Magento 2.0 Released – Should I Upgrade Before Christmas?


Magento 2.0 was officially released yesterday, however…

Before you run away and think “ooooo shiny new toy” with Magento 2.0 there are a couple of practical things to consider.

Before we start, basically Magento 2.0 is the following:

  1. The user interface in the admin area has changed a bit
  2. A rewrite of the same features as Magento 1.X but using jQuery
  3. It now uses Composer for managing packages/updates


If you’re wondering what jQuery & Composer are: jQuery is the defacto standard for making Javascript work across all the different browsers types. eBay, Amazon & LinkedIn use jQuery. And composer, that is a tool for dependency management in PHP (what Magento uses) and makes updates easier to manage.

It’s really important to note, we knew a long time ago that they would be releasing Magento 2.0 at this time of the year and our advice has been explicitly:

“Don’t consider upgrading at least the middle of 2016.”

The reason for this is that there isn’t a clear upgrade path from 1.9.X to the new 2.0 version. Extensions will need to be migrated and also it’s unlikely your theme will be completely compatible with the new version.

And then if we take into consideration the time of the year, November, changing anything at this time of the year is never suggested.

Also as you’ve learned from myself & Dave over at UnderstandingE during the past 2-3 years, with Magento updates, always let someone else find the hidden features and wait for the minor updates to come out before upgrading.

With that said, I’m personally excited about the release.

The admin area is a lot, lot easier to use and yes things have moved around quite a bit, once you get over the hurdle of working out where setting x or y or z has been moved too, it’s actually a lot faster to make changes, update products and so on… I like it, you’ll like it.

But keeping one foot on the ground, it’s completely the wrong time of the year to even think about using Magento 2.0, theme and extension developers won’t have caught up yet. While Magento 2.0 is a huge step in the right direction, but just hang back a while and let the dust settle.

As always, to your continued success,

Matt Ogborne
Co-Founder of UnderstandingE

eBay Cross Border Trade Made Easy with Magento


Selling internationally on eBay or Amazon for that matter is a no-brainer decision.

You can reuse your existing product data and business processes over & over again to reach more customers easily.

However, when it comes to actually putting this into practice, it can get complicated quickly.

Everywhere else you’re told that you should go and do Europe. Getting tied up in a horrific language battle and opening the doors to a potential VAT nightmare, especially if you’re based in Europe as well is… nuts.

And the thing is, it doesn’t need to be that way at all.

Go Simple, Go English

I’m not suggesting for one moment you should overlook the other European countries. There is massive potential for you & your business in them.

However, they all speak different languages.

That makes customer services and translating your product data a nightmare.

In the recent video tutorial that myself & Dave put together, we explain exactly how you can skip this challenge and get started with cross border trade, the simple way. And that’s to go “English”

You can view the video guide here:

Note: There is software that can translate your listings into the different languages and on the different sites for you. These are great! But it’s certainly not the way I’d personally tackle this challenge.

CBT with Magento & M2EPro

eBay Cross Border Trade with Magento and M2E ProWe’ve just published a new course to show you how easy it is to expand your business internationally using Magento & M2EPro. AKA “The 3rd Generation”

And it really is simple to do in Magento.

Some of our courses on UnderstandingE are quite long, the reason for this is there is a lot to cover, especially if we need to keep things in simple step-by-step stages.

However when it came to showing you how to set up Magento & M2EPro to sell internationally on eBay, we covered the lot in under 3 hours. And that included a 36 minute tutorial on why you should “Go Simple, Go English”.

When we get to the tutorial where we put everything together, myself and Dave felt embarrassed.

Ignoring the basic steps to setup Magento for maximum control, the actual listing process is exactly the same for eBay, regardless if it’s a different eBay site where you’re listing locally to. So…. really easy to do.

If you would like to see how easy it is to sell internationally on eBay using Magento & M2EPro, you can either take the course on the UnderstandingE site here OR we also published this course on YouTube and you can watch the PlayList here.

And if you skip the 2nd tutorial, you can have the whole course completed and be up and running internationally on eBay with in a cup of coffee or two. It’s that quick!

The Simple Way

Selling internationally doesn’t need to be complicated.

Yes, later on once you’ve exhausted the potential in the English speaking sites such as,,, and of course the Amazon sites too, then think about going into Europe.

But for now, I dare you to exhaust these first :)


The Responsive eBay Template Builder in Minutes


The full-house webinar we held for the launch of the Responsive eBay Listing Template builder was really good fun and we were at the limit of what GoToWebinar could handle, if you were able to make the live event, thank you!

However if you were unable to make it live, instead of you watching the full hour long webinar, I’ve created you a 12 minute overview where you’ll see us:

  • Start from no template at all
  • Create a unique listing template where you’re in control
  • Download the template code
  • Revise a live eBay listing using M2EPro & Magento ( this could be any 3rd party software )
  • And then… go back and make changes to the layout, design, widgets and colour scheme remotely

Remember, eBay say that over 40% of transactions are now touched by mobile devices.

You can still get an edge before Christmas!

The 12 Minute Overview

The shorter version is below for you:

Where to Get Started

All the major software tools are supported ChannelAdvisor, Linnnworks, eSellerPro, M2ePro, ChannelGrabber, BrightPearl, TurboLister, Selling Manager, Ad-Lister, SellerExpress, Inkfrog, InkFrog Open, StoreFeeder etc…

You can started with your very own fully responsive eBay listing template here:

If you would like to know more about pricing this can be found here as you can get started for just £9.99 a month and there are 2 months free for annual subscriptions too.

You can try the unique responsive listing template builder out for 30 days with a no-questions-asked refund policy.

We both need happy customers right?!


Amazon to Use Pass My Parcel for SAME DAY Deliveries in the UK


You’ll have no doubt seen the news by now that Amazon have just scored a massive “one up” with same day deliveries.

Basically they’re hijacking the transport system that is used to deliver newspapers to newsagents.

This means that your customers will soon be able to order by 11:45 in the morning and have it in their hands by 4pm the same day.

That’s just sick.

However where is eBay in all of this?

We recently saw the pilot of the Argos Click & Collect “go large” to most business sellers on eBay UK in preparation for Christmas. Then in spring of 2015 this will be available to all. Which is great news.

I can see why lockers are well used, they’re convenient. Even Amazon have now said that they’ve seen the use of them double in the past year.

How does Amazon know that customers want same-day availability?
Deliveries made to Amazon Lockers nationally have more than doubled in the last year, it revealed.

Source: Ina, eCommerceBytes

Coming back to eBay, it is almost exactly one year to the day that eBay purchased Shutl (see here) and since then we’ve seen ni-on nothing as business owners that use eBay in the UK.

The Writing is on the wall

3 years ago in an article titled “Foretelling The Future of Commerce In 10 Years Time” one of the predictions was for “Same day delivery will be available for £1.00”.

While it might not be costing £1.00 as same day delivery is only open to Amazon Prime subscribers that costs £79 per year, to be fair I wasn’t far off :)

*puts trumpet down*

Convenience always wins.

As a consumer I’m extremely unlikely to use an Argos locker, my nearest Argos store is miles away and for now, I’m moderately happy with next day deliveries (and just for the record, if it’s not here next day, as far as I’m concerned it’s late).

But what I really want and what your customers really want, is their order in their hands for gratification as soon as possible after making the purchase.

This is one of the major negatives of buying online, you don’t get your product instantly, same day is going to be amazing. Dare I say it… “a game changer”?

And the thing is customers are going to be receiving same day deliveries very shortly from Amazon and eBay is no where to be seen.

If you were your customer, where would you shop?

Makes you think doesn’t it.


The Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel Software Book

The Ultimate Guide to MUlti Channel SoftwareHowdy,

I know that Multi Channel software can help you work smarter, save you time and help make your business grow.

However… Do you find Multi Channel Software confusing too?

One of the challenges that I have had and I’m sure you’ve struggled with over the past few years is working how which Multi Channel software is right for you and your business.

So I’ve written the Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel software especially for you.

If you already know myself & that any such book is going to be worth the read, click here to download your free +70 page copy.

If not, here’s an insight into the book you can currently download for free and have in your hands in seconds.

Use the form below to download your +70 page, Plain English guide to Multi Channel software:

Enter your details to download immediately:

We respect your privacy

The Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel Software

Honeycomb-of-magento-ebay-and-amazonThe book is broken up into 12 chapters and first five chapters explain everything you need to know about Multi Channel software.

In chapter 1 you’ll learn:

  • What is Multi Channel software
  • The typical path that businesses follow to using software
  • The “Be Everywhere” strategy (more on this shortly)
  • What is the “Best” Multi Channel software
  • And how Multi Channel software can help your business

This entire book assumes no prior knowledge to Multi Channel software and I don’t stop at just an overview, you’ll also learn that:

  • You need a key, aka the Stock Number to keep stock levels in-sync
  • There are risks to being everywhere & that these can be reduced by using rules
  • An inventory management system can help you manage small & large numbers of products
  • Templates will great speed up the listing process and add “quality” for each and every listing
  • By combining orders into a single screen can help you process orders in bulk, saving you time
  • Couriers can be integrated and you can apply business rules to orders to change the delivery method

I’m keeping this brief as there are over 70 pages explaining how Multi Channel software can help you, how this software works and how it can help your business in 100% “Plain English”

Then together we’ll look at the different generations of Multi Channel software and I’ve included two simple to use tools that you can use for your business to help you work out which Multi Channel software is right for your business today and in a years time.

The Be Everywhere Strategy

In the previous book that I wrote on the “One Simple Rule to Sell More Online” we homed in on how your business is being seen by customers.

The “Be-Everywhere” strategy is the other side to this, this is being everywhere where your customers are when they’re in buying mode.

So this isn’t social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc… where your customers are in “social mode”, this is on eBay, on Amazon and on your own eCommerce website where your customer is in “buying mode“.

The math here is really simple:

More sales channels
= More eyeballs looking at your products
= A higher chance of selling
= More sales
= More profit

It helps you “be everywhere” your customers are and manage the processes in the background to help you work smarter each day.

Be there with them too.

Grow Your Business

I know that that Multi Channel software can appear confusing to begin. However, Multi Channel software can help you and your business grow.

The Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel SoftwareIt’s a decision that I personally put off for several months and it cost me thousands. Ask anyone in this industry and they’ll tell you immediately that the businesses, that employ the tools that you find in Multi Channel software will help you and your business grow.

With Multi Channel software you can:

  • Create better quality listings
  • Leverage templates to expedite the listing process
  • Open your business to cheaper resources, such as outsourcing
  • Sell on eBay, Sell on Amazon
  • Sell on your own website(s)
  • Manage orders from ALL your sales channels
  • Keep stock levels correct across them all
  • Work smarter each day

And I’m only scratching the surface here for everything you’re about to learn in your copy of this book.

Which Software is Right for You?

The simple to use tools in this book will help you work out the true cost of how much Multi Channel software is going to cost you.

You can compare one provider against the other and while it will take you a couple of weeks to fully leverage the tools you’ll find in Multi Channel software, it doesn’t need to be expensive anymore. You can start on a tiny budget of just £302 for an entire year (or £25.17, 31.36€, $42.09 USD or $45.07 AUD if worked out monthly).

I’ve also included a tool that you can use to compare the features by giving you all the questions you need the answers to and compare any 2nd Generation Multi Channel software this includes Linnworks, Seller Express, StoreFeeder, ChannelGrabber, BrightPearl, ChannelAdvisor, eSellerPro, Cascade, ChannelUnity, Seller Dynamics and the 3rd Generation too.

Download Your Copy Right Now

Use the form below to download your +70 page, Plain English guide to Multi Channel software:

Enter your details to download immediately:

We respect your privacy

You can start reading this book immediately and I’ll also email a copy over to as well so that you can read it at anytime you wish to.

I want your business to be a success too and I’ll be in touch a few days after you have downloaded the book to see how you’re getting on and including some extra tips & suggestions to accompany the book.

This really is the “Ultimate” guide to Multi Channel software, nothing like this has been written before and with that said,

To your success!

Matthew Ogborne
Author of The Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel Software

eBay Seller Updates – Autumn 2014


It’s the bi-annual update time again for eBay sellers, however this time around while there are some very cool things included, in many ways this is just a minor set of updates considering the epic changes that we’ve had in the past.

Normally this deeper insight to the changes eBay have released would have been out on the morning of the updates, however in the UK we had routing issues for the eBay UK site, so that warranted 8 simple tips for things to do instead of panicking, plus I’m doing my best to complete a book for Friday which you’ll have no doubt already seen chapters already on tamebay here and here.

If you’d like to discuss the latest eBay updates with myself, then you can join me live this evening at 8:30 BST in our weekly meetup: it’s free to join, just bring a cuppa.

Note: This is at 12:30 PM PDT ( Western USA ), 3:30 PM EDT ( Eastern USA ) and 05:30AM EST ( Canberra, Australia )

As always with these updates, pull your chair closer, grab a cuppa and let’s dig in.


New Reporting Tool – eBay Insights

I’ve put this first because I’m sincerely hoping this is actually going to be half decent for you.

Below are two screenshots, click them for larger versions and then look closely.

eBay Seller Insights TooleBay Seller Insights Tool
Click for larger versionClick for larger version

You’ll see that eBay now have the potential to mine the rest of eBay and suggest back to you changes to each individual listing on changes that you could make to increase sales.

In the screenshot on the right it’s no real surprise that price features twice as suggestions to increase gross revenue, however the lower two, well they’re interesting…

eBay appears to be picking up that you may be getting low of specific product and in the last example for the jacket eBay is telling us a specific stock number is out of stock and have attributed a value back to the list if you were to get this product back in stock.

The thing is while such suggestions are extremely useful, especially if you don’t have any reporting application or process in place to identify low stock levels or out of stock products, we’re missing one key thing, will you still make money out of the product if you were to decrease the price?

And that’s where the subtle link in the top right comes into play, see the link on the larger previews called “Export current view”?

What happens if you were able to export these suggestions and then cross reference to your inventory management system, then work out if it’s actually in your interests to lower the prices on the suggestions eBay have made based upon fact?

So for example in your inventory management system you’ll most likely have a cost attribute, if you know the cost of the item and have a formula say in excel to work out the eBay, PayPal and any additional costs for the products, you could then action what eBay is suggesting and know if it’s going to be a sound decision for you in the long run.

Now for the bad news on this new feature, it’s only available to Anchor shop owners.

eBay’s reasoning for this is because the bigger sellers are the ones that are most likely to abuse this the most, so that when they obtain feedback from the bigger sellers and then action those suggestions, when they open it up to other businesses that have basic or feature shop subscriptions it’ll be more robust and hopefully have more features included.

So if you have an anchor store subscription, look out for this right now.

Click & Collect Goes Sitewide

eBay Click & Collect Example LabeleBay’s Click & Collect service with Argos has done really, really well and we know this because eBay are now rolling this out to almost all businesses on eBay UK.

This means you’ll be able to join the ranks of the limited few that had access to this in the pilot program and open your doors to the buyers that want to buy on the tube, train, in the car on holiday etc.. and then collect at a time that suits them.

So what does this really mean for you?

In short joining in with Click & Collect is simple, what happens on any orders that you receive where the buyer has selected the C&C option is that the delivery address will look like the address over to the right.

So instead of the buyers address we have an Argos store and the part in yellow is extremely important.

This is what Argos uses to determine who the order belongs to, if you miss this out then they’ll have no idea who the package received belongs to :(

There are a couple conditions that you need to meet to be able to offer Click & Collect on eBay, the first is that the listing must sport Fast & Free and that you use one of 5 couriers, Royal Mail, Parcelforce, UPS, DPD or Yodel, the item must weigh under 20Kg and the parcel can’t exceed 120cm or on it’s second side 76cm.

Managed returns is now being forced upon us ( we knew about this from the eBay spring update here ), is this is a good thing?

If we look at eBay as a whole yes it is. However we both know it will take us all some time to adjust to the new process and if you’re in the group of eBay sellers that have been elected in for this, you’re going to be starting before Christmas ( they’ll notify you via email ) and the sellers that missed it, will be picked up next year.

Seeing that 96% of the UK population live within 10 miles of an Argos store, this could be quite a win for you and if you’d like to know more about Click & Collect and also managed returns, there was a webinar with eBay a week or two ago and we covered this on the UnderstandingE site here:

Oh and if you were wondering, if the buyer does not collect the order within a week, the order will be shipped back to you free of charge. So don’t forget a returns label!

Extended Returns for Christmas

ReturnseBay are keen again this year to extend the returns window for orders to include hassle free returns for unwanted presents.

So from September you’re going to be able to extend any returns window available to buyers until January the 31st 2015.

And the good news is eBay have done this the right way! You can set this option on a per listing basis and if you’re using any Multi Channel software, look out for updates for you to be able to do this.

And that seems like perfect timing to note that over on Tamebay there is a 5 part series that is being published each day this week on what Multi Channel software is, the chapter that is being released on Thursday will be about templates, using such templates will allow you change the settings with ease.

So if you are using decent Multi Channel software, this should be relatively easy for you to update listings with this new option if desired.

Selling Car Parts & Accessories on eBay?

We all know that the parts & accessories category has been the last category to adopt the changes around duplicate listings and in this update you’re not going to like this update as this is where eBay kick-in and start enforcing a limit of 5 duplicate listings on eBay.

The full list of affected eBay categories is here and with the increase in compatibilities we saw in the last update, in theory you should be able to cover almost all compatible cars over 5 listings as eBay upped the limit to a more sensible figure earlier this year.

Selling Manager & Turbo Lister Gets New Features

There are now bulk editing tools available and several new features that have been added to Turbo Lister and Selling Manager.

I haven’t personally used Selling Manager for years ( because just you, we’ve all been using 3rd Multi Channel software ), however not to dismiss SMP or TurboLister, they work great for smaller eBay businesses and this is the first major update I’ve seen in a long, long time.

The new features include:

  • Draft listings
  • The ability to create new listings in bulk using an import file
  • A quick editing pane
  • A copy function for existing listings
  • An export tool

Below is the video from eBay regarding the tool changes:

Ewww Category & Item Specific Changes

We all hate these updates as it means that if you don’t take notice of them now, before you know it you’ll have listings in the “other” category on eBay.

As always it’s a matter of perspective here, let other sellers find out too late that there has been updates, and for yourself, work these updates in now and take advantage of them because your competitors might not do so and you’ll have gained an easy advantage over them.

The full list of changes can be found using the link below.

Note: If you’re using Magento & M2EPro, we created a video tutorial on how to update the eBay categories in Magento. It’s the click of a button and the video tutorial is here

eBay Global Shipping Programme

This is what I would class as being aimed at smaller businesses on eBay.

The businesses that are unable to negotiate decent international shipping rates but want to test the waters to see what fruits international selling could bring them.

Basically, eBay will do the international fulfilment for you. So what this means is that if you’re selling a product with £2.99 shipping, a customer from abroad can buy the product at the full price plus shipping and then pay eBay extra to have the order shipped to them in their country.

As far as you’re concerned as the seller, you were paid in full for the UK shipping price and you then despatch the order to a UK distribution hub, this order is then sent on using eBay’s courier service to the buyer.

This on face value sounds like a really good idea ( for which it is, it’s enabling a massive amount of listings to be effectively delivered within the EU ), however there is one whopping great big flaw.

What if the customer wishes to return the item?

The seller is then left to tackle the returns process with customer and sending an item back from say Germany isn’t going to be cheap. Plus still no help with international trade in Plain English from any of the marketplaces, as a seller you’re just left to figure this out yourself.

So while definitely a step in the right direction and a hat-tip to eBay to being able to work a process out like this and actually delivering it, we’re only being given part of the process that as a business owner we need.

Fee Changes

Yep there are fee changes in this update, but nothing that will be a surprise to you from the earlier eBay updates and they only affect optional upgrades.

So that’s Gallery Plus ( don’t panic, if it was free in your category it is still free! ), Adding BIN to auctions, adding in a subtitle and the listing designer have all gone up in price.

All I’m going to say here is “phew”.

New Seller Standards & Seller Protection

And that leaves us with the last major topics, seller standards and seller protection.

In the call with eBay prior to the updates, they were really keen to make the point that they really are batting for our side when it comes to seller protection.

Remember that “Report a Bad Buyer” option that was introduced?

They really are using you feedback on buyers to help clean up the community and you’ll hear words like “large-scale automatic detection systems” being used. While rouge buyers will be a fact of any community, with your help their numbers are going down and you may have noticed some new messaging on your seller dashboard if you’ve been affected by a naughty one.

eBay have put together a snazzy video which I’ve included below for you. Before you hit play, note the number of video’s have included in this update, I’ll be commenting on this shortly.

Buyers are going to be required to post any post-sale questions via their My eBay purchase history, keeping this firmly within eBay. You want this to be in eBay so it’s trackable as that new seller dashboard and standards they’ve set you, it’ll help eBay to easily track the communications in the background.

Cancelled transactions won’t be classed as a defect if the buyer has requested this from you, however if you didn’t have the stock, yes you’ll still receive a defect from eBay on this.

The feedback policy is now being removed and being labeled up as a defect policy, basically it’s the same thing, but is now taking into account the defects.If any of these conditions are met, then it’s happy days!

  • Your buyer doesn’t pay for their item.
  • An eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Buyer Protection case is ruled in your favour.
  • The defect was a direct result of an eBay site issue or programme error.
  • If eBay determines your buyer’s activity violates our buyer practices policy ( this is what we mentioned a few moments ago about eBay protecting you in the background ).
  • If eBay or PayPal instruct you to hold a delivery or if eBay cancels a transaction.
  • If the defect was because of systemic problems such as carrier delays, items stuck in customs, or power outages due to extreme weather conditions.

And in Summary

It’s fantastic to see that the Argos Click & Collect programme has been successful and is being rolled out to everyone else.

There are some criteria you need to meet for this and I know this won’t suit everyone, especially around the free shipping requirement. If you’re in on the first wave of eBay sellers that have this available to you, then it may be worth giving this a whirl and see how many orders you do gain from C&C, after all they’ll be easy to spot as the delivery address will be for an Argos store.

The extended returns policy that is available in September, if you’re selling seasonal products, such as toys, this could be quite a coo for you to gain early sales as we all know that the second that the kids go back to school, the mums will be in Christmas shopping mode.

If you’re a parts seller, the limitations on duplicates are going to hurt and no one likes category & item specifics updates, however if you jump on these as soon as you can, you can gain an edge over everyone else before they realise. Again the link to the category changes is here.

For me personally in the Spring update we had the new eBay shops as the “Cool Feature” ( see here for the video introduction to these ), in this update if you’ve got an anchor store, the eBay Insights tool could be quite a win for you. get pressing that download button in the top right and see how you can marry up the eBay suggestions to your cost values and pop a process in place to see if you can leverage these suggestions for your listings.

Have any questions?

And finally, if you’d like to join myself and other business owners just like you, join me live this evening at 8:30 BST in our weekly meetup at it’s free to join, just bring a cuppa.

See you there,


The Easy Way of Selling Internationally


This article is all about helping you sell internationally.

Included is an interview with eBay, success stories such as that of Nigel Matthews from Games Quest, together we tackle the question “Why even go International anyway?” and included practical advice on how you can leverage the world of international selling too.

I know I’ve been a little quiet over here for the past few months, the reason why is simple. I’ve been extremely busy somewhere else ( over here!) and have produced over 150 video tutorials, written over 250 articles, held countless live events and build a community of several thousand business owners just like you in just over 6 months.

Anyway, back onto today’s topic, selling internationally.

You’ll need to bookmark this article, it’s laden with “Plain English” tips, suggestions and interviews and it’s doubtful you’ll eat them all in one sitting.

Pull your chair closer and at make sure your cuppa is at least lukewarm.

As always the best place is to start the beginning. And we need to ask the question:


Why Sell Internationally?

profitLet’s ignore all the fluff and marketing junk you’ve probably read.

The single most important reason why you should start immediately to sell internationally falls down to one single reason.


Your sole motivation for expanding internationally is profit.

Let’s pause for a moment and work out what this means.

If you sell in more marketplaces, in more countries and more people see your products, you have more chances of selling your products, thus you make more sales which equals… Yep you guessed it, more profit.

There is also another side to this, which is a spin off to profit.

We don’t go too far for this either, the other reason is profitability.

Thinking about this logically.

If it takes you 15 minutes to create a product for selling on to eBay, how long does it take you to create the same product for say Amazon?

It won’t be the full 15 minutes, in fact if you’ve got decent processes into place (and decent listing software, which we touch on later on), then listing into multiple marketplaces should be a minute fraction of the time it takes to create the original product record.

Profit is always key and the first reason, for me personally it’s the reusing of your existing product data that you already have for better profitability.

You’ll have spent a large amount of effort writing and building your inventory records and by reusing them over and over, in new marketplaces or aboard, you’ll be working smarter rather than harder and as a seasoned reader of LDOI you’ll know that data is the lifeblood of your business ( published in 2011, even more relevant today ).

For the next two or so sections, we’re going to be a little eBay heavy.

There is a reason for this, eBay did a better job at marketing than Amazon, thus it’s easier to use them as a reference.

Video Overview

Myself and Dave over at have put a video together on this article if you prefer to listen in, instead :)

Hit play below to listen in:

Low Hanging Fruit

Low Hanging FruitYou don’t need to hire me at £240 hr for me to tell you immediately that the lowest hanging fruit for the vast majority of eBay businesses is the adequate population of eBay item specifics ( see note #1 ).

The thing with eBay item specifics is that the majority of other businesses can’t be bothered to complete these fields out adequately

An oversight on their part, not yours. You now know how this is really important and worth the effort and normally the biggest win for you & your business ( see note #2 ).

The other thing with Item Specifics is that they generally port really well to the other eBay sites.

Yes you’ll need to put some spelling mistakes in for certain words if expanding onto or ( or vice-versa lol ) but generally they port like-for-like.

Remember this point, “like for like”.

And the same for the eBay category structures too.

Over the past few years, eBay have pretty much done away with local category support for the different international sites and the painful changes that you’ll have gone through over the past few years, today comes in really handy.

With the recent updates to the eBay categories in June 2014 the last major part of the category mess on eBay is pretty much cleared up now with eBay France, Italy & Spain receiving massive category changes.

So that point to remember “like for like”?

This almost completely applies to the category and item specifics structure across the eBay EU sites, Australia and to a degree as well.


  1. Yes that does make me the most expensive Marketplace eCommerce consultant globally. There’s a reason for that ;)
  2. If you’d like to know about all the major factors for eBay’s Best Match in “Plain English”, then you’ll want to watch the eBay Best Match 101 video myself & Dave created for you back in March 2014.

Time for a Success Story?

We released a Podcast interview with Nigel Matthews from Gamesquest last November.

You’ll hear first hand how Nigel started his online business from car boot sales and has been selling on eBay for over 10 years now.

And how his business has embraced selling internationally to grow a £1.5M multichannel business. Also Nigel includes one amazing tip for you, an outlook on sales calls and you never know you might also save 12.5% on your overseas courier bill too.

You can listen to the Podcast here on UnderstandingE or over on itunes over here ( published in Nov 2013 ).

Interview with eBay

ebay_international-growth-online-reatil_ukWhile you can read the full interview, my commentary, tips & suggestions over here, in a recent interview with eBay, Hannah Hardiman explained that…

Sellers who list directly on our international sites generate up to 8 time more revenue per listing.


With an Anchor Shop subscription, you can list for free on most of our international sites.


By listing in the local language, you increase the visibility of your listings.


By using a tracked postal service or electronic delivery confirmation, you and your buyer have visibility around order status and delivery date.

Hannah also includes some tips around language translation, this is covered in it’s own section shortly as I have some simple, inexpensive tips for you when it comes to the translation of listings and crucially the easy wins on where you should get started with first when selling internationally.

The one that should immediately stick in your mind in the interview with Hannah is “Sellers who list directly on our international sites generate up to 8 time more revenue per listing.”.


Because that equals more profit.

And now for a little bit of Amazon

Amazon-Seller-RatingsAs noted above, eBay have been mopping up the category & item specifics mess for the past couple of years, which means when it comes to your time for expanding, you should find the majority of them like-for-like across the eBay sites.

When it comes to Amazon, if you’re selling anything mainstream then the likelihood is extremely high that you’ll find your inventory already on Amazon.

And that’s really important to know, because Amazon works quite differently to eBay, with ebay you generally need to make a unique listing each time you list a product regardless of the country, where as on Amazon you only need one magical thing.


The moment you have an ASIN for a matching product on Amazon, then life is sweeeeeet!

As listing to Amazon is a whole lot easier, infact 5 data points easier.

Assuming you have a selling account etc.. All you need to sell on Amazon if your product already exists is:

  1. An ASIN ( see Note #1 below )
  2. A price ( eg 99.99€ )
  3. A quantity (eg 12)
  4. A stock number ( Amazon calls this a “Merchant SKU” )
  5. And finally a condition ( New, Used etc… )

So if your products are already on any of the Amazon sites ( UK, US, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and Canada if you’re media only ) then you’re laughing because selling there is 5 data fields in a spreadsheet and it’s almost “job done”.

And if Not?

If your products are not on any of the sites or only some of them where you want to sell to, then you’re going to need some to so some extra work to create your inventory on to those sites.

Yes I know this means that you’ll need to put some effort into to create the listings, however a couple of key points:

  1. At no point did I say this was going to be easy-peasy
  2. If anyone tells you it is easy-peasy, they’re talking custard
  3. It’s a massive opportunity for you

The opportunity part is where your attention should be.


If you create the product listing on Amazon for one of the sites, Amazon see you as being the original creator.

And why would that be important?

I’m sure you’ve seen inaccurate listings on Amazon.

As a rule of thumb, if Amazon sees you as the original creator of a listing, this means that is some plank updates the listing with junk ( inaccurate descriptions, images etc… ) , your changes will overwrite theres.

There are other topics worth noting for Amazon, such as repricing, the European Fulfilment network and getting a better deal with currency conversions, but those can wait until later in the “Considerations, tips & tools” section at the end of this article.


  1. Or an ISBN for books, an EAN, UPC or GTIN for other products that matches an existing product on Amazon. And yes I have a video tutorial on all these terms for you that was recorded in Jan 2012 when I had more hair and no lapel microphone :)

How About Another International Success Story?

Afternoon Tea with UnderstandingE - 2 Seller Interviews Included! 13th May 2014While you’re reading this, fire up this interview with Richard & Yaniv.

I’m sure you’ll like Richard and Yaniv as much as I do, they’re entrepreneurs just like you.

Richard runs a US based business selling into Europe & Russia and yep you guessed it, making more profit. Yaniv, a similar story in reverse.

And yes that is just one of the weekly “happy hours” which we run live every week on Tuesdays for entrepreneurs just like you that are either selling on the marketplaces already, looking to grow or just want to hangout with fellow business owners just like you.

The Reach of eBay & Amazon

If you’ve taken the time to listen to any of the interviews above, then you’ll know that the reach of Amazon and eBay is massive and that’s a key point to note.

eBay & Amazon have lots of eyeballs looking at their sites ( and I mean lots! ) .

eBay’s first quarters growth were in basically in double digit growth for merchant sales ( see here ) and Amazon well, they’re just being Amazon who also sport squillions of page views by wanting buyers every single day just like eBay.

These sites are not social sites like Facebook & Twitter where conversion is really hard ( see this Podcast titled Social Marketing is a Waste of Time for more info ) where others are sharing stories about cheese sandwiches or that Katy Perry has tweeted a dancy minnie-mouse breakdancing.

They’re there for a reason.

People are visiting the marketplaces with a sole purpose of shopping.

And this is one the easiest win for you and your business.

If you’ve already got your products listed onto to say eBay, then porting them to the other sites is actually the most natural thing to do and probably one of easiest wins for your business because you’re not having to learn a brand new website (moving to Amazon for example or Amazon to eBay) or Adwords or affiliate networks.

We noted earlier that eBay item specifics and categories are generally a like-for-like match across the international sites, so you won’t be starting from scratch each time, you’ve already done the bulk of the hard work in the first listing you made.

And for Amazon, well, if your products are already listed internationally, you only need 5 data fields and you’re set.

A Quick Recap

To quickly recap where we are so far:

  • We’ve learnt that profit is the main reason you should be expanding internationally
  • Profitability is next because you’ll be working smarter with what you already have
  • The reach of the marketplaces is nuts and the easiest way to expand
  • A lady called Hannah at eBay says you should be expecting “8 times more revenue per listing”
  • We’ve seen some success stories from Richard, Yaniv & Nigel
  • We also noted that at no point we said this was going to be easy and if someone tells you that, they’re talking custard
  • And if you’re selling on Amazon, chances are your products are already there and if not, this is still “Happy Days”

Next up we tackle the language barrier head on and as you’ll find out, it’s not really a barrier at all to begin with.

The Language Barrier


Seriously. Have you tried learning a new language lately?

It’s not something you’re going to learn overnight, it takes years to perfect.

So why even bother shooting yourself in the foot trying to deal with one or multiple languages?

Would it not be better to “cut your teeth” on another two English speaking nations first and when that’s bedded in, then move onto the more tricky options?

Here are the rough sizes of the marketplaces going from largest on the left to the smallest on the right:

United States & Canada > Germany > United Kingdom > The other EU Sites > Australia

Or when it comes to languages:

English > German > English > Multiple languages > English

Hey wait, English is in there 3 times… This can be simplified even further:

Easy > Hard >Easy> Really Hard >Easy

So now given these simplified choices, which ones would you pick?

I know which ones I’d pick :)

Hold that thought we need to deviate for a few moments for the other thing that is lacking everywhere else, the software to do this.

Going International The Right Way

I’m putting off the considerations of currency conversions, shipping etc… until later, so for right now these things are assumed.

The moment you decide you want to list internationally the right way things change.

When I say “the right way“, what I mean by this is not the lame “International site visibility” paid option on eBay, that’s as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Instead what I mean is the setting up and use of software that allows you to share information across multiple inventory records so that you can list internationally with localised data, keep stock levels true and lessen the amount of work that you need to complete to list locally onto each eBay site (the proper way of selling internationally).

This does mean that you’ll need to look at multi channel software that can do this. As this varies greatly between 2nd Generation software providers, I’m going to be focusing on the 3rd Generation using Magento & M2EPro as a reference point.

Let’s say you’re selling sunglasses and you have a product called SUNNIES.

SunglassesThese sunnies will have the at least the following details:

  1. A stock number
  2. A listing title
  3. A stock level
  4. A description
  5. A category
  6. Item Specifics
  7. Images
  8. A cost price
  9. An ideal selling price

One of these details is in bold and there is a very good reason for this.

If you’re going to be selling internationally long term, you ideally need software that can cross-link the stock levels for a product such as out sunglasses, so that you can create a duplicate inventory record and keep your stock levels true.

Also in whatever tool you’re using you’ll ideally want the software to be working in such a fashion as it inherits from the original product.selling-internationally-on-ebay-using-Magento

So for example, in Magento if you were to create a new store view and called it “eBay US”, the product Magento by default inherits all the original information about that product in the new store view.

But crucially you can change that information for the “eBay US” store view as required.

You might not have come across this way of working before, so I’ve included a screenshot over to the right.

Click the image for the larger view.

  • The box that I’ve highlighted in Red is in grey because Magento is using the original product details for that field
  • The box that I’ve highlighted in Green has had the option to override the original product details with updated information just for that store view.

What’s also going on in the background is that if you have 12 in stock for the SUNNIES product, this stock level is available for use on multiple marketplaces.

This is why using basic software that can’t help you list internationally properly is being brought up now as a consideration. So that rules out the likes of Selling Manager, Turbo Lister and some 2nd Generation multichannel software tools too.

To help here are 4 questions you should either ask or investigate with your current software provider:

  1. Can I reuse the same product record more than once to sell internationally?
  2. If I make a change to that product do my variations of it inherit the changes where desired?
  3. Does this keep the stock levels correct if selling on multiple sites and multiple sales channels?
  4. How are different currencies handled, for listing and sales orders? Can you have different prices for different marketplaces?

The Easy Way

The Easy Way of Selling Internationally Earlier I mentioned the low hanging fruit for most businesses, when it comes to selling internationally the low hanging fruit should now be super clear to you.

It’s called “English”.

And thinking back to the language barrier section above, it would be nuts to consider trying to learn a new language and get ourselves into an awkward situation unnecessarily when we have two super easy options available to us.

And also thinking back to our sunglasses, if you consider the effort in translating all these details to say German, that would be a lot of work.

For the sunglasses, we would need to translate all the details and the only thing that would remain untouched, is the images and stock levels.

Sounds like wayyyy too much work for you right now, especially if you’re just starting out and need to learn how to handle multiple inventory records in your multichannel software ( or find out if your current software can or cannot do this for you properly, hence the four questions earlier to get you on track. We need to know about this early on so it doesn’t become a limiting factor later when you do move on to other languages ).

And the easier way to get started?

Go Simple, Go English

So that means you ignore the hype about Germany and the other EU sites because those require large amounts of effort on your part.

I’m not saying don’t do other language based sites, what I am saying is that you’d be better off starting off on English speaking sites first, err because they are in English…

And then once you’ve got the software and processes in place, then move onto the trickier options.

So that basically means you should consider one or all 4 of the following options first:

  • eBay Canada
  • eBay Australia

Update: As I was kindly reminded on last night’s “Happy Hour”, we must also not forget too as English is their main language.

They all speak English and for the American & Canadian sites, you only need to put a few spelling mistakes in to be spot on ( eg Color = Color or in reverse Color = Colour to the UK & AU sites ).

This means that customer service will be easier, listing will be easier, there is no need for new invoices or in fact any major change to support other native speaking English counties to your business.

See the “Easy Way”!

And Now for the Other Considerations, Tips & Suggestions

Now that together we’ve worked out that causing ourselves grief early on with language translations would be nuts considering there are at least 3 options waiting for you in English, it’s time that we take note of other considerations around selling internationally.

These aren’t in any particular order and if I miss anything, do let me know in the comments section at the bottom and I’ll update this section accordingly.

Automated Translation Tools


Let’s make my view on automation tools like Webinterpret very clear from the beginning.

Webinterpret is a brilliant tool for you to easily see if there is a demand for your products on other eBay & Amazon sites.

Notice how I’ve phrased that, “to easily see if there is demand“.

The moment that you have confirmed that there is demand and it’s working for you, do it properly.

As with anything the better way, in this case selling internationally in different languages, is harder and most likely more expensive. But if done correctly you would be expecting to gain more results and that impacts the bottom line in more profit.

So should you consider using such a tool?

Hell yea!

But once you see where the demand is, take it in-house, build a process around it, a team of outsourcers or a dedicated company like Intercultural Elements if possible and do it the right way, which means no machine translations and to use human translations.

Think about that, you’ve been writing your product descriptions etc… in your native language, why would you not do the same for international sites?

Note: You can meet the team over at Intercultural Elements in a Podcast we recorded earlier this year here. Scott & Anja really do know their stuff and if you’re looking to expand into Germany, they should be #1 on your contact list ( because they do it properly… ).

While on the topic of automation tools, a personal suggestion that is better than Google Translate is to use Bing Translator. The results tend to be more accurate and if you’re using their developers API for automatic translations, the costs are much lower in comparison.


We covered how to research the marketplaces in April in a Premium webinar where we looked at how you can easily investigate the marketplaces for ideas and suggestions on what you should be looking at to sell.

As that content is locked down to paid members over at UnderstandingE, here is a brief overview of your options:

  • Look at using eBay’s completed items search option
  • Research the performing eBay listings for your categories on alternative sites
  • Note and investigate those sellers further
  • Consider using tools such as Terapeak to research factual information on sales

Use a Content Delivery Network

This is primarily aimed at businesses that are using Magento & M2EPro.

However if you’re using a 2nd Generation multichannel software product, ask if they are using a CDN for your images and if you have a website with them, that your website and static files are using a CDN too.

There are many benefits to using and CDN, such as to lessen the burden on your web hosting, better SEO, faster page load times. Plus they’re super cheap now, we’re talking less than $10 a month with MaxCDN.

And crucially if you’re using the #media_gallery# keyword in your eBay listing templates in M2EPro, the images will be served from your CDN, which means that they’ll load faster for eBay customers across the globe AND not massively impact any bandwidth limitations you may have.

Here is a video tutorial that covers what a CDN is, how they work ( with pretty pictures ), what the benefits are and how to set one up within a few minutes in Magento.

Note: This is just one of those 150 video tutorials I mentioned back in the beginning. See here for the others.

Delivery of Orders & Couriers

Just like orders in your native country, when someone buys from you, you need to deliver the order to them.

This is a challenge that only really you can answer for your business ( because you could be selling anything from a tea-cosey to a juggernaut ).

It will be a fine line between speed of delivery, trackability and ultimately cost ( because that affects profitability ).

Here are some tips for you:

  • See what other businesses are offering for international orders
  • Try the courier you’re most used to first
  • Ring and speak to other potential couriers for international deliveries
  • Don’t be afraid to move couriers if needed

And my final tip is:

The grief of lost parcels probably takes up 80% of your customer service time, sometimes paying more is actually going to save you money long term

Currency Conversions

As you’re going to be listing locally on to the foreignWordFirst Podcast sites, you’re going to be listing in their local currency.

My favourite tool for simple currency conversions is a website called and also a couple of notes here are:

  • Factor in a good 5-10% to allow for fluctuations
  • Don’t think it’s a “set and forget thing”, you’ll need to set a reminder say in a months time to see if they conversions need updating
  • Make sure you’re making money after the marketplaces and payment processors (eg PayPal) have taken their cut

And while we’re on the topic of currencies, I absolutely hammered Jason from WorldFirst with all the dumb questions about their service a couple of days back so you don’t have to.

The devil is in the detail of PayPal charging you ~4% or Amazon ~3% on currency conversions. This is a hidden cost to you selling internationally.

Basically transferring 2,000€ you could save an extra £30 compared to PayPal, 200,000€ is something like £3,000 saved. Huge amounts of cash that is potentially being lost in translation, err conversion :)

You can listen into the Interview with Jason from WorldFirst here Saving Money on Cross Border Trade with World First. Top marks to Jason, he withstood me hammering numbers at him within instant, accurate answers, they know their stuff.

Oh and one by-product of using WorldFirst, they are able to provide you with a bank account in the local country where you’re selling. This can be a hurdle with the international marketplaces and one less thing for you to worry about.

VAT & Tax

I’m steering well clear of this one as I’m not an accountant nor an expert in this area.

Basically, go careful and read this article and consult with a qualified professional ( which may not be your accountant, see Scott & Anya from Intercultural Elements for help in Europe ).

Consider Amazon FBA

Fulfilment By Amazon - FBA

Fulfilment By Amazon might be a coo-for-you as they do all the grunt work for you just like in the UK.

So you’re sending just a handful of larger packages to Amazon’s fulfillment centres and they’ll do the rest for you.

One of those things is customer service and a point that you don’t see mentioned that often is that say you’re selling on Amazon Germany, you must reply to any customer service questions in German.

If you’re using FBA for Amazon sales, they do that part for you. Result!

Be wary of Amazon EFN

I’ve put this in bold because if you don’t work out the numbers right from the beginning, Amazon’s European Fulfilment Network may sound attractive, but it can be very expensive and you could end up paying your customers to buy from you.

Check their rates out here for the UK:

Amazon Repricing

While on the topic of Amazon, what about repricing?

While Shmuli from Feedvisor that would argue that my simple Amazon repricing rule is too basic, it does work. However to do that properly you will need repricing software to leverage this.

Check if your current provider can support repricing for all the Amazon sites and also consider that your pricing calculations could need to factor in extra values or different upper and lower price limits so that you still make money.


And finally outsourcing.

This topic is worth of an entire course, which I hasten to add we will be covering as a dedicated course over at UnderstandingE later this year because there is definitely a right way and wrong way of approaching this.

However in the interim, think as the globe as being your potential source of new members of staff.

You can pick up qualified staff, at much lower costs to your business if you do your homework and treat the process as you would do if recruiting someone for your office.

If this sounds like something you’re a little wary of but want to explore this further, then speak to Carlo from Tell him Matt from LastDropOfInk sent you and you’ll get preferential rates.

And In Summary


We’ve covered a lot of ground here because the whole topic of cross border is sometimes blurry and there is a lot of fluff and nonsense being kicked around ( pointless whitepapers *coff* ).

Why on earth would you want to bog yourself down so early on with language translation issues for product data and customer service?

The one thing I hope you walk away with from reading this article is go for the easy options first, the low hanging fruit of the English speaking countries.

The key reason for you to expand into international marketplaces is make more money.

No other reason, it’s not bragging rights, it’s not to keep an account manager happy, it’s profit and profitability.

Moving to other eBay sites isn’t as hard as it sounds, we found that eBay has been preparing for this for years and most categories & item specifics are like-for-like matches.

For Amazon, if you’re selling mainstream products, the likelihood is that your products are already on the international Amazon sites, so only 5 things are needed ( the ASIN, Price, Quantity, You SKU and a Condition ) and if they’re not, then that’s still happy days as you can become the creator of the new listings there.

And in both cases to do this properly, a primary concern is that you have multichannel software in place that can support you and your business in this expansion and that it doesn’t cost the planet to do so.

So you reuse your product descriptions, titles etc… wherever possible and with as less fuss as possible too ( hence the 4 questions to ask your current 2nd Generation provider earlier ).

Remember it’s all about the product data, if you have good product data you can do anything, “quality in equals quality out”.

We also heard from a couple of cool chaps too, Nigel from the podcast last November, Richard & Yaniv too and the one thing that you didn’t hear them say, “Its Easy” and the reason for that is because it’s not.

So start off small, start with the easier path first and then expand steadily as your business can.

This is the longer way of selling internationally, however I want your business to be a success and to do that means that you have to do things the right way.

And with that said, I wish you all the best,

Go grow your business the right way,


PS. If you’ve found this article helpful, help me by pressing one of the share buttons below, I’d really appreciate that little vote of support :)

How to Sell on eBay using Magento Webinar Recording


Below is the recording in full HD of the webinar held on Friday.

We show you how easy it is to sell on eBay using Magento & the eBay endorsed extension called M2E Pro in just 60 minutes.

There were over 200 questions asked and while we did our best to answer them all live, sadly many were missed. So if you go here you’ll be able to read every single answer to the questions asked.

If you’re tight on time and want to get to the meat of the webinar, skip the fluffy starter stuff and get stuck in at 16 minutes in or follow this link.

Enjoy :)


We’ll show you:

  1. How to install Magento live with you ( takes 2 minutes and 5 or so clicks )
  2. A tour of Magento for the first time
  3. How to create your first product in Magento
  4. How to install the M2E Pro extension
  5. How to configure M2E pro following their advanced setup wizard
  6. List a product live on to eBay
  7. Revise the item live on eBay
  8. Purchase the product
  9. Process the order
  10. Confirm that the shipping details have been updated on eBay

All in 60 minutes without a “degree in nerd” being required.

And remember:

  • No sales person will call you
  • You pick & choose what you need “off the shelf”
  • M2EPro is the only eBay endorsed extension for Magento
  • Magento is Open Source & there are thousands of extensions available, this is just one of them
  • There is a community of over 1,000 business owners just like you on UnderstandingE to help you out ( if needed )
  • And of course, over 70 full HD video tutorials right here to show the how and the why to setup your own multichannel software


Sell on eBay using Magento in 60 Minutes – Live Webinar



The webinar took place on Friday 2nd May. A recording will be made available this week and I’ll pop a blog post up for you the moment it’s ready.

The blog post is now ready, see here



This Friday, 2nd May at 2pm myself & Dave are holding a free webinar and you’ll learn how easy it is to sell on eBay using Magento.

We wanted to make it a challenge for us and for you to be able to get the most out of 60 minutes. So we decided that starting from scratch would be the most challenging for us, but also help you the most.

eBay Magento and M2E ProAfter all the best place is to start from the beginning right?

We’ll be starting from nothing and you’re going to learn the following:

  1. That Magento only takes 2 minutes to install
  2. The basic UK settings for Magento
  3. How to create your first product in Magento
  4. What attributes are and how they’ll help you list smarter on eBay
  5. How to install the eBay endorsed M2E Pro extension
  6. How to list onto eBay using Magento
  7. And how you can revise live eBay listings easily
  8. How to process orders from eBay in Magento
  9. And heaps more

All in just 60 minutes.

< Sorry registration is now closed, check the UnderstandingE blog for the recording once live. >

Sell on eBay Using Magento?

You might not have known this, back in 2011 eBay bought Magento after having a 49% stake for quite some time.

Not a bad choice if you ask me, as Magento powers over 26% of the top 1 million eCommerce websites so it was only natural considering Magento’s open source base that sooner or later an extension would be created to allow business owners like you to sell on eBay using Magento.

M2E Pro (which stands for Magento to eBay), an extension for Magento does just that and the cool thing about this extension, it does everything you would expect from multi-channel software, but without the whopping monthly fees or a cut of your sales (and no sales person will call or nag you either).

eBay have been subsidising the extension for the past few years and is set to continue for the next 3 or more years or so. Other marketplaces such as Amazon are supported too.

M2E Pro has been downloaded over 50,000 times by business owners like you across the globe and has a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 over 179 reviews (really high for a free extension!).

Here are just a few things that Magento & the M2E Pro extension can help you achieve:

  • Sell on ALL 23 major eBay sites
  • Manage stock levels & prices across your marketplace accounts
  • Help you sell internationally, locally into the other eBay sites (Cross Border Trade)
  • Sell on eBay using custom listing templates with comprehensive keywords available
  • Revise live eBay listings
  • Collect and manage eBay orders from your Magento sales orders dashboard
  • Everything you would expect from 3rd Generation multi-channel software

Magento ConnectMagento CE is Open Source, there are thousands of extensions available on Magento connect (the online library of extensions) off the shelf.

If you need something that doesn’t exist (most cases, unlikely), because it’s written with the two internet staples, PHP & MySQL that’s not a problem. There are millions of developers available that can help you.

Oh and of course, you can have a Magento website too, but that’s optional.

So just because you’re using Magento, you don’t actually need to use it for your website, what I’m sure you’re most interested in right now is the stock control, inventory management and sales order processing abilities for eBay (but more on the website in a few moments).

All the major couriers have integrations to Magento, including extensions for Royal Mail DMO, the same goes for accounting too, Sage, Xero, QuickBooks, Kashflow, they can all be integrated with Magento.

magento-website-themeBack onto the topic of using Magento as a website.

Owning a Magento website doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated.

The one thing you cannot skimp on is decent web hosting, so none of that £1.99 hosting. You’ll need web hosting in the £20 mark per month and the good news is that there is specialised Magento web hostings all over the world, SimpleServers in the UK or SimpleHelix in the USA for example.

As for a great looking Magento website design.

If you’re on a budget, how’s $100?

There is a Magento theme called Ultimo which has been sold over 7,600 times and comes with free support & updates. Plus we’ll be including a step by step video course on how to design your own Magento website with zero coding over at UnderstandingE.

The Webinar

I’ve got all excited and gone slightly off topic. The webinar….

< Sorry registration is now closed, check the UnderstandingE blog for the recording once live. >

It’s free to join and we’ll show you how easy it is to get started.

The webinar will be held live and that means if you have any questions you can ask them there and there.

So with that said,

See you on Friday, it’s going to be fun!


Making Sense of the Spring 2014 eBay UK Seller Updates

eBay UpdatesHowdy,

It’s that time of the year again and we’ve just been told about the latest updates that eBay have unveiled for sellers.

Those of you that have been following myself & this site for a while know that with each update I’ll be digging in and seeing how this affects you and your business.

You can read previous updates using these links Spring 2013, Autumn 2012, The New eBay (2012), Spring 2012 & Spring 2011.

The devil is always in the detail with these updates and unlike a certain marketplace starting with A *coff* Amazon, eBay actually give us all fair warning (about 2 months) about major updates to the site that impact you and your business. This gives you chance to adapt and to prepare.

There are some huge changes in this update and we’re seeing eBay adapt, taking the best from lots of social sites and combining them into one huge transactional giant. The word “Follow” has never been so important.

If you’ve got an eBay store you’ll definitely want to dig in with the first proper update in ni-on a decade and also a new feature which I’m calling “Loaded Auctions” which is going to be very curious if you’re using auctions (or maybe once did).There are changes to the eTRS requirements and moves to make cross border trade accessible to the masses.

With that said, grab a cuppa, pull your chair closer and let’s dig into the latest round of updates from eBay and see how they impact you and your business on eBay.

Oh and talking of coffee… Join myself & the co-Founder of UnderstandingE Dave Furness live on Tuesday 18th March where we discuss these updates live & we’ll be able to answer any questions you have there and then.

The button to join is below:


Before We Get Started…

The are a couple of topics that we need to cover off before digging in, the first is the rating system which is covered in more detail shortly, the second is a little more subtle.

services provided by retailers and marketplacesIn the spring eBay updates back in 2013, eBay were pretty hard on themselves with regards there side by side comparison of eBay to other eCommerce sites.

I’ve included the rating chart that they shared with us back then and you’ll see that compared to the rest of the eCommerce industry.

Back then I did make a point that the research company might have been “visually impaired” as it was overly harsh and when speaking with the team at eBay they were down-beat about the research.

This has obviously stayed with the eBay team for quite a while because if we revisit eBay now a year on, we’ve seen the impact of the changes to the site, many so minor you’d overlook them.

The image requirements we upped to provide a better experience and the the number of images available on listings is being included in the main search results, oh and the listing frames and general crap in the gallery images has almost been eradicated (but still present in vehicle parts & accessories).

eBay and Argos Click and Collect ServiceWe also saw eBay join forces with Argos as part of their Click & Collect service, BBC article here & eBay UK page here.

This has obviously done well beyond the pilot users, as I’ve heard from numerous sellers now being invited to join the program and in yesterday’s post on Tamebay here they’re [eBay] pretty upbeat about it.

Note: Basically this works by the customers delivery details being replaced with the selected Argos store address (1 of some 150 stores), so the order gets sent there instead. Items that aren’t collected within a week or so get sent back to you.

And while we’re on the topic of delivery, we saw eBay buy Shutl in October 2013 (see this article on Techcrunch) sporting a 1 hour delivery option for around £6.99, for less than half the cost for what you can pay over the counter in the Post Office for 48hr delivery.

The Rating System

For each of the updates I’m going to be using a +1 ,0 for neutral or -1 rating system to rate each of the updates individually. This will help us both remain objective about the updates.

We all dislike fee increases (which there is in this update) and they’ll score an immediate -1, anything that means a change to your data or listings such as categorisation, generally that’s a -1 as well (as that has a massive impact to your data requirements).

However other parts of the updates may not be so clear cut and we’ll be looking at these from both your perspective as a business owner that leverage’s eBay as a sales channel and also the buyers perspective too.

eBay Fee Increases & Freebies

Let’s get the ugly one over with first :)

Thankfully the fee changes are minor in comparison to what we’ve experienced in the past, noting that the August 2013 eBay updates we saw a decrease in fees for many categories (see here for more info).

Fifty Pounds Cap for FeesIn this update we’ve come away pretty much unscathed by any massive fee increases as business sellers and the updates to eBay fees fall into 6 categories:

  1. Home & Garden and Sporting Goods see a maximum cap of £50 in fees
  2. Home & Garden, Lifestyle and Business & Industrial see a fee increase from 10% to 11%
  3. Reserve price increases
  4. Auction + BIN listings
  5. Fees payable on auctions ended early
  6. Freebies

Let’s take a look at these in more detail where warranted.

Cap of £50 for Home & Garden and Sporting Goods
Basically if you’re selling products over £500 you’re going to be better off.

Free Increase for Home & Garden, Lifestyle and Business & Industrial
Yea no avoiding that one, these categories are hugely popular, any increase in fees is going to hurt with an increase from 10% to 11%.

Also the caveat to this is word “Lifestyle”, basically it means almost every category on eBay!

These are the affected categories:

  • Bedding
  • Business & Industrial
  • Celebrations & Occasions
  • Children’s Home & Furniture
  • Cleaning & Laundry Supplies
  • Clocks
  • Conservatories
  • Cookware, Dining & Bar
  • Crafts
  • Curtains & Blinds
  • DIY Materials
  • DIY Tools
  • Dolls & Bears
  • Events Tickets
  • Everything Else
  • Fireplaces & Accessories
  • Food & Drink
  • Heating/ Cooling/ Air
  • Home Decor
  • Kitchen Plumbing & Fittings
  • Lighting
  • Luggage & Travel Accessories
  • Metaphysical & New Age
  • Other Home Furn.
  • Pet Supplies
  • Pottery, Porcelain & Glass
  • Rugs & Carpets
  • Security & Home Automation
  • Stationery & School Equipment
  • Storage Solutions
  • Wedding Supplies
  • Wholesale & Job Lots

While the fee increases aren’t going to hit until April and most spring purchases are going to be completed (like a new blade & belts for the lawn mower I need to buy), summer will just be around the corner when the Home & Garden category will start to gain pace.

Reserve price increases
I personally don’t know a single business that uses this option on a regular basis. How much impact this is going to have, not really sure. However if this affects you, a table is below on how the pricing is going to work with regards to reserve pricing:

Reserve priceInsertion fee + reserve fewCurrent fees on 15 April, new fees on
All categories, except Media£50.00-£99.99£1.00 + 3% of reserve price£1.00 + 3.5% of reserve price
£100.00+£1.30 + 3% of reserve price up to £150£1.30 + 3.5% of reserve price up to £150
Media£50.00+£0.10 + 3% of reserve price up to £150£0.10 + 3.5% of reserve price up to £150

Auction + BIN listings
This is a curious one once you see what is happening with the “loaded auctions” later on in this update. Basically if you’re using the BIN option to a auction style listing then the amount being paid is going up.

Starting price (now)Fee on (now)Starting price (from 15 April)Fee on (from 15 April)
Auction-style with Buy it now£0.99 – £4.99£0.08£0.99 – £4.99£0.10
£5.00 – £14.99£0.15£5.00 – £14.99£0.20
£15.00 – £29.99£0.22£15.00 – £24.99£0.30

Oh and you’ll find out more on “loaded auctions” shortly.

Fees payable on auctions ended early
The curious one on this is the wording “If a seller ends an auction which has already received bids early, they may be charged a fee equivalent to a final value fee. The fee will be calculated based on the item price when the auction is ended.” that aside this should be of minimal impact to the point it can be ignored.

Supersize is now free and listings that meet the requirements and will be automatically applied. Also if you’re the owner of a basic eBay shop you’ll now have access to the eBay promotions manager which was only available on Featured or Anchor store subscriptions (yay!).

eBay Store Design Changes

Responsive Web DesignThe eBay shop has been one of the most undervalued tools on eBay for many years and has suffered from neglect.

In the spring 2013 updates they were missed again and if you scroll down half way through the article that covered the updates abck then here you’ll see a long list of suggestions of features that could or should be added.

Finally eBay have made huge changes to the eBay shops, not quite what I had personally expected (turning the eBay store into a website, maybe that’s why they bought Magento?), however none the less curious, especially if you currently have designed eBay store or were looking to have a store design done.

After what feels like a decade (which it has basically been the best part of 8-10 years) eBay have brought the humble eBay shop up to the standards of 2014 and added in features that you would expect from a new website, that’s a responsive design that moves with the screen size the stores being viewed on and larger product images.

Key features for the new eBay Store designs:

  1. Responsive design (this is huge!)
  2. Single billboard image
  3. Social sharing & “Follow” button
  4. Single featured products area
  5. Larger product images
  6. Lazy-loading images (see note below)
  7. Clicking on a product opens it in a new modal window

Let’s put ALL the options aside for a moment and focus on the two things that really matters, the responsive design and the Follow button.

Responsive eBay Store Design

Basically “Responsive” means that your eBay store will now move to fit the screen size that your customer is using.

So if they’re on a desktop, then your eBay shop will max out at 1200 pixels wide, however if they’re viewing it on an iPad or any other device that has a smaller screen size, your eBay store will now resize automatically to accommodate your customer’s screen size, rather than being a “fixed width” as you see with the current eBay stores.

You can learn more about responsive website design in an article I published in 2013 called What is Responsive Website Design?

eBay Follow ButtonAnd the “Follow” button…. Screw the “Watch Item” button, this is now set to be the next holy grail button only seconded by the buy button on eBay.

Social Networking with a Buy Button

Think of the “Follow” button being a direct comparison to the follow button on Twitter, the like button on Facebook and the “Follow Board” button on Pinterest. However with one massive difference…

Twitter is non-transactional, Facebook is good-as non-transactional, Pinterest is non-transactional however…. eBay, you guessed it, transactional!

If you can get your buyers to press the lush green “Follow” button you’re laughing.

This means that your products will appear in your buyers eBay Feed. The moment that your products are in the eBay Feed, expect eBay to be nudging your products in front of the customer. After all your customer just told eBay that they’re interested in your store specifically, that’s like the cheeky smile at the end of a first date, you know there is a second date soon!

Video Overview to the New eBay Store Designs

If you’ve not seen the new eBay Store’s yet, myself & Dave have put together a full HD video overview to the new stores for you below.

This is part 1 which is an overview to the new store designs, in part 2 when we upgrade our eBay store to the new layout, we’ll record what happens and take you through the steps needed & load it with tips so you can take full advantage of the new layout.

As mentioned in the video, you can find the stores used here: Jeff’s Music Gear, Cardboard Legends, Digital Goja & Crush Vintage.

1st Note: “Lazy-loading images” means that you can have more products on a page, but instead of waiting ages and ages for each product image to be downloaded, as the user scrolls down the page, the extra images are loaded when they need to be. This means that your customers have a far faster experience as they’re not downloading oodles of images for the entire page.

2nd Note: I’ve been mixing up the terms “eBay Store” and “eBay Shop”, they are the same thing, in the UK they’re called “eBay Shops” and in the USA they’re called “eBay Stores”.

eBay Promotions Manager for Basic Shops Too

eBay Promotions ExampleAlso in this update if you’re the owner of a Basic eBay Shop then you’re going to gain access to the eBay promotions manager.

Basically if you’re not using the eBay promotions manager you should be.

This tool allows you to create your own bundles and offers that are displayed with your listings. There are a multitude of types that you can use:

  • Related items offers: “Buy a camera, get 10% off select accessories”
  • Volume offers: “Buy 3, get 1 free”
  • Sale events offers: “Save up to 75% on men’s suits”
  • Targeted offers: “Discounts to selected buyers”
  • Postage offers: “Free delivery on orders over £100”

There wasn’t any word on extending the eBay promotions manager to include discount codes, an eCommerce stable, maybe in the next update?

eBay Collections

ebay collectionsI’m not going to cover these in any great detail here, the reason for this that I know I can do better for you and you’ll find out what I mean by this in a few days time.

However… last Thursday eBay launched a new section to the site called “eBay Collections” (they can be viewed here and here) and they brought in celebrity assistance like they did in the USA when it first launched there. These were Dannii Minogue, Reggie Yates, Kelly Hoppen, Alex James and did I mention Dannii Minogue?

They each have their own collection and the links to these are below:

Dave Furness summed eBay collections this up nicely with this quote:

Dave Furness“This is Pinterest with a buy button, how cool is that?!”
Dave Furness Co-Founder, UnderstandingE

With my marketing hat on there are sooooo many ways that these could be leveraged, which is why they deserve more attention than I’m sharing here and later this week you’ll have access to a free guide on how to leverage these for your business.

In the meantime, here is a video overview to eBay Collections that was created by eBay featuring Jen Stanbrook from lovechicliving and you can also see the behind the scenes of the video being made here on her site.

New eBay Seller Performance Requirements

eBay Top Rated SellersHow do I best word this… We’re getting a simpler version of the ratings system that we saw Amazon release in 2012.

Note: If you’ve not seen the Amazon rating system, see here for the original article on Amazon Ratings which was released here before anyone else in the world.

When speaking with eBay they stressed the point that they have measured millions of transactions to understand what’s important to buyers, what motivates buyers and what impacts their decision to buy again & again on eBay.

So while it frankly sucks to have the bar raised for eTRS (again) they’ve got the data and insight to what makes buyers want to come back and this is eBay ensuring that they do.

eBay are changing the eTRS system to make it simpler to understand and also harder to achieve.

It’s simpler to understand as instead of having a multitude of options, they’ve basically narrowed it down to what counts and any boo-boo’s are now being called a “defect”, if you receive a defect that’s a slap and too many slaps puts your eTRS or at worst your selling account at risk.

The minimum for for all sellers is a 5% defect rate and eTRS sellers are expected to be 2% or less for all transactions.

To help I’ve popped this into a table for you:

Requirement Minimum for All Sellers eBay Top-Rated Sellers
Defect Rate
Maximum percentage of transactions with defects 5% 2%
Minimum number of unique buyers affected before seller status is impacted85
Closed cases without seller resolution
Maximum percentage of eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Buyer Protection cases closed by eBay without seller resolution* 0.30% 0.30%
Transactions and sales
Minimum number of sales transactions N/A100
Minimum amount of total sales N/A£1000

Note the percentages on top of the minimum, so if you’re processing 1,000 orders a month on eBay, 2% for eTRS is 20 defects and the threshold for all sellers is 50 per 1,000 orders made.

So What are the Defects?

The curious thing is to what eBay are now classing as a “Defect” with a defect being a transaction that is considered to create a bad shopping experience for for buyers, again I’ve popped a table together for you below:

1Detailed seller ratings of 1, 2 or 3 for item as described
2Returns for item not as described
3eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Buyer Protection cases for item not as described
4Detailed seller rating of 1 for dispatch time
5eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Buyer Protection cases for item not received
6Negative Feedback
7Neutral Feedback
8Transactions cancelled by you due to stock out or item sold to another buyer

The defect’s above you can’t argue much with. A DSR for item as described 1,2 or 3 is bad, receiving a return back for the item not being as described, that’s a boo-boo, the same for claims, the item not being received, neutral or negative feedback and if you have to cancel an order because there was an error in stock levels are all bad things to happen to a customer.

The one defect I found odd was the “DSR of 1 for dispatch time”, when questioning eBay over this, they couldn’t conclude that a buyer leaving a 2 star rating for the dispatch time as a conclusive negative effect on whether the buyer would come back or not. I’m not arguing with them, that gives us some lea-way :)

Oh and some more good news, if a buyer doesn’t leave you feedback then the transaction is counted as “good”. Yes we still have the 45 days or so for the buyer to leave you a neutral or negative, but eBay is treating “no news” as “good news”.

This is what Ian Crawley, B2C Director, Global Managed Marketplaces at eBay (LinkedIn Profile) had to say about this update:

Account Safety from Rogue Buyers

The immediate question I had, as I’m sure it would have been from you too, was “What about rogue buyers?“.

eBay has already thought about this and there are safe guards in place to help protect your account & eTRS status from the occasional nut job.

  1. Defects must be from at least 5 unique buyers for eTRS or 8 unique buyers for an above standard seller in order to affect the status
  2. Buyers can’t open an item not received case before the estimated delivery date has passed (was that a cheer from the benches at the back?)
  3. There is an updated our seller protection policy. From August, negative or neutral Feedback that’s been removed under the Feedback Removal Policy won’t count as a defect
  4. Cases escalated to us and resolved in favour of the seller won’t be counted
  5. Each transaction can be counted towards the defect rate only once, regardless of how many defects may occur in the same transaction (basically one order with 10 items = 1 defect)

Updated Seller Dashboard to go with the New Seller Performance Requirements

No screenshots available for this just yet however what we do know is that this is coming around mid-April with a d-day of 20th August 2014.

eBay were keen to stress that they’ll be messaging you as the deadline of the 20th Aug draws closer, so that when this lands you’ll have a very clear idea of where you’re going to be with new levels.

As part of the new performance ratings eBay are updating the seller dashboard to give you an ultra clear picture of what’s needed for you to maintain the level that you’re currently at and if needed improve. You’ll be able to see your defect rates and projected seller level with the new criteria and a breakdown & percentage of each defect type listed in the table above.

Expect onsite messaging for this, emails to track your progress and if you have an account manager, a chat with them closer to the deadline.

Loaded Auctions

Revolver With BulletsThis is what eBay have said:

From May, we’re removing the limit on the number of duplicate auction-style listings that a seller can list on Sellers can list as many duplicate auction-style listings as they like, but when they receive a bid on one of the duplicate listings, only one will show on eBay at any time

The easiest way of explaining this new feature is by using a revolver and six rounds of ammunition as a metaphor. The revolver is eBay and the bullets are auctions.

Currently you’re allowed a maximum of 15 listings on eBay, one of which can be a pure fixed price listing. This leaves the other 14 to be auctions or auctions with the Buy it Now option.

With the pending changes you’re going to be allowed to list an unlimited number of auctions, however there is a caveat to this…

Say we list 6 auctions onto eBay for 10 days, only the first listing will actually be shown in the search results. That is until it receives a bid or a purchase is made. The moment that this happens the next auction is made available in the search results.

So if we have 6 auctions listed, the other 5 are not going be shown until a bid or purchase is made on the first one, when that happens the next is shown and the process repeats until we’re out of auctions.

This is a curious effect because in this update if you don’t receive any bids or purchases for any of the 6 auctions you’ll receive your fees back, however if you have a desirable product that attracts bids, you can quickly expedite the selling process and loaded gun is going to empty it’s clip of 6 rounds out really quickly, hence the term “Loaded Auctions”.

Picture Standards Being Enforced

ebay_image_size_requirements_2013_05_06If this affects you then you’re probably not going to like this one at all.

Basically eBay have telling us for months & months that the minimum image size is 500 pixels on it’s longest side and now they’re going to be enforcing this restriction.

If you have a good till cancelled (GTC) listing that has an image that is below 500 pixels, from May when it’s time for the listing to be automatically relisted then it’s going to be stopped.

There is a free service that can be found here that will work through your current live listings on eBay and let you know if any of the images that you have on eBay right now are below their minimum requirements.

I know that it can be tricky for you request new images from your suppliers, however eBay are now clearly saying that images smaller than 500 pixels is not good enough and frankly as a customer and as eCommerce in-general goes, 500 pixels is tiny by today’s standards. And to be fair they are lobbing in supersize as a freebie to push you in the right direction of having much larger images at 800 pixels or larger.

This topic has come up in the UnderstandingE forums a couple of times and if you’re using Magento & M2E Pro I’ve written you a PHP script that you can use to dynamically resize images when they’re being imported. You can view the video guide and download the PHP script for free from the Importing Products into Magento tutorials, it’s tutorial number 12 at the bottom.

Noting that while the video guide is focused on Magento, the actual PHP script can be used with any 3rd party tool if needed and obviously this is not ideal and is a temporary plaster to get you over this hurdle while you source or create larger images.

eBay Managed Returns

More than 60% of online shoppers say they would shop more with retailers who offer simple returns processes and policies

This has always been one the biggest challenges for eBay, having a single process to cover all business, from private sellers to businesses turning over millions. When it comes to returns with the sheer amount of transactions being made there are bound to be returns.

In Autumn this year eBay are going to be introducing the following:

  • Royal Mail and Collect+ to be available with more drop-off points for buyers
  • Increased seller protection: improved processes for us to investigate report a buyer cases
  • Direct integration of managed returns with third-party listing tools

The curious part was in their wording around this update, “From Autumn 2014, some sellers who already accept returns will be required to use the managed returns process.” and then “It’ll then gradually become a requirement for all business sellers. We’ll send emails and information 2 months in advance to these sellers about what this means“.

So basically we’re all going to be using eBay’s managed returns sooner or later.

I know you might not be too riveted about this thought, however they’re letting us know now probably 6 or more months in advance that this is likely to happen.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
For you it might be a little frustrating, however for buyers if this gives them the confidence to come back and shop again, this has to be a good thing right?

Oh and I know you are thinking about the infrequent nut job that will flaunt the system. The thing is there is always someone that will do this and it’s always the negative experience that will stick in your mind (we’re human and we’re wired this way to remember negative events), put these wasters to one side for a moment and think of it from your perspective as a buyer, would you not want a simpler returns process built into eBay as a buyer?

eBay Fitment Increase in Codes

Mitsubishi-brake-padIf you’re selling in the Vehicles parts category you’re going to love this one!

The cap of 1,000 compatible car models has been increased to 3,000.

I know for many of you this has been a struggle as it’s likely that a specific part can fit many models and the previous limit of 1,000 was highly restrictive.

This does come with some “forced encouragement”, the “other” categories on eBay will be limited to a maximum of just 100 compatible models which is a hefty drop from the previous 1,000 limit, so choosing the right or more apt category is now 10 times more beneficial.

On the International Front

If you’ve got a Anchor or Featured shop subscription then the discounted international listing fees are still in place. If you’ve not heard of this before then basically you can list into the European sites for free, Australia too and also onto at a discount rate.

This was announced back in the autumn 2012 here and you can see the full overview to the sites included and fees on eBay here

eBay's worldwide potentialPart of this process or challenge that eBay have had is the alignment of the categories and item specifics across each of the eBay sites.

For years each country was pretty much independent, however all the recent changes to do with categories and item specifics on eBay have been related to trying to achieve a uniform structure over all the sites.

With each update we have seen changes to both of these and this time around is no exception. I’m not listing the categories that have changed here because basically it’s pretty much all of them.

You can view the list of affected categories here: and there is a PDF download for the new category structure for post April 7th here:…/categorychanges/UK_New_Structure_Apr2014.pdf

While category & item specific updates fill me with dread, because it means that if you’re using any 3rd party software then (or even non at all) then this means updates not only to the software, but also your listing data as well. They’re changing and there is little we can do about it.

Note: If you’re using Magento & M2E Pro to sell onto eBay, then you’ll want to follow the instructions in this 3 minute video tutorial so that you have the latest category & item specifics structure in your Magento system (you will need to be registered to view this video tutorial, it’s free join).

eBay were also keen to stress that they have been working with 3rd party tools such as ChannelAdvisor & Linnworks to improve the management of international sales with more features around stock synchronization, sales reports and translation abilities. When I queried about M2E Pro, a extension for Magento that they subsidise (remember eBay now own Magento), the team I was speaking to were unable to comment.

Note: Myself & Dave are working on a “Cross Border Trade in Plain English” series at the moment to help show you where you should focus your attention to, when and also how. This is a few weeks away and will be another free course on the UnderstandingE site.

International Tracked Postage Service

eBay have partnered with DPD to make the despatch and delivery of orders into other countries more affordable, traceable and speedy.

Some of the key features of this initiative are:

  • Discounted rates negotiated by eBay
  • Full end-to-end tracking with confirmation of delivery
  • Labels printed directly from order management tools or using eBay sendIT- a dedicated portal to print and pay for eBay labels
  • Postage service to 28 countries (most European Union countries plus Australia, New Zealand and the US)
  • Fast transit times from 2 to 5 days in the European Union
  • Delivery of items up to 30kg
  • Choice of either a collection service (at least 5 parcels per collection) or a drop-off service through Collect+ locations
  • More convenience: the tracking number is automatically added to My eBay for buyers

While at a conference with eBay a few weeks back I asked the curious question: “is this just for businesses new to DPD or can existing DPD customers have access to these rates as well?

The answer made myself and one of the other attendees pull an odd faces across the table because this new service and the discounted rates are only available to businesses that don’t already have a contract with DPD. So if you don’t have an existing contract with DPD the new rates could be pretty tasty, if you do, you’ll need to ring your account manager and start using the eBay rates as leverage if they’re no on par with what you’re already receiving.

You can register your interest here:

The eBay Sping 2014 Updates Summary

Unlike Amazon which commonly say “in 14 days you must change xyz, like it or we’ll limit or close your account“, eBay they’re giving us 162 days notice in most cases. Always keep this in the back of your mind with these seller updates, eBay are playing fair.

We all dislike eBay fee increases and we’re seeing a 1% rise across a load of categories. The question we should be asking ourselves “is eBay worth the extra 1%?

Honestly speaking, of course it is. eBay are holding the deck of cards here, they have the marketplace, they have buyers and it’s the eyeballs of the buyers that count. It would need a whopping increase for it to severely impact the bottom line. Like it or hate it eBay are here to make money, just like you.

Did we get 1% back in this update with the other changes? Well we got Dannii Minogue and that’s gotta be happy days!

The Follow Button

eBay Follow ButtonPutting the store changes and everything else to one side for a moment, the one thing that you should be thinking about is the follow button.

As mentioned this is the pin board button on Pinterest, the follow button on Twitter and the like button from Facebook. However the fundamental difference is that this follow button has the ability to drive a tangible sale to your business.

The second that a buyer hits this button, you’re in their feed and if you’re in their feed they’re going to see you and your products. This is the customer saying to eBay that they are interested in your products and gives eBay the ammunition to target that buyer with your products.

The results may not be instant but unlike the other social networks which have always been vague with actually making transactions, there is no vagueness with eBay, eBay is a marketplace and it’s primary purpose is to help you sell more products.

eBay Update Ratings

As mentioned at the beginning I’ve put together a rating system for each of the updates, scoring them from -1, 0 and +1 depending upon their impact:

-1Fee IncreasesAlways a -1, good start eh?
+1eBay Store Design & Related FeaturesI’m a massive fan of this as you might have been able to tell from the video we added
0eBay CollectionsI’m rating this as 0, which is me saying this is a good idea but we need to work out wtf to do with it as sellers
Speaking to Dave Furness just before this guide was published, he’d rate them +1. However we haven’t seen what buyers are going to do with these and I’m sticking to 0.
+1eTRS ChangeseBay just made this simpler and harder in one swoop. Is this a bad thing? Hell no, raises the bar for everyone and ultimately customers receive a better service
0Seller DashboardNo previews available yet, so no comment and no score
+1“Loaded Auctions”So curious how these are going to be used, ultimately you get your fees back at the end if you don’t fire all the rounds
+1Picture StandardsAbout time, plus we’ve had months and months of notice on this
0Managed ReturnsI’m giving this a 0. I was fluttering between a +1 for this as a unified returns process has to be good for buyers, however… this isn’t actually being imposed on us just yet and as such I’m remaining neutral
+1Fitment Codes+1 all the way, cuts down the number of listings needed and less listing spam in the vehicle parts categories.
-1Category ChangesAlways a -1. A complete nightmare to handle if we do or don’t have listing software in place. I appreciate the changes being needed and the reasons why, but this causes a burden to you and your business to bring them up to date.
+1International Tracked ServiceA hat tip to eBay on this, while this may be useless if you already have an account with DPD, for businesses that want to sell internationally this is a helping hand in the right direction to help them grow so they can negotiate their own terms with a courier such as DPD
Grand Total: +5

If this guide helps just one business owner like you, the two days it took me to complete this has been so worth it.

Do you think I’ve scored these appropriately and what do you think of this update?

Let me know in the comments box below.

Live Discussion of the eBay Updates – Tuesday 18th March

Join myself & the co-Founder of UnderstandingE Dave Furness live on Tuesday 18th March where we discuss these updates live & we’ll be able to answer any questions you have there and then.

The button to join is below:

See you there,


Why Does Multichannel Software Cost So Much?


Three questions for you to ponder:

  • Why does multichannel software have to cost so much?
  • Why do you get oversells?
  • Why can’t that developer just add in that one extra box that you need?

That’s the questions I’m going to be exploring in this article, feel free to jump in and add your 2p worth in the comments at the bottom.

If you have any interest on what actually happens in the background to multichannel software, the software that manages your business across multiple marketplaces like eBay, Amazon or your own website, say Magento, you’ll want to pull your chair closer and grab a cuppa.


The Entire Process Simplified

Before we start, let’s simplify the process down to it’s simplest of form.

Listing Process

The process to create a new product listing onto a marketplace, collect the order and then process it, you as a seller have to go through several key stages, these are:

  1. Add a product to a database
  2. List it onto eBay (or insert another marketplace here)
  3. Collect the order
  4. Despatch the order
  5. Update the marketplace

That’s pretty much the entire process in 5 steps, create, list, collect, process, update.

And that’s where the simplicity ends.

Product Data Fields

If we think about step 1 for a moment “Add a product to a database”, this product could be anything, from a microphone to keyboard, a painting to a tent, there will be common attributes about each product, these are:

  • Title
  • Description
  • One or more images
  • Categorisation
  • Price
  • Condition
  • Cost price
  • Stock quantity

As you can see this will get deep very quickly, in fact it is, let’s pick on the products description for a few moments.

A products description could just be a block of text, but more likely it’s going to be broken out into many parts.

Picking on Product Descriptions

Listing a Product onto eBayFor example, let’s pick on a pair of shoes, picking on the bare minimum of requirements for listing a pair of shoes onto eBay, you’ll need to set a Shoe Size and the product Brand.

So that’s now 3 fields just for one product!

No seller in their right minds would just use the bare minimum and looking at the eBay Sell Your Item form for the boots category on eBay, it’s suggesting 10 product attributes to add and 3 additional fields as secondary attributes and you could add in your own custom attributes as well if you wanted to.

And we’ve not even considered that the business probably wants to separate their data out, so that they have say 5 key bullet points that they can use on Amazon and on their website, let alone another sales channel too and the main product description.

If we now consider the data requirements that are needed here, we’ve just sprung from 8 or so fields to way over 20. But also to use any software easily, then an interface would need to be built so that it’s easy for a business owner like you to be able to actually enter this information in.

We’re dealing with “expandable” and “unlimited” data, so while in boots category there maybe Shoe Size, Brand, Style etc… if we pick a completely unrelated category say tent’s for example, I’m now looking at a page where we have Type of Tent, Berth, Style, Sleeping Areas, Brand, Season, Model, MPN and the ability to add in extra options too.

There have been several different ways to invent this, there has been the just give the seller 20 fields and let them sort them out and match them up manually, there has been custom fields route where you define what the input boxes could look like and mix in a few different input types, such as an input box, a drop down box or a checkbox.

The Need for a Framework

Oh and as I’m assuming that you maybe a larger business, you would probably want to set these fields up manually first and then use an import/export system to create, update and append information about your products.

To get to that stage a framework would need to be built that can handle that kind of data input, allow it to be searched upon (which is no mean feat over lots of fields of data) and an import/export system as well.

So have we just gone from a simple product description to a squllion fields? For which more than half were dictated by a marketplace to create?

I think so and this is just one of the challenges any inventory management system needs to cope with.

So let’s assume that this was written from scratch, this wouldn’t happen over night, it would take months, if not years to get right.

Changing Tack to Stock Control

10 Pens for Sale on the MarketplacesAgain keeping this as simple as possible, let’s pretend we have just have a plain old pen (unchewed) as a product and we have 10 of these in stock, sat our shelf.

So get that product onto the marketplace, an integration would have needed to be built that allows you to actually send the product “up” so that it can be made for sale (we’ll come back to this later), but let’s assume the 10 pens are on the say eBay. Fantastic!

A customer buys one of these pens, so we have an order for a pen and we also have the customers details, their payment details, and the selected shipping method.

Again we’re assuming that an integration has been made to the marketplace, eBay in this case and also PayPal too to collect the payment (which isn’t a small task for even a seasoned developer).

But hey we’ve sold one, happy days.

When we’re dealing with just one marketplace, then stock control is pretty simple, we have 10 in stock, 1 sold, so we now have 9 available. Or you would have thought so.

What happens if that sale was an auction, the customer has not paid yet, so that 1 pen we just sold is now sat in a holding queue?

That then means you need to track your actual stock quantity and the held quantity and probably another integration to eBay (using eBay in this example as it has a lot of API’s) to handle disputes.

Let’s ignore that for now, we sold one, ace!

Going Multi Channel

Amazon- LogoWhat’s the point of software if it’s only just going to do one sales channel?

We like our multiple sales channels as that means we can sell the same 10 pens across all the available sales channels, reach more potential buyers and basically sell more stuff.

Chucking in Amazon into the mix now, we had 10 pens listed on eBay and we had 10 pens listed on Amazon. And we sold one on eBay.

That now means that we need to let Amazon know that we only have 9 left.

Amazon uses a reports system for their integration, which basically means you send them a file that contains your stock levels, they sit on it for a while (5-15mins normally), don’t actually tell you that it went ok, only if something bad happened (and even then, they pass back a message that basically says “Huh?”), you have to assume that and with both of us crossing our fingers that it was received and processed.

Easy-peasy, we sold an item, eBay was already at 9, no need to update them, Amazon, we lobbed them a file, they didn’t go “huh?” at us about it and we’re all down to 9 now.

Our Magento WebsiteWhile all this was going on, we just took an order from our website.

Let’s say it’s a Magento website (I like Magento websites so we’re having a Magento website) and through another integration to Magento, the order has been collected and we now have 7 pens in stock, because the customer just bought two pens.

So our multichannel software has to kick in again and this time, tell eBay that we now have 7 (which is pretty quick via their API and it tells what was wrong, unlike Mr Huh? have the file back, there was an error “somewhere” in it), we tell Amazon that we also have 7, they don’t go “Huh?” at us and we’re all good.

Timmy on the phone takes an order for the last 7 pens (a real big spender that one), he enters the order manually in and assigns the last 7 pens to Mr Big Spender.

Oh pants, we need to let eBay know we have 0 left, great that will end the listing on eBay, take it off Amazon too and the Magento website.

But when we end it on eBay, we need to remember that we ended it and what the item number was, so that when we more of these super fast moving pens in again, when we list them again, we want to reference the previous eBay Item Number, so that what little best match ranking is carried over to the next listing.

Oh and we send a file to Amazon which may go “Huh?” or give us the silent treatment and we also send an update to Magento to take the item off the site and change the stock status to “Out of Stock”.

Overselling is Going to Happen

sad-face-icon_newTo recap, we’ve just had multiple integrations to different marketplaces:

  • One that we need to remember what we did on it for next time (eBay)
  • One marketplaces that gives us the silent treatment (Amazon)
  • A Magento website
  • And Timmy who took a phone order for Mr Big Spender

Now let’s times that by the other 999 products we had in our inventory system (or insert however many you have right now), is it any wonder that oversells happen from time to time?

Oversells, they suck nuts, but it’s amazing we don’t see more of them every single day.

It’s one of the side effects of the be-everywhere strategy that we see with multi-channel or “omni-channel” catch phrases being bounded around. If you sell on more than one marketplace or even on the same marketplace more than once, you’re bound to have an oversell sooner or later.

And the thing is, the software in the background has just been working it’s little leggies off try to do all the above as fast as it can, so that it’s users (that’s you) don’t phone up their account managers and give them an ear bending about DSR’s, Amazon Scores or some lerry-nut-job whose order couldn’t be fulfilled.

So if you were building multichannel software, then you’d need to add in the ability to track changes to products and update the outside world with those changes.

Piggy In the Middle

Piggy in the MiddleIf we think about what our multi-channel software does on a daily basis, it’s no small feat.

Tens of thousands of hours would have gone into making it work right for near-as-damit 99.9% of the time. But because it is a separate system from the marketplaces that it’s interacting with, in many ways it’s piggy-in-the-middle.

This is just like the school playground game, but this time, the ball is the stock levels, orders and updates and the software is the one chasing the marketplaces around rather than the other school kids.

Let’s now say that you have one product, but you have 2 in stock and two marketplaces, eBay and Amazon

The challenge that we have when dealing with marketplaces are:

  • Constantly updating API’s
  • Constantly changing products (stock, descriptions etc…)
  • No control over the the interfaces uptime
  • And hopefully a consistent stream of orders and their updates as well

Note: API = “Application Programming Interface”.
It’s the Nerd term for how you can connect to a 3rd party system using a set of calls or instructions to add, edit or remove things. Typically the 3rd party such as eBay provide these and document them accordingly (pages and pages and pages of it)

The multichannel software needs to sit in the middle and work out what is happening with the marketplaces, what needs updating, what doesn’t and doesn’t just deal with one interface to speak with the marketplace, probably several.

Piggy in the middle is the best analogy for all this.

If it was for just one business, things would probably run quite smoothly, however the off-the-shelf providers (insert any name here, eSellerPro, ChannelAdvisor, Linnworks, StoreFeeder, SellerExpress and so on….) want to scale their multichannel software to more businesses, it’s how they make money, either through a monthly fee or a percentage of sale model.

And scaling up chaos is crazy (crazy good fun though!)

King Piggy

officesThe one dynamic we’ve not covered to yet is the business itself that is using the software.

The software doesn’t just run by itself, there is oodles of human interaction to it as well, this could be a member of staff adding in new products, updating images, importing a stock update file or processing orders.

And not just one member of staff, probably lots!

If you thought that being piggy in the middle to the marketplaces, with their quirky interfaces or creating an inventory management system that can cope with extendible data that could come in any shape or form was tough, let’s account for the users (that’s you) that are working with the software everyday.

A typical day in any business will involve the following tasks:

  • Creating new products
  • Updating existing products
  • Adding more stock
  • Processing orders

You’ll note that I’m missing out luxuries like reporting & customer services, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Up until now we’ve only really covered the first 3 of these, we’ll get on to the processing orders task in a minute.

The thing is that while most businesses complete the same tasks, they don’t all go about them the same way.

One business may prefer to work heavily in excel spreadsheets, another with just the interface of the software, so not only does the front end of the software that the staff actually use need to be slick and easy to use.

This is the layer sat on top of the database that is being used in the background to store all the products and keep track of changes and the database is being hammered to try and keep the marketplaces in touch with the latest changes as well.

Order Processing

giftA topic which we only just touched a few moments ago, order processing, So we’ve managed to collect orders from different marketplaces through their different interfaces, now what?

Those orders need to be processed, this involves some form of document being created, normally lots if we include emails as documents (such as order received, order despatched etc…).

Those need to be templated somehow and spat out either on demand by a member of staff pressing a button to print out an invoice or via some rules in the background, that send them out automatically.

So let’s say that’s happened and oh, we’ve brought in the payment for the order and matched that up to the right order (a feat in itself I hasten to add as they don’t always match up exactly, for example what happens if the customer paid too much or too little?).

Anyway, we have the order printed out in front of us, that order hits the real world, is picked and packed. But we’re missing something, that something is the courier label.

If we’re just dealing with Royal Mail, then we could have just printed out the PPI logo on the invoice. However a courier, well that’s another kettle of fish.

Unlike the USA where it’s pretty clear cut who the main providers are for actually sending orders (USPS, FedEx, UPS and DHL) with inexpensive integration tools like ShipStation or ShipWorks which costs peanuts, in the UK it’s a friggin mess.

Each courier has their own API and they all work differently, there is only one main software tool that has licked this and that’s Metapack. Metapack uses a SaaS model (software as a service) so that it’s pay-per-use and costs upwards of 12p per label. This is either a complete bargain or a massive expense, it depends how you look at it.

Many of the current software providers (in the UK) looked at it as an expense and built their own integrations into the couriers directly, thus adding another layer of complexity to the software that they built (and bloating it out even further).

Business Rules for Order Processing

courier-logosOne area we’re missing here is that just because the customer selected Royal Mail 2nd Class, that doesn’t actually mean that it’s how the order is going to be sent. There are business rules that most likely need to be processed on top of the order to work out which method the order should be shipped.

If we think back to the example of the pens earlier, they are really light and have no real size to them, a letter would do. However what happens if the customer also bought some other office supplies at the same time and the weight hit 1.2Kg and the order value hit £35.

Suddenly the method that the customer chose and paid for doesn’t become cost effective, so instead a business rule may be that such an order because it has gone over 1.2Kg and went over £30, to send it via a courier instead.

But what happens if that customer was in the top of Scotland and our normal courier would charge us a surcharge, then a secondary rule would need to be put into place to switch the order so say Royal Mail tracked. It might not be as quick, but surely saves the £12 surcharge.

MetapackSo any software that deals with orders and the despatch process needs to account for business rules that need to be applied to orders and this is where something like the 12p to Metapack becomes more attractive because they have this level of rules ability built in. Different software products have different ways of working with such orders and some have elected not to tackle it at all (ie ChannelAdvisor).

Back onto topic, we have the invoice, the courier label and we then ship that order off to the customer. Happy Days right?

We then have at least a carrier that was used and most likely a tracking number. These details then need to be passed back to the order source, so that the customer can be updated and in the case of Amazon, so you can get paid.

This involves another call back to the marketplace or order source (for example the Magento website) to update the order and change it’s status to shipped. And most likely at the same time, the inventory system has been altered to confirm that item has sold, a record was kept and possibly an email was sent out too.

Not as straight-forwards as it looked originally?

Pricing Multichannel Software

Generally there are two ways that multi-channel software providers will charge you:

  • Fixed price
  • Percentage of sale

Some multichannel software providers go with a tiered system, if you have X number of products or orders then you pay this amount and the cost increases the more products and sales that you make.

Others go with a percentage of sale. It’s this one where the costs can really spiral out of control and it’s no uncommon to find businesses paying £30K, £50K or even £80 or £120k a year to such providers.

Yes, obviously they’re turning over millions, but at these kind of numbers, we’re getting into the territories of buying houses with the amounts being paid to multi-channel software providers.

There is another billing method worth noting here, is that it’s pay per user. So you pay say £80 per user head in the business to use the software.

It doesn’t really matter how you cut it, the more you sell, the more you should expect to pay.

How much you’re actually willing to pay is a completely different topic!

So why does multi-channel software have to cost so much?

The thing is, up until now the current 2nd generation providers have been building their own bespoke systems to cope with inventory, orders, the marketplaces & other business rules. This takes a shed load of time and a lot of money.

As the software grows, so does the complexity (and we’ve already seen some of the complexities including in the basic 5 steps, create, list, collect, process, update) which then adds in the requirement for an on-boarding team, staff that can help businesses migrate to the new software and of course a development team to keep everything working as it should.

I know from personal experience of doing this twice, first time around at Marketworks (eBay auction management software), also doing this myself with my own business, migrating to a software product can be painful, especially if prior to the migration all you’ve been using is the eBay Sell Your Item form or 1st generation or proprietary software like Turbo Lister.

Oh and the second time around at eSellerPro, sometimes it can take months. Every business is different and so are their requirements and it’s not as straight-forwards as it looks.

The more customers that are added, the more depends are put on the software to do feature x, y and z. Some multi-channel software providers just draw the line in the sand (ChannelAdvisor is a good example of this) and “say we do this”, then find partners for everything else. And others try and do everything under one roof.

We’re also missing a sales team, support staff & marketing, oh and a management layer as well somewhere too.

Everything & everyone has to be paid for.

In Summary

Any multi-channel software is good software. I whole-heartedly believe that.

A business even using excel has a competitive advantage over a business that isn’t using excel. It’s that simple.

Remember those 5 stages create, list, collect, process, update from the beginning? Even simple nowadays is complex when it comes to managing multiple marketplaces and this complexity causes overheads, costs that need to be accounted for.

The thing is that some of these multichannel software providers (some with the help of myself) have taken the level of complexity, features and options to a whole new level, levels that were not thought possible only a few years ago and it’s the percentage of sale software providers that can get really, really expensive, the more you sell, the more you pay. It sounds nice, but the thing is, it gets to a stage where the amounts being paid is just plain silly.

A Different Take on Multichannel Software


Two questions for you:

  • What if multichannel software didn’t have to cost the earth?
  • What if you knew of a way to deliver multi channel software that can meet the needs thousands of cool people?

What would you do?

Sit on it? Work out a business plan to bundle it up and sell it as typical 2nd generation software? Or would you go a different route after trying both?

I’d like to share a story of what happened last year, when looking for multichannel software to launch a new business onto eBay, Amazon and to build their own website and the typical options out there, just didn’t work.


Backed into a Corner

backed into a cornerBack in March 2013 we were looking for multichannel software to launch a new business onto eBay, Amazon and to build their own website.

The natural option eSellerPro wasn’t an option and neither of us were fans of ChannelAdvisor, plus both of these were really expensive for a start up (you’re talking +£500 a month and £2,000 upfront costs), so we picked the next best option.

After 3 weeks in all the stuff I took for granted was missing.

  • What do you mean we can’t import 61,000 products in one go?
  • What do you mean we’ve got to assign one of the variations as being the parent sku?
  • And where on earth are child sku’s?

As we dug deeper we soon realised that the normal alternative wasn’t going to work (I’m doing my best not to name them), it was so far away from what I was used to. What I took for granted that should be in multi-channel software, well… was missing.

This just isn’t working out is it? What are the options?

I don’t know we’ll try a different provider, after a phone call they also wanted £500 a month and 1% of sale because we had soo many products (61,000 is apparently lot for most companies).

This is just nuts, how could you start a multi-channel business without the software that was so sorely needed? There was no way this could be done manually. There was just too many products to do it with.

What about?

Magento Usage Statistics Feb 2013Magento?

It can cope with that number of products easily, it can handle complex product relationships, variations, multi variations and so on…

After all it’s the most popular open source software to build eCommerce sites with and powers 26% of the top 1 million eCommerce with (see here), so it’s at least got to have a decent founding.

So that’s the inventory & order management part taken care of. Ok what about the eBay & Amazon part?

Why don’t we give M2E Pro a whirl? It can’t be that bad and hell it ain’t going to cost us £500 smackers to get started with is it?

So that’s what we did and what we ended up with something quite different.

Note:If you’ve never heard of M2EPro before, it’s an extension for Magento that allows you to use Magento for the order & inventory management and allows you to sell on to the marketplaces using the same inventory. Oh and it’s subsidised by eBay too.

Sipping Coffee

CoffeeDid we just replicate eSellerPro?

As near as dammit we had.

Yea not everything & all the bells & whistles, but it was close. Scarily close.

An import system that could take all 61,152 products in one hit, a templating system that allowed us to make comprehensive listings onto eBay with keywords, the stock levels were kept up to date pretty much in the same manner as what the Channel Profile does.

And for orders, well the framework was there to automatically deliver the orders to the supplier, then once the order was shipped, grab the tracking numbers and delivery back into Magento which in-turn, M2E Pro would pick up and notify eBay & Amazon.

Holy moo-moo, what if we bundle this up into a business?

So we did, we put the numbers down on paper, moved them, added, removed and that’s where we got stuck.

The numbers just didn’t work.

It wasn’t really until year 2 where after a huge amount of risk a lot of unknowns that such a business would hit any form of black. And that’s where it got curious…

If we couldn’t make the numbers work on software that was basically free, how the hell do the existing providers actually turn a profit? And that’s where things started to make sense, they do but they don’t. SaaS products/services tend to be highly lucrative, however the life is being sucked out of them by bloat.

So to support N number of businesses you need N number of support staff, N number of developers, N number of account managers and so on… Humans need humans, especially if you’re looking at a high monthly fee product and especially one that takes a percentage of their sale. It just doesn’t scale very well.

Basically, none of us particularly liked the numbers, great idea but we were all out.

Now What?

Icon-round-Question_markI’m sat there with the tools and the knowledge to make a massive, positive difference to the world. But the normal thinking of bundling this up doesn’t work.

WTF now?

Dave, what if we gave it away for free?

Dave looked at me oddly.

Yea seriously what if we gave away the knowledge on how to do this?

It’s not the original business model, but we know that won’t work, the numbers say it won’t. So why don’t we take a completely different tack and share. I know that if you do something with passion, the money part kinda sorts itself out, I’ve seen this time and time again. I know it works.

Note: This is not for the faint of heart, you have to have some heavy form of commitment to even consider doing something like this, a topic for a different day

So that’s what we decided.

Show the world how they could gain access to low-cost multi-channel software, that didn’t cost £500 a month, didn’t come with all the expensive bloat and if you needed something extra then you bought it off the shelf, without paying oodles to support 100% of a product for which you were only likely to be using a mere 40%.

We hammered out a vision that encapsulated this, a goal for us to follow that followed this line of thinking and we came up with this:

“A hybrid of both free and paid for open source software where multi-channel business owners can pick & choose the tools that suit their business, both now and in the future.”

Quite a hefty goal, but that’s where we’re swinging for.

Last Year

And that was back last September.

Since then we’ve been working our little socks off, mainly because I set such a ridiculously high goal that we’d have to think differently. Did we hit the final goal? No, but we got bloody close though.

We called it “UnderstandingE”, a name that I been sat on for a few years, it seemed perfect for what we wanted to do and that’s what we rolled with.

What I needed TEN Years ago

When working at Marketworks & eSellerPro, I always kept in the back of my mind, what did I need when selling online. “How does this port to what the person to I’m speaking to right now?” and crucially “How does that port to the multichannel software that I working with right now?

I think that’s the key reasons why working at eSellerPro was like being a pig-in-poop, if it was a good idea and the demand was there, then it got put in. That was some wild times, but ultimately ended up in a product that has issues dealing with such a veracious amount of development being applied to it.

Basically in hindsight, it was overkill. Really good overkill I hasten to add and nothing has even got anywhere near it since.

Stuck in a rut

The thing is, businesses that are using current software tools they’re used to paying silly amounts each month and there does come a time where the brighter business owners work out that they’ve just paid way over £30,000 (say $50K USD) for software that yes has helped them to get them to the stage where they are at, but for that kind of money it’s starting to hurt and hurt bad.

Some of you reading this you’re just too far down the line, you’re too comfortable with paying this kind of money, as much as you hate it, you’re stuck with it.

And my advice for a long, long time has been not to move software providers, it’s painful and doesn’t happen over night. It’s really up to you to work out how much of a difference it would make to you and your business.

A Different Way

But what we can do is make a difference to the businesses that have not got to this stage of lock-in yet, that can still be nimble.

So thinking back to the original questions:

  • What if you knew of a way to deliver multi channel software that met the needs thousands of cool people?

Yea I’m standing up (Dave too) and are firmly planting ourselves off the fence and are saying there is a different way. It doesn’t have to cost oodles, we’re not saying it’s free, but we’re saying that it’s a damn-sight cheaper than anything else out there and it’ll get you far, wayyy far down the line.

And there is nothing quite like putting money-where-your-mouth is, so that’s what we’ve done.

UnderstandingE went live on January 1st 2014 at around 4pm (kicking & fighting, we had to do an emergency site move the day before).

It’s not finished, it will never be finished. But we’ve started and that’s what matters.

Rabbit Hole

rabbit holeLet’s see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

I don’t know where it leads, but to be honest it doesn’t matter where it ends, as it’s about the journey to find the end.

Fancy coming along for the journey?

Whack the button below and get dug in.

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PS. If you’re looking for me to write anything about eSellerPro over the next year, it’s doubtful. Even with my ability to remember screens and how things interact, that knowledge has been put aside, what’s been left undocumented is just that undocumented. It’s time to move on.