by Andy

SpoonFeeder Interview

We talk to Gene Chandler, President of SpoonFeeder Inc., about the SpoonFeeder ad listing and auction management tool.

Tags: Interviews

WR: You are both an eBay seller and software engineer, an ideal combination for this business! What do you sell and how long have you been doing it?

I started as a buyer of rare coins on eBay in 1999. As I upgraded my collection I decided to become an eBay seller and sell off duplicate and upgraded coins from my collection. Even though eBay made it easy to reach other collectors interested in buying my upgraded coins, I quickly realized that there were a lot of challenges to selling efficiently online and selling for high prices.

As a software engineer it did not take me long before I had developed a series of tools to help with the selling process. At that time capturing, enhancing and uploading pictures and integrating those pictures with the item listing html code was a tedious task involving many different software tools. So I built an early software prototype to help integrate and streamline these functions, and give the listings a neat and professional appearance.

Later I expanded my selling of coins on eBay to include recurring sales of Gold, Silver and Platinum bullion and other precious metal coins. These listings were always the same, because I sold identical bullion coin merchandise over and over again. Even with the listings reusable and ready to go, it became a chore to keep manually submitting the same items over and over, especially since the higher hit rates for this type of material occurred on specific days of the week and certain times of the day. So, I added scheduling capabilities to my prototype software to do the submissions automatically on a recurring basis.

Pretty soon, other sellers became interested in these tools and I decided it would make a good product to help others sell online. We named the software SpoonFeeder and over the years it has steadily improved and adapted to add more and more selling features. Today we support the businesses of thousands of successful online sellers using SpoonFeeder.

WR: And what kind of software do you develop, other than SpoonFeeder?

Our parent company, Great Lakes Software of Michigan, Inc., is in the business of ERP or enterprise resource planning and inventory management. CIMS Computerized Inventory Management System includes sales forecasting, inventory data collection with hand held computers, multiple location inventory management, production scheduling, raw materials and packaging materials procurement, distribution scheduling, and transport scheduling systems.

Our company serves Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Seven-Up, and Dean Foods internationally as CIMS customers. In the future, some parts of that product, such as sales forecasting, will adapt and converge into the SpoonFeeder product.

WR: SpoonFeeder has some of the best international support of any eBay listing software. Why was that important for you?

It's important because it opens up the availability and usefulness of the SpoonFeeder product to a much larger marketplace of international sellers. Plus it gives our sellers the ability to sell their merchandise all around the world. To me that is one of the core benefits of selling online as opposed to just opening up a shop. After all, its called the "World Wide Web" for a reason.

We have found it's a lot harder to support international categories, multiple currencies, multiple listing formats, different shipping and payment methods. From an ecommerce standpoint going international early has helped our product develop a good stable platform on which to build. It has forced us to step back and redo some things in a more well-organized approach.

WR: It must be tough competing against eBay’s own tools, especially the free Turbo Lister. What does SpoonFeeder offer to sellers that they can’t get from Turbo Lister?

Since eBay controls their venue they can market their listing tool aggressively on their own site and give it away for "free" to sellers. We compete by offering significant cost savings, superior features, better quality and reliability. We have found that Turbo Lister users are eager to switch over to SpoonFeeder once they realize how our features can save them a lot of money. With the ability to export listings from Turbo Lister and import them to SpoonFeeder (with CSV format files) sellers are now moving from Turbo Lister to SpoonFeeder in greater numbers.

One of the features that you won’t see in Turbo Lister that SpoonFeeder offers is free picture hosting. Our picture hosting is free, unlimited and reliable and can save even small sellers a bundle of money versus what eBay charges. Some other cost saving features you will find in SpoonFeeder include free scheduled listings, and the ability to reuse listing templates for free. With eBay’s Turbo Lister sellers pay an additional listing fee each and every time they submit a scheduled listing, or use one of their listing designer templates.

SpoonFeeder can literally pay for itself in eBay fee savings. SpoonFeeder’s integrated image capture and enhancement capabilities are just plain better than Turbo Lister’s. In addition to the cost savings, our users tell us they find SpoonFeeder to be faster and easier to use.

WR: SpoonFeeder’s listing tool has an excellent reputation, but the tracking module is less well known. Is that balance something you plan to address?

SpoonFeeder's Tracking Module, found in our standard version or higher, is the other half of our system that handles the sales status tracking, invoicing, buyer email, shipping labels, feedback, late payment reminders, non-paying buyer alerts, final value fee credit requests, reporting and other post sale capabilities. We introduced that part of our software after our basic version listing tool was released, but the tracking module is gaining in popularity as we have focused more and more attention on developing its features.

For sellers that need to streamline the whole selling and management process it is really a necessity. The tracking module integrates directly with the eBay checkout process to gather payment and shipping details for each transaction. We have also recently improved the multiple item consolidated invoicing.

Some valuable features our tracking module offers include single click emails to buyers for invoicing, payment received and fulfillment notification, automatic reciprocation of positive feedback, and the ability to export all the transactional data in CSV format for use in accounting software or other systems.

WR: Thank you for your time and best wishes for the future.

Discuss this interview here

Article Added: 17 October 2005
Last Updated: 17 October 2005

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