Advice Switching Multichannel Tools

Poster
Message
United Kingdom United Kingdom
rocmah
Kudos: 87
Joined: Apr 24, 2004
Advice Switching Multichannel Tools
11 Dec 2017
I've started the lengthy task of finding new Multichannel software and I would like to know how previous members have made the change from one multichannel system to another.

Did you stop selling on all channels with the old system and then start with the new system on all channels, or did you do it one channel at a time.

What problems did you have with the switch (if any)?
And what would you have done differently?

I'm looking to make the switch by February, so doesn't give me much time, and so any advice would be appreciated

Andrew

[Last edited by moderator: Added more detail to title — 12 Dec 2017]
Supplier
Devon United Kingdom
1StopOrders
Kudos: 81
Joined: Nov 21, 2007
Re: Advice Switching Multichannel Tools
12 Dec 2017
One thing to consider is stock control, if you switch one channel at a time then your stock database would be split over two systems and so you would not be able to manage stock against different channels.

I would suggest running them in parallel, adding one channel at a time to the new softwares you are trying out. Make sure that you switch of any channel updating from the trial softwares so that you don't update from two places.
One Stop Order Processsing, low cost, easy to use multichannel order processing software, free trials available now www.1stoporders.com
United States United States
ScarfKing
Kudos: 424
Joined: Oct 7, 2014
Re: Advice Switching Multichannel Tools
12 Dec 2017
@rocmah

We switched from Ecomdash to Linnworks this year. It took longer than we thought: I would give it at least a month, and we kept syncing with Ecomdash until the day of the switch.

It's taken a long time to get a better understanding of (and appreciation of) Linnworks. With all of these programs, as you burrow into them you find out that many of the rosy promises on the landing page don't actually work in your situation. A few things I've learned:

LISTING IS OF DUBIOUS VALUE
Many platforms dangle the dream of putting your listings on their platform and then effortlessly pushing them out to a million channels. Believe me: it ain't happening.
Multichannel tools, of which I've carefully evaluated about seven, can all sync your inventory well, but it's highly unlikely you can use them to list if you have Brand Registry on Amazon. The Amazon api is too complex for most small companies to deal with, though the larger companies charging $20,000/yr + claim they can do it. (I have my doubts)

Secondly, every marketplace has it's own optimization guidelines, so you're not going to push your eBay title etc into Amazon, or vice versa. Likewise, if you're selling in multiple languages, they each need to be translated and the special characters are often corrupted on the 3rd party platform (use CSV UTF8 format to avoid this in general). So in the end you're spending the same amount of effort to load your information into a Multichannel platform as you would to load it directly to Amazon or whatever, and you have the added possibility resulting from errors in the 3rd party platform. It's not a really a time savings.

GETTING GOING ON OTHER PLATFORMS IS NOT EASY
We branched out to Fruugo and Cdiscount this year right after starting with Linnworks. Neither marketplace is plug and play. They both take effort and they both have their own requirements. I think we would have been better off concentrating on the transition to the new platform and on our primary market rather than immediately trying to get up and running on two new markets.

REPORTING IS A WEAK POINT
Linnworks actually has effective reporting, but most of the multichannel platforms I checked out were designed by programmers, not by retailers, and the reporting was pretty useless. You just can't run a business without good analytics, and if you have to string together 7 spreadsheets to get basic information, you're just not going to have time to extract what you need. I would check out that aspect very carefully.

As to the switch itself: get someone good that knows what the platform well. We had someone who knew it pretty well, and they made a (very hard to foresee) mistake that cost us thousands in sales down the road. Pay attention to how your software interacts with Amazon vis a vis shipping confirmations: they can trigger late shipping indicators even when you've shipped on time. This destroyed us for about a month, and it took 3 weeks to figure out what the problem was. We had to reopen the case at Amazon about a dozen times before we got someone who could actually help us.

Make sure your new platform accepts lots of different CSV uploads (most do).

Know that the support people at your platform can't foresee everything that could go wrong in your particular situation, and watch every sale extremely carefully for the first six months. You just can't know what will happen. (See above) Always test, and always thoroughly error check from multiple angles.

Don't assume your new platform will behave like your old one.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck!

[Last edited: 12 Dec 2017]
London United Kingdom
Mike-Ecom
Kudos: 48
Joined: Nov 14, 2017
Re: Advice Switching Multichannel Tools
21 Dec 2017
Hi @rocmah,

It should be fairly straightforward to switch multi-channel platforms. If it's not then you may have the wrong solution!

From experience, you're usually able to set everything up in the background (link products, inventory, set templates up, rules etc). There will be a stage where you have to switch the new system to 'master of stock', however, all prior checks should prevent any issues.

Feel free to PM me and I'd be more than happy to have a quick call to discuss how it usually works.

All the best,

Mike

[Last edited: 21 Dec 2017]
Blackburn. Lancashire United Kingdom
nasir
Kudos: 31
Joined: Mar 25, 2015
Re: Advice Switching Multichannel Tools
25 Dec 2017
@ScarfKing
Excellent feedback. Absolutely spot on
Max Meadows, VA United States
Jax Music Supply
Kudos: 2,521
Joined: May 25, 2009
Re: Advice Switching Multichannel Tools
3 Jan 2018
@ScarfKing

Beautiful post. You did a great job summarizing the challenges of cross marketplace selling. We wrote our system and still have the same issues. What it comes down to is that each marketplace exists in their own bubble and assumes that theirs is the only place you are selling. Amazon is especially guilty of this arrogance.
Supplier
Grantham United Kingdom
Khaos Control Solutions
Kudos: 38
Joined: Aug 16, 2017
Re: Advice Switching Multichannel Tools
5 Jan 2018
Hi,

This is a very relevant question.

Its not always dependant on the solution you are switching to. Its almost always dependant on how invested you in your current system.

For example, If you are selling online, maybe across eBay and Amazon and you have circa 500 SKU's. You also ship with Royal Mail with direct integration. This will be relatively straight forward as there isn't a huge reliance on lots of unique and possibly bespoke API connectors.

However, If you are looking for a solution with every bell and whistle going with multiple integrations, some of which may need to be developed specifically for you, this of course will be a much longer more drawn out process.

In most scenarios I have come across, a phased migration is usually the best option with a deadline day to 'turn off' your old system and begin complete reliance on your new system.

Some clients I have worked with will also have a test go live day. They will keep the old system running as a back up in case anything catastrophic goes wrong.

As is always the case though there will be teething bugs with most complex operation changes but ultimately if you need to move its a pain that will be worth it in the grand scheme of things. Nobody wants a solution that isn't fit for purpose!

Thanks,

Owen

Thompson & Holt
xSellco 1
SellerSnap
Sellware