E-commerce is gaining ground in the commercial retail sector with Berlin-based Contorion GmbH leading the way in its vertical. The online retailer, which sells professional tools and workshop supplies, says it set out to combine the best of both worlds: the simplicity and attractive prices of an online store with the expertise and personal advice of a specialist retailer. Founded in 2014, the company currently offers professional craftsmen a range of over 150 brands with more than 500,000 products.
Just two years after its founding, Contorion made its first forays into the German-language marketplaces of Amazon and Ebay. “It was clear to us from the start that 250,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) could not be put online and maintained manually. In addition, it quickly became apparent: not every e-commerce software can handle the processing of such large amounts of data,” reports Toan Nguyen, Senior Marketplace Manager at Contorion. “That’s how we came to ChannelAdvisor. “
Since the end of 2018, the Berlin-based online retailer has been using the SaaS solution ChannelAdvisor Self Service for Marketplaces. Optimal operational support was and is important to Contorion. This begins with a fully automated import of the current offer data from the ERP system into the marketplaces of Amazon and Ebay, with ChannelAdvisor transforming and optimising the product and inventory information in such a way that the specifications of each marketplace are always met. The return flow of transaction data from the marketplaces into the ERP system via ChannelAdvisor also works smoothly, according to Nguyen, for which Contorion initiates in short intervals an automated data reconciliation via ChannelAdvisor.
For reporting purposes, in addition to the automated data exports, Nguyen particularly appreciates the level of detail with which ChannelAdvisor captures the data allowing for precise analyses and deep insights into the marketplace business. For example, Contorion says it works intensively with a wide variety of marketplace programs, including Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime, and eBay Plus.
The ChannelAdvisor platform also supports Contorion’s digital marketing. For example, Contorion can control the use of its ad budget depending on the time of day, which the retailer reports helps it to reduce spend at times that are less relevant. “ChannelAdvisor, thus, helps us to optimise our spending budget,” says Nguyen.
For some marketplaces, Contorion says it has been pursuing a new strategy since April 2021 and is now focusing on fewer selected brands including its own brand “Stier”. Nevertheless, Contorion wants to retain the flexibility to offer other or more brands from the store range again in the short term, says Nguyen: “Thanks to ChannelAdvisor, we keep all options open on the marketplaces: With just a few clicks, we can define the stored rules selecting which products should go live.”
For Contorion’s operational day-to-day business, the high time savings that result from managing transaction data with ChannelAdvisor are evident, according to the retailer’s marketplaces team. “The automation of many time-consuming tasks is a great relief for us. Even more: Without ChannelAdvisor, we would not have been able to be present on marketplaces at all, given the large volume,” explains Nguyen.
As far as the operation of the platform is concerned, the Marketplace Manager is highly satisfied: “ChannelAdvisor is very intuitive. The platform makes it easy for us to view the performance of the individual marketplaces. That is central for us.” He particularly highlights the collaboration with his account manager: “At our regular status meetings, ChannelAdvisor always gives us valuable tips or establishes contacts with marketplaces that are new to us. What’s more, our account team is always approachable and open to input and ideas.“
In addition to operational support, ChannelAdvisor also plays a key strategic role: “As far as internationalisation is concerned, we clearly see ChannelAdvisor as a catalyst,” emphasises Nguyen adding that the scalability of the e-commerce platform became evident when they entered the French Amazon marketplace. “We copied our set-up for Amazon.de and then adapted the regional parameters. That made it much easier for us to enter the French market.”
It is precisely this high scalability and the easy connection of additional marketplaces that the Marketplace Manager sees as the key competitive advantage for Contorion: “Thanks only to ChannelAdvisor, it is possible for us to set our sights on additional marketplaces. ChannelAdvisor is elementary for us in that area and a strategic tool with which we will definitely go into the future.”