When you hear the term eCommerce you may think complexity, cost, and maintenance nightmares. But setting up an online store doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. If you do it right.
eCommerce is still a relatively new concept for the restaurant equipment industry where B2B sales have been handled by dealer and distributor sales teams. It’s not an easy process. Paper catalogs that go out-of-date before the ink has even dried, SKUs that are being constantly added, and prices that change at a moment’s notice.
We talk to these companies all the time, and what we hear is “we explored eCommerce but it was too costly” or “our customers aren’t interested in an online purchasing experience”.
There’s no doubt that the latter is wrong. Driven by their consumer buying habits, and as validated in this recent article, B2B consumers are increasingly demanding the same experience when they make work-related purchases.
According to Forrester, (and as we discuss in this whitepaper) 74% of B2B buyers research at least half of their purchases online, even when it comes to buying products that often require customization and configuration:
“B2B buyers continue to expect an ‘Amazon-like’ experience despite the space’s increasing complexity...They expect a real-time interaction, extensive price and inventory transparency, and robust guided selling as a condition for them to engage in a purchase channel shift.”
But what about the former? Is eCommerce as costly as the food service and restaurant equipment market thinks?
Yes, and no. It depends how you approach eCommerce. Let’s look at your options:
Traditional eCommerce Platforms
There are many cloud-based and ERP options on the market, many of them industry-specific. They can range in functionality and cost.
Let’s look at your traditional options, all of which involve some DIY and, often significant, vendor support costs. For the purposes of this comparison, we’ve ignored self-service “Lite” eCommerce solutions, since they lack the scalability needed for the complex world of commercial food service equipment sales.
- Mid-Range eCommerce Solutions – For an eCommerce site with a small product catalog, expect to pay anywhere from $7,500 to $17,000 just to get set-up (platform costs, web hosting, web design, setup, configuration and training), and annual running costs of between $73,000 to $116,000 (including maintenance and the staff to manage the product information).
- Enterprise eCommerce Solutions – For a larger catalog (a must for dealers with many brands in their inventory), the cost jumps significantly since you’ll require more custom features like design, programming, and systems integration. Setup can run between $22,500 and $35,000 and ongoing costs can exceed $100,000/year.
Looking at these numbers, it’s understandable why cautious restaurant equipment dealers are hesitating to explore eCommerce. But, let’s look at another option.
Atero eCommerce – Stripping eCommerce of its Complexity and Cost
We all know that selling commercial kitchen equipment is a complex process. Whether you’re selling restaurant equipment, medical supplies, or construction equipment – the devil is in the details. It’s a lot different than ordering a book from Amazon or a pair of shoes from Zappos. Orders are susceptible to errors, there’s no easy way to keep up with the ever-changing pricing dynamics, and manufacturer SKUs change so often. Plus, you’re under pressure to ensure that your customers get the right products and accessories for their needs, space requirements, and deadlines.
Then there’s the inherent complexity of the two-step distribution model (manufacturer-to-dealer and dealer-to-customer). The required level of functionality needed to ensure the seamless flow of accurate product information, pricing, and orders between each step in the process can make it look like a costly, custom solution is the only option.
But, with Atero, a cloud-based eCommerce solution specifically designed for these two-step models, dealers can launch an online store for a fraction of the cost of building and managing their own ecommerce platform.
Instead of throwing an expensive, custom-built eCommerce platform and staff at the problem, Atero streamlines the purchasing process for a fraction of the cost (contact us to learn just how much).
Here are just five features and benefits your business will realize with the Atero:
- Searchable digital sales catalogs, offering much greater depth of content (videos, spec sheets, warranty info, etc.) – updated in near real-time from manufacturers
- Price management controls specific to your industry’s unique channels of distribution
- A built-in order automation platform streamlining the purchase process enabling buyers to purchase online from dealers
- Sophisticated shipping and tax calculators along with payment options
- Tracking tools providing visibility from point-of-sale through delivery
No Technical Expertise Required
We also strip eCommerce of its complexity. Our concierge onboarding, means we can handle all aspects of the implementation and data entry, saving you time and effort. Atero eCommerce is easy-to-use and requires no technical expertise, but we provide training anyway so you’re comfortable with making updates or performing administrative tasks, like changing the price of an item or replacing a product image.
Traditional eCommerce platforms can take months to build. With Atero, you can leverage our inventory of manufacturer data and be up and running in 30 days.
Learn more or request a demo today.
 The Forrester Wave™: B2B Commerce Suites, Q2 2015