Meet the company: Channelgrabber

We’ve recently had a couple of comments from readers asking for more information about some of the solutions available and useful input from some of the experts that built these solutions. Today Daniel from Channelgrabber talks about the problems he faced as a seller, how Channelgrabber was built to solve them and what you should consider when looking for a multi-channel management solution .

Introduction to Channelgrabber

Hi there, I am Daniel Williams, the Managing Director at Channelgrabber, I’ve been asked to introduce myself and Channelgrabber and the benefits of using a solution like ours.

I used to sell on Amazon and eBay myself and the aim of Channelgrabber is to make the process simpler and easier. Our aim is take away the mundane, daily routines so that you can concentrate on more productive task such as marketing, diversifying your company and making more sales. By automating basic tasks your time and efforts can be freed up to focus on growing your business.

When I sold on eBay and Amazon I got to the stage where I was selling enough to need a proper multi-channel solution, but not making enough profit to warrant a bespoke system or one of the other solutions on offer. There were three tasks essential to running my business that I desperately needed to automate – Inventory Management, Listing Management and Order Management.

We designed Channelgrabber to specifically meet these requirements, but as an automated self service system that online merchants could set up and run themselves at an affordable cost. The main issue faced for me was that I had to deal with every sales channel differently and often navigate the channel in a language I didn’t understand. Channelgrabber addresses this by making the process of dealing with inventory and orders the same no matter what channel you sell on which not only saves time, but also makes the process simple.

Essential tasks that can be automated with software

  • Inventory Management
    • Have one “master” list of inventory items regardless of what channels you sell on – This allows you to easily manage all your products in 1 place
    • Have stock level that automatically updates all channels when you receive orders or manually change quantity – This means you can have all your products on every channel and yet never oversell an item or miss a sale
    • Store images on our server for use on all channels – No need for an image host or to have to upload images every time you create listings
    • Have your Amazon UK listings translated for free in to French or German or use your own translations – Don’t miss sales by using English listings in France and Germany
  • Listing Management
    • See the status of all your listings together as well as sort by status – You can see any problems at a glance so that you don’t miss sales
    • Sort, filter and search by status – Find all listings with errors or where you need to make changes and fix them with ease
    • Relist your eBay listings either automatically or via 1 click activation – Never have an item not listed
  • Order Management
    • Receive all your orders from all your channels in one place – You’ll never miss an order because you forgot to log into that marketplace to check
    • Dispatch all orders on all channels with the click of one button – Save time; one login, one click and all orders will be dispatched
    • Print out all invoices which are formatted for use with integrated labels – All invoices will be printed when orders are marked as dispatched
    • Find old orders and print invoices out as needed – Useful for customers requesting another invoice or for accounting
    • Create new customer files and orders for mail order/telephone orders – This allows you to create a record of customer details and past orders for marketing

    How to choose an ecommerce management tool

    When you choose a management tool for your business there are several considerations to take into account. The most important consideration should be identifying tasks in your business that could be automated. Look at the task that are the biggest drain on your time and then choose a solution which can automate them. Good management software should not only free up your time, but can also help you expand your business both in profitability on existing channels and the give you the ability to expand onto other marketplaces without negatively impacting your current business.

    The costs for management products vary, some solutions are priced on a monthly basis and others take a percentage of your sales (or possibly both). You also need to consider the time it will take to learn the software and how long it will take to implement the solution.

    Channelgrabber is aimed at low to medium volume sellers (Less than £100k revenue a year) and currently supports eBay, Amazon UK, Amazon France and Amazon Germany (although we’ll be adding more platforms in the future). There are two price plans – £50+VAT per month for the standard package with email technical support, or £200+VAT per month which gives you an account manager and priority technical support.

    If you have any questions please feel free to add them in comments below, or you can contact Channelgrabber directly and we’ll be happy to help.

    Daniel Williams
    Managing Director
    Channelgrabber.com

    customerservice@channelgrabber.com
    0161 209 3161

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Comments

Hi, I find the above interesting. Do you provide a service for third party website hosters, such as EKMPowershop. I am interested in a multi channel management program, but first I'm changing my business away from being eBay centred, to being website centred.

warren • 25th January 2011 •

Hey Warren, EKMPowershop is not on our list of webstores to support. We are strong advocates of an open internet and because of that, our development is being focused towards supporting Magento and OScommerce initially. I won't rule out support for EKMPowershop, but our main goal is to provide a solution that matches the needs of the majority of people so if there is enough people that want it, then it is something we would look to support sooner rather than later. Regards, Daniel

Daniel Williams • 25th January 2011 •

Hi Daniel, Fab Article! To reply to your comment above regarding EKMPowershop the answer is simple. Provide an API that allows updates to external sites (full and partial updates) and an API that receives orders from external sites and posts updates back. Then if someone wants to link to another platform, they can with a layer between Channel Grabber and the 3rd party application. ~~ Daniel kindly gave me a demo account to play with, while it does not have all the bells and whistles of other meatier software products and perhaps is in need of a little refinement in a few places, it has the makings of something quite fresh. If you're looking for a simpler, web based application that can cover multiple channels, then its definitely worth looking into further. Matthew

Matthew Ogborne • 25th January 2011 •

The API is a very interesting idea and there are many reasons for and against cretaing an API for other channels. Right now, we don't have any plans for this but I will discuss with the development team this prospect and hopefully it is something we can implement in the future.

Daniel Williams • 25th January 2011 •

Can I link Channelgrabber to Quickbooks? I'm interested, I want to get rid of my Fooition eBay shopfront first because I don't feel that the cost benefits my eBay sales anymore, plus eBay is no longer my only place of sale. My main focus now is my website and marketplaces come second. I've got about five months left with my subcription with Frooition so I'm looking to sign up in about four months time.

warren • 25th January 2011 •

We don't currently link with any third party accounting software. This is due to change shortly. You can keep checking our website for big updates or you can send an email to us if you have other questions.

Daniel Williams • 25th January 2011 •

Thanks for the reply. I'm currently looking a few months ahead with what I want to do with my marketplaces as my current focus is my website and SEO. I am interested in a package that can manage my eBay listings and also my Amazon listings. I sell items that Amazon doesn't seem to have a lot of catagories for so I'll need a package that will suggest my items for Amazons catagories. I'm still interested in your software, it sounds just as good as all the others.

warren • 25th January 2011 •

we dont need multiple channels 99% of our items are individual and unique we need something that actually stocks the shelves quicker on ebay, something that loads and fills/shows ebays item specifics quicker, something that does a category search and suggests the best category, something that drags and drops the pictures from the picture folder Blackthorne is the best listing tool we have found but its clunky and buggy,

northumbrian • 25th January 2011 •

Hi North, "we dont need multiple channels, 99% of our items are individual and unique" Yes that has been your unique selling point and your greatest frustration for what must be 9 or more years now? Tools like such as Channel Grabber, as you know are of little use to your business model because each item is unique. Whereas the market it[Channel Grabber] is aimed at, are sellers whom have items that not 99% unique. I personally think you would be better off with some sort of macro script that loads the data from excel to the eBay Sell Your Item form. Blackthorne is OK, but can be buggy like you say. Matthew

Matthew Ogborne • 25th January 2011 •

cheers matthew though excel is hieroglyphics to me and macro is a discount cash and carry, we have tried them all auctionsage is ok though we dont like being reliant on one man band operations to be left swinging in the wind when they catch a cold

northumbrian • 25th January 2011 •

:D

Whirly • 25th January 2011 •

Inkfrog now has Terrapeak integrated into it, they call it Smart Lister, it suggests keywords to put in titles. Bit of a learning curve but its good

david • 25th January 2011 •

blackthorne, turbolister, inkfrog, auctionsage, auctiontamer, auctiva etc,etc, etc, all have good points though non of them have the complete deal. some computer whizz kid is missing the boat, anyone who can get it right and devise a simple effective quick listing tool with sensible back office facility for ebay sellers of individual items would clean up, they all try to get clever and complicated with a million templates and other daft frilly bits, that dont help to list quickly we need SOMETHING THAT GETS THE GOODS IN THE SHOP WINDOW QUICK AND EASY

northumbrian • 26th January 2011 •

in fact ebays sell your item form is the best we have found for listing individual items ,though its geared up for ebay picture services and thats just too expensive for bulk listing , and too slow if you self host pictures

northumbrian • 26th January 2011 •

Auctionsage can store prepared data templates that you call up as and when an appropriate listing is prepared. All you then add is title, description and images. Up to 5 images per listing are point and click from the image file. And images are automatically loaded to your host when items are sent to eBay. It works for me.

Gary • 25th January 2011 •

Nice to see the right up. Looking forward to see how your product pans out.

Jimbo • 25th January 2011 •

write up even.

Jimbo • 25th January 2011 •

Magento is a good (if a little overkill for many) base for any business wanting to sell via multiple channels. There are various 3rd party modules which allow you to manage listings, sales, templates etc for both Amazon and eBay. It also tracks sales and can easily be integrated with Sage etc. However, whilst you can get Magento for free, the modules you will need cost money and getting an installation of Magento up and running, designed etc will cost you around £3000 (possibly cheaper but you get what you pay for). There are no ongoing fees or commissions to pay, except the usual hosting, ssl etc. I'm sure ChannelGrabber is a great solution but my advice would be to try it yourself first by using the tools out there and if you don't succeed then go for something like ChannelGrabber.

BigPoppa • 25th January 2011 •

Hi BigPoppa, Being my first post on Tamebay it seems fit to introduce myself, my name is Matthew and I'm the Operations Director over at Channelgrabber. Prior to creating Channelgrabber.com I personally worked heavily setting up Magento/Oscommerce sites for retailers. This has led to a great understanding of both platforms and the market surrounding them. The modules offered for Amazon/eBay with Magento are existent, although they are limited, most offer partial integration such as an order import, allowing no more control over the Magento backend than data display. We aim to solve the limited functionality problems of most Magento add-ons by offering integration for this platform in to Channelgrabber. We have developed some Magento modules that will enhance a seller’s store. Once we offer Magento integration, these modules will be freely downloadable for customers.

Matthew King • 25th January 2011 •

A very interesting bit of software. How does it compare with channeladvisor and eseller pro - the 2 'premium' multi channel products?

John • 25th January 2011 •

Hey John, Thank you for your comment and can I say it is a very interesting question and 1 I am sure is on a lot of peoples minds. I won't comment too much on what Channel Advisor and eSellerPro is and isn't as it isn't really for me to say too much. I will say that our solutions are aimmed at different markets. We are a simple solution. We allow you to automate much of your day to day tasks but still require you to do some things on the respective channels (for now). We are aimming ourselves at sellers with a revenue of less than £100k a year and is of course well suited for people up until this threshold. If you would like a demonstration or to talk to one of our customer representatives then do please give us a call. What I will say about Channel Advisor and eSellerPro is that they are very good systems, very comprehensive and extremely well suited for high volume sellers. As far as the decision for you on what you think is best for you is to look at cost, features and support. Channelgrabber is the cheapest but has less features and if you go for the standard subscription then you will only get email technical support. You should call Channel Advisor and eSellerPro and explain your business to them and they can tell you first hand if they are the right choice for you. I hope that has helped and has not been too biased ;) Regards, Daniel

Daniel Williams • 25th January 2011 •

I just wanted to say that after reading this aricle, I was curious enough to call up and spoke to Daniel. He talked me through the product and I must say I was quite impressed and a little surprised we had only just heard about it. We are seriously considering signing up.

John Caine • 25th January 2011 •

Does Channelgrabber assist in the registration process to sell on Amazon France and Germany; otherwise a seller never gets to the listing stage?

Glenn • 26th January 2011 •

Glenn, It is really easy to sign up to both Amazon Germany and France, and the whole system on there is the same as the UK so you can know what your doing without even translating it! The only warning I would give for both is be prepared for lots of questions in German and french and have the ability to reply well to them, Germany customers are quite demanding and often don't realise they are buying from a different country. Stu

Stuart • 26th January 2011 •

Stuart You make a good point. Does Channelgrabber assist in replying to questions - heaven knows I get more than enough on Amazon UK The Channelgrabber package looks good, but having tried a different multi channel package and having gotten my fingers burnt I am very cautious.

Glenn • 26th January 2011 •

We don't have a facility for Amazon messages yet. Amazon do not have an API for messages which means we can't integrate it. I believe Amazon are working on changing this so hopefully it will be something we can offer soon.

Daniel Williams • 26th January 2011 •

Hey Glenn, We don't help with registration but as Stu said, it is quite simple and the same lay out as the english one. Personally I use Google toolbar that automatically translates all pages for me, it is well worth an install. Daniel

Daniel Williams • 26th January 2011 •

Thanks Daniel Your monitoring and replying to questions and concerns is very reassuring. As a media seller with approx 1000+ lines stock management has been a bit of a nightmare. Indeed I am currently closing down my EKM store simply because managing stock across different platforms was getting confusing. I was reserving stock on one platform when the very same stock item would have sold on a different platform. Just how easy or hard would be for a seller like myself to commence using Channelgrabber The previous multi channel package I subscribed to was so complicated I cancelled almost immediately. Would I need to end existing lines and relist Channelgrabber or does it grab the existing products?

Glenn • 26th January 2011 •

Hey Glenn, You can import from Amazon or eBay directly and they are paired up by SKUs or you can use the csv upload facility. You will not have to end any listings and Channelgrabber can detect the end date of the listing and display the status/end time correctly. Regards, Daniel

Daniel Williams • 26th January 2011 •

one word linnworks it works.

dave • 26th January 2011 •

Its interesting that you mention linnworks, as I used to use them, but I found the software too clunky.I had a few troubles, but I guess it depends on what you are after

John Caine • 26th January 2011 •