Savvy B2B organizations are adopting ecommerce as a growth strategy and as a result, the B2B ecommerce space is growing rapidly. These first-mover organizations recognize that the business consumers of tomorrow will demand online purchasing capability and are responding accordingly. Unfortunately, there are a number of manufacturers and distributors that are holding off on ecommerce because, “B2B ecommerce costs too much.”

It’s no secret that a comprehensive ecommerce strategy can have a big price tag attached to it–but does that mean you should consider a low-cost or free ecommerce solution? Not necessarily. Consider the following common-sense rules of thumb that we all tend to forget when suffering from sticker shock:

Remember the Adage of Cheap, Fast, or Good; the idea that on any project, you can choose two of the following: cheap, fast, or good. It’s impossible to get all three. I have yet to find a business scenario that defies the logic of this rule of thumb and B2B ecommerce is no exception. When embarking on an ecommerce project, you can get it:

  • Cheap and fast (but it won’t be good)
  • Fast and good (but it won’t be cheap)
  • Good and cheap (but it won’t be fast)

The reality is the a low-cost ecommerce solution is probably missing some critical functionality offered its pricier counterpart and may lack integration with back-end systems entirely. Be sure to consciously decide which of the two attributes you want for your project before you commit to an ecommerce solution.

You get what you pay for. Another maxim that you are likely to hear over dinner with a parent, the idea that you get what you pay for holds true in ecommerce. Looking to launch an enterprise ecommerce site with 250,000 SKUs and integration to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system? You aren’t likely to find the right fit in a $149 per month shopping cart application. Likewise, an open source software solution won’t cost you anything to get started, but remember that you won’t get the support you’ve come to expect from software providers without paying a pretty penny for it.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. When faced with the choice of an ecommerce platform that has a price tag associated with it and an open-source or low-cost option, it’s pretty easy to talk yourself into choosing the cheaper one. Before you do, however, it’s critical that you understand that the advice your mom gave you as a kid–“if it looks too good to be true it probably is”–holds here. While many ecommerce providers tout a low-cost start up or even a free software solution, there are fees on the back side that they aren’t telling you about. Total cost of ownership over the life of the software should be considered before committing to any software purchase–low-cost, high-buck or otherwise.

Ecommerce is an essential business strategy that smart B2B organizations will implement sooner rather than later. Putting ecommerce off now because it “costs too much” is definitely going to be an issue when competitors who have digitally transformed gain more and more marketshare.

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