Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
May 2024, 12 min. read

Gone are the days of sales reps scrambling through a maze of options and prices. With the popularity of eCommerce, complex product sales demanded a better solution. That’s where embedded CPQ implementation in eCommerce steps up. If you’re looking for a solution that improves the customer experience and helps your sales reps sell more, embedded CPQ is your answer.

In this article, we’re unpacking everything you need to know about embedded CPQ for selling complex products online. 

Let’s start with the basics.

What is embedded CPQ implementation?

Initially, the CPQ software, meaning Configure Price Quote software, was an internal tool for salespeople, helping them identify the right configuration, then price and quote accurately. These traditional CPQs often operate as standalone applications, requiring users to switch between systems to configure products, generate quotes, and complete purchases.

Now, embedded CPQ takes it a step further. It seamlessly integrates with your existing eCommerce platform, eliminating the need to jump between different systems. This creates a smooth, uninterrupted experience for your customers and the sales reps.

Why choose embedded CPQ software?

Ecommerce is a platform for selling standard products with set prices. However, if your company sells customizable products that are made to order, a standard online store is not a sufficient solution. In this case, you need a CPQ tool that enables full automation of the sales prices. 

The primary advantage of an embedded CPQ system is that you’re maintaining the user in one smooth flow on your eCommerce site. No more sending customers to different links or systems to configure their products. Everything from selecting to customizing to purchasing happens in one continuous, easy-to-navigate space. 

This solution keeps the shopping experience sleek and uniform. At the same time, it boosts customer engagement and simplifies the purchase process, leading to higher sales and happier customers.

It’s a win-win. The buying journey becomes fully automated and effortless for customers, while embedded CPQ automates tasks for the sales team.

So why choose embedded CPQ? Because these systems effectively blend the robust functionality of advanced Configure-Price-Quote tools with the simplicity and user-friendly nature of standard eCommerce transactions.

The role of CPQ in eCommerce

Selling customizable products has become a key differentiator in many industries. Standard eCommerce setups primarily handle fixed-price, ready-to-ship items. CPQ systems excel in environments where products need to be tailored to specific customer requirements. Therefore, for businesses that handle a mix of off-the-shelf and made-to-order items, adopting this solution is crucial. 

Integrating CPQ with the eCommerce platform allows customers to adjust and personalize their products without ever leaving the website. This streamlined process minimizes the clicks from product selection to purchase, ensuring a smooth and engaging shopping journey. For your business, this means fewer abandoned carts and more completed sales.

Take, for instance, a medical equipment manufacturer that offers both standard devices ready to go and custom options designed for specific healthcare needs. This could mean adjusting the size of the equipment, adding unique features, or ensuring the devices work seamlessly with other systems already in place at a medical facility. 

With CPQ integrated into the eCommerce system, it dynamically updates product configurations and pricing in response to customer selections. 

Additionally, in this solution, customers have the flexibility to choose whether to pay immediately or discuss further with the producer. This option is often necessary for complex products where online purchase options may not be available.

So, for products that require tailored quoting, which traditionally involves manual processes, like emailing or phone calls, CPQ is the ideal digital sales solution.

3 Types of CPQ integration in eCommerce

The way CPQ systems fit into eCommerce platforms isn’t one-size-fits-all. It all depends on what your business needs and what your current tech setup can handle. Getting a handle on the different types of CPQ integration can guide you to the right choice for your unique situation.

1. Full integration

Full integration embeds the CPQ directly into the eCommerce platform, making it appear as if it’s just another part of the website. This setup is ideal for businesses aiming for a seamless user experience where customers can transition effortlessly from selecting standard products to customizing others.

Example: An online furniture store allows customers to select a sofa model and then customize it by choosing the fabric, color, and additional accessories, all within the same product page.

cpq integration in ecommerce

💡 Ensure that your eCommerce and CPQ systems are capable of sharing data seamlessly. This might involve significant initial setup and synchronization of databases to ensure all configurations and pricing rules are consistently applied.

2. Partial integration

In partial integration, the CPQ functions independently but is still linked to the eCommerce platform. This is suitable for complex products where the configuration options are extensive and might overwhelm the standard eCommerce interface. 

Example: A business selling custom computer systems uses a separate configurator tool linked from the main product page. The tool allows for detailed customization of components that are not easily handled by the standard eCommerce layout.

partial cpq integration in ecommerce environment
Source

💡 In this case, it’s important to provide clear navigation between the eCommerce site and the CPQ application. Using modal windows or sidebar integrations can keep the user on the same page while making it clear they are entering a different tool.

3. External, linked CPQ

Sometimes, the CPQ system operates as a standalone application, but it still links to the eCommerce platform through parts of the sales processes, like checkout. This method is typically used when the CPQ requires a different environment to perform optimally or when it needs to scale independently of the eCommerce system.

Example: A manufacturer of industrial equipment uses a separate CPQ tool to handle complex queries and calculations, which links back to the eCommerce site for final order processing and payment.

external linked cpq in ecommerce implementation

💡 To avoid user confusion, an extra care needs to be taken to maintain a consistent look and feel across both the CPQ tool and the eCommerce platform. You need to ensure that transitions between systems are smooth and that all user inputs are carried over without the need to re-enter information.

How to prepare for the CPQ implementation in eCommerce

Getting ready for the CPQ implementation in your eCommerce requires careful planning. Preparing thoroughly can mitigate potential challenges and enhance the system’s impact on your business operations.

Here are some best practices to avoid potential bumps down the road:

First up, check your data

Before you even think about integrating a CPQ system, you need to make sure your product data is up to scratch. This includes everything from detailed descriptions to 2D or 3D models, as well as laboratory data for performance calculations. The cleaner and more complete the data, the quicker and more successful the CPQ implementation.

Define your CPQ objectives

Before developing your CPQ system, pinpoint exactly what you want it to achieve. Is it streamlining sales, enhancing customer interaction, or perhaps both? Consider the role of mobile access–for some niches, it’s important for users to configure and make decisions directly from their smartphones. Other times, mobile might just be for browsing, with actual purchases needing a desktop. Tailor your CPQ features to fit these user habits for optimal results.

Identify the CPQ system owner

It’s important to designate who will own and manage the development of your CPQ system. You need to pick a team member who has in-depth product knowledge, decision-making authority, and access to necessary data. This could be your department manager or a change leader. A dedicated product owner ensures that the CPQ system aligns with business goals and is maintained accurately and effectively over time.

Next, set the rules

CPQ systems operate on a set of rules that guide the configuration process. An analysis of which rules to establish for our configurator is critical–should you limit users within the most common frameworks, or allow for freestyle customization? These rules will need to be clearly defined based on your product’s complexity and your customers’ needs. Getting this step right means your CPQ will be able to offer accurate, possible to manufacture, and profitable configurations without human oversight.

Assess your systems

How will the CPQ mesh with your existing systems, like eCommerce platform, but also Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)? Plan your integration thoroughly to avoid any technical headaches later. Whether it’s making sure databases “talk to each other” or ensuring the user interface remains clean, nailing this step is crucial for a seamless experience.

Don’t forget about your team

The tech is only as good as the people operating it. Make sure your staff from sales to IT is trained and ready to roll with the new system. After all, they’ll be the ones driving this change. Keep in mind, teams that actively invest in training are 57% more effective than those that don’t. This shows just how important it is to support your team with the right training to boost their success.

What to watch out for during the implementation

Implementing a CPQ system within an eCommerce environment can also come with its set of challenges and considerations. Being aware of these potential hurdles can help ensure a smoother implementation process.

The integration of CPQ software with existing eCommerce and ERP systems can be technically complex, especially if these systems use different technologies or are outdated. For instance, if an eCommerce platform is built on legacy technology, integrating a modern CPQ system will need knowledge of skilled developers to ensure compatibility and functionality.

Also, it’s crucial to keep your product data in-sync across the CPQ system, the eCommerce platform, and other related systems. This prevents any mismatches in pricing, product details, and availability.

For example, if your CPQ uses a dynamic pricing model that changes based on supply and demand, these changes must reflect accurately across all platforms in real-time. This ensures that customers see the correct information and helps prevent confusion and lost sales. 

With the introduction of any new system that handles customer data, ensuring that the CPQ system is secure and compliant with all relevant data protection regulations is also critical. 

Importantly, a reliable software development partner ensures zero downtime during CPQ integration. This means your online store remains operational throughout the implementation and testing phases, making deployments non-invasive and seamless. That’s why choosing an experienced partner to build and embed your CPQ system is crucial for ensuring success and scalability.

How long does it take to implement a CPQ solution?

Typically, the timeline to get a CPQ system up and running in your eCommerce platform can stretch anywhere from 8 to 18 months, depending on what you’re working with. Several factors play a role in the duration of the implementation.

The more complex your product catalog and the more customization options you offer, the longer the CPQ implementation will likely take. On the practical side, you’ll need to consider how your CPQ will integrate with current systems like ERP and CRM and how much customization your setup requires. 

The availability and expertise of your team, or the vendor’s team, are crucial. Delays often occur if the necessary staff are not available to focus on the CPQ project.

The quality and organization of your product data directly influence the timeline for successful CPQ implementation. Ensuring your data is accurate, complete, and properly formatted before starting the CPQ project can reduce the time needed for system configuration and testing.

It’s important to set realistic expectations for the duration of a CPQ implementation process. Clear communication with stakeholders about the timeline and potential hurdles can help manage expectations and ensure support throughout the project. 

We recommend scoping sessions to define the project’s boundaries and requirements clearly. This early phase workshop involves key stakeholders and technical teams to map out the CPQ system’s functionalities and integration points. Effective scoping can prevent scope creep and ensure that the project stays on track, thereby minimizing delays and aligning expectations.

Case study: Embedded CPQ implementation in Adsystem 

One of our exciting projects recently has involved implementing an embedded CPQ solution for Adsystem, a manufacturer of mobile advertising solutions. After developing their entire web environment, the company leaders recognized the need to enable customers to purchase customizable solutions for exhibitions directly alongside their standard products. 

For Adsystem, we automated the entire order processing cycle, from the online store to production initiation. Since integrating our custom-developed software, Adsystem has experienced a dramatic shift in how customers place orders. Now, up to 70% of orders come through online channels, a significant increase compared to traditional methods like in-person or phone interactions.

cpq implementation example

The future is looking even more promising as we’re preparing to launch our custom-developed embedded CPQ for Adsystem. It’ll include a 3D product configurator with an augmented reality (AR) preview feature. 

Interestingly, 60% of online shoppers say they’re more likely to purchase a product presented in 3D or AR. This shows the potential for these technologies to boost customer engagement and increase sales.

CPQ Implementation example

Soon, Adsystem’s customers will be able to effortlessly configure products to meet their specific requirements, receive immediate pricing, and proceed to checkout–all within a unified online platform. Additionally, platform users will have the flexibility to bypass the quoting process or opt into it if they wish to discuss further with the sales team.

Final thoughts 

As we wrap up, it’s clear that integrating a CPQ system into your eCommerce platform brings numerous benefits. If you’re dealing with complex configurations offered on made-to-order products, CPQ systems simplify the process, allowing your customers to easily customize their orders with minimal effort. This means your sales reps can spend less time on administrative tasks, like manual quote generation, and more time doing what they do best–selling more, faster.

Custom-developed CPQ systems outshine ready-made solutions by offering tailored designs and flexible workflows. They adapt seamlessly to your specific business rules and product complexities, enhancing scalability and functionality in your eCommerce platform.

Ready to give your customers the self-service eCommerce experience they expect? Contact us today to talk about your software needs with our experienced technology and engineering experts. Right Information can embed a CPQ solution to any type of eCommerce. No matter how complex your product range, we’ll find a way to automate your sales process.