How Much Does It Cost to Set Up a B2B Ecommerce Site?
Ecommerce is exploding in the B2B space.
Nearly two thirds (65%) of companies are offering a sales experience that’s fully online, and 32% of B2B professionals say it’s the single most effective sales channel they have.
For any B2B company, it’s become an essential part of the road ahead — for your teams, your customers, and the growth of your business.
But like any new channel, it comes at a cost.
And we’re here to show you what to expect.
Here’s what you need to know about the cost of creating a B2B ecommerce website — from set-up and onboarding to the monthly fees as you scale and grow:
A B2B ecommerce site can cost:
(up to £10m revenue)
(up to £50m revenue)
(over £50m revenue)
Isn’t a B2C platform cheaper?
The short answer?
Yes it is — but you won’t get the results you need.
Platforms like Shopify and Squarespace come with a strong reputation and top-notch features for B2C sellers and B2C ordering.
(And compared to B2B platforms, they come with attractive pricing.)
But these platforms weren’t designed for B2B.
They were designed for simple ordering on a small scale — without the personalisation or advanced user controls of a dedicated B2B ecommerce platform.
We’ve talked before about why a B2C ecommerce platform isn’t a good fit for B2B. Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll be missing out on:
A B2C ecommerce platform won’t give you:
- Integration with your other systems
- Budget management and approval workflows
- Tools for reordering
- Features for multi-site customers and multi-user teams
- Deep customer support
And the result?
You’ll need to band-aid your B2C ecommerce site.
After investing in the platform itself, you’ll need to buy pre-made add-ons and plug-ins to get the functionality you need.
You won’t have a platform that’s integrated with your business systems — or the right level of support to help you fix any issues along the way.
So what’s the TCO of a true B2B ecommerce site?
There’s no universal figure for the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a B2B ecommerce site.
But we can break it down into two main areas:
- The cost of setting up your site
- Your monthly subscription
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Set-up and onboarding
This is where the bulk of your ecommerce project happens. And compared to setting up a B2C platform, this is where you’ll see a big difference in the costs.
Because the best B2B ecommerce websites are closely tailored to your business and your systems.
The cost of creating an ecommerce website includes:
- Introductory calls and product demos
- Developing your ecommerce site
- Designing your site’s front end
- Creating integrations with your other systems
- Onboarding and training your teams.
The set-up costs of a B2B ecommerce website:
Less than £10k
£50k or more
With Apparatus, we’ve spent years refining our ecommerce onboarding process to help you hit the ground running — from deep project planning to a smooth website launch.
The cost of creating an ecommerce website can vary dramatically, depending on the features you’re looking for and the integrations you need.
But no matter how big or small your project is, you’ll get the same proven methodology that we use for all our B2B ecommerce clients.
Here’s how it works when you work with us:
2. Monthly costs
After the setup and onboarding costs, you’ll pay a fixed monthly fee to your B2B ecommerce provider.
This usually covers everything that’s needed to keep your new site running, including:
- Website hosting
- Platform updates
- And tech support.
But take care:
Some providers may not include things like platform updates as part of their subscription. So you should always check what you’re getting (to make sure you don’t run into any nasty surprises later).
At Apparatus, our developers have a full roadmap planned ahead with platform updates and new ecommerce features for our clients and their customers.
And it’s all included in the monthly fee for every client.
“Unlike some providers, we don’t charge you a percentage of your sales. We use fixed fees priced in bands — so it’s easy to forecast your monthly spend.”
We stick to a clear pricing structure with fixed fees — no matter what level of business you’re running. So when you choose us, we’ll make it clear exactly what you pay each month, and it’s easy to keep track of when your costs might increase.
(You’ll also get friendly reminders from your account manager if your fees are likely to change — so you’ll never get a shock from your monthly bills.)
Our pricing bands are based on factors such as your platform revenue per annum, total listed product SKUs, and number of customer accounts. We’ll always review your price band when onboarding, to make sure you’re not paying over the odds.
What can change the cost of your ecommerce website?
Every company is different — and so is every ecommerce website.
The costs we’ve given for businesses of different sizes are only ballpark figures.
The true cost of your B2B ecommerce site depends on the features and functionality you need (and the products and revenue you deal with).
But there are some factors that make a bigger difference than others:
This is one of the biggest influences on the cost of your project. And for any company that takes ecommerce seriously, it’s non-negotiable.
Linking your business systems so they can share data is essential — both for the accuracy of that data, and the efficiency of your overall business.
But it comes at a cost:
Creating integrations is a time-consuming process that can take up a large chunk of the cost of creating an ecommerce website.
Most companies will need their ecommerce site to connect to their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system as a minimum.
But you might also need integrations with your:
- PIM (Product Information Management) system
- Accounting software
- Logistics and fulfilment systems.
The more integrations you need, the more these costs can add up — especially if you need custom integrations with non-mainstream systems.
2. Storefront customisation
Your ecommerce site will need its own ‘front-end’ customisation for each storefront.
Just like your integrations, customising a storefront can be labour-intensive. If you need heavy customisation across multiple storefronts, that extra work can add up to a significant cost.
On the other hand, basic customisation can mean that your own teams could handle this (which saves you money).
3. Scale and growth
When you come on board, you will join one of our different pricing tiers.
But as your business grows, you might not fit into the same tier any more.
That means looking out for:
- Your annual platform revenue
- The number of product SKUs
- The number of customer accounts.
Unlike some providers, we don’t charge a percentage of every sale. Instead, we charge a fixed monthly fee based on the above factors.
So while you won’t see your costs rising with every sale you make, you might see your costs rise eventually as your business scales and grows over the long term.
With this banded pricing system, you’ll know exactly what you’re paying months ahead of time — with no nasty shocks or surprises.
Need a quote to bring to the team?
There’s no simple number behind the TCO of a B2B ecommerce site.
There are a range of factors at play — from the features and customisation you need, to the future of your business as it continues to grow.
But if you’re looking for a better understanding of the costs ahead, we’re here to help.
Talk to one of our B2B ecommerce experts for a no-pressure chat about your business and your goals — and together we’ll see if Apparatus is the right fit.