Matthew has previously worked with the team at eSellerPro for almost 3 years as an Implementor, he was the one that took a business and applied eSellerPro to the business and the business to eSellerPro. Do you have any questions? Just ask in the forums.

Matthew’s seen eSellerPro grow first hand and happily boasts he still remembers the vast majority of the system backwards and forwards. Not bad when you consider that at the time of leaving, there were over 1,500 user settings, although he also wrote the majority of the original Wiki on how to use eSellerPro.

One Click Solution?

Its certainly not a ‘One Click Solution’, however the level of customisation that is possible in eSellerPro is mind blowing. It can manage listing on multiple eBay ID’s, on multiple eBay sites, in multiple languages and then manage the orders from them all and multiple Amazon account orders, listing & orders, Pixmania, Priceminister and then has an interface to allow it to connect to any 3rd party application for inventory creation, order collection and status updates such as Magento, X-Cart, OSCommerce and so on… Oh and if you use a fulfilment company, like Royal Mail or ProFS, that’s certainly integrated too, along with SAGE for accounting and most UK couriers.

With its ‘customisation layer’, comes several issues, there is cost, not only in fees and also time to deliver, as the training requirements are huge. However once up and running, eSellerPro sports a backend system that blows any competitor away, its almost bespoke, but in a structured environment.

How Much Does eSellerPro Cost?

eSellerPro costs upwards of £2000 to get started, with extras such as couriers, websites, channels and other integrations adding to the implementation fee. The minimum fee is around £600 per month and if the total value of sales exceeds this value at 1-2%, then there are additional costs per sale to be added.

Its common for businesses to have issues during their implementation (as with any 3rd party tool, just amplified with eSellerPro due to its complexities), Matthew has run a business himself, he knows what you’re going through, he knows eSellerPro exceptionally well and also knows eBay & Amazon backwards. Its unlikely you’re going to ask Matthew something he does not already know about eSellerPro, you can contact him on his dedicated Contact Matthew page.

Website Integrations

Matthew has now has created numerous integrations that link eSellerPro to the common 3rd party website solutions. If you’d like to know more see the dedicated eSellerPro Website Integration page.

Magento to eSellerPro Integration OpenCart to eSellerPro Integration

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?!


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.

[button size=”large” style=”round” color=”blue” url=””]Say Hello to the 3rd Generation[/button]


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.

30 Seconds of Silence as the Penny Dropped

We were on a call yesterday with what you could say is your “typical” multi-channel business owner, in many ways he’s probably just like you.

Business is doing well, it’s been a slog this year and literally this weekend has just started to show signs of picking up. One eBay account, one Amazon account, a website that could do better and nothing really that complex to put high demands on pretty much any of the 2nd generation multi-channel software providers.

But why on earth did he go completely silent on us, for what felt like hours?

Read on and you’ll find out why.


Typical Business As Usual?

Being in the most demanding categories for the marketplaces, fashion, he has to deal with complex inventory, sizes, colours, mixed sizing, demanding buyers, demanding marketplaces and most of all, the challenge of seasonality.

Fashion has to be the #1 toughest category to do well in online and this chap is rocking it & is set for his highest turnover Christmas ever.

On the other hand, in many ways it’s not a complicated setup they have, we’re only talking one eBay account with a couple of thousand listings, Amazon does really well for them now they’re settled in and from an operational standpoint, the team is experienced.

The booking in system for new lines is fast as they use excel & a couple of macros to create the variations & the order processing system is simple, no real warehouse control per-say, but a simple system that works and can manage 200-400 orders a day with ease.


As the conversation progressed he brought up the project me & Dave have been working on. He had seen a couple of the emails, read some of the articles and was wondering what was keeping us so busy. So we told him.

For the sake of this article and because he’s switching providers in January to the 3rd Generation we’re going to call him “Mohammed”, plus the numbers quoted are vague to protect his business.

The conversation went something like this:

Dave: “We’re building the training guides for the 3rd Generation of multi-channel software”

Mohammed: “So what does that mean exactly?”

Dave: “Well you know you’re using <removed> right now to manage, eBay, Amazon & your website?”

Mohammed: “Yes”

Dave: “Matt found a way of using Magento for exactly the same thing. You’ve heard of Magento?”

Mohammed: “Yea, I want to move our website to that after Christmas. We’ve been frustrated not being able to add anything to our current site”

Matt: “If you’ve looked at Magento, you’ll have seen it can handle fashion products just like yours, sizes, colours, shoe sizes etc… It has basic stock control and does pretty much everything you’re used to right now on your website.”

Mohammed: “Yes, my cousin uses it for his site and it does well”

Dave: “Matt was asked earlier this year to set up an eBay/Amazon & website business for a friend, he couldn’t use the software you were using as it’s too expensive so we had to look alternatives. He had already been working on Magento for a connector for eSellerPro, so knew it well. What he ended up realising was that Magento & an extension called M2E Pro could do pretty-much the same as the software you’re using”

Matt: “That’s right. They aren’t too dissimilar to your setup, but they had more products. Well 61,152 to be precise and roughly 2,400 variations. We were quoted £500 a month + 1% from one of the providers, it was a new business and there was no way that the business could afford that. So we have to look at other options

What I found was as Dave said, pretty much exactly what you have set up right now and we automated the supplier feeds in and the orders go off to the suppliers directly. We downloaded Magento for free and M2E Pro is also free because eBay subsidise it. He’s only just added his website now, as we’re using Magento not for the website part, but for the inventory & order management capabilities”

Mohammed: “Free & Free, I like the sound of this already”

Dave: “Yea we thought you would. The thing is besides the work the that Matt & the client put in, they’re only paying £114 a month for a server”

Mohammed: “What no commissions?”

Matt: “No commissions and the only reason he using such a ludicrously expensive server is because he complained about speed of one of my small servers. They’re not built for Magento, plus I didn’t want the hassle, so I got him a pair of xenon quad core processors, 16Gb of RAM and two SSD disks with hardware RAID 0 and dared him to complain about speed again. After that he never did, probably was a little over-kill if I’m honest”

Mohammed: “So he runs his business using Magento & M2E Pro, the same channels, has more inventory than us and pays £114 a month?”

Dave: “How much did you pay <removed> last month?”

Mohammed: “I’ll get the invoice, it’s here somewhere”

Mohammed: “Got it”


We heard the chair creak in the background, the sound of paper shuffling and then a deeply exhaled breath.

It must have only been 30 seconds or so.

But it felt like hours.


Dave finally asked, “did you find it?”

Indeed Mohammed has found his invoice, it had £1,500 on it  (approx $2,400 USD).

What I had set up for a client earlier this year can scale and for Mohammed came in at a tenth each month of what he’s paying right now and is set to save him around £17,000 – £19,000 next year.

UnderstandingE goes live on January 1st, what do you think he’ll be doing that day?

The Pieces are Almost a Picture

We’ll be open with you, the pieces of the puzzle are not all there yet, but we’re getting close, very close.

For Mohammed’s business, he’s going to need a couple of extensions to get all the backend features into place, two order extensions & two courier integrations (Royal Mail DMO was one of them) and a couple of the extensions we’ve been building to get him going. Plus we should never forget the training of the staff (which is where UnderstandingE comes in) and the time to migrate products between systems.

And on that note.

Say Hello to the 3rd Generation

We silently put the UnderstandingE site live a week or so ago. The reason why is simple, it doesn’t matter what you do for a launch party, it’s what you do for the next 6 years that truly matters.

While the guides are not published yet, they’re being released on January 1st, the forums are open and we are listening.

We’re listening to business owners like Mohammed and business owners like you.

Tell us what you need
Tell us what you cannot live without
Tell us how you want to innovate in your business once again
Rid your business of bills costing tens of thousands each year

And the best thing is…. We will show you how for free.

The 3rd Generation, everything you’ll need to know. It’s a click away (click here!!!!)

Come over & say hello to the 3rd Generation.

And we’ll see you there.

Matt & Dave

Why there will NEVER be 4th Generation of Multi-Channel Software (Ever)

The only direction for the 3rd generation of multi-channel eCommerce software to go is to take ownership. To write, to own the software that will directly integrate your business into the marketplaces, this is exactly the piece that you never want and I’ll explain why.


A Mirror Image

It’s just like what we have right now with the 2nd generation, a multitude of multi-channel software providers, all with varying levels of integration and complexities. A “one-size-fits-all” approach and as I’ve already admitted, this approach isn’t the right approach anymore.

Let’s imagine for a few moments if you owned one of the software companies. You would have to deal with never-ending updates from the marketplaces, couriers integrations, bug-fixes, feature requests from your ever expanding user-base, the list just goes on and on and on and on… It’s software that is never finished and the thing is, it never can be finished.

So to step into the responsibilities of managing multiple marketplaces, the direct API integrations is not a world you want to be in as a business owner.

It’s expensive, it’s complicated, it’s ever-changing and unless you’ve got the experience, clear requirements and have a skilled development team on hand, you’ll be strangled by the overheads needed to be able to keep abreast of the highly-dynamic environment we use to operate businesses in and restricted by the one thing that keeps any business going, the ability to innovate and adapt.


In conversation for the past eight months with the “cool people”, (that’s business owners just like you), “innovation”, “being able to innovate” has come up again & again.

I know you’re not happy.

The 3rd Generation allows you to innovate, it breaks you free of the massive overheads and allows you to focus on your business exclusively and when you need to add in extra functionality, then it’s optional. Think of it as a salad bowl, you can pick & choose and it’s exclusive to your own requirements.

The 3rd Generation isn’t bogged down with the really complicated parts, that’s the 4th stage of the life-cycle, the taking ownership of the integrations yourself and for 99.9999999% of you reading this, you’ll never want to be involved with this, ever.

January 1st

January the 1st, for most of you will be the same story, you will have just had the busiest season online ever.

You’ll have seen the best and worst of your multi-channel software when you needed it most. You’ll also be sat there with probably the largest bill you have ever had if you’re using one of the multi-channel software providers that take a cut of your sales.

And on January 1st 2014, we’ll be sat there with another way, the next generation and that’s our deadline.

Part 3, where we bare-all is Coming Soon

Think of this article as a delicious appetizer between now and then, but also think of it, that with this open commitment to you, we better deliver what we’re talking about…

We don’t pretend to have all the answers, sadly we never will, but an option where you’re not tied down is already out there, we just need to show you how.

And the thing is, we know we can :)

Matt & Dave

PS. If you’ve not yet signed up to be notified the moment UnderstandingE is launched yet, you can here

Part 2 – Hands Up I Was Wrong – But What About?

In this second part of the History of Multi-Channel Software, we’re starting a journey, a journey to find the utopia and a journey that we’re going to share openly, wins, failures, the lot.

The utopia for multi-channel software that can fit the needs of any business regardless of size, type, location or revenue both today and tomorrow.

And to do this effectively, I need to admit I was wrong.


A Re-Cap

In part 1 of the History of Multi-Channel Software we covered how we have ended up where we are today with the collection of software providers that offer pretty much the same options, all wrapped up into different interfaces for multi-channel businesses to use.

I also shared with you the vision for the future which I’ve put below, the “utopia”, the goal that we’re aiming for and the commitment that I believe together we can achieve. I also admitted that I don’t have all the answers and never will but are willing to share this journey as we go and we invited you to join in.

The Vision of the Future

“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

I Used To Think…

I used to think that multi-channel software had to:

  • Fit the needs of every business perfectly
  • Have every single feature, bell & whistle going
  • Advanced to the point of being over complicated
  • Do everything, anyone could ever want
  • Be one system that encompassed everything

And the thing is… Hands up, I was wrong, so very wrong.

The Glimmer of Hope

Crude by today’s standards, I had built my own eBay order management tool back in the early 2000’s using excel, outlook, an addon for Outlook and some VBA (Visual Basic for Applications).

I was parsing the notifications for “end of auction” and “end of transaction” emails from eBay using a plugin for Outlook (which amazingly you can still buy it today, see here), loading them into an excel spreadsheet and then using VBA to process them, adding in notification flags for a pick/pack/despatch process with mail merges to create invoices , then email mail merges to email customers their order received, packed and then despatched notices.

I’m probably being a little mean to what I built back then by calling it “crude”, it took me from using a paper tracking system to a semi-automated system, which then led the business to a stage where it could afford more advanced software such MarketWorks or ChannelAdvisor (the only two options we had back then) at around £15-20K a month turnover and then we added in MarketWorks, we ni-on quadrupled the business in 3 months.

I have always wondered “what if the business could have afforded the best software available earlier on?”.

As I sat there in the cyber-cafe looking at eSellerPro for the first time, I genuinely felt that “this was it”. What had frustrated me as a business owner myself and through having seen hundreds of business at Marketworks, seeing them struggle with a slowly developed product with the possibility that those frustrations could be answered and what you use today in eSellerPro is part of the answer I saw back then (after a ~3 years stint that is).

The Stark Reality

I believed one product could fit the needs of every scenario thrown at it and that is where I was wrong.

  • No software product will fit the needs of every business perfectly, ever
  • Software doesn’t need every cool idea in it for it to be viable and meet the needs of the vast majority of businesses
  • Who needs complicated when straight-forwards will work just as well?
  • Why does software need to do everything for everyone, when the core essentials are all that are needed?

The reality is that:

No single software product will ever meet the needs of every single business perfectly

And Wrong Again? Maybe Not….

I know many of you will cringe at the idea of ChannelAdvisor, having a core system and with bolt on modules, using specialists in their own areas, it’s a “hybrid system”.

Frankly speaking, you’re most likely scoffing at the idea because it doesn’t help that the base system is so expensive it rules it out as being a viable solution for +99% of all multi-channel businesses.

The thing is, I believe we were all wrong about this “hybrid” approach and I’ll explain why.

Take the massive cost out of this hybrid approach, so let’s say we take £600 monthly minimum fees and floor them by 95% to just £30 (yes that is thirty quid or $47 USD, or less but that’s a topic for another day) and suddenly it’s a lot more attractive don’t you agree?

Hold on to that thought for a few moments…

Breaking it Apart

Let’s boil everything down to the three key parts of a multi-channel software product.

An inventory management system, an order management system and listing abilities to marketplaces. This goes for any of the 2nd generation providers regardless of origin.

Inventory Management
The inventory management system would need to be able to with both simple and complex products (variations), kits, virtual products, stock control, imports, exports and customisable fields that you can match to eBay & Amazon item specifics.

Order Management
Then the order management system which would need to aggregate orders from multiple channels, websites, multiple eBay accounts, multiple Amazon accounts (if you’re being naughty lol), have order stages, customisable despatch options, links into couriers and back to the marketplaces for order updates. Email notifications, while they’re not an essential they are a nice to have and are of notable value for any order management system.

Listing Abilities
Being able to match up to existing listings on the marketplaces, create new listings and keep prices, descriptions and stock levels updated. And be kept upto date with the updates that these marketplaces like to do every few months.

These 3 are the key components for any multi-channel software product. I am missing one other part on purpose though, support. Because this component it is so special, I need to be address it specifically at a later date.

The Current Approaches

As we saw in part 1 the vast array of options, there is no one right way of approaching each of these components and when we look at the different providers out there, they have all come from different angles and ended up with varying levels of success for each of the 3 components.

Let’s pick on two other providers as an example. StoreFeeder, StoreFeeder came from a fulfilment background so as you would expect the despatch process in StoreFeeder is amazing. I love how you can batch process orders easily and I’ve not seen anything to touch it at the price point they offer. ChannelGrabber, they needed simplicity, so ease of use is unparalleled.

Each and every multi-channel software has come from a different direction and ended up with something that can (or is being) labeled as “Multi-Channel Software” and they can all be boiled down to these 3 components.

Again, hold onto that thought for a few moments too…

So a Time for a Different Approach

Keeping the key components in mind, 3 questions for you to seriously consider.

#1 What if we took the ChannelAdvisor, hybrid approach. One core system that has inventory management, order management and listing abilities and bolstered it with industry expertise?

#2 What if we took away the costly overheads and we leveraged a platform that was open-source and getting back to that £30/$47 I mentioned earlier, what if it would run on shared web-hosting, which is available anywhere, globally, inexpensively?

#3 What if we then said because it’s open-source, you can extend it further and gave you the power to innovate?

What if the listing abilities were available for free to eBay and Amazon was ridiculously inexpensive?

And Then Consider

Originally I thought this hybrid approach wasn’t the correct path to follow. It’s expensive with the current providers but on the flip side allows us to bring in industry expertise in each area, when you need it, if you need it.

So what happens if we floor that massive overhead, leverage the already existing technologies that are proven globally, bring in expertise when needed, if needed at all and open the doors to be able to innovate through open source? The potential is huge?

Interesting theory right?

Like we said in Part 1, we know that this new approach works, it’s not a theory for us or you anymore.

All that is needed is a journey to be started, for knowledge to be shared and for each of us to work together.

We have the the vision of a world where you can use a hybrid of both free and paid for open source software where you can as a where multi-channel business owner you can pick & choose the tools that suit your business, both now and in the future.

Find out more at

And in part 3, we reveal all :)

The History of Multi-Channel Software – Part 1

Multi-channel software, love it or hate it, if you’re selling online and using the online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon, you need it and it makes a massive difference to you being able to run a successful online business or having to wade through the endless repetitive tasks each day manually.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series on that covers the history of multi-channel software and is the beginning of a journey that will change the future of multi-channel software.

If you were wondering, this is directly related to main reason why I have been so quiet lately and together (thats us & you) will be changing the world of multi-channel eCommerce software forever and dipping our toes into the world of 3rd Generation multi-channel software.

However before we can get to the really cool stuff, we need to start our journey from somewhere and the best place to do that is to reflect on where we have come from and where we are today and this is what this article, part 1 and accompanying video is all about.


Part 1 – The History of Multi-Channel Software

Myself & Dave have put a video together to explain the history of multi-channel software below.

You can subscribe to the UnderstandingE YouTube channel here:

Proprietary, 1st & 2nd Generation Software

From it’s beginning where proprietary tools like Turbo-Lister (eBay) and Seller Desktop (Amazon) were created by the marketplaces themselves, then through the demands of businesses to expand further and add-in several missing features tools like InkFrog (1999), Auctiva, AMan Pro (for Amazon) and ChannelAdvisor who appeared on the scene in 2001. The 1st generation of software born and was there to help businesses be more productive with these channels.

Then the 2nd generation came around in the latter part of the naughties (around 2008/2009) where “Auction Management Software” turned properly into “Multi-Channel software” and was needed by businesses as they really started to leverage both eBay & Amazon and other online sales channels. We suspect this was because the Amazon marketplace really started to take off around then and the requirements changed for online businesses, they were selling in more than just one location, they had eBay, they had Amazon, their offline trade and the website platforms out there were getting better & better.

A Change in Requirements

This change in the landscape of business requirements spawned multiple 2nd generation providers that include ChannelAdvisor, who jumped from 1st generation (as they added in Amazon support), MarketWorks, ChannelGrabber, Linnworks, eSellerPro, SellerExpress and numerous other software companies who have come in later such as Brightpearl & StoreFeeder that have woken up to the apparent lucrative world of multi-channel software and whom we see today.

Some companies haven’t made the jump from the 1st generation at all, InkFrog, Auctiva & AMan Pro haven’t really strayed from their original selling platforms and that’s “ok” if that’s all you need for your business.

In the cases of eSellerPro and 247TopSeller, these were created by the failings of the original two providers that serviced the United Kingdom, ChannelAdvisor & Marketworks to adapt to the UK (and Europe for that matter) fast enough.

eSellerPro started as a shipping solution and with an integration to Sage from MarketWorks that then evolved into the tool we see today (see here for the unofficial history), as for 247 TopSeller well this was born in the same 2-3 months time window of eSellerPro because neither of the existing options (CA & MW) would meet the requirements of UK wholesaler.

Cost, Cost, Cost

The current options for business owners like yourself that use multiple sales channels (including the marketplaces) all fall into one of the two camps when it comes to pricing, fixed price and a percentage of sale.

Generally the “smaller” providers offer fixed price software where you pay a set amount each month to them for them to help you manage one or more marketplaces, these are generally medium cost and viable options. The more expensive options appear from the larger providers such as eSellerPro and ChannelAdvisor, where you’ll have a committed minimum monthly bill in the region of £500-600 and if a percentage of sales (around 1-2%) exceeds this value, then you pay more. That’s why you’ll find numerous businesses paying in excess of £1,000 a month for multi-channel software.

It doesn’t matter which path you have followed up to today, all the current 2nd generation multi-channel software products offer good-ish value for money.

As a whole, they all do the same tasks with similar features when we look at them from a high-enough level (in some cases it has to be really high with a slight squint). When we get down to the minute detail, there are major differences which explains the differences in the amounts that different providers charge and it’s these smaller details that generally depict which business uses which software provider because their business needs these small, less “transparent” options.

3rd Generation

It took a mistake by one of the 2nd generation providers to force this path to be explored and when we joined the pieces of the puzzle together we ended up with something that is greater than the original parts combined. What has been missing up until now is for us all to work out that this is actually viable and what we found, personally I was very surprised by.

The 3rd generation is a completely new take on multi-channel eCommerce software and while I say completely new, this has been around for the best part of 3 years already. We’ll cover more on this in part’s 2 & 3.

We don’t have all the answers, frankly we never will, however we know this path works. It’s highly flexible, ridiculously inexpensive and leverages the might of both open source and the backing of a massive corporate umbrella. For the past 7 months, I have followed it myself and there are examples of businesses turning over millions each month using this method.

The Vision of the Future

“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

We’re going to leave you with the vision of the future of multi-channel eCommerce software and we’re starting a journey today and we both invite you to join in at

PS. You can find part 2 here, where I admit I was wrong. But what about?

Why is eSellerPro still the best of a “Bad Bunch”?

It was 3 years ago I left eSellerPro and still today, eSellerPro is generally the better choice for larger multi-channel marketplace businesses, but why is this? That’s the question I aim to answer in this article & accompanying video.

I’m answering the same question a couple of times a week and rather than repeating myself over and over, I thought it would be more productive for me to create a video and explain the once :) If I’ve referred you to this page, scroll down and hit play on the YouTube video.


So why 3 years on is eSellerPro still the best of a bad bunch?

Just for the record, “Bad Bunch” is not my term, this is the term being used by business owners like you to describe the multi-channel eCommerce software providers out there today.

And back on topic… Well, the answer falls down to only three key areas:

  1. Inventory Management
  2. Importing & Exporting
  3. Stock Control

So let’s look at these in more detail. You can either follow these in the video below or the written overview that follows.

1. Inventory Management

I’m really surprised that none of the other providers have picked up on this and this can be boiled down to two key areas, inventory structure and the extensible data fields called “custom fields”. So let’s look at the inventory management side in more detail and custom fields, I’ve covered before.

Simply Master, Sub, Listing, Variation and Kit inventory records are the answer here.

No other multi-channel software product out there has an inventory system similar to what is found in eSellerPro and it’s still holding strong  with the inventory types we created over 6 years ago. And this boils down to several key inventory types, these are:

  • Master
  • Sub
  • Listing
  • Variation
  • Kits

Basically you have maximum control over the way your inventory works and if you’re selling products that come in variations or have more than one sales channel, then these really come into their own and kick every other software providers butts.

2. Importing and Exporting

If we take a moment to look at what some of the other software tools have out there and then look at eSellerPro, you’ll then understand why importing & export still rocks in eSellerPro.

Let’s take Linnworks, what would take a single import in eSellerPro takes 3 imports in Linnworks, oh and then you have to combine this with a disjointed interface, managing lots of inventory becomes cumbersome.

Now let’s look at ChannelAdvisor, ChannelAdvisor has the second best importing system out there and in a few places a superior import system as you can run excel based logic when importing product data, but it’s let down by the poor inventory management system behind it, thus falls flat on that part.

ChannelGrabber, they still don’t seem to be able to handle a single import for all products, instead you have separate records for the same product. So if you have one product and 10 listings on the channels, you have 11 records (or there-abouts), times that over 1000 products, you can see the problem.

Other software tools like SellerExpress, StoreFeeder, 247TopSeller etc… I’m unable/unwilling to comment on, but they don’t have the same inventory structure we covered in #1, so they’re basically flawed for larger businesses when compared like for like.

3. Stock Control

In eSellerPro there is a system that was a cool idea in the beginning and even today I’d personally class it as “insanely cool” and I bow to the developer that built the code behind this, it’s amazing.

This all boils down to the way that stock is managed over multiple sales channels and inventory records. But let’s keep it simple!

Say we have a pair of sunglasses that we have 10 in stock, we are selling these on eBay on two accounts, Amazon and our website, we can sell these sunglasses on all the sales channels and when the stock level decreases, then all the channels are updated, when we have stock arrive, then the stock levels are also updated.

But it doesn’t stop there with the channel profile you can set up minimum quantities to limit the risk of overselling, you can use it to calculate prices and it’ll list and delist products as your products come in and out of stock and also by it’s very name “Channel Profile”, you can have more than one profile doing different things for different products

So why is eSellerPro still the best of a bad bunch?

Their inventory system is designed for large multi-channel marketplace businesses, their import & export system is one of the best and most flexible systems out there and finally with the Channel Profile, you can have ultimate control over where and how products are listed.

And frankly what did you expect?

After all I genuinely did believe that eSellerPro was the last software product I would be helping create for multichannel businesses, this is clearly shown  six years on as it’s still the better choice of a bunch of providers out there.

I hope that helps you!

PS: If you’re one of the 3rd party software providers I just covered above and don’t like my summaries or explanations, make your software better, the keys to doing this are covered in the video :)

The Story Behind the eSellerPro & Magento Integration

I’d like to share with you the story behind the connector that integrates eSellerPro and Magento together, where it came from and where it is today.

It’s been quite a journey and it’s not 100% complete, the fact is it will never be and after throwing countless hours at it, but what is available today is pretty darn fast and as for configurable, well we’ll see how configurable it is as we dig in.


Looking Back

Looking back to the first time around to integrating Magento to eSellerPro it was a nightmare and dog-slow.

Working with the Magento core is relatively straight-forward once you’ve worked out where to look and have spend countless hours digging around what was created worked, but it was slow, maybe taking 17-20 seconds to build a configurable product, this time around we’re talking seconds to create a new or update product record (well 2.6 seconds on average).

The Reason Why

The reason why the connector was built in the first place was because one of the businesses I work with wanted Magento for their website, well even that has a story attached to it. I believed OpenCart was the better approach for them and the owner wanted Magento, so we had a duel of functionality & features, Magento won hands down for them and integrating it was the last challenge.

Keeping eSellerPro as the back-end tool for managing product data, categories, stock levels, reordering and order management was a complete no-brainer. We’re not looking to replace it, what the core of eSellerPro does is amazing (remember I worked there for 3 years, we built way-way-beyond cool stuff and the competing products don’t stand a chance for at least another year while the gain ground), we just wanted the best website technology possible and Magento fits that bill very well.

Matt, just integrate it properly

After us both getting frustrated after being told that Magento was “being” integrated fully into eSellerPro and no time-frame and with version Magento version 1.5 is already supported, but it not support inventory creation, I was just told “Matt, just integrate it properly“, so that’s what I’ve done.

Version 1.5?

Since then I’m working with 3 businesses that are using Magento 1.5 (as recommended to by eSellerPro), the thing is, it wasn’t until version where PayPal Website Payments Pro was properly integrated into Magento, it had it as an option but that only worked if you were in the USA and prior to this version it just didn’t work.

We’re at version today and while the majority of the features are the same or similar, Magento has been through two huge updates since 1.5 which was released almost 2 years ago (it’s so old it’s not even mentioned in their release notes). We’ve had version 1.6 released that had several structural updates made to it in August 2011 and the most recent version 1.7 which was with the 1.7 community edition being released in April 2012 and two minor updates since to bring us up to where we are today.

Note: If you’re looking for a reason on why you should upgrade from 1.5, take a look at this page which is the release notes for Magento version 1.7 and start scrolling. Yes that is 10 feet of page scrolling for fixes in version 1.7 alone!

Anyway, back to being told “Matt, just integrate it properly“, out came the weapon of choice, Notepad++ a text editor. I don’t think of myself as a developer or a coder, I just want to solve the challenges that the people I work with and if that means I have to get in and get dirty with coding, I will do. Since last October,I’ve not stopped working on the integration to Magento in one form or another.

The First Version

The first cut worked, we had orders being collected, orders being marked as shipped or being cancelled, stock and price updates coming through and the first revision of inventory loading working and I even had configurable products working too (that’s “variations” if you’ve not heard the term “configurable products” before).

I’ve done it” I said,
a pause of a few seconds went by…
done what exactly Matt?“,
integrated Magento for you, would you like to see it working?

It wasn’t pretty, but it worked and we could do everything that eSellerPro said they could do in 1.5, but crucially we could create products and update them too. We started to talk more and it turned out what I had written in the first version was perfectly adequate for one part of his business, “that’s amazing Matt, but my business partner who also sells out of our account too, he changes his eBay item specifics all the time, how does it cope with that?

Well, I had skirted around a couple of areas to get this working in under 3 weeks and one of those areas was around attributes or custom fields as you’ll know them by if you’re a user of eSellerPro. They had to be pre-created in Magento for them to be added to from custom fields or other fields from the product data feed from eSellerPro.

Leave it with me, I know what needs to be done. Is two weeks ok?” I said, it was agreed and I dug in.

The Second Version

During those two weeks, Christmas came & went and while taking two days off, the rest was spent on working on the connector. I had also considered that other businesses may want to use it as well, so a good chunk of this time was spent on making it versatile for it to be able to used by multiple businesses with multiple Magento sites.

It actually took me another 3 weeks to get it to the stage where it was intelligent to work out what the state of play was with the data and Magento site it’s connected too and it was able to work out what needed to be done and what had already been done (I’m being a little vague with this to ensure that I have some form of competitive advantage by the time you finish reading this).

Also during this time, I had one of those “Matt’s strange days”, it was a Friday and by the end of the day I had spoken to two other business owners on unrelated topics and they both had pretty much demanded that I also integrate their sites as well. My work over Christmas had paid off as I knew that I could do anything they threw at me and the connector with another 100 hours thrown at it would work amazingly for them.

So where are we today with the Magento connector?

I originally started with 4 user settings, right now as I skim down the config file a rough count is 320 separate options and that’s not including the arrays that are used to tackle the bespoke options that have come along and I’ve made versatile so that they can be used on other installations.

To give you some idea of what these settings do, here is an insight to a handful of them:

  • Decide if categories should be created and if so what statuses they should have as well, whether they should be included in the menu, active when created or set as an anchor category
  • What to do if there are no categories sent with a product
  • How and when to handle product variations
  • Whether we should be generating meta descriptions, keywords and titles and whether these should account for the data not coming from the standard fields in eSellerPro, but from custom fields or outside sources
  • How and when to create attributes and what to do in special circumstances
  • Whether related, upsell or cross-sell products should be created as part of the process
  • To include image labels (alt tags) with images or not and what to use as their labels
  • How to handle custom URL’s for products
  • What to do with tiered and grouped pricing
  • How to manage different variation types and what to do with them while being loaded to Magento
  • Which of the yes/no options for products in eSellerPro and where these options should be mapped to

And we’re not even scratching the surface. I’ve built in extensible arrays that can handle almost anything we throw at it and in short, it’s now at the stage where I can do almost anything we want.

Several key Magento extensions have been catered for now through the connector, my personal favourite is one that allows us to make images swap on colour choices on product detail pages which I’ll be documenting later this week (choose a colour on this item, neat eh?), data feed extensions for feeding out product data to Google Product ads, affiliate networks and also to provide stock & price control updates for external 3rd party just-in-time customers.


There have been a couple of delays in the sites going live. Yes we’ve had bugs to iron out and bucket load of features that have been added in along with bespoke requests to handle, but what I’ve found is that while what I’ve written is perfectly capable handling the complexities of the data for getting data in and out of Magento quickly, the servers sat behind the sites have not been. If we combine in the learning curve for the business owners too with Magento and bringing their data up to scratch so that they can handle the functionality and features they really want, it’s been a little too long, hence why I’m working to a questionnaire I’ve put together that covers 41 topics to make them easier each time.

I had no illusions that this was going to be an easy task, multiple Magento versions and the thing is that no one server is like the other. We’ve burnt through 3 hosting providers already with the existing users of the connector, Magento really is a beast and unless we’re throwing quad cores and a minimum of 6Gb of ram at it, then it’s not going to be fast.

both myself and the connector have needed to be flexible

Thankfully I’ve managed moderately high traffic sites before, my UNIX skills are pretty good and the understanding of what needs to be done, can sometimes surpass the businesses own developers. I’m a curious person, it’s just the way I’m wired and I always ask.  This has been a life safer more than once and it’s always nice to be just told & trusted with “Matt here’s the root access details, just make it work” and crucially being able to make it work without screwing up everything in sight.

We ground one server to the floor loading 40,000 products in, we knew it was going to happen it was only a shared server. We didn’t expect the issues we had with running PHP has Fast CGI on the new dedicated server though, that took 5 hours to track down and solve, the last time I checked, the 40,000 products had been re-loaded and an extra 10,000 had be loaded on top.

Flexible is most apt word here, both myself and the connector have needed to be “flexible”. Flexible with the tech that the Magento site is being hosted on, the extensions that are being used and to dig in deep and solve the challenges that have had seasoned professionals stumped. Being an “all-rounder” and knowing eSellerPro inside out has helped to no end, oh and throwing as many hours as it has needed has really helped break the back of the most difficult of challenges.

Sites Going Live

I’m looking forward to sharing some of the stories with you on the move to Magento from the site owners themselves. Most have been through more than one site previously and are looking forward to moving to a super flexible platform, but keeping their sanity by using eSellerPro for all the back-office tasks.

The first site went live over a week ago, we’re already working on their second site and that will be replacing another eSellerPro website with Magento as the front end, but crucially keeping eSellerPro as product data store, stock control and order management tool. I’m expecting at least 3 more to go live in the next two weeks as well.

I have a 3 custom requests that I’m working on currently, but the one that I know you’re label as “oh my god that’s cool” if you’ve got any SEO background.

I’m working on an image renaming option. So that the less-than-SEO-friendly image names that are loaded into eSellerPro are renamed and processed to have delicious naming conventions that make it easy for Google to recognise and also easier for customers too. Cool eh?

In Summary

I didn’t expect for the integration to have gone so deep from the first conversation and being asked to “just integrate it properly“.  Wherever possible features and functionality are tied deeply back into eSellerPro, it’s the right approach as you can handle all the inventory data with ease, stock control & pricing and processing orders are far better off being processed in eSellerPro, but for the website side, Magento just rocks.

Recently I covered both Why You Should Not Use Magento and also Why You Should Use Magento and I can sum these up into one line, if you give it the resources it needs and you want the flexibility of an external website where you can do anything you want, then Magento is worth looking at as an additional or replacement site.

Now that the connector is robust enough, you can have it linked back to eSellerPro and have the best of both worlds. Would you like to know more?


Managing Related & Similar Products in eSellerPro for Magento

In this article I’ll be showing how you can easily manage related & similar products in eSellerPro for use on your Magento website and if that’s too much hard work, at the bottom I’ve included a link to a free Magento extension that will set these up automatically for you and 4 tips you can use too!

I know we’ve had a run of Magento based articles lately, part of of my goal for 2013 is to actually share what I get up to and I added this functionality into the eSellerPro to Magento connector over a month ago and it’s about time I shared it!

What are Related , Cross Sell and UpSell Items in Magento?

Upsell items in Magento

Upsell items in Magento

This is an excellent place to start, because in eSellerPro only two of these are supported and we need to know what the options are in Magento, to make a decision on which ones we should be using.

So… there are three types of cross merchandising options in Magento out of the box, these are as follows:

  • Related Products
    These are items that complement the current product being viewed. This could be a charger or memory card for a digital camera, a power supply for a laptop or maybe a necklace to go with a dress.
  • Up Sell Products
    These are generally products that are of the same type and ideally of higher value. For example if the product being viewed is a pair of shoes, then similar shoes of the same design, again ideally higher in price as well.
  • Cross Sell Products
    These are the items that are shown in the shopping cart when the customer is about to checkout. This could be a memory card for a digital camera or perhaps a warranty.

While setting these up manually in Magento is a straight forwards process for each item, if you have lots and lots of products, then doing this individually would take forever, so we need options and I have three options for you!

Why only two and not all three?

eSellerPro is exceptionally flexible and when building the connector between eSellerPro and Magento, I knew that you might want to be managing the cross merchandising options from within eSellerPro (it makes sense to do this as it is the core base of all your inventory data after all), so the ability to leverage the existing functionality in eSellerPro was considered and you can manage up to two of these options directly within your eSellerPro account.

In eSellerPro you can manage two options for cross promoting products, “Related Items” and “Similar Items”, that;s not the full three options that we can use in Magento, but it’s good enough.

The fantastic thing about this functionality being in eSellerPro is that you can easily manage the related & similar items using an import & export sheet directly in eSellerPro, rather than having to “faff around” setting this up externally (which is a nightmare for large sites) and I’ll get to how you can do that in a few moments.

Oh a quick note, let me know which ones you’d like your products matching to in the eSellerPro to Magento connector.

Which Options to Select?

This really depends on two things, your theme and what you’d like to happen. Different themes handle these 3 cross merchandising options differently and I’d suggest that you manually add a few products to each of these to a product and see how they look on your websites theme.

Generally I would suggest using “related products” and “Cross sell products”.

This means that you’re able to show related products on the product page and leave space for a “You also viewed” module to be shown on the product and category pages, without overwhelming the user with too many options and the cross sell products for the checkout where carefully selected products or services could bring the average order value up.

Managing Cross Merchandising in eSellerPro for Magento

To show you how this works it’s best if we make an example for you and you can follow me along in your eSellerPro account right now. It won’t more than a few minutes to do and once you see the import sheets, you’ll have it licked.

You can follow me along in your eSellerPro account right now

How to manually add related products in eSellerPro

To manually add products as related items to a product in eSellerPro is dead easy, just follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Inventory/Listing and open up “Inventory details”
  2. Pick any product and double click it
  3. Along the top click on the “Related/Kits” tab
  4. We now have two panels as shown in the screen shot further down
  5. On the left panel for “Related Products” press the “Add” button
  6. A new window will appear and you’ll probably have to resize it. You’ll also recognise it as well, it’s the inventory search screen so you can search for any products you like.
  7. Pick any product(s) you want and on the left put a tick next to it
  8. Press “OK”
  9. That’s it you have added related products to the original product. Easy eh?
How to Add Related Products in eSellerPro

How to Add Related Products in eSellerPro

Important Note:
This tab also allows you to make kits of products. If you are not using kits in eSellerPro stop reading this article immediately and listen to this Podcast. eSellerPro has a a wicked feature called “kits” that allow you to make unique products, unique products are like gold dust in the eCommerce environment and can give you amazing results in little to no time and with hardly any effort on ALL your sales channels.

How to manually add similar products in eSellerPro

To add similar products in eSellerPro, just press the “Add” button on the the similar items panel and follow the same steps as above.

How to import & export related products into eSellerPro

That was the hard way, now for the easy way

I’ve also included some tips for you next as well so that you’re able to do this in mass for all your products too.

You can import and export related and similar products using excel and it’s even easier than manually adding them to each product. To bulk import and export related/similar items just follow these steps:

  1. Go back to the “selection” tab in inventory details
  2. Pick the product we just set the related and similar items on and tick it on the left
  3. Along the top press the “Excel” icon
  4. In the middle there are two options, export on the left and import on the right
  5. Click on “Export Related Products”
  6. Save the file to your desktop as “Related Products”
Importing and exporting related & similar products in eSellerPro

Importing and exporting related & similar products in eSellerPro

In this file you’ll have two lines, one for the related products and one for the similar products, an example of this is below:

Managing Related & Similar Products in Excel

Managing Related & Similar Products in Excel

Column A – Related?
This is where you set the relationship type. Either “Related” or “Similar”.

Column B – Stock Number?
This is the stock number of the item you are adding the relationships to.

Column C & Beyond – Cross Promotion Stock Numbers
In columns C, D, E etc… this is where you add each stock number you wish to add as a related or similar item to the stock number in column B

You can now make as many edits as you see fit and to import them back in again, just press the “Import Related Products” button and upload the file.

Tips for setting related & similar products in eSellerPro

So now for some tips I’m sure you’ll find useful when setting up related & similar products for use on your website(s <= that’s a plural as Magento supports multiple stores out of the box).

Tip #1 – Limit to 1500 products

The excel xls importer for eSellerPro can slow right down if you give it massive excel files. So limit the number of lines you’re importing to a sensible cap of 1,500 rows.
This only applies to this import type as you are forced to use the xls format, on other imports you can use CSV which is almost unlimited and runs a lot faster!

Tip #2 – Set masters only

There is no need to set stocked sub SKU’s for related or similar items for use in Magento, these are rarely available own their own when in configurable products (as they’re set to “Not visible individually)”, thus just add the master products as then the customer can make their own selection for any variations. You can filter these out from your search results using the “Product Type” button and selecting masters only.

Tip #3 – Use Custom Exports to find matches

Make a custom export with “sku, ProductCategory1, title” and then filter by master SKU’s in the inventory list and export those to work out what should go with each other. You could also use eBay categories or any data that allows you to quickly identify which products complement each other and use this to make the import sheet for importing the related/similar items.

Tip #4 – Give it to one of your staff to do

Send them the link to this article and ask them nicely to do this for you.
If you’re reading this and your boss has given this task to you & you get stuck, just shoot me an email here.

Now for that Magento Extension

Related products manager for Magento

Related products manager for Magento

The reason why I’m suggesting this extension is because I have used it on numerous sites and I know it works brilliantly. It also helps it’s free, but the main reason why I like it and are suggesting it to you is because you get the best of both worlds.

With this extension you can set up related, cross sell and up sell products automatically, but in the connector between eSellerPro and Magento, if you set any values manually for up to two of these, then the extension will use the values that you’ve set manually first and ignore what it’s worked out for your products.

So that extension… it’s called “Related Products Manager” and you can download it using Magento Connect.

How to install “Related Products Manager”

If you’ve not added an extension before to Magento, it’s dead easy, just follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Related Products Manager
  2. Press the big blue “Install Now” button
  3. If prompted sign in or press the register button which will take a minute or two to fill out
  4. Tick “I agree” to the terms and conditions
  5. Then click the “Get Extension Key”
  6. Copy the key (this will look like
  7. Go to your Magento site admin
  8. Along the top go to System > Magento Connect > Magento Connect Manager
  9. You’ll most likely be asked to sign in again, do so
  10. Enter the key we copied from step 6 into the box called “Paste extension key to install”
  11. Now press the “Install” button to the right
  12. A few moments later we should see a new section below telling us a little more about the extension we want to add. If it’s the correct one, press “Proceed”

Extensions normally on take a moment or two to be installed and you’ll be shown the progress at the bottom in the green text area, just leave this section running until you see “Cache cleaned successfully”

Once installed go to System > Configuration > Catalog > Related Products Manager
(If you get a 404 error on this page, just logout and login again)

Then you can set the options as you desire for the number of related, cross sell and up sell items, press save to store these values, then press the “Update Related Products” button for the cross promotions to be automatically worked out for you.

Tip: As with any new extension, run in a development site to make sure it’s compatible with your site and works as you expect.

In Conclusion

We learnt the difference between the cross promotion tools in Magento, related products, which are for products that compliment the item being viewed, up sell products that are best suited to items of a great value and cross sell products which are used in the Magento shopping cart, but depending on the theme you are using, may be shown in different places or have different labels.

We’ve seen how we can manually add products as related or similar products in eSellerPro and also how we can quickly import thousands of them too using the Excel import option for related & similar products. We also saw that eSellerPro has only two options for cross promotions, internally they’re called “Related” and “Similar” products, but that in the connect or Magento, these could be ported to any of the three cross promotion options as needed.

I know that it may be impossible for you to set up cross promotions manually for each product, especially if we consider you may have tens of thousands of products, so we needed a tool or extension to make these for us, which we found and installed called “Related Products Manager”. This extension gives us the best of both worlds, we can manually override the products we want minute control over at product level in eSellerPro, for some products that will be fantastic, but for the rest we can cheat and let that extension work them out for us.

What do you think?

Have you set up and used related products in eSellerPro before and did you find the guide above helpful?

Let me know in the comments box below.


2nd Impressions of Magento & eSellerPro Connector Update

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

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

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

Resource Hogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common & Cool Magento Extensions

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

Magento Shipping Extension

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

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

Image Switching for Variations

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

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

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

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


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

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

M2ePro – Listing to eBay & Amazon from Magento

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

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

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

eSellerPro to Magento Connector Updates

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

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

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

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

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


Payment Processing WarningsPaypal Logo

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

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

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

Spotted the problem yet? :)

Magento Theme Support

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway we digress.

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

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

What do you think of Magento?

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


Magento to eSellerPro Integration Completed!

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

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

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


How it Works

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few examples of customisation are:

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

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

Video Overview

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

Would You Like to Know More?

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