In our eCommerce sales cycle, we often see two scenarios that play out. One is the potential customer that wants to do things themselves, the second is the agency or ERP vendor that wants to control everything. That a site wants to do things themselves is in and of itself not an issue; however, when you scratch the surface, two things usually come out…
The first is easy to deal with the other is more insidious. The first issue is that the potential customer does not understand the value of the specialized knowledge and figures, ‘well, I am technical or I have a developer that is available I can do the setup and integration myself’. They might be right, but more often than not they are usually wrong. They may also have a fear of being held hostage by the consultant. Maybe the result of a past experience that went bad. Put the two together and you have a customer that is adamant they are going it alone.
This scenario usually unfolds in the following manner. The site gets installed and not an awful lot gets done on the integration because the learning curve is steep, the internal resources don’t have the time, or worse yet, nothing works very well and the ecommerce software gets blamed. Not good. The reality is that someone who does integration day in and day out can usually complete something far faster than someone who does one integration a year. The value of working with an expert is that they more than likely already know the API requirements. The other aspect of this scenario is that outsourcing the technical aspects to someone who is knowledgeable is ultimately cheaper in the long run, despite the initial fears. So if you are buying ask yourself some hard questions.
Agency or ERP Vendor
The second scenario is one we come across from time to time and it is very self-serving. It is the ERP vendor or agency that wants to do everything themselves. Rather than focusing on core competencies, they try to control all aspects of the clients IT work whether they know anything about it or not. They will often play on their client’s lack of knowledge and convince them of their approach. Usually, the client suffers in this scenario and gets a less-than-adequate setup but it takes a while for the reality to sink in.
As it relates to eCommerce integration, the way this scenario plays out is the ERP vendor or agency will, rather than partnering with an expert, take API guides and code specifically for that customer’s specifications. This is usually done in a language like PHP. As their client grows so do the number of custom programs. At some point this becomes unmanageable. The ERP vendor or agency has locked the customer into a spaghetti mess of code that makes it very difficult to move when a trading partner changes things or wants to upgrade to a newer version of the ecommerce platform. At the end of the day, this scenario is far more costly than putting in place a proper integration strategy.
This scenario usually comes crashing down when the ERP vendor or agency is unable to respond in a timely manner and all hell breaks loose or if the cost becomes too high and the client chokes on the price. So building it yourself at the end of the day is not always the smartest way to go. When you talk to experts you usually derive a benefit from their expert knowledge. When you buy a proper e-commerce system you also derive the benefit of many inputs, the experience of many clients.
So buyers beware! It is not always better to build it yourself or rely solely on your software developer. If you are ready to buy, ask some hard integration questions and you might save yourself some valuable time money.