Trevor Ginn formerly of Auctioning4U set up his online business Hello Baby in 2007, which trades on eBay, Amazon, Play.com as well as their own website. Having known the guys behind eSellerPro prior to starting his own business he chose to use them as the back end multi-channel management platform for Hello Baby, and today shares his experiences of how they assist him and what they could do better…
The biggest benefit of using eSellerPro is that product can be sold across multiple channels from a single inventory. Their channel profile feature automatically manages the stock levels across channels according to user specified rules (e.g. percentage of available stock or a fixed quantity). We have set this to be 100% of available stock in each channel, thought this does occasionally lead to overselling. Once channel profiles have been created there is never any need to manage stock levels on different channels.
The bulk of eSellerPro’s clients are marketplace focused and consequently the functionality relating to eBay and Amazon works almost faultlessly. The system allows many processes to be automated such as leaving feedback, opening and closing disputes and naturally listing and relisting products. To create eBay listings the system merges a listing template (the graphical design of the listing) with the product description to create the eBay listings. The quantity of product available for sales is then managed by a channel profiles and so requires no further maintenance.
Something we are using more and more of is eSellerPro’s back end functionality. The system supports warehousing and product can have a location defined. This information is used to create a pick list when it comes to picking and packing items. eSellerPro can also integrate with most popular couriers and we print Royal Mail postage labels direct from the system. This saves hours. Most recently we have enabled the reordering functionality in eSellerPro. This automatically creates purchase orders when stock levels are running low and emails them automatically to suppliers when a certain threshold is reached. Each purchase order has a corresponding delivery which makes updating stock levels really easy.
Naturally, as with any product, there is room for improvement. eSellerPro is a relatively new company and the software can feel a bit rough round the edges (but then, is there any software which isn’t rough round the edges?) Their support team can be slow to reply, but they have been investing in more staff and this has improved of late.
My main frustration with the product is centred around their website. Whilst this is in many ways good (W3C compliant, follows SEO best practise, multiple categories, discount codes) it does lack some functionality which is vital for companies looking to use the full range of online marketing techniques. For example we have not been able to get Google Analytics working properly on our site, which severely hampers our online marketing. Also the product does not support the collection of email newsletter opt-ins which is important for running email marketing campaigns. If eSellerPro wish to broaden their appeal to companies without a marketplace focus they will have to beef up their website functionality.
In conclusion, it is fair to say that we could not run our business without eSellerPro or something very much like it. Overall we are very pleased with the product and service, and it is very easy to focus on the things which don’t work and forget the 99% which work perfectly. Naturally there is a cost for the services (they charge around 1.5% of turnover), but I think that the costs are more than outweighed by increased efficiency and scope for shifting more stock.
As a long time user of eSellerPro I had to comment. We ship around 2,000 website/eBay/Amazon orders a week using the system. We have 7 users using the system most days for customer services, picking and packing, ordering and listing. We ship via UPS, Parcelforce and Royal Mail.
True the support can be slow for non urgent problems and queries but for urgent support it is nothing less than superb. (In my experience).
ESP Website. There is support for multiple websites. We have one and are considering a second. We have Google Analytics working with no problem on the website and we have our Aweber email marketing opt-in working fine. (It took them about 10 minutes to configure it). The system auto adds all our website listings to Google Products each night as well.
Support for eBay questions with saved replies by product and globally saves hours as does the systems ability to post to our accounts system Quickbooks. (Sage is also supported).
I’ll echo Trevors view that the auto Purchase Order functionality is excellent along with its ability to auto email PO’s to suppliers. Goods Receipt is equally powerful as it auto updates eBay GTC listings with new inventory.
Using ESP we can also update all our eBay listings with for example price changes, VAT changes, global description changes. More time saved.
I could go on for quite some time – Amazon price checking, buyer email templates, PDF invoices, reporting, the ability to sort stock in any one of a thousand ways – suffice to say I am a fan and just hope none of our cometitors are considering using eSellerPro.
Our ESP website tracks metrics like unique visitor and page views fine using GA. The issue is that for some reason the ecommerce metrics (conversion rate, referring domain for transactions, basket size etc) are not tracked properly. This is important if you are thinking of investing in online marketing, you really need to know if it is paying its way.
That said, I appreciate that ESP don’t support GA as such, however I don’t think it is unreasonable for a high volume ecommerce solution to work 100% with at least one website analytics package.
Regarding the email sign up, yes it is possible to put a sign up box on each page of the site, but very few people use this. What is not possible to ask a for email opt in at checkout, which is a much more effective way to build an email distribution list.
You might be interested in know that we actually use a product called zendesk to manage our customer service. The ESP eBay questions functionality is fine, but we wanted something which could manage questions across all channels from one location. Questions from eBay, Amazon and the website are all routed to this application.
Thanks for that Trevor I will certainly take a look at Zen Desk.
Comments re conversion rate and email sign up appreciated – now you have me thinking again….. just before bed time!
The centralized and automated stock management sounds great. How is the cost?
I believe their pricing starts at 1.5% of revenue min £400 month, but you should ask ESP directly about this.
My real concern was with the real time update of stock levels.
Overselling might be fine on your website but on EBAY its a real nightmare.
In the end I chose Channel Advisor simply because they wanted the business more and their system suited my desire not to oversell at any cost
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