David Brackin is a regular contributor to Tamebay and is the co-founder of Stuff U Sell. He has sold over 250,000 different items on eBay.
Linnworks growth right now is stunning. Linnworks Academy – the annual gathering of customers and staff – has previously fitted in rather modest settings. I remember sitting in a small room in Reading with only 20 people just two years ago. This year, they’ve taken over the Manchester Suite in Man United’s stadium at Old Trafford with nearly 500 people in attendance and a range of sponsors doing a brisk trade presenting their ecommerce services from stands in the main hall. This event is rapidly joining the few must-attend events for marketplace sellers.
In contrast to previous years, Linnworks were running a two-room set-up. In the main room the headline speakers from the likes of Amazon, eBay and Whitehall gave their headline talks about the state of the industry, meanwhile upstairs was a smaller workshop session helping users to get the best out of the application – covering some deeply technical aspects such as working with the API to customise the service and managing data imports. One of the most popular areas was the 1-1 sessions which could be booked with Linnworks staff to look into specific problems. Sessions were quickly snapped-up by attendees who needed a more personal touch.
Linnworks is distinctive among the multi-channel managers by its very strong technical basis and how open they are about how things work. This flows from Fedor Dzjuba, the founder and chief architect of Linnworks and he spoke after lunch to explain how he sees ecommerce developing and what Linnworks is doing to support sellers.
Fed thinks that there are going to be many changes across the spectrum of ecommerce – from product sourcing, the channels we sell on and how we deliver products. Product sourcing is going to become more integrated – the analytics and forecasting will grow more accurate as big data is available and systems will be able to automatically restock products and integrate more closely with those of suppliers. In terms of how things sell, Fedor’s data shows that in 2016 38% of Linnworks serviced sales were on eBay, 46% on Amazon and 7% on websites – the rest being on other channels. He thinks that despite the many new channels that are emerging, these three channels will continue to dominate for most small retailers, but what will change will be the rise of the automated assistants – like Cortana, Siri etc – providing commerce results to users and driving purchase decisions. He also believes that the Amazon will continue to drive down the time to delivery until users expect 2-hr delivery options which might require local hubs for delivery. All of these changes make the inclusion of structured data more important for the small retailers to properly control and sell their inventory.
So how is Linnworks going to change? The main focus is creating an extensible platform that is reliable and incorporates the most important features. Extensibility is about allowing other developers to create apps on the platform which allow retailers to customise their experience in a way that’s fully integrated with the core Linnworks.net application. This means that – for example – if there’s a more obscure courier with which you need an integration, then you can have that built into Linnworks by your own developer. There are also more features planned for the next year – such as shipping quotes and listing tools, integrated into the core product.
Overall, I remain impressed by the growth of Linnworks, and the direction that have set-out for the future, and I’ll be booking in for Linnworks Academy in 2017.