SuiteCommerce Utlimate Guide: Cost Factors of a SuiteCommerce Implementation
Photo by Austin Distel
Our NetSuite certified commerce agency performs SuiteCommerce implementations every day. The question that every SuiteCommerce customer has during the discovery phase is, “How cheap can my SuiteCommerce implementation be?” That’s why we decided to help create this guide to help you understand the factors that help keep the SuiteCommerce implementation cost low.
Big Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make (Find the Right Partner)
First of all, let me help you understand the biggest risk you can take that will bite you in the butt and cause you to bang your head.
Finding the right partner…
There are four major types of partners that you will likely come across when working with NetSuite.
Commerce Agency Partners
Choosing the right partner for implementations is highly important and it is vital to vet your partner to understand their skill sets. Here are some questions you can ask your partner.
The reason why we mention finding the right partner to reduce implementation costs, is because efficiency and experience is your friend.
What types of individual certifications do your team members have?
Do you have team members that are SuiteCommerce certified?
What type of a partner are you?
What niche inside of NetSuite do you primarily focus on?
How many SuiteCommerce implementations have you done?
Do you subcontract work and to whom?
How many NetSuite instances have you worked on?
Do you have any references?
What sets you apart from other partners? (cost, experience, communication, project management, fully US based consultants, fully outsourced consultants)
You may also find a partner that is not officially tied to NetSuite, but offers NetSuite services. You don’t need to write them off right away. The main thing you will want to do is to vet them with the same questions. Especially to see what individual certifications their team members have. It’s more important to know the actual team members working on the project with their skills.
The reason why we mention finding the right partner to reduce implementation costs is because efficiency and experience is your friend.
Subscription Cost of SuiteCommerce (NetSuite ecommerce)
If you are just beginning the discovery phase of an ecommerce platform then I’m sure you are curious about the cost of SuiteCommerce. First let me educate you on the two different types of SuiteCommerce.
1. SuiteCommerce Standard
2. SuiteCommerce Advanced
Here is an explanation on the differences between the two types of SuiteCommerce. You may also be interested in why SuiteCommerce is better than other platforms which is discussed at the bottom of the page in that link.
If you need to know exact subscription costs, you can contact our team for an estimate of SuiteCommerce. Plus, we will give you a ball park estimate on implementation within 10 minutes.
Based on the two names, you can probably get the idea that SuiteCommerce Standard (also just called SuiteCommerce) is cheaper than SuiteCommerce Advanced. This may be one area that you can help reduce cost by evaluating if SuiteCommerce Standard will work well for your business. In most cases, SuiteCommerce Standard is all you need. If you are a company that plans to heavily invest in development, then I would suggest SuiteCommerce Advanced.
If SuiteCommerce (SC) creates sticker shock to you, then we understand. But I’m sure you have had plenty of other sticker shock moments while purchasing NetSuite and other software options. Keep in mind that this is designed to outfit companies with a platform that cannot be outgrown.
SuiteCommerce is enterprise level ecommerce similar to Magento 2.0 or Shopify Plus. Both Magento and Shopify Plus cost around $60k in annual subscriptions.
One way many companies offset software costs is by optimizing internal automation to reduce their employees tedious waste every day. There are a few things that can help automate more processes: 3rd party SuiteApps, workflows, custom scripts when workflow capabilities are maxed (great idea), consulting on data architecture, discussions on software pain points.
Ways to Reduce the Cost of your SuiteCommerce Implementation
This is going to be one of the bigger lump investments you make in the purchase process. We want to be transparent and give you actual numbers from clients we have implemented.
In general, you can expect a SuiteCommerce Standard implementation to cost minimum of $18,000 and SuiteCommerce Advanced (SCA) to cost a minimum of $60,000 to implement. However, there are ways to reduce this cost.
SuiteCommerce Implementation Cost Factors:
These are the three primary factors that go into the cost of implementations:
1. Internal Resources of a Company that Can Help Reduce the Implementation Cost
Graphic designer can help produce any marketing material that may be used to swap out images, colors, and general look and feel of the website. They can take a look at some of the existing theme options that may be the base for the out of box implementation. If these are not good enough, they can be customized and there are more options available if you contact top CAP partners that collected custom themes to use as a new base..
NetSuite Administrator can update the item records to ensure that they all have the content necessary for proper search engine optimization (get found on Google) and marketing content. They will ensure that each of the items selected to display on the website will have a description, associated item images, proper pricing for MSRP and special pricing options, image alt tags (just get the Anchor Group automation, it will pay for itself in a day).
Marketing professional will be able to make content decisions immediately to make sure all the items have the correct information, homepage looks right, my account looks right, and checkout process is how you want
SuiteCommerce theme changes, extensions, extra data scripts to automate data entry (helps maintain SEO), quality assurance and testing required for customization. SuiteCommerce developers are necessary to get quality customization support.
3. Hourly Rate of SuiteCommerce Developers and Consultants
SuiteCommerce is a unique skill set that is in high demand. Since it is such a unique niche (requires NetSuite knowledge and web development knowledge), it can be challenging to find resources that are more affordable options.
How to Reduce the Cost Factors?
First lets talk internal resources…
The more people you have available, then the less you have to pay for hourly contractors. However, keep efficiency in mind because you are still paying for internal workers. Stick to their strong points! If you want to try to self implement or to follow along with an implementation as a training method then I suggest getting this video guided course that follows the process. It will at least help with the transfer of knowledge for maintaining your NetSuite ecommerce solution.
I have heard of companies that try to self implement and have not been successful after two years!!! They have literally paid thousands of dollars in subscription fees without any income produced!!! If you try to self implement and 2-3 months have passed…its time to pass the torch and accept you need help. Take the opportunity to work with an expert to learn. The moral of the story…know your skill set limits. There is no reason to suffer defeat when you don’t have to.
The moral of the story…know your skill set limits.
In summary, use internal resources when they can add value with skills they already have established. It’s important to get the commerce website implemented quickly so it can generate revenue.
It’s important to get the commerce website implemented quickly so it can generate revenue.
The second step to reduce cost of implementation is to reduce the number of customization’s needed. This is true for theme (look and feel) and extension (added functionality) customization. Don’t be afraid to customize, but only customize what is absolutely necessary for your business. SuiteCommerce has the essential commerce solutions out of the box to get you selling products effectively. If you need to customize, then do it. If it is a wish list item, then customize after go-live. Get revenue before you start adding too much investments.
There is one scenario where it makes sense to do just a handful of more customization’s and that is when you have an existing successful ecommerce website that is migrating to SuiteCommerce. It makes sense to spend more time in development here because you already have revenue from ecommerce coming into your business. Otherwise…start small.
Your CAP partner will be able to identify what an out of box SuiteCommerce implementation will involve. Expect it to range between 150 – 250 hours. It is basically harnessing all the native features. You will want to take time during the preliminary requirements gathering of your project to truly understand what is native. Sometimes a sales person will tell you more things are native than they actually are, and that isn’t to deceive you. It’s probably because they simply haven’t spent as much time in the platform during development or because the software is continuously improving. Talk to a certified SuiteCommerce developer … they will truly know if it is native. It’s OK to get a broad idea from a sales team, but when you are trying to reduce the implementation price, it is important to have complete assurance in the estimate by the developer input.
SuiteCommerce Developer Rates (Affordable):
It’s a no brainer that a lower hourly rate will likely result in a lower implementation cost. The main mistake that could be made is using a developer without experience in SuiteCommerce. Don’t go down that road… you will get burned. It’s a specialty field that requires NetSuite developer, admin, and SuiteCommerce developer expertise. NetSuite has a SuiteCommerce certification that you should ask your partner about. Or if they are a CAP certified team then you should also be covered because they are required to pass a lot of project based tests first.
You can find a qualified team of SuiteCommerce developers in the United States for as low as $120/hr. It is unlikely that you will get that low of a rate for projects under $18,000 because lower rates are often reserved for large projects. If you end up paying lower than $120/hr than you are either getting developers outside of the United States or a non-experienced contractor.
Here are some quick tips for finding an affordable SuiteCommerce consultant/developer in the United States.
1. Skip the Recruiter (Every middle man takes a cut). They do have a very real value in the space so don’t disqualify them forever.
2. Vet CAP partners to see if they primarily use developers outside the United States. Even though a CAP partner is based in the U.S. doesn’t mean they use U.S. developers. It’s not the end of the world if they do, but if it is an important factor to you, then you should at least ask.
3. Find someone that will teach you along the way. Otherwise you will be left out to dry if you no longer have the basic knowledge to be self sufficient.
4. Find a partner with post Go-Live support that has as record of customization. You will want to optimize your shopping experience to increase sales.
Reasonable SuiteCommerce Implementation Expectations
Here are some expectations you should consider as reasonable.
An out of box SuiteCommerce Standard implementation could get as low as $15,000 but you should expect that it will likely be at least $25,000 because everyone wants a least a couple customization’s.
A SuiteCommerce Advanced implementation could be as low as $15,000 because it has the same out of box features as standard. However, you purchased SCA for a reason and one of those reasons is for customization. You will likely be spending at least $60,000+ because SCA users tend to have more customization required prior to Go-Live. They often tend to have an existing ecommerce platform that they are migrating from which means they still are getting ecommerce revenue.
Expect to spend some extra money on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because it is a unique skill. There are basics that should be followed during the implementation, but things can be automated to ensure that when a new item is added, all SEO fields get populated no matter what. This is a long term project, but keep some room in the budget for this.
SuiteCommerce is great for B2B. You may have more challenging configuration requirements due to your specific B2B processes. Customization will probably be your friend for B2B ecommerce. One example is Anchor Group’s My Account Custom Records which allows for NetSuite custom record to appear in the “my account.” It’s a customization that many B2B companies require.
You will probably spend money for the detailed estimate breaking down each requirement. For some reason, people think they can have a 30 minute conversation and get a detailed estimate for a SuiteCommerce implementation. That would be very wrong…you have a business with unique business processes that needs to be understood properly. You can get a detailed estimate of a standardized quote, but you won’t have a detailed quote of all the customizations you may want. Take the time to walk through each one. Standard B2B companies tend to take longer (about 10-20 hours) while B2C companies tend to take less time in this phase (5-10 hours). You will get a good understanding of what is native and what requirements are not native during this time.
A fully integrated NetSuite ecommerce solution has a lot of pieces. It is powerful, but it can also be delicate if not managed properly. There are huge benefits to be able to access all the NetSuite ERP data to apply to the ecommerce website, but to have something fully integrated also means it interacts with NetSuite constantly. That can be good or bad. Ultimately, I believe it to be a fantastic solution for a company trying to automate all their processes while centralizing their data.
Expect to have to schedule out an implementation. Some companies may have availability right away, but SuiteCommerce is in very high demand and there are limited companies with the expertise to implement. I think you should expect to have to schedule out no later than 6 weeks. It is actually a good opportunity for initial requirements, educating your NetSuite admin, preparing items, provisioning your theme, and other miscellaneous work.
Expect post go-live work. There is no reason to think that your investment ends at go-live. Find a partner that has a managed service plan that can support you in go-live. Even if you have internal employees managing NetSuite, they will need expert support while they learn more about SuiteCommerce. I suggest you allow the expert to assign small tasks to your NetSuite admin or developer while a partner does most of the work. Take advantage of easier tasks your employees can tackle while having an expert available for training and review.
Keep an eye out for Free NetSuite training options
Need to talk about SuiteCommerce? Are you in the discovery phase to see what is best for you? Maybe you are looking for a qualified NetSuite team for SuiteCommerce implementations?