Matthew Ogborne has been around the ecommerce industry for years. He not only knows first hand the demands on an Internet based business and their owners, but has seen the day-to-day operations of literally hundreds of such businesses.
With his latest project, UnderstandingE, focused on Magento he was naturally the first person I thought of to give advice on the alternatives to Magento GO and Prostores.
Here are Matt’s thoughts:
Magento Go & ProStores Gone – What Are Your Options?
As we found out yesterday Magento Go and ProStores are to be shelved next year, this is on top of Blackthorne going too this year and if you’re using any of these then you need options fast.
Frankly speaking this is a headache you probably could have done without and I’d personally suggest that you take this is an opportunity for you to update and upgrade your website & multichannel software.
To help you I’ve put together a collection of options that you have available. And to do this I am assuming a couple of things:
1. You are running a multi-channel business with at least one eBay account AND a website
2. That you probably want support for Amazon too
3. And you need at least one courier integration
Chris has asked that I keep the options “brief” and as always do carry out your own due diligence on any 3rd party software provider you consider.
Firstly, what’s wrong with BigCommerce?
In short not a lot if you just want a website.
If you just want a website then BigCommerce, eBay’s recommended alternative for ProStores and Magento Go, is great. You can style your website easily, there are lots of themes available ranging from free to a couple of hundred dollars. Order processing is simple to manage and so is creating new products.
There is a however though…. Going back to the assumption that you want a website AND sell on eBay, then there is one little flaw that eBay didn’t actually include in their suggestion. BigCommerce has no direct integration into the Marketplaces.
You have to rely on a 3rd party application to do this properly (see the app store here) and you’re looking at a minimum of $75 extra a month, probably more depending upon the number of orders, inventory and marketplaces you use.
If you were using Magento Go
The natural choice here is to look at Magento Community Edition.
Magento CE is free to download and use. Plus if you were using Magento Go, there isn’t a new interface to learn.
Most features are the same, plus you get the added bonus of not having only a handful of extensions, you have access to Magento Connect where thousands of extensions are available.
Also if you have been using the M2EPro extension for eBay and/or Amazon & Rakuten, you’ll be able to use the latest versions to sell on to marketplaces, have stock control and process your orders too.
There is one special note around the design of your existing Magento Go website.
This will need to be ported to Magento CE. This shouldn’t be overly expensive as it’s important to note that you already have the design done, so you’re not paying for a full rebuild with the creative side, you’re just having it ported to Magento CE, which will make it cheaper than starting from scratch.
And if you were using Blackthorne
Ironically SixBit started by the founder of Blackthorne who eBay laid off after buying Blackthorne. As Blackthorne was eBay only, the next best suggestion is SixBit Software.
Your Other Options
When it comes to the other options, I’m basing these suggestions on companies or options that I’d personally recommend you add to your short list using the 3 assumptions.
Disclaimer: I recently worked at eSellerPro for 3 years, ChannelAdvisor bought MarketWorks who I also used to work for and I’m also the co-Founder of UnderstandingE.com. On the bright side, I should at least know my stuff 🙂
Chris asked me to keep these “brief”, so I’m sticking to 1-2 sentences each for a high-level overview for you and they’re in no particular order.
Sixbit (eBay only)
I’ve not used this myself personally, however if Blackthorne is anything to go by and you want eBay only, this must be your first choice. A video overview is available here.
I’ve written “Everywhere” for Linnworks as they pretty much cover all the eBay, Amazon and websites out there. Obviously that’s not totally correct, however they have excellent connectivity. As with most of the multi-channel software solutions below, no Website is included, you still need to decide on a shopping cart solution as well.
An Irish based company that sport integrations into the eBay & Amazon marketplaces, plus support for websites such as Magento, ekmPowershop, BigCommerce and Volusion.
Each software company out there was created from a specific point of view, for StoreFeeder, this was from a fulfillment angle. Thus the order processing side rocks! (one of the best order processing systems I’ve seen for the price).
Really straightforwards tool to use and they have varying degrees of integrations to websites such as Magento, BigCommerce, ekmPowershop & Shopify. Oh and of course the marketplaces too.
With a strong accounting bias, BrightPearl has integrations to the eBay & Amazon marketplaces and also websites such as Magento, Shopify and BigCommerce. Their POS system is pretty nifty too.
I’ve bundled these together because they both can get expensive as they have a “percentage of sale” business model and may not be suitable for smaller businesses.
That doesn’t mean one second you shouldn’t consider either of these options. ChannelAdvisor is based in the USA and if you’re a much larger business, then both should be considered.
This is my “wild card” suggestion.
It doesn’t sport the bells & whistles found in the other options here and if you have a small number of products and orders to manage and especially if have used WordPress before, at $129 all-in this ideal for the smaller business.
And finally the “other” option.
Using Magento Community Edition (free) and the eBay subsidised extension called M2E Pro, build your own multi-channel software and have a Magento website to-boot. The UnderstandingE website has the video tutorials to show you how, step by step and yes I’m the co-Founder there.
These are worth a special note because of their potential complexity.
If you’re based in the USA, then by far your best two options are ShipStation or ShipWorks. And if not, when speaking to or researching any of the providers above, do check if they can integrate with your courier(s) of choice.
And Frankly Speaking…
The reason why I bring this up is that you may need to be brutally honest with yourself on this one.
If you have very little time to dedicate to the success of your website and it was frankly doing not a lot before, you’re only selling on one marketplace and have no intention to expand. I hate to say it, is it even worth you having one? How much did your website turn over last year and would you be better off focusing on eBay or Amazon or European eBay and Amazon sites?
If the answer is “no it’s not”, then that does simplify things a little for you.
For Amazon, the direct import & export files are pretty straight forwards and if you’d like a little automation, then check out the Amazon Transport Utility (AMTU) from Amazon, it’s basic but works great!
Were You Using ProStores or Magento Go?
Do let us know if you found this brief overview helpful.
Also did you choose not to use ProStores or Magento Go? If you didn’t let us know in the comments box below.