Bulk Deleting Attributes in Magento with iMacros

Very quickly when testing with Magento you can end up with lots and lots attributes in Magento that you don’t need any more.

Deleting an attribute is easy, deleting lots is a pain and it can be so easily be scripted, because we all hate doing something more than once right?

So that’s what the video below shows you and the code snippet is just below the video for you.


Quickly & easily bulk delete attributes in Magento

The iMacro Code

To make this work for you, you’ll need the macro code below:


How to add this to your iMacro list

To add this to your iMacros follow these steps:

  1. In your iMacros side bar, click on the #Current.iim macro
  2. At the bottom panel press the “Edit” tab
  3. Press “Edit Macro”
  4. Paste the code in from above
  5. Press File > Save As and save it as “bulk delete attributes.iim”
  6. For this new macro to show in the list, on the same edit tab in the left panel, press “Refresh macro list”
  7. Use as you desire

If you don’t have FireFox you can download it for free here and the iMacros extension for Firefox is also free and you can download that here.

Daft point…

Use your common sense when deleting attributes or using any form of automated script.

Make sure you know what it’s doing, have faith in you have a restricted search made and watch it, just in case you delete system attributes (while sipping tea and with the feet on the desk).



2nd Impressions of Magento & eSellerPro Connector Update

In this post I’ll be sharing with you some of my findings so far after working for the past 3-4 months with multiple Magento sites.

Approximately 18 months ago, I worked deep into Magento for a clients site and I came out of that experience with some distorted impressions, now that Magento has progressed, I must say the second time around a lot more enjoyable.

The past week has been excellent fun and it’s looking likely that we’ll have 3 completed Magento to eSellerPro connectors completed and one live in the next few days. But before they go live, I’d like to share a few of the challenges we’ve had along the way and hopefully you can learn from them too.

Resource Hogging

By far the biggest challenge we’ve had has not been with the connector between eSellerPro and Magento itself, but the servers that the Magento sites are being hosted on.

In short, Magento is a beast and it needs lots of resources.

magento resource hoggingAnd when I say lots, I mean lots. Even 2 dedicated Xeon cores and 4Gb ram is still struggling to cope with ~15,000 products.

Granted a lot of these are variations (footwear), but even still it was being sold as “Magento Ready” VPS (Virtual Private Server from Vidahost) and so far it’s not been performing as well as one would have hoped. On another we got to 29K products on a shared hosting package and it did rather well in comparison, the only troubles we ran into there was that it’s proving slow to load and the other 50K products will have to wait until it’s moved on to a full dedicated server in the next day or two.

I’m now doubling my suggestion “that if you’re not paying £50 a month hosting fees then it’s not enough” to £100.

That means you can have a decent dedicated server to power the beast with plenty of room to grow and don’t have to worry about the number of connections and the amount of time a process is taking to run.

Oh and if you’re reading this thinking oh my goodness £100 for web hosting alone for a website… Then your right, it is expensive, but when you need flexible options and have large amounts of inventory, then Magento makes sense.

Common & Cool Magento Extensions

A couple of extensions have come to my attention and I think you should be aware of them too.

Magento Shipping Extension

Magento has some basic shipping options and also matrix rates that you can import via CSV, however these are not that flexible if you have complex rules and one extension that is being used by 4 sites so far is the “Product Matrix shipping extension“.

This extension is sick and if you want to see how configurable it is, see their Google document here which has exactly 1 squllion well documented examples included.

Image Switching for Variations

magento image swapping for variationsI was surprised that this didn’t work out of the box with Magento, it’s got every other feature you’d want, but image swapping when a variation such as a colour is selected from the drop-down box, nope.

Hidden in the depths of Google I found a really old article that showed  you how to set up images to swap on Magento’s configurable products using a £45 extension called “Magic Zoom Plus“. This extension adds the zoom window that we see on eBay listings, but it also opens the main image up into a lightbox too so the customer can see the full sized image.

Anyway… the core reason for wanting this extension is because if you set the variation products up to have images too (which the connector from eSellerPro Magento now does), you can select a colour option and the main image changes.

If you’d like to see this in action, have a look at this demo product on my Magento testing site (change one of the colour options in the drop-down box).


sagepay_logoOne of my old nightmares was with PayPal Website Payments Pro and Magento, back at something like version 1.5.1 PayPal was in there but not actually working for the UK version. Two minor updates later and multiple calls to PayPal it was finally working, so when it came to SagePay and Magento, I was kinda hoping for a more pleasant experience.

To integrate SagePay is a piece of pie. I’ve now set this up several times and we’ve had it running in an hour, the extension you want is this one, it makes it easy and the SagePay Tech support team are ace.

M2ePro – Listing to eBay & Amazon from Magento

This is a topic for a different article really, but it’s of worthy mention.  M2ePro has come on leaps and bounds from what it used to be (“cranky” was one word for it) and it’s exceptionally flexible now.

While not the most well documented product out there, their support is amazing! We’ve had 2 minute replies continuously for any questions we had and there are so many options to fill your boots with.

The setup wizards are OK, but some of the options are not well explained and we’ve found a few things that need to be setup just right for them to work. But it’s promising and I’m hoping to release a full step-by-step guide to getting up and running with M2ePro in the next few weeks, plus I’d like to get the business up and running on it first and can use that as a reference point.

eSellerPro to Magento Connector Updates

eSellerProWe’re so close to having our first Magento site that is powered by the connector I’ve built between eSellerPro live, literally 2-3 days and I can’t wait to share!

The data transformation needed has gone through multiple stages of development now and the process the data goes through has had major revisions. It’s running approximately 14.4 times faster than it was before (I time each transaction and log it) for small batches and for larger batches, the speed increase is almost exponential because of the way the data is now being handled. If I lost you with that lot, basically it runs fast when creating or updating products.

When the connector was first written I only hand a handful of settings, today there are 148 settings that completely change the way the connector works between eSellerPro and Magento for all parts of the integration, inventory creation, stock & price updates, order collection and of course updating orders back in Magento too, allowing for it to be completely customised to each installation and data sets that the business has.

To give you some idea of the flexibility the connector has, here is a glimpse of what the Magento to eSellerPro connector can do right now:

  • More Magento Versions Supported
    Supports Magento version 1.7.X and confirmed working with Magento 1.5.X as well
  • Category Creation
    Creates categories on-the-fly and with configurable options as well. Such as making the category active by default, including it in the menu or even setting it as an anchor category
  • Category Blocking
    Category blocking to block specific categories from being created, which is super handy when someone has old categories that they need to ignore or use elsewhere
  • Data Cleansing
    Category cleaning, so that moving from an existing website to Magento is much (much) easier and can mean that the category tree can stay the same temporarily while the product data is updated. There are a few amazingly sick things I’m not going to share around the categories, but they make the moving from one site to another a lot easier.
  • Up to 5 Variation Styles Supported
    Variations or configurable products are supported and now up to 5 different attribute sets can be catered for dynamically and they’re matched to the right visibility. Oh and if they’re all out of stock, guess what the master product is marked as inactive as well.
  • Dynamic Attribute Creation
    You’ll know these as custom fields from eSellerPro, but in Magento they’re called “Attributes” and these are created dynamically and with what-ever options you like by default too. Want to swap the type to another type such as a dropdown or text area, the connector now checks for attribute type changes so not to slow down the loading process.
  • Data Transformation
    The value of specific Custom fields can be transformed at the load time, for example one user has a full URL for a YouTube video that they wanted porting to a specific attribute in Magento, we had three options, update eSellerPro, hack the site’s template or just let the connector strip the URL part and load only the YouTube video ID.
  • Cross Selling in & Tested
    Related, upsell and cross-sell products are now fully supported from being set in eSellerPro in the “Related/Kits” tab and they’re loaded automatically and controlled back in eSellerPro where you can import and export all you like.
  • Tiered Pricing & Groups
    Customer pricing groups are in and tested and up to 10 groups are supported. These are handy for sites where you have B2C and B2B going on. Oh and tiered pricing (which is price breaks upon quantity) is also in and working.


Payment Processing WarningsPaypal Logo

During the setup process for these sites, I’ve noticed that that both PayPal and SagePay have been being set to AUTH and not SALE transactions.

Just in case one of these slips through to a live site environment or is changed at a later date, there are some massive warnings sent on orders to eSellerPro now that make it really clear that the site is set up as AUTH and not SALE (there is an option to block them from being sent and also turn the warning off as well).

If you’re wondering what the differences is, the SALE version means you get paid, the AUTH version means you only authorised the payment but haven’t taken it yet.

Spotted the problem yet? :)

Magento Theme Support

The differences between a well written and a botched theme are now becoming apparent.

Some themes look like they have been written by a blind baboon, but others are so well written they’re amazing.

Some themes look like they have been written by a blind baboon

I mentioned the use of the YouTube video integration earlier, this was dead simple with what one of the designer guys had done, literally pop it in and it worked and if you wanted the extra flexibility of sizing, you could set those via attributes or using a simple syntax for the attribute.

One of the connectors has been set up to manage custom containers and blocks as part of the loading & updating process for products, so that the actual product layout page can be set up and managed eSellerPro and the site changes accordingly, it’s soooo sick, I’m going to have to show you how this works in a later article too.

Anyway we digress.

Magento, second time around has been an enjoyable experience. Not without it’s frustrations though, the entire core of the product appears to be undocumented and not a wiff of a comment anywhere which makes extending it a real challenge at times, but what can be done with it is pretty darn cool.

Am a convert yet from OpenCart? Maybe… but as I dig in deeper, they’re chalk and cheese.

What do you think of Magento?

What’s your thoughts on Magento? Have you used it for your site are you thinking about it or maybe you’ve been looking at something else… Let me know in the comments box below, I’d love to hear from you.


How to Disable the Magento WYSIWYG Editor

Magento comes with a lot of features out of the box, one of those is a HTML editor to allow easy adding and editing of HTML in almost all content areas.

However for advanced users, it’s more of a nuisance and you can disable it if you prefer, in this video I show you how.

There it’s that easy and super handy for HTML editing in Magento for advanced users.

Magento to eSellerPro Integration Completed!

magento to eSellerPro integrationLooking to use eSellerPro with Magento or looking for an alternative website system to use along side eSellerPro? Read on!

Over the Christmas period, I’ve completed a fully compatible integration from eSellerPro to Magento Community & Enterprise editions.

It’s the best of both worlds, you can now use the same inventory that you are using for selling on eBay, Amazon etc… and power your own fully customised website using Magento and order processing is completed back in eSellerPro.


How it Works

Because the integration connector sits between eSellerPro and Magento, if the data is available, anything is possible

The way the integration works is in 5 parts and this integration works with your existing processes and still allows you to manage as much as possible from within eSellerPro.

Part 1 – Inventory
You manage your inventory just as you are now in eSellerPro. Select the products that you’d like to send to your Magento website(s) and they’re created or updated on Magento automatically for you.

You can power as many sites as you like from this connector and beyond the eSellerPro limit of 10 stores via the Channel Profile. Oh and attributes, which you’ll know as custom fields are automatically generated for you.

Part 2 – Stock & Price Updates
Stock and price updates are automatically processed, so that if you have 10 items in stock and sell 2 on Amazon, the updates are also reflected on your Magento website.

Part 3 – Order Processing
As you receive orders on your Magento websites, orders are delivered back to eSellerPro and go through the same standard order process, just like your orders from the other order sources.

Part 4 – Order Updates
As you process your orders and mark them as shipped, just like with eBay & Amazon, your Magento website orders are updated with the shipment information and customers are notified directly.

Part 5 – Customisation & 
Because this is a connector that is sat between eSellerPro and Magento it is completely customisable.

If you have bespoke requirements they can be accounted for, the connector can do anything that you cannot do in eSellerPro and apply a layer of pre & post processing logic to fully customise your product & order data between the two systems.

A few examples of customisation are:

  • Tiered pricing, that’s pricing discounts based upon order quantities
  • Group pricing for wholesale, trade or other customer groups in Magento
  • Expands beyond the limit of 10 stores in eSellerPro
  • Automatic attribute creation
  • Support for simple and configurable products (these are variation & multi-variation products)
  • Support for almost any 3rd party extensions that you use that also need to be updated. Such as Google Base & Products Ads or variation images via MagicBox for swapping images with variation selections.
  • Automatic re-indexing, keeping your indexes up to date

This integration also works in reverse, so that if you’re using Magento right now for your website business and want to use eSellerPro for the back office functions, then now the two can be deeply integrated.

Video Overview

Press play on the video below to be taken through a high level overview of the Magento to eSellerPro connector.

Would You Like to Know More?

The full feature list is available on the Magento to eSellerPro Integration is available. Pricing depends on the level of customisation required with a small monthly fee that includes additional developer hours per month to make any changes as required and processing time.

5 Things You Could be Missing Out On In eSellerPro

eSellerPro LogoA little over three weeks ago I asked what you were struggling with and the larger topics I’m covering on the Podcasts we’re holding every Friday, but one of the smaller topics that you mentioned was that you’d like to know what you didn’t know for functionality in eSellerPro.

The following are relatively easy to set up and can save hundreds of man-hours each year. This gets deep really quickly and if you have any questions on these, just ask in the comments at the bottom or in the forums.

Note: For users of eSellerPro Lite who are in the ‘eBay Accelerated Growth Programme’, then you will still have access to the eBay templates, inventory details and also the custom fields sections, so you can use the conditional statements, but without the paragraphs. Also I’ve seen the courier rules set up with the shipping areas, so you may have access to these as well.


Using Keywords Inside Keywords & Conditional Keywords

When this first happened, it was deemed a bug. Really you should not put the keyword {{ItemDescription}} inside the description tab of a SKU and then preview or list it, what happens is that you get the description come out around 40 times.

Not ideal, but what it indicate is that you can put a keyword inside a keyword and with a little inspiration a few years ago, this turned into a really cool feature, which when used correctly can help structure your date very cleanly.

Let’s say you have a custom fields group called “Generic”, that group holds generic information about SKU’s, maybe 5 bullet points for Amazon and some other standard fields. If you add a new custom-field called “Description”, but make this custom field a list.

On the values tab for that custom fields group, you can then add values to it. If you were to add a value called “{{Insert:Description_Sofas}}” that just so happens to be a keyword, this keyword is an Insert command to bring in a paragraph block called “Description_Sofas”.

Thus if you assign this keyword in the dropdown box for the “Description” customfield on an inventory record then all you’d need to do is add {{CustomFields:Generic:Description}} to a listing template and wayhey! We now have the description contents being controlled in a custom field and completely separated from the listing template.

But that’s just simple use of custom fields, did you know you can logic test them too? I’ve written a couple of guides on these already and they should not be overlooked. You can make logic decisions if something is valid (that’s an IF clause), decide to do something if something is not valid (that’s an IFNOT) and there are other functions such as IFELSE and also a neat function to SPLIT the values in a data field.

If I’ve lost you with that last paragraph, don’t worry, read these three articles, they all have practical examples in them:

Courier Rules that use Postcode Ranges & Countries

Courier rules in eSellerPro are very powerful, but sadly sometimes they are heavily underused. These rules are business rules, that means that orders that come in with specific courier criteria may leave the warehouse with different information.

A really simple example of this is that a customer may pay for 2nd class on their order, that’s what they saw on eBay, however a business rule may be that because the order total was over £20 and in the United Kingdom then this order is automatically promoted to 1st class.

That is a simple example, but it’s because of what can be achieved through the courier rules, it has for a long, long time made me wonder why on earth people pay 12pence a pop to MetaPack, when obviously the tool you are using to process courier rules is not up to the job and MetaPack needs to step in a bridge that gap (albeit a little steep at that kind of price per package, although there is a compelling argument for redundancy in couriers and MetaPack does provide that).

Courier rules can get deep pretty quickly, so it’s always worth speaking with your implementer or support representative to work out exactly what you need, however the courier rules can be layered and you can create some complex rules that mean you can deliver your orders to customers faster and more cheaply than you ever thought possible, when you consider that you can factor in rules for the following conditions:

  • Order source
  • The method the buyer chose at checkout
  • The order weight
  • The seller ID
  • The order value
  • Quantity of items in the order
  • Shipping value paid
  • And finally the most powerful one of them all, the Shipping Area
eSellerPro Shipping Areas

You may be wondering why there are locations set for both United Kingdom and Great Britain and you’d be right that is a little odd, until you consider that eBay refers to the UK as “United Kingdom” and Amazon refers to the UK as “Great Britain”. Don’t let that one catch you out, I’ve already found that one out the hard way a long time ago.

You can easily create a logical process for your orders with “shipping areas” to filter through so that your orders go via the most cost and time effect paths and your staff don’t see any of the processing!

By setting up groups of locations, whether these be postcode ranges, such as BT for Northern Ireland or all the exceptions for your courier where you’re charged more. Maybe the core zones in Europe, so that your main courier say parcel Force is expensive to Euro 3 Zone, so instead you can easily switch to a different courier for that zone, or pick out a single country, such as Germany and have special rules just for that destination.

Packing Processes

This won’t suit all businesses, but the ones where it does this

will save you huge amounts of time through process control.

In short this is where orders are printed by one member of staff that manages the order queue and then using the document that is printed a special screen called the “Packing Screen” is used to process and despatch orders.

A barcode is scanned off the despatch document and that barcode is the order ID, this is then read in eSellerPro and the order contents are loaded up. Then for each line item the line item is scanned for it’s barcode and as each order line item is scanned it is removed from the order on the screen, until all the line items have been scanned.

Now we have a verified order and when this happens, with our courier rules above and assuming we have the couriers integrated in eSellerPro, you courier label will be printed. Pop the item’s in their package and slap the label on, job done, next.

Also as part of this process you can also scan barcodes, brilliant for refurbished or high value products that need the serial number recording for later verification.

Automatic Barcode Assignments

What is a barcode?If you have your own Barcode range from GS1, then it’s dead easy for this range to be added to your eSellerPro account and then when you send a new product to Amazon that does not have a EAN (or UPC) set, one will be automatically assigned for you.

If you’ve not got the foggy-est on what GS1, barcodes, EAN’s and UPC’s are, see this article, I explain them all.

Water-Marked Images

watermarked imageThe final topic that you probably didn’t know that eSellerPro could do is water mark your images automatically.

Before we go any further on this, it can be tricky to set up and it does mean that you do need to provide eSellerPro with standard sized images, so that the watermark that comes out in the final image is uniform.

This can also be done for multiple accounts too, but does require setting up by your implementer/support.

In Summary

So there we have them, five things you probably did not know that eSellerPro could do.

From stacking keywords inside of each other and then logic testing them, to making sure that your orders go using the most cost and time effect couriers and saving a fortune by not using MetaPack, packing them in a lean and mean despatch process with barcode scanners, the auto assignment of Barcode s from your range and finally, water marking your images automatically.

If you’re struggling with something, no matter how small or if you just have a question you think I or Dave can answer, ask us in the forums here.

The One Box You Shouldn’t “Un-Tick” in eSellerPro

The HTML editor in eSellerPro is a menace. If you use it to edit your description blocks, it’ll add it’s own version of HTML it and if you’re trying to process any form of advanced logic past a simple IF/NOT statement then it’ll eat it for breakfast.

eSellerPro HTML EditorOur saviour is the checkbox that is found at the bottom of the HTML editor on almost all description/content entry points that stops the editor from being loaded. Thus you don’t end up with broken HTML descriptions and logic tests that no longer work.

You know when you’ve had your descriptions edited by the editor when you start noticing odd <p>,</p> and <br> tags all around your descriptions. Check your eBay templates, you didn’t put them there, the editor did and unpicking the mess can take a while.

My tip, never use the editor to begin with and turn it off. You’ll find this option in the following entry areas and if you ask support there is a user setting to disable the HTML editor system wide to stop staff from inadvertently turning the editor back on and it chewing your content blocks.

  • eBay templates
  • Paragraph builder
  • Postage template description
  • Customfield descriptions

Hopefully this little tip will save you ages trying to work out why a description is half way down a page when it should not be, then finding out that the editor has entered 30 <br> tags at the end of conditional statements.

Rumoured CTO Leaving eSellerPro & Second Customer Conference In Late September

eSellerPro LogoThe interim Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Edgar Smith is rumoured to be leaving eSellerPro this September. No less than a year from his appointment in October 2011 replacing the former CTO and founder.

Hearsay from unrelated sources, Edgar was previously announced as being an “Interim replacement” for the CTO position last year and the rumoured looming departure was apparently ‘not expected’.

As eSellerPro is a heavy technology & development based company, the position cannot remain open for any length of time and if these rumours are true, it raises the question who could replace Edgar in the CTO position if he was to depart.

Second Customer Conference Late September

eSellerPro Second Customer Conference

Also the next customer conference is set to be late September at the Williams F1 Conference centre in Oxford. An interesting choice considering that the first customer conference was at Lords cricket ground in London.

The feedback has been mixed from users of eSellerPro over the past 12 months, it’s going to be a brave man (or woman) that stands on that stage after the promises made last year for communication and performance after the Christmas trading period of 2011/2012, although in recent months improvements have been noticeable with stability.

Rumours are that Tesco and Play.com will be presenting and I’m sure we’ll see key members of the eBay team present at the event, but its unlikely we’ll see the overwhelming presence seen at the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst event earlier this year by eBay.

Last years conference stands out for me as it was the most “human” I have ever seen Amazon act publicly with what was an excellent presentation, well besides that of Andrew Rowson from Towequipe’s dislike of caravans in his presentation on how eSellerPro had helped his business grow.

The Amazon Buy Box – You know the Secret Formula Right?


If you’ve not read this article before, then you’re in for a treat as the Amazon Buy Box pretty much obey’s the formula and has been proven to do so time and time again.Amazon UK

If you’re new to Amazon, then in short the holy grail of Amazon is the blue buy box and if you’ve not come across the buy box before, you cannot miss it, it’s blue and on the right-hand side of almost every product on Amazon.

Hey, they’re infectious! There is one over to the right :)

When there is only a single seller fighting for the buy box, there can only be one winner, but when there are two or more sellers, then assuming that everything is even, you can win the Amazon Buy Box with the formula in this article.

The Amazon Buy Box Factors

However there is a but… This assumes that everything is equal and we know that nothing is ever a level playing field, especially when it comes to marketplaces and Amazon, well is not always even either (see this article Why do eBay Sales Stay Consistent? for further reading).

There are many factors that influence who gets the buy box on Amazon and ChannelAdvisor points out the obvious in their help file,  as a reference, I have put an amended table below.

Factor What Amazon is Considering Winning Practices
Featured Merchant Status How trustworthy you are based upon account history. Being noticed by the Amazon account managers.As ChannelAdvisor suggest, it doesn’t hurt to ask Amazon support about your “Featured Merchant Status”
Price What is your product price? What is your shipping charge? Low total price, including product price and shipping
Availability How many do you have in stock? How quickly can you ship? Quick and consistent fulfillment
Volume Do you sell many of this product? Consistency
Refunds How often do you issue a refund for seller error? Low refund rate
Customer Feedback How do customers rate your service? Low negative feedback ratings
Customer Support How quickly you deal with customer queries Answering in less than 24 hours, 7 days a week (yes that’s weekends included)
A-to-z Guarantee Claims How often do you get returns? Low A-to-z claims

A Special Note on FBA

But that’s not all, because we have not included the “motherload” which is “Fulfilment By Amazon” AKA “FBA”.

FBA means that the seller has one or more of their products in Amazon’s fulfilment centres and because Amazon has it, have verified it’s condition and knows it can get the product out to its Amazon Prime subscribers, then it promotes FBA held items heavily against seller fulfilled items and routinely it’s going to take a hefty price difference to shake FBA products out of the buy box, or is it?

The Amazon Buy Box Rule?

If you have had a slap from Amazon, whether that’s an account warning or a suspension and very worryingly even if it was not your fault and a mistake on Amazon’s part (we have this documented in a support email back from Amazon) then this can count against you if everything is even.

But course your business exceeds in every area on Amazon, you are the perfect seller, well second to Amazon that is, so for the following to work, we’re assuming that everything is level.

So to the “Amazon Buy Box Formula”:

(Lowest Selling Price – 2.7%)

– £0.01
= The Buy Box, For Longer

By taking away 2.7% off the lowest selling price (including postage) and an extra penny, you receive the Amazon buy box for much, much longer.

It took me ages to work this out, testing, refreshing over many days it’s this worked out to be the lowest % and value I could get trigger the buy box and for it to stick.

The minus one penny is in the formula for the lower priced goods in the sub £20 area, it always seemed to take that extra penny to kick the box into action.

There are a few clauses, on the accounts I tested this out on, they were ALL of a great standing with Amazon, no major issues and all had long track records of great service. The other is none of these accounts were using FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon). FBA is a lethal advantage as I mentioned above, to shake FBA items takes a little bit more.

Also none of the products that were tested on were over £50, I am sure there is alterations in the trigger for the buy box, the percentage is likely to be a lot less than 2.7% at these levels.

Your Feedback

I would like for you to try this on ONE product for ONE day and let us know your results.

I know that several of the readers here have used this formula to great success over the past year since I first published this article, what I’d for you to do is try it for yourself for a day and let me know your results here by leaving me a comment below.

Alternatively if you have been using it, let us know your feedback as the formula does move around in different categories and price brackets, again let me know in the comments box and of course if we lost you anywhere in this article, don’t hesitate to ask in the forums.

Delving into Niches with Multiple Websites – Part 1 Why & How

Hola! Welcome to the first part of a series of articles on how to run multiple niche websites and really tap into multi-channel eCommerce without eBay & Amazon.

Multiple eCommerce WebsitesI have been meaning to write this series for quite some time now and it’s going to take me a while to work through the different aspects I’d like to cover, hence breaking it up into multiple parts which will take me a few weeks to cover.

It’s my intention to start from the beginning in this article and cover the theory, then in the following articles work through turning the theory into practice to reach the final goal of you being able to run multiple web stores from a a single installation and really tap into the power of going niche.

I know I’m going to get distracted along the way, this is for good reason, I’m going to be focusing on a single open source eCommerce platform called “OpenCart” to deploy this concept with you and there are a couple of extensions that I’d like to include as part of this guide, this includes a free to use addon that will enable you to sell on eBay from OpenCart and also to delve into an Amazon integration as well.

To be completely up front with you, I have developed a complete integration from eSellerPro to OpenCart and while it would be handy if you have eSellerPro to power multiple websites from, I’d like to stress that this is not a requirement and I’ll be keeping this in mind throughout the series of articles as I delve into the how to power multiple nice websites with OpenCart.

So for now in this first article, let’s focus on the “Why” and start on the “How” parts.



I’m fully converse with deploying numerous selling persona’s on eBay & Amazon. I’ve done this previously with +15 accounts and I know of one company that has taken this & thrown it to the wall and has over 30 limited companies all specialising in niches just on eBay.

I previously wrote a pair of articles that desperately need a rewrite that covered why using multiple eBay accounts might be a good idea (you can read them here and here). As I mentioned, they need a rewrite and let’s summarise these, as the theory is straight forwards and comes back to a just three key factors,  these are:

  • Timing
  • Personal choice
  • External factors

For the vast majority of manufactured goods, you are not the only company selling them, thus every single day, customers choose your competitors over you. There are an infinite number of reasons for this, timing, colour scheme, layout, description, title are a few factors.

Also, an interesting set of factors that I delved into a while ago was that there is a limit to the exposure for a given sales platform on a given day. This was started because I could see no viable reason why eBay sales should stay consistent within a specific window of 20% on a single day.

So let me ask you two specific questions here, if the response is anything like the one I normally receive back, this is exactly why you need to carry on reading this series of articles:

  1. By midday, can you make an estimate within 10% on the total value of sales for that day? (if you’ve not tried this yet, try it)
  2. Look at the sales totals for each day over the past two weeks. Do they stay within a 20% window?

Yep thought so. I’ve found some business owners that use eBay & Amazon can estimate their daily sales figures to the nearest £100 quite accurately just using that morning sales and others that can be well within 1-3% window on daily sales values in excess of £15K per day. The thing is, that’s not natural.

It’s what lead me to write a pair of articles, the first called “Why do eBay Sales Stay Consistent?” and the second to explore a hypothesis, that why I cannot prove, but I’d bet money on it or a subset of what I cover being in place, because its exactly what I would do, the article is here and called “The eBay “Best Match” Position Bias Modifier Hypothesis“.

I know I’ve not fully answered the “why” part just yet, but I need to explore a sub-topic, around choices. That’s next up :)

Choices, Choices, Choices

Choices, Choices, Choices. Which Colour do you like?While timing can be pure fluke (when they find your product) and I’ve already made a case for external factors in the earlier section, the one factor that you can most easily influence is choice.

Buyers like choices, I like choices, but what influences my choice of which company to buy from, especially to what influences my partner to what she buys on eBay can vary greatly. Sometimes its just the way the product data is laid out, sometimes its gallery picture, sometimes it’s the sellers feedback, shipping prices, the colours used, the photographs, the list is almost endless.

The fact is here, is that I, as any of your potential customers may open your product listing and “not like it” and move to the next one. It could ironically be for the same product. It doesn’t matter, the point is, I have personal tastes on what I like and so do your customers.

This is one reason “why” you should consider multiple persona’s for your selling activities. For example you could one persona set up as a full professional looking business and the second the complete inverse, maybe one account that just uses variations, one that does not, one that as separate listings for each product variation and there are a whole host of possibilities, as soon as you break away from the “single business” approach.

And back to Why?

I wanted to cover the choices section in some detail, mainly because it’s the easiest to understand, I like black, but you may like blue, that means we will respond differently to different pages, it’s a quirk of being human, we have different tastes.

Going back to the three key points, Timing, Personal choice, External factors. Your product may be overlooked, it might even not be shown for a specific search and being at the right place at the right time can and does play a role in the ultimate goal of the customer buying your product. We’ve looked at personal choice in some depth and I’ve already hinted that when using marketplaces that external factors such as my hypothesis for when it comes to “best match” search results, the worrying part is that is exactly what I would do.

These are just some of the reasons why you should consider a multi-faceted approach to eCommerce and I’m sure you can think of more reasons why this approach makes good sense (if you have any you’d like to share, let me know in the comments box at the bottom).

I’m fully converse with deploying numerous selling persona’s on eBay & Amazon, but for websites, this can also be tough nut to crack, mainly because it can be expensive and the results take time to take effect, hence this article series.

Going Niche of Niche

WorldStores +70 StoresIf you have a wide range of products, then it can be relatively straight forwards to slice your products up into groups and create persona’s for each group.

I’m not going to be covering how to do this with eBay here, but instead focusing on a different way of approaching this through multiple eCommerce websites over a couple of articles.

An excellent example of this is in the real world is WorldStores, take a look at this page. That’s over 70 dedicated websites  Each site is niche site to a specific range of products and this is the opportunity & challenge I’m going to be tackling in this series of articles. How to go multi-channel with multiple websites, on a budget.

If you’d like a corporate example see shopdirect.com that are responsible for Littlewoods, Very, Isme (previously Marshall Ward), K&Co (previously Kays) and the other is thehutgroup.com, they have at least a dozen eBay accounts that I know of and if they had 30, I’d not be be surprised, let alone the assortment of highly specialised “Niche” websites.

Which website platform to use?

If we pick on a few examples Magento can be, sorry “is” a resource hog, to run multiple websites off Magento (or even one larger site for that matter) then you’re going to need specialised hosting, which costs, its far from a simple platform to use and as soon as you mention “Magento”, all costs go up a minimum of 60%.

If we look at the bespoke offerings from eSellerPro, then cost, features & time to deploy is a major factor here and if we look at the ASPdotnetStoreFront from ChannelAdvisor, ignoring the setup costs & design fees, the £200 a month is a non-starter for each niche website.

We need cheap, we need ease of use, some snazzy functions that don’t require massive amounts of processing power & can be run on a shared web hosting account, an arsenal of free or inexpensive themes, an extensions & addons base that is varied and equally inexpensive and that’s why I’m picking on one of my favourite open source website platforms called OpenCart.

If you’ve not seen OpenCart before, then I think its about time you did. You can see both the front end of the base installation of OpenCart and the administration panels through their demostration sites here.

For me OpenCart makes an excellent choice, the admin is easy and the front end is feature rich. It’ll happily run on shared hosting accounts, its free, the themes are super cheap and crucially…. get this!! It will run multiple webstores from a single installation!

Summary & Your Feedback Please!

We know that niche works, I’m in a niche, you’re in a niche. But there are so many sub-niches we can get into with a product based business, we just need a cost effective route to do so and that’s exactly what I’ll be digging into in this series of articles using OpenCart as a base.

My closing questions are below and you can let me know your reply in the comments box below.

  1. Have you considered creating niche websites before? What stopped you?
  2. Do you already have niche websites, what has been your experiences so far?
  3. What would you like to see in this series of articles?

I look forward to hearing from you :)

Two Week Update & eSellerPro to BigCommerce Integration

This post is a mainly about what I’ve been up to for the past two weeks,  but you’ll soon work out its mostly just for you :)

BigCommerceI’ve now completed the full integration of eSellerPro to the Big Commerce website platform and are on the home run of the bug finding & eyeing up further customisation to the account it’s running from.

If you’ve not heard of BigCommerce before it’s a fully hosted website solution which isn’t expensive (especially as its in USD). The more I’ve played with it, the more I like it, its straight forwards, can be designed with bespoke designs and guess what… it just works :)

Give it a whirl, here is a demo account I created which is open for the next 15 days.

With the error trapping I’ve added in the 6 hour coding bender on Saturday, if it does go tilt (which it will do sooner or later[you won’t hear that from normal developers]) it’ll be obvious where it has gone Pete-Tong and as much as I’d love to boast about a few of the ways I’ve tackled some interesting features, I’m not going to and I’m just saying its “slick”.

This is the first time I’m publicly eluding to the fact that I’ve written API connectors from eSellerPro to 3rd parties and it’s not the first, more like the 4th now. I have CubeCartOpenCart & a web based EPOS solution next on my agenda for integration projects, oh and I have a sickly fast Magento integration.

Remember I’m aware the way and what data needs to flow between such tools and as I’m a perfectly capable coder in multiple languages, this is handy as I’m not BS’d by 3rd parties and also I’m realistic with timescales and what can and cannot be done.

If you’ve got a 3rd party integration requirement to eSellerPro/another provider or alternatively you’re interested in the eSellerPro to BigCommerce integration you can contact me here.

Internet Retailing Expo 2012

This year’s event was a weird one for me, I didn’t go to visit any stands, instead I attended to meet people and frankly if they didn’t know me already I didn’t pay them any attention. Instead, I got to speak to the cool people.

I did see one presentation though, it was the team from My1stWish & eSellerPro’s Eamonn, the recording is supposed to be released this week, I’ll pop it up as a post once it’s been made public.

After refusing to pay £34 to get home 2 hours earlier late on Thursday night, I grabbed a Sub & stacked up on more caffeine and there it hit me, the sickest idea I have had in years was conceived. I cannot believe it’s never been done before and you’ll facepalm when they see the finished product. I will be pushing for it to be released with a global free option for smaller businesses, more on this in the next few months.

Advanced eBay Listing Creation Tool Pending Upgrade

This one has been a programming nightmare for me, I didn’t know what was involved in getting this working until now & if I did I wouldn’t have started it.

The IF & IFNOT logic that powers the largest multichannel businesses is about to go mainstream and I’m only a few days away from adding it to the processing core of the advanced eBay listing builder.

If the IF & IFNOT logic testing is new to you, it’s a method to programmatically work with data to make the data you input such as images and bullet points show and hide if or if not they’re entered, which means you can break the listing data away from the template design that makes the listing look “pretty”.

An example is below, so that if {{Image1}} is blank it won’t bring through the image into the template.

[[IFNOT/{{Image1}}// <img src=”{{Image1}}” /> ]]

This is a basic example, as it’s normally better to load image URL’s into a JavaScript array, however, this will be available for ALL the data entry fields and I will be providing use-case examples shortly & support in the forums.

We’re due for some tutorials as well for the tool, the more people I talk to who cannot whose business does not warrant even the first stage tools, they need a tool like this to put the efficiency in their business for both data input and presentation.

I’ve not forgotten the integration into WordPress which will allow me to offer you some heavily customised features per user including customised listing templates, account defaults and… I now have the code finished for the killer feature that is missing from nearly ALL eBay listings which isn’t even a paid for addon by design companies and guess what it’s going to be… free. More on this as soon as the artwork is completed which will be under 2 weeks.


So a quiet two weeks for blogging, but I’m doing battle with a spoon, I can’t wait to explain what that means, maybe a video this week?

I’d like to thank those who have registered for the forums, if you haven’t yet, its free and you can register here and as you’ll see by the couple of recent threads, you’ll get quality replies back (amongst my gibberish :) ), see you there?

Auto Creation of Logic Tested CustomFields in eSellerPro Using Excel

eSellerProCustomFields in eSellerPro is exceptionally useful, by their very title they’re “custom”. But to make the most from them, you’ll be needing to logic test them and hide the ones that are empty. That’s exactly what we’ll be doing in this guide.

I’ve created a CustomFields group called ‘Default’ and included a couple of standard fields. If you see the custom fields that are included, this really could be for any category of products that are used on eBay.

Group Name Name Display Field Type Display Order Visible Item Specifics
Default DF_Colour Colour 1 1 yes yes
Default DF_Dimension Dimension(cm) 1 1 yes yes
Default DF_Manufacturer Manufacturer 1 1 yes yes
Default DF_Material Material 1 1 yes yes
Default DF_MPN MPN 1 1 yes yes
Default DF_Type Type 1 1 yes yes
Default DF_Type_2 Type 2 1 1 yes yes
Default DF_Warranty Warranty 1 1 yes yes


Logic Testing

The issue is that when we list an item to eBay with these values, then eSellerPro is smart enough not to send the fields that have empty values, however in the description of your eBay listing (or Amazon profile or paragraph for that matter) so we need to logic test them.

Tip: Never use the CustomFields description tab to store descriptions, always use the paragraph builder.

To logic test them properly we need to wrap a statement around the fields.  There are three types of logic tests we can run these are:

  1. IF – If the value matches
  2. IFNOT – If the value does not match
  3. IFNOT/ELSE – If the value does not match and an alternative

I’m not going to cover how these logic tests work any further, I’ve already covered these in this article, so just roll with me on this one as I’ll be providing you an excel formula and example spreadsheet at the end of this article for you to use in your descriptions.

Using the table above as the example, if the colour is empty then ideally we’d not want to show it in the description area, so we would write the following:

{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Colour]]// {{CustomFields:Default:DF_Colour}} }}

Note: The “square brackets” are to stop forward slashes and other odd characters from breaking the value to check against.

That’s pretty easy to write one or two, but what happens when you have 10 or even 40 of them and how on earth do you cope with wrapping the contents into a table structure?

Easy, we use excel :)

Yep its really straight forwards in excel, but before we can do that, open your eSellerPro account and follow these steps:

  1. Go to Maintenance on the left menu
  2. Approximately 4-5 icons down click on “CustomFields”
  3. At the top there is an excel icon, press it
  4. Select the option called “Export all Custom Fields”
  5. Save the file to your desktop
  6. Open it

You’ll now have all the fields in your account. We are now going to edit this file and its really important that you do not import this sheet back into eSellerPro. Don’t do it, I’ve never tried it and I’d not like to do so either.

So in Cell I2, enter this formula:

=”{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:”&A2&”:”&B2&”]]// {{CustomFields:”&A2&”:”&B2&”}} }}”

This will make something like this:

{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Colour]]// {{CustomFields:Default:DF_Colour}} }}

Sweet eh? Now grab the bottom right corner of cell I2 and drag it down. You now have the basic version which you can copy/paste to anywhere you like such as your eBay template, a paragraph, an Amazon template and so on…

Creating Tables

Creating tables using this method is a little more tricky but perfectly do-able. First we need to not that the following functions will not make the opening <TABLE> and closing </TABLE> tags, you’ll need to add these in afterwards, but hey the hard work is done by copy & paste :)

So this time instead of entering the formula above, we’ll use this formula in cell I2:

=”{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:”&A2&”:”&B2&”]]//<tr><td class=’label’>”&C2&”</td><td class=’value’>{{CustomFields:”&A2&”:”&B2&”}}</td></tr>}}”

This will make:

{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Colour]]//<tr><td class=’label’>Colour</td><td class=’value’>{{CustomFields:Default:DF_Colour}}</td></tr>}}

If I spell out what the above is doing. If the value of DF_Colour is not blank, then bring in a table row (TR) and two table data cells (TD), the first with the display label and the second with the value.

Wrap these up in a table tag and we can end up with something that looks like this:

<table cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ id=”customfields”>
{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Colour]]// <tr><td class=’label’>{{CustomFields:Default:DF_Colour}}</td></tr> }}
{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Dimension]]//<tr><td class=’label’>Dimension(cm)</td><td class=’value’>{{CustomFields:Default:DF_Dimension}}</td></tr>}}
{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Manufacturer]]//<tr><td class=’label’>Manufacturer</td><td class=’value’>{{CustomFields:Default:DF_Manufacturer}}</td></tr>}}
{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Material]]//<tr><td class=’label’>Material</td><td class=’value’>{{CustomFields:Default:DF_Material}}</td></tr>}}
{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_MPN]]//<tr><td class=’label’>MPN</td><td class=’value’>{{CustomFields:Default:DF_MPN}}</td></tr>}}
{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Type]]//<tr><td class=’label’>Type</td><td class=’value’>{{CustomFields:Default:DF_Type}}</td></tr>}}
{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Type_2]]//<tr><td class=’label’>Type 2</td><td class=’value’>{{CustomFields:Default:DF_Type_2}}</td></tr>}}
{{IFNOT/[[CustomFields:Default:DF_Warranty]]//<tr><td class=’label’>Warranty</td><td class=’value’>{{CustomFields:Default:DF_Warranty}}</td></tr>}}

And the neat thing is that it took nothing more than a few minutes and copy/paste!

Reference File

I’ve uploaded examples of both of these to this file:


Did you find this guide useful? Let me know in the comments below :)

Will You be at the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst 2012 Event?

ChannelAdvisor Catalyst 2012

Catalyst Register 2012It’s getting closer! I was pretty much veto’d from attending the Catalyst event for the best part of 5 years due to working for competitors, I had always recommended others to go and the feedback was always really positive.

So last year I broke my Catalyst virginity and attended the ChannelAdvisor event at the Park Plaza Riverside hotel in London and I’m really looking forward to attending this years event. Its also a special time for me as I’m getting married to my partner of 12 years a few days after, so if you’re attending and would like to meet up for a beer afterwards, let me know!

I’m also looking forward to meeting David Spitz again and also the new Managing Director of EMEA Seamus.
(I wonder if he has the same dancing skills as James?)

Chris from Tamebay has a special voucher for the event, giving you a £80 discount, use the code “tamebay2012” when registering.


This year we have an interesting line up of speakers including:

*coff* they’re all links to LinkedIn profiles ;-)

The event is spread over two days, Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th May. The agendas are below:

Monday, 28 May, 2012

9:00 AM  –  10:00 AM
Registration Open
Location: Foyer Area
10:00 AM  –  10:45 AM

1 – International Expansion: Breaking down borders

2 – Becoming Social- Tips on using Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube to generate leads

3 – The Evolving Customer

10:45 AM  –  11:30 AM

1 – Putting the changes in Comparison Shopping to work for you

2 – Time to get mobile- Making your business mobile friendly

3 – Back-Office Integration: How to simplify your processes

11:30 AM  –  12:00 PM
Networking Break

Exhibition Open

Strategy & Support Booths Open

12:00 PM  –  1:00 PM

1 – Creating an engaging and user-friendly website that converts

2 – Whats hot and whats not – Channel Trends

3 – How to succeed and make more money online

1:00 PM  –  2:00 PM
Networking Lunch

Exhibition Open

Strategy & Support Booths Open

2:45 PM  –  3:30 PM

1 – Our path to success” One company’s insight into their business.

2 – How Retailers Can Succeed Independently with Daily Deal and Flash Sale Campaigns

3 – eBay Best Practices, things to ensure that you do, things to ensure that you don’t do.

3:30 PM  –  4:00 PM
Networking Break

Exhibition Open

Strategy & Support Booths Open

4:00 PM  –  4:45 PM

1 – Online Marketing Strategy- Tips, Tools and Techniques

2- Leveraging Salesforce.com CRM to Streamline and Grow your eCommerce Business

3 – Trading online – Making Payments simple

4:45 PM  –  5:30 PM
1 – Becoming a Top Rated Seller on eBay2 – How to win the Buy Box3 – TBA
5:30 PM  –  10:00 PM
Catalyst Drinks Party
In The Sky Bar

Tuesday, 29th May

8:00 AM  –  5:00 PM
Registration/Info Desk Open
8:00 AM  –  9:00 AM
Networking Refreshments
9:00 AM  –  9:45 AM
Scot Wingo – CEO, ChannelAdvisor
9:45 AM  –  10:30 AM
The Changing Face of the Global Retail Landscape – Panel Discussion
10:30 AM  –  11:00 AM
Networking Break
11:00 AM  –  12:00 PM
Miriam Lahage, Global Head of Fashion Brand, eBay
12:00 PM  –  1:00 PM
Jacqueline Gold, Chief Executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox
1:00 PM  –  2:00 PM
Networking Lunch
2:00 PM  –  2:45 PM
Amazon Keynote
2:45 PM  –  3:15 PM
Interview with Peter Briffett, MD, LivingSocial UK, Ireland & Netherlands
3:15 PM  –  3:45 PM
Taking Retail Mobile – Panel Discussion
3:45 PM  –  4:15 PM
Networking Break


Strategy & Support Booths Open

4:15 PM  –  5:00 PM
Gavin Sathianathan, Head of Commerce Partnerships, Facebook
5:00 PM  –  5:30 PM
Practical tips to immediately apply to your business
5:30 PM  –  7:00 PM
Drinks & Networking Reception

Are You Attending?

So will I be seeing you there this year? Let me know in the comments box below.