Building vs. Buying Your Digital Commerce Portal: Challenges and Advantages for the Chemical Industry

Building vs. Buying Your Digital Commerce Portal: Challenges and Advantages for the Chemical Industry

Derek Morgen

Digital Marketing Expert

Like all projects, when it comes to implementing Digital Commerce platforms, you are faced with a couple of fundamental choices. Let’s look at the pros and cons of building a solution on your own, vs. buying a ready-made one.


Despite advances in technology, the actual task of building and maintaining an online commerce platform remains a complex and elaborate undertaking. A typical medium-sized chemical company doesn’t have the resources, expertise, or bandwidth to design, develop, test, and launch a full-featured commerce platform. Their staff doesn’t include software engineers, testers, security experts, or user interface designers. And even if they were to temporarily bring all those experts on board, by the time they are done developing the strategy, acquiring the tools, and building the actual product (which typically takes 18-24 months), technology would have moved on, and their needs would likely have changed. It’s difficult to justify the cost, the effort, and the wait for a solution that may never deliver the anticipated value and would require ongoing additional investments. 

For large corporations, funding a custom development project may not be a problem, but the simple fact remains—few companies in the chemical business can count building, integrating, maintaining, and continuously upgrading commerce portals among their core competencies. Sure, several large companies have successfully built online platforms for their product portfolios, but these largely function as internal tools or product catalogs. And rather frequently, such portals are only available for existing customers, excluding potential buyers to learn about a product portfolio, order a sample, or request a quote. 


Surely, you can buy a few licenses of an off-the-shelf commerce software. But the sheer complexity of the chemical industry and the regulations surrounding the process of buying and selling chemicals would render almost any generic solution unusable. You can also buy a membership in one of many online marketplaces, which for a fee, would list your products on their portals. But what does this mean for your brand, your reputation, your customer relationship, or your partnerships? How can customers find your unique products in the sea of other listings? How can you monitor how your products get distributed, handled, and used?


And this brings us to the third option—a digital commerce portal that’s designed specifically for the Build or buy: what’s the right approach? chemical industry. It’s neither a generic marketplace, nor is it a proprietary piece of software that you are responsible for customizing and maintaining. A solution that’s purpose-built for producers, distributors, and buyers of chemicals is engineered by design to support the complex processes, requirements, regulations, and relationships that are specific to this industry. You can still take advantage of all the advanced capabilities of an online commerce engine—without diluting your brand or spending a fortune on building something from scratch.

The post is taken from our recently published white paper Choosing the Best Digital Commerce Platform for the Chemical Industry. Click on the link for more insights regarding digital commerce transformation in the Chemical Industry and the options suppliers and distributors can choose from.

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