Live blogging from IRCE08

June 9, 2008

Marketplaces ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

Internet Retailers Conference and Exhibition kicked off this morning with a series of workshops.  The first workshop is called ‘you and the third-party platforms’.

Up first was Tom Rath from RockBottomGolf. 

Tom primarily covered eBay.  He had some excellent ‘good/bad/ugly’ kinds of tips, tricks and pitfalls about selling on eBay as a channel.

For those looking to buy golf equipment for Father’s day, Tom gave everyone a great RockBottomGolf discount code: “Chicaco2008” (without the quotes) which will give everyone a 10% off discount!

Next up was Ken Kikkawa, CEO of eHobbies.com.
Ken talked about picking an ecommerce platform.  He reviewed a list of possible needs including:

  • Scalability
  • Shopping cart customization
  • 24×7, etc.

eHobbies.com is on Yahoo! Merchant Solutions (Y! stores for you old-timers).  They are one of the largest merchants.  They have customised the on-site search (OSS), product reviews and ‘my account’ capabilities.  They use Paypal on Y! Stores.  Ken gave a demo of all this functionality that you can see here.

Pitfalls:

  • If you don’t customise, it will look like every other Y! store out there.

Interestingly, Ken didn’t mention the infamous holiday outage that Y! stores suffered last year.

Tom Funk, Timberline Interactive (consultancy – used to be with Vermont Teddy Bear)

Tom has years of experience in B2C.  He talked about the different types of hosting:

  • Shared – Hosted, your stuff lives there. Software-as-a-service
  • co-location – your servers hosted elsewhere
  • Dedicated – vendor’s servers, dedicated to you
  • in-house – your servers, your software

Shared Vendors:

  • Y! Stores
  • Monster Commerce
  • MIVA
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Commerce V3

He talked about some of the hints that it is time to move on (mentioned downtimes).  Before you move, push the envelope (site-search, custom design, experts).

He then moved on to licensed software and talked about the costs being on the order of $200k+

For small-medium businesses, he talked about:

  • Weblinc
  • DMInsite
  • SysIQ
  • American Eagle
  • Phoenix Systems
  • TI Commerce

He recommended a bottoms-up analysis of the platform move and what you think it will generate in ROI (without throwing darts – if conversions triple….)

He then went through several case studies of clients they have helped essentially double many client’s revenues.  One tip -use Google’s Website optimiser to do multi-variant-testing (advanced A/B testing)

Then they launched into Q+A.  Here are some of the more interesting Q’s:

Q: (directed to Tom@RBG) Now that seller’s can’t leave a negative, we’re seeing an explosion of negatives, how about you?
A: We re-evaluated our customer service process.  We have to proactively avoid problems as we can’t learn about them after the fact via negatives.  The changes have cost $ and time and decreased the profitability of the channel.

Q: What’s a good mix of channels you pay for?

A: (Tom) – you need to get the majority of your traffic from other sources. I know people on eBay that are 90%+ eBay and the recent changes could bankrupt a bunch of them.