Are There Alternatives to eSellerPro?
I’ve been asked this question too many times to ignore it. As you would expect there is some general unrest amongst users of nearly all the systems I’ve come across, not just eSellerPro. And the larger the business using eSellerPro, because they take a percentage-of-sale, the more expensive it becomes and monthly bills of +£7,000 are not unheard of.
This article was originally published in March 2011 and it’s sorely been due an update for quite some time. This is the updated version for the end of 2013.
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 :)
I feel it is important that I state, clearly and openly the following facts regarding myself and my interactions with eSellerPro. Read the full version in The Unofficial History of eSellerPro (that has changed too as they have one CEO leave [see here] and another non-marketplace oriented CEO arrive [see here] in late 2013).
- I am a Former Employee of eSellerPro
I used to work there for almost three years. I am not a shareholder
- I work with businesses that use eSellerPro
- I’m not a Sales Rep
I do not get any “kick-backs” for writing about eSellerPro (maybe a mistake on their part as this is the updated version for 2013?)
The Underlying Questions
This might not be pretty reading for you but I feel its absolutely required to state these questions, because that’s what is really being asked. These questions can be boiled down to four main areas, these are:
- 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 annoyed 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 too, let’s dive, answer these and if you have any other questions the forums are here.
The Four Nasty Questions Answered
Below I do my best to answer these four underlying questions for you:
Q1: 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 business owners they 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, eSellerPro is just one of many tools that are available to aid this.
Q2: I’m annoyed with little support and no development time I used to get and feel trapped
Bluntly put, this is to be expected. eSellerPro has had multiple rounds of VC funding and things are going to be different.
The VC company is there to make money and of course there is bound to be a disparity between what the original ideology for what the tool should have become and what the VC company needs to do to make their money back (and a lot more, because remember they invested to make money, not in ideology or a utopia to make the the tool as best as it can be).
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, if not gone by now. You’re probably feeling trapped for a good reason, the product is deep & wide, if you’ve 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.
eSellerPro is a monster system that was designed to cover every aspect of a multichannel business and now in hindsight an approach that I have openly admitted to being the wrong approach [see here].
Q3: 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 until the monthly fees start to really become expensive.
Q4: I feel like a change, what do you suggest Matt?
I don’t bull-shit and know my stuff backwards (which is to be expected from someone who ran their own business for 3 years & has worked with two software providers over the past 10 years). So please don’t take this personally when I suggest the following:
It’s my opinion that instead of changing providers, you try and change first.
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 can be huge.
Lets say you have a team of 10, how many hours do you think it will take as a team to change providers? Now triple it. Us human’s 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 can be 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 changing your software, especially with something like eSellerPro because it is so deeply tied to your business..
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 globally. 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.
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.
- The grass might be greener somewhere else.
- Think through moving providers extremely seriously and weigh 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.
Thankfully there are several alternatives available across the globe, they all vary in depth of functionality & costs. The next comparable 2nd Generation software to eSellerPro is ChannelAdvisor.
ChannelAdvisor has the same kind of pricing structure as eSellerPro, a minimum amount to be paid, say £600 a month and a percentage of sale from 1 to 2%. If this percentage of your gross sales goes over the 1-2% amount, then you pay this instead. This is why with both of these companies can be insanely expensive for larger businesses with businesses paying them thousands of pounds every month (which might be one of the reasons why you’re reading this article right now, it’s getting silly you’re paying more but getting exactly the same level of service).
Yes there are others, ChannelGrabber, StoreFeeder, SellerExpress there are lots and lots of 2nd generation software providers. 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 or if I do it has something to do with price and not functionality or an entirely different way of working (that would be a 3rd Generation of multi channel software).
All 2nd Generation multi-channel software works in a similar method, either a flat-fee per month or a percentage of sale. The level of expertise in each software product varies and so does the functionality too.
An Obvious Alternative?
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. This goes for any provider, not just eSellerPro.
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’ve answered the four underlying questions that are being asked. 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.
PS. If you’re sick-to-death of 2nd generation providers, say hello to the 3rd generation UnderstandingE.com/NOW
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