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

Brightpearl CA101 Live This Thursday in Bristol

Are you available to be in Bristol this Thursday for a breakfast meetup?

SS Great BritainBrightpearl are holding their first “Commerce Acceleration 101” live event at the SS Great Britain at 08:00 and I’ll be joining Chris Tanner one of the co-founders of Brightpearl, who will be discussing growing from one store to multi-channel the easy way and Lee Adams, who is showing us how he built an incredible online business.

Register here for free to reserve your place.

I’m up last out of the 3 speakers (is that a good thing??) and will be discussing “How multichannel can transform your 2013” in a fast paced presentation with one single goal, to ensure that when you leave the room you’ll be thinking “I must do marketplaces right now“.

[I am] opposed to the laying down of rules or conditions to be observed in the construction of bridges lest the progress of improvement tomorrow might be embarrassed or shackled by recording or registering as law the prejudices or errors of today.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel

The event is being held at Bristols famous landmark,  Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s stunning SS Great Britain, just outside the city centre. Starting at 8am sharp, a complimentary breakfast and refreshments are being served on arrival.

To stir your interest I’ve included a couple of slides from the presentation below, will we be seeing you on Thursday?

Register here for free to reserve your place.

I’m Speaking Live At….

I’m not speaking live just once but twice in one week!

I’d love it if you could attend one or both of the events.


Spring Fair – Market Place Websites Demystified

Spring FairThe first is the Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham on Monday 4th Feb at 15:00.

If you’ve never been to the Spring Fair before, it’s a huge trade event that takes over almost all the halls at the NEC, which is a huge venue and there is an expected 64,000 people over the 6 days of the event.

Thankfully they won’t all fit in the room at the same time, I hope…

Located in the Fashion & Accessories Catwalk in halls 19 & 20, registration is free if you register if before you attend and you can register at the following link:

BrightPearl – How multichannel can transform your 2013

Brightpearl LogoThe second is at a fantastic location (I’m biased), back in my home city of Bristol at the historic SS Great Britain for a breakfast meeting on Thursday 7th Feb at 08:00.

Chris one of the founders of Brightpearl is up first, followed by Lee Adams who has a very interesting story to share on how he built an incredible online business and I’m 3rd up and will be discussing “how multichannel can transform your 2013”.

Registration is also free before the event and you can register at the link below:

Your Support

Although I winged a 2,000 word speech I wrote on the morning of my wedding day last year, frankly I’m bricking it for both as it’s been a while since I’ve done any form of public speaking.

If you’re at the Spring Fair in Birmingham on the 4th or near Bristol on the 7th, I’d love it of you could come along and show your support and of course, to say hi afterwards.

Are you at either of events?

Let me know by leaving a comment below, I’m looking forward to meeting you!

That’s Curious BrightPearl is Releasing a Magento & eBay Integration?

Brightpearl LogoBrightpearl, now that’s a curious one.

It appears they’re adding a Magento & eBay link to their arsenal (see their shhhh page here) and I’m super curious!

If we look at the different SaaS (Software as a Service) providers out there, they’ve all originated from different angles:

  • ChannelAdvisor came from the perspective of eBay
  • And so did MarketWorks too
  • eSellerPro came from an order processing perspective, for which the marketplaces & listing were added later.
  • 247 TopSeller has hefty Amazon slant to it
  • StoreFeeder came from a Fulfilment perspective
  • Linnworks came from an ERP and MRP satellite systems
  • ChannelGrabber from a need to combine eBay & Amazon together

Brightpearl, Where Did They Come From?

As we’ve seen above each of these providers have come unique points of view and Brightpearl isn’t exception. Brightpearl came from two entrepreneurs and co-founders Chris Tanner and Andrew Mulvenna, whom was frustrated with the likes of NetSuite & Sage and how everything from a website (osCommerce) & accounting perspective was not linked and hindrance to his business at the time called “Lush Longboards”.

A years coding bender in 2006/2007 led to the development of Brightpearl, two investments later from Eden Ventures & Notion Capital, Brightpearl have over 6000 customers, a solid product that combines the features of a inventory management system, full-blown accounting (including purchase orders, quotes & invoices), contacts & a CRM tool (which is excellent I hasten to add! They’ve extended the Rapportive extension that links with Gmail), a web-based EPOS system (this is very cool) and an eCommerce offering for integrated websites.

Recently Kate Gover from Lahloo Tea discussed how Brightpearl helps her business. The video is below:

When I met the team at Brightpearl last year (hola!), the irony was that the businesses using Brightpearl felt it so valuable to use Brightpearl for their online channels that they were manually importing sales orders from other sales channels like Magento, eBay & Amazon, so that they can leverage the functionality of Brightpearl to its full potential.

eBay can get deep very quickly and Magento API is pretty poor currently, especially if you want to do complex tasks. I don’t know how far they’ve gone with the integrations yet, but even if they’ve done the basics such as stock control and order aggregation, it could be pretty slick.

Now it’s looking like they are adding a Magento integration and an eBay integration…. From a different perspective, that of website & accounting, that’s why I’m curious.

You can find out more about Brightpearl on their website and Shhhhh page where I found this information is here