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What’s Wrong With Marketplace Management Software?

By Andy Geldman

What’s Wrong With Marketplace Management Software?

Control, automate and simplify your business with the best systems for managing multichannel inventory, customers and orders.

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Duncan

LInnworks. It’s awesome. We have 3000 listings over 4 channels, and adding more channels next year. It may cost a little more than others, and may take a little more time to understand how it all works, but it’s saved our business at least 1 employee from the back office and improved sales… Enabling us to increase turnover. Well worth the investment.

Victor

I’ve tried quite a few to help keep track of multiple marketplaces but came away disappointed. All have severe limitations that make them worthless. The support staff is non-existent and any problem is your problem. Once you allow them access to your marketplace then they can create havoc. My Amazon account was fed wrong pricing and product details for 3 days. I had to finally get Amazon to stop the feed.

Mark

Everyone seems to be going down the “these companies are a rip-off, I’m gonna build one thats priced lower” route, but seemingly even that is a task WAY bigger than they were expecting, and they end up expensive. Linn used to be really cheap, now its not that cheap as they expand their functionality and support systems.

I use ChannelAdvisor and it is capable of a most things I ask of it. Is it cheap? No. The real problem here is that 99% of small sellers put no value on time. I would likely need 4 or 5 staff to manually do what ChannelAdvisor does automatically, so rather than a cost, a solution which does almost everything I need is a saving.

Mark

Further to that, the other consideration is what that tool can do with your information to bring more sales. We like ChannelAdvisor as it takes the same information from our central database, and manipulates it (on the fly, automatically) so it can post to many more places that just eBay/Amazon/Webstore. The other channels which it supports all give incremental growth to sales with little additional effort on our behalf.

Matthew Ogborne

Howdy Andy, All,

Let’s answer the first question “Why Are There So Many Tools?”.

And the answer to this falls down to time, cost & requirements.

eSellerPro & 247 were created due to MarketWorks and ChannelAdvisors *failure* to adapt to the UK marketplace at a time when these were only two UK based options.

For a long time MarketWorks didn’t even support UK shipping options!

Since then numerous new companies have appeared due to both of these new options being too expensive (insert long list here, see the WebRetailer directory), even more so as investors have spotted that these companies have highly profitable SaaS products.

And companies on the peripherals such as website platforms (Giant Systems) or accounting software (BrightPearl) having their customers ask for marketplace integrations.

Also each business is different, some just sell on Amazon, just eBay, their own websites any combination in between. The business maybe new, already up & running or a long standing one, may have supplier feeds, fulfilment and so on…. This does lead to some very different requirements.

When I left eSellerPro after ni-on 3 years, my conclusion was that there can never be the “Perfect” multi channel software tool, there is just too much you need to fit into one piece of software to satisfy the needs of so many.

Your suggestion of “Sellers don’t realise there is so much choice, so go with the tool they find first” is probably more likely that they didn’t fully research and understand what the options are capable of.

Multi channel software can appear to be very, very complicated to someone new to it, I wrote an entire book to tackle this specifically. http://understandinge.com/ultimate-guide-multi-channel-software-book/

I know it was very weird to me the first time using MarketWorks over 10 years ago, however when I got the hang of it, I quadrupled what I was doing in 3-4 months.

Also the thing is that you don’t find out what the software is possible of until you actually use it on a day-to-day basis and if it’s your first step into using multi channel software you can’t really tell if it’s any good or not for the business because you have nothing to benchmark it against.

Anyway this reply is too long already!

I’ll leave you with something to ponder from your other question:

“Is the “perfect” software solution for this yet to be made?”

The perfect solution cannot be made to solve everyones challenges.

There is just software that suits the business today and for tomorrow, but the business requirements will change in a years time and it’s OK to move software tools when the time is right.

Hope that helps you,

Matt

Andrew J Titcombe

It is the “vocal minority” who deter sellers like me! ALSO the cost of some of the high end ones is prohibitive. A tool like this is invaluable to sellers but the final off-putter is simply learning how to use them – we don’t have the time to absorb the method when we are dealing with regular changes on eBay (especially). I have used several (including one designed by my son for his University Degree which was excellent for Amazon) and have reverted to listing directly to the sites themselves (there is so much danger now in the defects sytem on eBay that you cannot afford to be out of stock for a minute!)

Simon P

We shopped around 18 months ago and looked at many different systems before we settled on SellerExpress and we made the right choice for our business.

We were surprised how many could not even manage ebay variation listings, but SellerExpress can! Support staff at SellerExpress are brilliant, the monthly costs are very reasonable. We now have 4 different marketplaces connected and syncing stock, more coming on line next year and it manages around 30,000 live listings for us at the moment.

There is not ‘one size fits all’ out there, (despite what some will tell you!) so go with what you need for your particular business in terms of features and functionality and ensure some future proofing in terms of scalability as you grow.

ScotlandLad

The biggest ‘wrongs’ by some:

The ones who demand you sign a 12 month minimum term contract ( that auto renews unless you give written notice ).
Then you find out the product you bought/’leased’ does not even come close to the power and options you have through other tools. Your support tickets are ignored phone calls not returned.

If your thinking of choosing a management package, ask yourself;
Shouldn’t a service stand on it’s own merit, think about it, if it works and does the job ? you’ll continue using it. I understand there can be setup costs in taking on new clients, so i would expect two or three months upfront as a cost, then monthly rolling after that.

If it’s any good, why would there be a minimum term contract length?
Here’s a hint, once they have suckered you in, they don’t care your under contract and will keep paying them ( or the debt collectors ) until you give notice and wait until your year is up. Wave goodbye to that $20,000.

Things that work well ?
Linnworks , ChannelUnity , M2Epro

Things that don’t work well?
ChannelAdvisor This dinosaur is losing ground to other providers due to a failing platform, lack of any tech. support, very slow to release new marketplace features.
In general their overall system is so old and slow, they are their in desperate need of a do-over.

Elizabeth Hitchins

Most of my work is helping sellers cope and use multichannel tools to build on their success. I find that a big bit of kit like Channeladvisor can really boost your business if set up and used correctly. To be honest, unless you have set up, ran and seen success using these tools it is a really tough and costly path to enlightenment.

Support however fantastic is NOT enough. Someone needs to sit beside you understand your business and help you integrate. You need to not just ‘replicate’ your business using a multichannel tool but expand and better your business.

I think when businesses just ‘replicate what they already have’ into XYZ multichannel tool they soon realise they are paying money for keeping their business kinda the same. Yeah, you may get integrated labels…that saves time…you now have a solid inventory system….great! Multichannel systems can help you save time, automate tasks but it is still humans that develop business.

Prabhat Shah (@day2dayebay)

This one tool does fit all. It is best to list out what you need and compare it with what various tool can offer. There will always be limitations and there will always be competition.

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