Ecommerce is far more than a platform
Are you buying a B2B ecommerce platform, or launching a B2B ecommerce business? The distinction isn’t trivial, and it makes all the difference for the success of your web channel. There are two broad buckets for how manufacturers approach this question:
- We’re buying a B2B ecommerce platform. Once it’s up and running, we’ll have a B2B ecommerce business.
- We’re launching a B2B ecommerce business. A platform is a key part of that, but there are many more bases to cover, and we’re going to cover them.
Spoiler alert: here at Corevist, we caution manufacturers to look beyond the first approach and consider adopting the second. In this article, I’ll discuss the second approach and the 5 key bases which it helps you cover.
NOTE: if you’re already familiar with the difference between hosted and SaaS solutions, skip down to #3.
Key Base 1: Software Licensing (Direct or Third Party?)
At a bare minimum, you’ll need to license the software which will support your B2B web channel.
To complicate that a little further, some ecommerce vendors will include hosting and/or support of the software. As you evaluate ecommerce vendors, read the fine print and see what you’re really buying. If the deal doesn’t include integration, implementation, hosting, management, and growth consulting, you’ll need to cover those bases elsewhere—either with 3rd parties, or with in-house hires.
Key Takeaway: Because Corevist owns the entire software stack for your B2B web channel, you license the software directly from us and get support from the same experts that built the solution. No reseller commissions, no middleman pointing fingers, no headaches.
Of course, you get way more than software licensing (see below).
Key Base 2: Software Model (Traditional vs. SaaS)
Ecommerce platforms are built around one of two models, Traditional or SaaS. These two models couldn’t be more dissimilar, and it’s essential to understand them so you can pick a solution that best fits your business goals.
- The Traditional software model requires you to buy the license for version x.x.x of the software and pay an annual maintenance for the occasional bug-fix patch. You are on the hook for implementing, maintaining, troubleshooting, and upgrading the software- which means you either have to hire/maintain a team of internal experts or hire an army of 3rd parties & SIs to complete the work. Even then, the moment you buy that software, your company gains a liability (which should be represented on your balance sheet) in the form of technical debt.
- The Software as a Service (SaaS) model at a minimum should help minimize the technical debt by providing a software solution that is hosted, supported, and updated by the software OEM. It’s important to note that even among SaaS solutions, the ‘service’ inclusions can vary wildly; some solutions only provide the framework for you to build within, while platforms like Corevist Commerce provide turnkey ecommerce solutions which include all the services you’ll need, from hosting to front-end design.
Key Takeaway: For companies without domain expertise in ecommerce, the right solution will allow you to focus on your business rather than getting bogged down in the technical complexities of your web channel. Don’t underestimate those complexities—they can be formidable. When you choose a SaaS solution like Corevist Commerce, we worry about those complexities for you, and we implement Corevist Commerce ourselves. (See below.)
Key Base 3: Software Implementation (The War of the SIs, or hire FTEs?)
Imagine your ecommerce solution in a minimally functional state. How many SIs will it take to get there? How many FTEs (full time employees) will you need to hire? Consider all the moving pieces which have to work together:
- Web design & development
- SSO integration (if needed)
- ERP integration
- Contract & scaled pricing by customer/product/quantity
- Credit status by customer
- ATP (available to promise) by customer
- Order status and account history
- And much more
- Payments integration
- Shipping carrier integration
This is where many B2B ecommerce projects fall down. Without “one throat to choke” for implementation and ERP integration, you end up pointing the finger at multiple SIs, who all point the finger at each other.
Key Takeaway: At Corevist, we implement our software ourselves. You don’t have to arrange multiple 3rd parties to get your B2B solution running. For example, Corevist Commerce is integrated to your ERP system out of the box, and we cover your other integrations, too—things like SSO, payments, and shipping. Corevist will even provide design and development services to build a UI/UX that is not only attractive but functions for your exact business case.
We built Corevist this way so you wouldn’t have to coordinate multiple SIs with competing interests (or hire an army of internal resources). You get one throat to choke—ours. No more working with three different SIs all pointing the finger at the others. No more waiting on HR to find talented resources, just to have them leave after a few months.
Key Base 4: Ongoing Management of the Entire Stack
If your implementation with multiple SIs and/or FTEs gets off the ground, here’s where the problems usually arise. What happens when something breaks and your web channel goes down? Who are you going to call?
This gets tricky if you have multiple 3rd parties, each one responsible for a different part of the ecommerce stack. These 3rd parties have to communicate with total transparency and work together to debug the issue.
Of course, we all know that 3rd parties love working together and never have competing interests. 😊
If you don’t use 3rd parties to cover the stack, you can hire an internal team. For example, as Forrester reports, SAP hybris typically requires 12 full-time employees to support it. But that’s often not feasible for manufacturers who don’t have the budget for a new team.
In contrast, Corevist clients typically have no dedicated employees supporting our software.
Key Takeaway: If your IT department is already working at max capacity (and you can’t hire), you need a managed solution for ecommerce. In that case, Corevist is your “one throat to choke.” We maintain and support the entire ecommerce stack so you can focus on running your business knowing that Corevist has your back.
Key Base 5: Ecommerce Business Growth
This is the area which most ecommerce vendors don’t cover. And that’s tragic, because what you do after Go-Live is arguably more important than everything that came before. Obviously, you need a working platform to grow; but it’s no good having a working platform if you don’t work on growing.
At Corevist, we don’t go silent on our clients after Go-Live. In fact, we’re involved every step of the way as you grow your business. We pride ourselves on guiding our clients through the growth process once Corevist Commerce is up and running, and we have plenty of advice for manufacturers launching ecommerce. Here are some of our more recent blog posts on growth:
- 3 Processes for New User Registration in Corevist Commerce
- Curating Culture Change Across Your Digital Transformation
- Nail Your New Product Launch With A New Web Channel
- What Percentage of Overall Revenue Do You Want to Flow Through Ecommerce?
- Product Lifecycle Transitions with Corevist Commerce
- Corevist Commerce Access for Your 3PL
Key Takeaway: Corevist isn’t just your software provider and SI. We’re also your partner in ecommerce growth. Because we manage the entire stack, we’re 100% invested in the success of your project. We work with you to understand where you’re at today (and where you want to end up).
Moving forward: FREE case study
Want to see what Corevist Commerce looks like in real life? Download this case study on Blount International. You’ll learn how this leading manufacturer launched Corevist Commerce and grew their ecommerce revenue over the course of 10 years.