Are There Alternatives to eSellerPro?
I’ve been asked this question too many times in the past few weeks to ignore it. There is some general unrest amongst users of nearly all the systems I’ve come across, not just eSellerPro. It also does not help with the recent news of the eBay UK May 2011 Update and unbeknown to merchants a lot of you are going through the “2 year cycle”.
I’m looking forward to clearing up a few areas in the following sections and also aiming enlighten you to what the “2 year cycle” is that causes account churn. Also this should save me typing/having long conversations and have a resource to help anyone else that asks again.
Disclaimer time again, this time its a short one, read the full version in The Unofficial History of eSellerPro. I feel it is important that I state, clearly and openly the following facts regarding myself and my interactions with eSellerPro.
- I am a Former Employee of eSellerPro
I used to work there for almost three years, I’m bound to biased
- I am an Advocate of eSellerPro
I’m admitting that I am biased
- I Use eSellerPro
I use it most days
- I’m not a Sales Rep
I do not get commission’s
The Underlying Questions
This isn’t going to be pretty reading for some, but I feel its absolutely required to state these questions, because that’s what is really being asked.
Now lets get right in, get dirty and state some the real questions that are being asked, although in-not-so-many-words:
- I’ve been using eSellerPro for X months, its great, but I am not feeling the ‘all singing all dancing’ I was sold
- I’m pissed off with little support and no development time I used to get and feel trapped
- I am an eCommerce manager, I need to weigh up if my decision to use eSellerPro was the right one or not
- I feel like a change, what do you suggest Matt?
These are all ugly questions and I’m sure there are others that are not spoken out loud, but are equally being asked.
The Four Nasty Questions Answered
Before we progress and look at some alternatives, I feel we need to answer the burning questions. These are not going to be pretty and I’m not very good at wrapping stuff up in cotton wool for people, but I’ll try (although I unwrap it soon enough).
Question 1: I’ve been using eSellerPro for X months, its great, but I am not feeling the ‘all singing all dancing’ I was sold
What you must remember is that you are buying access to what is an extremely complex system, that gives you lots of processes to make your business operation more efficient. Sometimes in its complexity is its beauty, but other times it can cause confusion and utter frustration. I whole heartedly feel for you.
It does not matter if we’re talking eSellerPro, ChannelAdvisor or any other platform here, the same applies. You are using a tool, to make your operation more efficient, they all just differ in the depths of ability and each have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Now for the smarter merchants, to relieve themselves of the day-to-day tasks and move up so that they can deal with the important business things. This is called leverage, they use a tool to automate as much as possible and then go about setting themselves to work ON their business not IN their business.
Question 2: I’m pissed off with little support and no development time I used to get and feel trapped
Matthew unwraps cotton wool padding, this might get ugly.
Bluntly, this is to be expected. The company has just had a buy-out and things are going to be different. Think of it as a mother weaning her offspring, it hurts but everyone grows up. If you were expecting the same kind of attention you got in the early days, sorry those days are on their way out.
You’re feeling trapped for a good reason, the product is brilliant, if you got all the different business operations running through eSellerPro, such as accounting, inventory control, order management, couriers, supplier management and anything else this beast does, I’d feel trapped too. I’m saying embrace it and move on.
Question 3: I am an eCommerce manager, I need to weigh up if my decision to use eSellerPro was the right one or not
This one is tricky because it needs a good understanding of where you came from, what you are doing now and where you’re going. However a generalisation is that if you business can cope with the barrier to entry for the eSellerPro product (Fees, training time, staff costs, need for systems etc…) then you’ve probably made the right choice.
Question 4: I feel like a change, what do you suggest Matt?
Matthew unwraps cotton wool padding, this might get ugly (again).
People trust my views, this is mainly because I do not bull shit and know my stuff backwards. So please don’t take this personally when I suggest the following:
Its my professional opinion that instead of changing providers, you try and change first.
This is regardless of the current provider you’re using, I’m suggesting that you try and change first. This is because the real cost of moving providers is insanely huge. Lets say you have a team of 10, how many hours do you think it will take as a team to change providers? 50,75,100,200? Now triple it. Humans are the worst estimators, if I say something is going to take an hour, that normally means three.
Because these software platforms are so deep, the cost of moving from one to the other is immense. It would be fair better to attempt to take a fresh look at your situation, speak to a mentor or someone outside your business who you trust and see if there is a way you can work with the system rather than against it. Take a holiday, do something before you commit to a possible huge mistake made on an emotional whim.
The 2 year Churn
This is a natural process and it goes on all the time regardless of what arena you are in, its why you hear unconfirmed rumours that ChannelAdvisor sell 200 accounts each month, but equally loose 200 accounts per month. People frankly get bored and after a while get itchy and start looking at what looks like “greener grass”.
This is a human trait, the grass always looks greener on the other side, we get bored. I’ve known businesses jump from one platform to the next yearly and of one specifically that has used all the major ones at least once!
I’m just pointing out, that if you are thinking this question, that you maybe wondering what the grass is like over the hedge and sadly the real answer, that few can honestly tell you, is that its probably just the same, just a different interface. Sorry, its that’s simple.
I’ve answered some of the underlying questions you might be asking yourself right now, I’ve also hopefully done as much as I can in a single article to point out the following:
- Being uncertain is a good thing, its only natural.
- You might think grass is greener somewhere else.
- Think through moving providers extremely seriously and weight up the true costs of moving providers.
Now onto the alternatives. The critical piece of information that no sales representative of any company is going to tell you is that “this system you are looking at its not the perfect system for your current business”. Something has to give, namely you.
If your business is of a SME size, say £1M to £20M, then you only really have three options in the UK. If you were in the USA or Germany, there are more, but we’re not, we’re only dealing with UK businesses here.
Yes there are others, I’ve seen a few now. Sadly I’m getting bored with the offers of “come see XYZ” and they’re receiving back messages saying, “In less than 100 words, explain why your system is not the same as everyone else’s” for which I rarely get a reply.
There is one notable exception, which is ChannelGrabber, in its simplicity lies its beauty, this you could argue may cross the £1M barrier set above for SME’s, but its not designed to be in the same league as what is to follow.
Alternative #1 – ChannelAdvisor
As I explain in the ChannelAdvisor category on this site, I’m was not a huge fan, its to be expected I’ve spent years in direct competition with them. BUT and this is a big BUT. ChannelAdvisor is actually a solid, stable product. I cannot, you cannot ignore this.
Talking openly, it was interesting to meet their UK Managing Director James Scott a few weeks back and not wanting to lob him across the room (as you can tell by my writing style I’m a passionate person. Plus James would have put up a good fight, lol).
I’m happy to report everything was pleasant, mainly because I “personally” had taken the much needed 10 months out to actually realise that the competitor, CA is pretty good and learnt to admire it from the outside.
If you can get past the monster PR spin-machine and actually look at the product, its pretty good, where they do not have a core strength, they bring in best-of-house partners like SalesForce, TradeBox etc and you must not disregard their reporting, its outstandingly brilliant. They solved the multiple ID issues over a year ago and can distribute stock in a similar fashion (although not the same as) eSellerPro.
Everything is web based and the SEM (Search Engine Marketing) piece is unrivalled, I’m personally quite sold on it, its their strongest asset by far. With ChannelAdvisor its actually quite nice to know that a feature or function is either 100% in there or 100% not and has none of the vagueness that plagues eSellerPro.
If you’ve never seen CA before or are thinking of going back, jot down what your key requirements are before making contact and reach out to them. Channeladvisor.co.uk is the site and ask for ‘Ashley‘, she’s really nice and crucially knows her stuff.
Alternatives #2 – 247TopSeller
Update: When this article was originally written there was a hefty section here for 247TopSeller, however with their recent actions I do not feel appropriate to put my name to a company such as 247TopSeller and as such I’d not recommend them as an alternative.
Alternative #3 – eSellerPro
Yup that’s right, you may of picked up the hint from earlier that this was coming. The alternative that you have not been thinking is staying put and changing yourself to match the situation you are in.
Think back to why you wanted to use eSellerPro in the first place, write down the reasons and now go back and achieve them. If you can whole heartedly say you’ve tried every option, then maybe its time you weigh up the alternatives.
I can’t believe I’ve suggested lobbing a MD across the table, a peer proof-read the article in draft format and when I suggested removing it, she said no, leave it in, its the best bit!
As I mentioned earlier in the article, I’m not very good at wrapping stuff up in “fluffy cotton wool”, I know full well that saying certain things straight is not always the best way, however sometimes these things needs to be said and if you’re reading this, its too late.
I sincerely hope that I have given you an insight into possibly what you are really asking when you say “Are there any alternatives to eSellerPro” and that there are options and an option you might not have been considering, changing yourself.
Even after reading this article, if you are still unsure, you can Contact Matthew.