Naturally I have started searching for a different, but most I have found appear either more expensive, or not as useful for me. I appear to have tailored my business process to match the package (not a bad thing) and now I must examine my business process to find out whether it could be changed reasonably, so it will fit another bundle.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that these bundles are costly. This is because interfaces are complex and constantly changing. They are crucial for their customers and as such we would all suffer if they went under. Nevertheless like any sensible company owner I search for alternatives to reduce my costs.
First, what exactly does a good solution do?
- There should be a fundamental stock database, with a single particular inventory item for every item you sell.
- There should be a mechanism to connect the one fundamental item with the item available on each of the stations. The system should enable the identical thing to be non-unique on a single sales channel.
- Once an item sells on a single channel, the inventory level should decrease across all stations. This should happen quickly, 24/7.
- Orders should download automatically.
- The system needs to have an adequate choosing and packing list(s).
- The system should interface with your preferred shipper(s).
- Any tracking number ought to be saved on any order dispatch. Preferably automatically.
- Once an order is sent the channel ought to be updated with the shipment information, and any tracking number.
- Invoices/order delivery notes must be customizable so the merchant can brand them.
- The system should print package labels from the order details. (No cut and paste).
This is a bare minimum. Most systems additionally permit the fundamental stock database to be used to produce the listings on the sales channels. Although I usually do not use this feature as it can take longer than actually listing on the station by hand. All of the above can save as much as a full-time worker for me. So I can’t afford not to have a suitable multichannel package.
So which package is appropriate?
For me personally I automatically exclude any solution which charges a percentage of the sale. I can’t see how that is relevant, but can see how that gets pricey quickly. I’d accept a pricing that contains a fixed fee per hundred orders because the longer you use a system that the more source they provide. Likewise I’d be happier if the pricing could be trimmed to exclude all the features and purposes I don’t use. Typically this may be an automatic Amazon re-pricer bundled in for”free.” I also typically exclude any solution that doesn’t have a price, just a”Contact us for prices.” I know I can’t afford them, although I will think about a couple this time simply to see.
For me there are three items that I absolutely MUST have in a solution.
- My primary shipper is that the Royal Mail as I am located in England. The bundle must link to the Royal Mail systems. This saves me 1 to 2 hours each DAY, and can in itself cover for any bundle.
- The package MUST allow a couple of listings of the exact same stock item on a single Amazon station without duplicating the thing on the fundamental stock database. Often when there’s a second/third replicate listing on Amazon, it’s these copies that sell with the greater margin.
- The synchronization across stations have to be performed within minutes (I do not strictly require simultaneous). Any delay means that you may carry on selling whilst out of stock.
Unfortunately I only know of one company who does all the above three. It’s my present provider, Linnworks, which is mainly for U.K. and European companies, by the way. I don’t know how great it is for U.S. retailers’ shipper interfaces.
So I’m still again trapped, until some competitor comes along with solutions for the aforementioned.
When and if I find an alternative, then the tricky decision is whether to migrate. These systems are complicated. They’re not easy to prepare. They’re certainly not for the novice ecommerce owners. Set up properly they’re an advantage that more than pays for themselves. The issues become exponential if you migrate. It can’t be accomplished overnight, but you must keep on processing and selling orders. So you need both the old and new packages to have the ability to operate in a non-live mode. Thus it’s possible to continue running the old bundle live whilst setting up the new and allow it to mirror the old package in a non live mode (to test that it works) and then change over when you’re ready and allow the old bundle run non-live for a little to make sure the new one is fine. The last thing you need is both packages running upgrading and live stock twice and sending two dispatch notifications.
So I continue with my present provider, and let it earn money out of my successful multichannel selling.