A great idea cleverly implemented

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Herts, England United Kingdom
Andy
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A great idea cleverly implemented
5 Sep 2008
MerchantRun GlobalLink takes a simple idea to heart - make it as easy as possible to sell on multiple international eBay sites.

MerchantRun's founders started selling on eBay, but found it difficult and labor-intensive to sell their products on international sites. Challenges such as different category hierarchies, currency conversion, and scheduling across timezones all had to be handled manually. So, like many others, they built their own system.

However, unlike other former in-house systems, GlobalLink has fully made the transition to software vendor. No quirks or niggles that can be tolerated in your own system, and forgotten when it goes external, are evident in this cleanly-designed web-based tool. It's no surprise that it's already been adopted by a number of sellers in the Far East.

GlobalLink supports 21 eBay sites, and each product in the system can have listing details for one, some, or all of those sites - so one inventory SKU can have many different sets of localized listing attributes. All international eBay categories have been translated into English so you can easily choose the best category for each listing. You will of course need to get listing descriptions properly (human) translated, something MerchantRun are considering integrating into the system.

Unlimited image hosting is included, as is automatic currency conversion and rounding - so your $19.99 listing on eBay.com can automatically become £11.99 on eBay.co.uk, not £11.36. A built-in cross-promotion tool can promote items on other (cheaper) eBay sites or the same site.

Scheduling and relisting are well catered for, with options such as only relisting if a fee credit is available. Bulk revisions across multiple eBay sites are easily done. Automation rules are quite comprehensive, with options to maintain a fixed quantity on a site, list on certain days, list only between specified dates, and so on. Existing eBay listings can be imported into the system, and defaults set for each eBay site individually.

GlobalLink is priced on a per-listing basis, with no subscription, percentage, or other fees. The per-listing fee starts at $0.08, going down to $0.03 if 100,000 listing credits are bought in bulk. There is a free trial of 100 listings.

Currently 95% of GlobalLink customers are based in or near China, and the company itself is located in Shanghai. However its servers are in the US, so the site should not suffer from latency. Co-founder Ryan Miller is an American, and his input is evident in the clear text in the system. It remains to be seen if MerchantRun can provide timely customer support to sellers in disparate timezones.

eBay Categories are automatically translated so can be a little eccentric, but the company does correct them if neccessary. Inquiries from buyers can also be auto-translated, but sellers could become unstuck when they need to reply.

Perhaps the only obvious weakness I saw in the technology was the incomplete integration with custom listing templates. The system has a good range of pre-designed standard templates, but the importance of branding for Western sellers means that many will want to use their own designs. This can be done, but auto-insertion of the cross-promotion tool and other elements is not possible with custom templates.

GlobalLink will only deliver great efficiencies for product-line sellers, those with unique items will find that the description and customer enquiry translation work will outweigh the benefits. That's not really a shortcoming of GlobalLink, but simply down to the complexities of international selling for unique-item sellers - whatever system or marketplace they use.

Overall, MerchantRun GlobalLink is an impressive tool. They have identified a real problem - volume selling on international eBay sites - and created a solution that does not compromise in its attempt to solve it.

*****

This review is based on an online demo of the system
Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
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