How Much Does It Cost to Implement Elastic Path?
When I, like many others, make an important purchase, especially one that involves a long-term commitment and represents a high percentage of my budget, I am thorough. Whether investing in a car, house, phone, or expensive new winter coat –I do my research. Usually that includes reading reviews, talking to friends and experts, and understanding the financial commitment –the price!
The experience of technology buyers mirrors my approach. At Elastic Path 100% of our prospective customers ask about price.
In fact, when I poll our business development team it is the top question they receive on their introductory calls with brands. It comes up constantly, and for good reason!
Investing in new eCommerce technology is a big deal for buyers both in terms of their companies’ ability to hit revenue targets in coming years and their own professional growth.
Nobody wants to be the VP of eCommerce or CTO who advocated for a costly eCommerce platform only to have it fail.
Unfortunately, most enterprise commerce vendors don’t share their pricing until you take several meetings with them. This process can feel dated and be extremely frustrating for brands who just want to understand if they can afford the investment or not.
But, to play devil’s advocate, it’s often very hard for vendors to provide pricing without knowing a brands unique goals and requirements.
That is exactly why I am writing this blog post. Although I can’t give you an exact number, this post will help you better understand how much it costs to implement Elastic Path and what you need to consider when thinking about the total investment and why traditional means of evaluation might need a rethink for modern approaches.
I will cover:
• An introduction to commerce technology pricing
• The different components that will make up your total cost when working with Elastic Path
• How each component is priced
Commerce Software Pricing 101: It Depends!
“It depends”. That is the simplest (and most frustrating) way to answer the question “How much does it cost?”.
A useful analogy that helps to explain this is making dinner. How much will it cost to make dinner? The investment to put a meal on the table depends on the outcome you seek
If you want something simple and don’t care about nutrition or flavor profile–a cup of ramen or a bologna sandwich are low-cost ways to make a meal. Did you make dinner? Yes. Was it less than $5? Yes. Was it ready in 3 minutes? Yes.
However, let’s say you want something a bit more nutritious and delicious made with all local ingredients –you’ll need grass-fed beef, farmer’s market vegetables, handmade pasta and cheese from your local Italian market, and bread from the neighbourhood bakery. Did you make dinner? Yes. Was it less than $5? No, it cost you $50 or more but it was delicious and supported your local community. It also look more time to shop and prepare than the bologna.
In these two scenarios both chefs put a meal on the table, but their goals were completely different meaning their cost was as well.
Commerce is the same. The cost of your commerce solution will depend on your goals and requirements. If you want to commerce-enable a simple, existing site your cost will be much lower that if you want to re-platform multiple brands, across numerous geographies.
So, when a representative from a commerce vendor tells you that pricing will depend. They are being honest and just need to understand your business and goals a bit more before they provide a detailed answer that's not higher than it needs to be, and more importantly isn't lower than it should be. There is nothing worse than thinking you're getting a great deal only to find out later in the process that something will really be 5x what you were originally told. If a sales rep is able to give you a cost without understanding anything about your enterprise business-proceed with caution.
These solutions are often geared more towards small businesses and can’t meet the needs of enterprises. The remainder of this blog will serve as a guide for anticipating the cost to implement your commerce solution with Elastic Path.
What Are the Various Parts That Make Up My Commerce Investment?
At Elastic Path we follow a Composable Commerce approach and so do our customers. Composable Commerce is an approach that enables business and tech teams to bring their brands' unique digital visions to life by launching and continuously optimizing digital commerce experiences from multiple best-of-breed vendors composed together into a complete, business ready solution.
This means that when you implement Elastic Path, you will be connecting it with other technologies. Some brands may already have licenses for these third-party technologies while others may have to invest in them.
For this reason your cost to implement is made up of 3 components:
1. Elastic Path Subscription including core commerce capabilities and APIs, business & developer tooling, education, & quick starts, and reference experiences.
2. Third party technology licenses for applications such as search, OMS, CMS, personalization, etc.
3. Implementation for those who plan to pay Elastic Path or a third-party SI to perform migrations, discovery, integrations, and design work.
Keep reading to better understand what each component will cost.
Elastic Path Subscription Pricing
Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is a composable, API-first Headless Commerce microservices-based product for digitally driven branded manufacturers. It includes:
• Core commerce capabilities & APIs
• Business user tooling via our Commerce Manager dashboard
• Developer tooling including a Postman collection, data model extensions, and more
• Education and quick starts to accelerate user learning
• Reference experiences for frontend best practices
It is priced based on transaction volume, either GMV or orders processed. Typically, pricing starts around $50,000 USD/year and increases based on your transaction volume. As your transaction volume increases so will your total cost, but economies of scale mean your unit cost/ per transaction fees are much lower at $10 billion than they are at $10 million.
Third Party Technology Pricing
As described above, Elastic Path follows a Composable Commerce approach.
This approach enables brands to choose their preferred third-party technology providers and seamlessly integrate them with Elastic Path.
Instead of being locked in with a monolithic platform that does “all things” in an average capacity, Composable Commerce enables brands to choose the specific providers that will best fulfill their unique needs. This is one reason why brands prefer a Composable Commerce approach.
Common applications that brands connect to Elastic Path include content management systems (CMS), storefront, enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, order management systems (OMS), search, personalization, tax & payments, and PIM.
Often, we find that brands simultaneously evaluate commerce and other third-party technology providers as the same time. Each of these applications will have their own price that is provided by your chosen vendor during the evaluation process.
What you choose to invest in will depend on your backend requirements and the customer experiences you want to power. But, most often we talk to prospects who are also evaluating headless CMS and search technology.
If you aren’t sure what you need an experienced solutions engineer or architect at your commerce platform can help you walk through this. If you’re not sure who that person is-reach out to the Elastic Path team. We have experienced commerce professionals who can walk you through this exercise.
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On the other hand, some brands have already invested in these technologies so third-party license costs will not be added to implementation costs since they are already in place. If this is you, remember to consider the cost to connect your existing technology investments with a new commerce solution.
See the implementation section below to learn more about integration cost.
I may sound like a broken record at this point but, in summary, the cost of third-party technology just depends! Your cost will be impacted by what you choose to invest in now (versus in a year or never) and what you already have as part of your existing technology stack (and therefore don’t need to pay for). With Composable Commerce you are given the complete control to define how quickly (or slowly) you want to scale your commerce strategy.
This is completely unique to every brand and every implementation. Depending on what you choose to invest in your cost will differ.
The final element of pricing to consider is your implementation cost. The first step here is to determine what implementation work needs to be done. This completely depends on your unique project requirements but we commonly see implementation work fall into the following buckets:
Migrate Your Data:
This isn’t common for commerce implementations as data often lives in your third-party applications, but it is still something to consider. To determine if you need to complete this work, ask yourself:
• Is there any data migration that needs to occur as part of implementation?
If yes, you’ll need to think about data migration as part of implementation. Even if you don't plan to migrate product or customer data- it's often easier to simply re-build from your product system-of-record- you will need to plan for any in-flight or unfulfilled orders or orders within their return windows to ensure proper processing and handling of refunds or exchanges.
Align On Priorities & Scope:
A discovery workshop is a key step in a successful implementation. This type of work ensures that your entire team is aligned on what you plan to build now and how your backlog is prioritized so that you reduce overall cost and time spent on getting live. Ask yourself:
• Is my entire team aligned on what we need to do now versus in 1 year?
• Does everyone have the same expectations about go-live?
• Are we aligned on the timeline? (3 months, 6 months, 1 year)
• Do all stakeholders agree with an iterative approach? If not, how can I change that?
If you answered no to any of these questions, I would suggest investing in a discovery workshop where you nail down top priorities for go live and align on backlog prioritization so that you can start generating revenue sooner rather than later.
Design Your Experiences:
Design work can often be the most time-consuming and unpredictable part of any implementation as there are usually many prototypes and versions of a user experience to review.
You can save time and money by leveraging templates provided by your SI or eCommerce solution but, we find that most brands want to customize a solution to make it their own. Design work includes alignment on the user experience, graphics, fonts, colors, themes, etc. and then subsequent A/B testing. Ask yourself:
• Does the team plan to use templates or custom build the user experiences?
• Who are the key players that need to be involved in providing input and review prototypes?
• Does everyone have the same expectations about go-live?
• Do all stakeholders agree with an iterative approach? If not, how can I change that?
• Do you have an existing user experience you plan to use?
• How will we measure and continuously improve our experience once live?
If the answers to these questions are no or unknown, you will need to invest in design work.
Decide on Implementation Strategy:
Depending on cost, scope, and time parameters, every implementation is different. It's important to align on your approach for implementation. Ask yourself:
• Will you built it all new (greenfield) and launch at once?
• Will you increment capabilities, delivering the next highest priority first, then the next, then the next - building, learning, and iterating as you go?
• Will you modernize your existing technology with an incremental (strangler) approach?
Your implementation strategy will directly impact your short term and long term cost so it is crucial to ensure your business and tech teams are aligned on expectations.
Bring It To Life:
When launching with a new eCommerce solution for an enterprise business there will always be some build work needed to get live.
This includes integrating with third party technologies and building the customizations to meet your unique needs. Since Elastic Path is microservices-based, the build process can be completely modular. Separate team members can work on integrations with OMS, ERP, search, personalization, etc. all at the same time without disturbing each other.
While you will still need to devote time to the build process, you will have less idle resources and a lower opportunity cost (the cost of doing nothing) when using Elastic Path.
Once you understand the different aspects of implementations, the second step is to determine who will complete that work. You have a few options:
• An SI partner or digital agency
• Elastic Path Success Assurance team
• Your internal team
• A mix of all three
In general, you may save money when you use only your internal team. However, this approach is uncommon outside organizations with highly experienced technical team or a small project. We find that most brands use an SI or mix SI team members with their internal team to complete an implementation. If working with an SI or the Elastic Path Success Assurance team the more time (hours) you need, the higher the cost.
Once you understand the work you need to complete and how you will do it, you can work with an SI or Elastic Path to understand total implementation cost. Based on what we see with customers, implementations can be anywhere from 1-4x your technology license cost depending on the scale of your project.
If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you will understand that the cost of software is like the cost of making a meal –it just depends what you want!
Our sales team at Elastic Path is well versed in providing pricing for brands with all different types of requirements and goals. Reach out today to receive a personalized estimate for your commerce implementation.
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