building your own wholesale B2B e-commerce software internally is a trap that will cost you too much money

    We asked our development team what it would take for a brand to build out a wholesale B2B e-commerce platform with the same feature parity as Envoy B2B.

    First, they laughed at us. When we said, no really, what’s the number? They said “one million dollars” and twirled their mustaches like comic book villains.

    It’s a funny answer, but it’s telling about the return on investment for any brand that attempts it. And yet, some still want to pursue this path. We can see the logic here. If you own the software, you can potentially dodge a raft of issues like subpar or missing features, being saddled with software you don’t want under contract, or inadequate support.

    However, that one million dollar answer isn’t a joke, even if our dev team was having a laugh. The cost of investment compared to the return makes internally developing a wholesale platform a non-starter. And, any of the issues listed above won’t be prevalent if you choose your platform provider carefully. But, paradoxically, they probably will if you try to build it on your own.

    If You Build It...

    Okay, so what would it actually take to build your own B2B platform internally? 

    If it’s a 3 year project you are, in fact, looking at an investment of roughly a million dollars. (Even without the mustache twirling.) You could potentially get away with $500,000 - $700,000 if you’re willing to launch with a bare minimum feature set, but this isn’t really a “savings” as you’re going to end up diffusing the cost (and likely incurring more) over a longer period of time.

    So, the slower, “cheaper” path of taking 5 years to reach feature parity with modern systems isn’t actually a cost savings, as your budget will inevitably grow in size, and you’ll leave revenue on the table while you make do with a less-than-stellar solution.

    Not to mention that price tag doesn’t account for the cost of whatever solution you’re using until you bring your own platform online. So, in terms of total cost, the clearer answer is more along the lines of at least a million dollars.

    ...It Will Cost Too Much

    Once you build the platform, you have to maintain it. You’ll need to retain at least one developer for maintenance, but more likely a team of three to five depending on the size of your brand and the speed with which you want to grow your feature set. 

    Oh, and server costs. You’ll have to pay to maintain your servers every year.

    With one developer, plus the aforementioned server costs, you’re looking at an expenditure of roughly $150,000 per year or more depending on the size or your development team.

    What about other costs? You’ll also need to build out a support team for retailers and reps that use the platform. Someone will have to sort out a content production pipeline to fill out the platform with images, information, digital catalogs, and marketing materials. This is all an added yearly cost across personnel and software.

    The Elephant In The Room

    What’s worse is, after that huge lift, whatever you built – through no fault of your own – won’t be as good as what Envoy B2B can deliver. The truth is, we’ve been doing this for over a decade, and we are 100% focused on delivering both a platform and the support you need to grow your wholesale channel.

    The Envoy B2B software is a premium experience, with features built on real use cases and direct feedback from brands for over a decade. We have a dedicated Envoy B2B Studios team that can handle all your product imagery, digital catalogs, workbooks, and Showrooms. We’ve built a stellar Customer Success team that can shoulder implementation, onboarding, training, and support for you.

    Your brand isn’t a wholesale B2B software company. So, just like how we would inevitably design an inferior version of your product – shoes, fishing poles, outdoor gear, whatever – your initial take on a wholesale B2B e-commerce platform wouldn’t be what you need it to be. At that point, the only path to a proper software solution is more time, and more money – and that’s no solution at all.

    Don't Do It Alone

    Building your own wholesale B2B platform can be tempting. In theory, being in control of the feature set, user adoption, and retailer engagement seems like it would be the best route to take, and building it in-house means you can save on licensing.

    In reality, it will cost too much to make, take too much effort to maintain, and inhibit your growth for years to come.

    In the end, your brand needs to stay focused on what your brand does best –- bringing your products to market. What your brand shouldn’t be focused on, is becoming a software development company that stays on the forefront of wholesale B2B platform development.

    That’s what we do. Let us do it for you.


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