we’ve already discussed, there are plenty of other reasons businesses should go for the build option. It’s a journey not many are willing to take, but those who do benefit from it in the long-run.

You’re willing to become a technology company.

When you have the in-house resources for developing and maintaining your eCommerce platform, you are venturing towards becoming either a tech company or a tech-savvy company. 

The entire process of having your website developed will see you selecting frameworks, programming languages, learning about API’s, workflows, content delivery, and more. While this will take you away from your core business, it’s also worth learning since it can help you develop yourself as a tech-savvy company. 

To stay ahead in the game, you would need to continually look at newer technologies and trends that will help improve your bottom-line. Once you get a taste of how useful technology can be to your workflows, you would never want to revert to tradition.

You’re in a highly regulated industry.

Companies operating in highly regulated industries have to comply with multiple governmental bodies to continue their business processes. The pharmaceutical industry is an excellent example of this since they are continually being monitored and regulated by the FDA.

Because of these policies, selling online using a pre-built eCommerce solution is challenging since you can’t sell anything to every customer. In such a situation, a custom-built eCommerce solution can prove a desirable option. 

You work in a complex business structure.

For businesses working alongside subsidiaries and independent sub-brands with multiple customer segments, a pre-built eCommerce platform might not work. 

Because of the back-office complexities involved in such a business model, having a custom-built eCommerce solution can prove a lot more beneficial. With it, your granular business processes can become a lot more organized, allowing you to support your internal and external business processes with relative ease. 

You sell complex or customizable items.

Businesses vary across the board, and not everyone sells product right out of the box. A business selling products and other value-added services such as product training and consultations need a solution a little more complicated.

Similarly, some businesses need to restrict consumers from seeing products on their store if they haven’t logged in. Now, this particular functionality can be added to most eCommerce platforms through extensions and integrations, but it’s important to note that they are a requirement for some businesses. 

With a custom-built eCommerce solution, you can integrate that functionality into the solution directly from the outset. 

It would help if you had alternative payment options.

Payment methods and gateways are one of the essential requirements of a B2B eCommerce platform. Now, businesses dealing with large orders don’t necessarily have to pay by debit or credit card. A custom-built eCommerce solution can help you integrate payment options like wire transfers, ACH, and term-payments. It helps you gain control over your transactions effectively. 

When should you build and when should you buy?

The answer to this question depends primarily on the type of budget, resources, and the expectations you have from the solution. 

Should You Rent or Own?

Websites are akin to real estate, even though they are intangible. Because of this comparison, your decision making when selecting a digital real estate should be just as well-though-out as if you were purchasing an apartment. 

Most modern platform providers offer eCommerce solution that applies to a variety of business processes. Customizations to those platforms depend on the infrastructure of the platform, but there is only so much you can customize with the platform. You are a tenant, and there is so much a renter can do.

An open-source, customized solution gives you more control over your platform. This is similar to owning a house. Since you own the codebase, it’s easy to maintain and customize it according to your preferences.

The flipside to building a custom solution is recruiting the right development team that takes care of development activities. In comparison, finding a pre-built open-source eCommerce solution is a lot easier. But if your preference is more control and better customization, then you should own the platform itself. 

To give you a run-down of the benefits of both custom-built solution and vendor solutions, read through the following: 

Custom-built Solutions 

  • Highly regulated industries with governmental monitoring on sales and shipping. 
  • Organizations that wish to have more control over their payment methods. 
  • Businesses that have complex workflows and need more control over their pricing. 
  • Organizations with multiple brand workflows and coordinating with subsidiaries. 
  • Companies looking to overhaul their traditional processes and overhaul their businesses. 

Vendor Solutions 

  • Businesses with regular product requirement and minimal need for customizations. 
  • Those looking for a quick and efficient solution to getting into the market. 
  • Brands that wish to avoid dealing with hosting solutions. The prime SaaS solutions build a fully hosted platform that takes care of all the updates and maintenance activities.
  • Companies that don’t want to waste the budget and resources on creating a highly customized solution. 
  • Businesses are looking to integrate their eCommerce platform with existing enterprise solutions like ERP, CRM, and PIM.

B2BWoo – The Highly Customizable Ecommerce Platform

If you’re looking for an open-source B2B eCommerce platform that helps you build according to your preferences while being a complete solution, then look no further than B2BWoo. An all-in-one B2B solution, the platform provides B2B users with just about everything they need to get started.

Built on top of WooCommerce and WordPress CMS, it provides users with a highly-customizable base from which they can start up their B2B purposes. 

Conclusion 

To reiterate, there are plenty of considerations you need to take into account before you decide to build or buy an eCommerce platform. We hope that this post helped you understand the difference and gave you enough insights on what you should be doing. 

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Technical writer by day, focusing on all things WordPress, programming, and B2B eCommerce. On the down-low, I like to read historical non-fiction or watch movies, depending on my mood.

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