Retailing through a single channel to market whether eBay, Amazon or your own webstore creates tiresome administration which grows as your sales and order volumes increase. But the workload can be handled using the order processing features available on each of these outlets.
But as your business expands, so will your need to make your products available to your customers where they want to buy them – and that means multi-channel selling – and each and every sales channel brings with it another system to log into, another user interface to navigate around and another set of processes to manage when handling your product listings, orders, billing, shipping and messaging. And because your orders reside in different places, it can sometimes feel you’re running multiple businesses. Business reporting and analytics become incredibly difficult and getting a holistic view of your business can seem impossible.
Maximising sales across multiple sales channels requires you to expose your inventory through all of them. But unless you can adjust stock levels in real time, you risk overselling and disappointing customers. Split your stock up in virtual silos and you risk missing out on larger orders you could have fulfilled.
You have to view your inventory as one and make it available to all through every channel but to do this you must engage in real-time stock management. Every time you sell an item, the stock level has to change in every sales channel in real time. This is relatively easy to do if your sales volumes are low, sales are few and far between or if you have only a couple of sales channels to manage but as your business grows, your stock management challenges can become a real headache. Indeed our research clearly indicates that inventory management is the number one challenge keeping multi-channel retailers awake at night.
For this reason, a number of software developers have in recent years released solutions that provide a single multi-channel ecommerce platform which integrates with the various marketplaces, webstores, couriers and a host of other popular software solutions. What should retailers look for when comparing ecommerce platforms? Many solutions set out to solve the myriad of problems faced by retailers by providing a single, fully-integrated system with one user interface, and one location from which they can list their stock and manage it across all of their outlets, process orders, create invoices, process and dispatch shipments and even manage customer communications.
Some Multichannel eCommerce software products go further or specialise with deeper functionality either in back-office administration or in front-office sales and marketing. But there is a confusing array of such software on the market and its often difficult to distinguish marketing hyperbole from reality the text on their websites. Making sense of the myriad pricing models to differentiate value for money from daylight robbery can be tricky too.
Of course ChannelGrabber is one such company but we thought it might be useful for our potential customers if we tried to make sense of it all and present as objective an assessment as possible.
So here are the leading software companies and their solutions in alphabetical order:
Brightpearl is billed as a “retail ERP solution” and combines inventory management with basic accounting and CRM functionality for smaller online retailers. For many such businesses, Brightpearl offers all you’ll need and as retailers tell us time and time again, inventory management comes high on the list of administrative complexities arising from multi-channel selling. Brightpearl do not publish their prices on their website, but according to a third party source, their prices start at $375 per month for 3 users. They offer customizable pricing plans depending on the needs of the business.
Lacking the sophistication of comprehensive order management, billing, shipping and messaging, Brighpearl is not an all-rounder – though it’s a system well optimised for inventory management. Brighpearl’s pricing policy is anything but transparent. Indeed getting an indication of what you’ll pay requires you to call or message them but their packages are riddled with restrictions on sales volumes, order volumes, connected sales channels, stock locations and users making it needlessly complex. Compared with other software here though, it’s expensive especially if you already have a CRM or accounting system form another supplier. So if you’re looking for a true omni-channel ecommerce system with competitive and predictable operating costs and a good support infrastructure you may want to look elsewhere.
ChannelAdvisor offers a powerful set of ecommerce and channel management solutions to predominantly medium and large-sized enterprises via their technology platform. It offers support for product content optimization, product intelligence, repricing and digital marketing for retailers as well as some of the listing, inventory and order management tools available elsewhere here. Unlike most of the other multi-channel ecommerce software offerings, ChannelAdvisor places greater emphasis of driving customers’ sales performance rather than managing back office and administrative functions. We think that’s a good thing and what customers want to hear.
Powerful as ChannelAdvisor Enterprise is, it is aimed in the main at larger businesses who can take advantage of its “front end” sophistication. But customers tell us that its capabilities in multi-channel ecommerce business process automation are limited, certainly no better than other, cheaper systems and may in fact force you to combine it with one of the other systems reviewed here. Probably because of its intended market, ChannelAdvisor Enterprise is very complex, time consuming and expensive to setup and certainly not user-configurable. Its pricing structure is orders of magnitude more expensive than any other system reviewed here – starting at $1,500 per month (though pricing is also not publicly available). If you’re a small or medium-sized retailer seeking an all-in-one, easy-to-use and cost-effective multichannel ecommerce system, ChannelAdvisor Enterprise is unlikely to be for you.
ChannelGrabber is one of the pioneers in this space and has been offering a multi-channel ecommerce solution to retailers since 2012. They offer two products; ChannelGrabber Classic and their latest offering simply called ChannelGrabber. These solutions offer product content optimization, one-click automated listings, inventory and order management, billing, shipping and uniquely messaging in one easy-to use integrated solution. The company is commited to adding a host of new features to increase their value for retailers looking to grow their online sales. For such a breadth of capabilities, ChannelGrabber’s offering is extremely cost effective with packages ranging from $150 a month. ChannelGrabber is the “people’s favourite” with consistently the highest customer ratings with TrustPilot and others.
The new ChannelGrabber is rapidly gaining features and until recently lacked automated listings capabilities. That has been addressed recently but it still lacks a few of the native integrations for marketplaces, webstores and couriers offered by competitors but the most popular are there.
CloudCommerce Pro offers a comprehensive range of multi-channel ecommerce tools from order management through warehouse and inventory management, shipping automation and basic CRM. They integrate with all the usual marketplaces, webstore platforms, accounting, payment gateways and couriers too.
As the second most highly rated platform on our list, we were pleasantly surprised by how fleshed out their product is. Though the set up costs are high, they come highly recommended by everyone who uses it. Definitely one to add to your short list.
This UK-based software vendor offers all the usual multi-channel ecommerce functionality including listings, inventory and order management plus shipping and reporting. All the top market places, webstore platforms and UK couriers are supported through integration and pricing starts at a bargain basement £20 for a single user and two sales channels.
Though Expandly supports a handful of the most popular integrations, its range is limited and supports other data imports by CSV only. Whilst Self Starter package is free to set up (as it should be), the business and Enterprise packages must be set up by Expandly and setup charges start at over $300. At that level only 4 sales channels are supported and to obtain unlimited sales channel, shipping, accounting and other integrations, you have to upgrade to Enterprise for which pricing is custom. For all packages, invoicing and messaging functionality are not available and their listings feature is rather basic requiring an Amazon import to create product content that you can list elsewhere.
Linn Systems’ Linnworks is marketed as an order management system and has been around for many years now. The system has built up an impressive range of native and third party integrations so users will find there are few marketplaces, webstores, couriers or other systems that they can’t connect to in one way or another. Unlike most others, the system also benefits from the ability to automate listings to amazon and eBay although in practice this functionality is far more limited in its capabilities than it might at first appear.
Most software in this space is entirely web based so you can access it from anywhere and any computer provided you have a browser yet Linnworks betrays its rather ageing design by using a hybrid of online software combined with a desktop application you have to install on your local machine limiting how, where, when and how many users can use it. The user interface is quite dated and less user friendly than most of the competition. Though a single user restricted free version is available, Linnworks is again quite expensive with monthly fees starting at £150 (no US pricing is available) and ramping up substantially. Linnworks use a user-based pricing model that increases with user numbers and adding multiple sales channel accounts incurs yet more fees. They charge for setup which takes time and can be complex and in some cases problematic.
Orderhive offers a multi channel warehouse and inventory management system that also supports order management, invoicing and shipping with pricing starting at just $50 per month. It integrates with the usual sales channels, accounting packages and mainly US-based couriers. Orderhive offers a good solid “back-office” multi-channel retail solution for the US market.
Orderhive’s low-start pricing comes with restrictions on order volumes, shipping, tracking, sales channel intregrations, warehouses and users across all packages. API access isn’t available until the $150 a month package. Reporting, invoicing and shipping labelling are add-on extra-cost modules with pricing on application. Support is provided from the USA or if out of business hours, via an offshore call centre in Asia so in practice, UK and European customers may struggle to get help if things go wrong. There’s no listing capability and since the application is optimized for the US market, it also lacks support for non-US couriers and multi-currencies which may be an issue for UK and European customers.
Orderwise is one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated suites of ecommerce tools encompassing warehouse management, stock control, online sales and marketing, website / webstore and marketplace integration, business intelligence and CRM. With such a breadth of features, it’s not surprising that Orderwise offers their customers comprehensive system configuration and training services.
Despite its breadth of features, the depth of functionality has some question marks over it judging by online customer reviews. Orderwise is also a traditional client-server application rather than a more modern and now conventional web-based solution so it will need to be professionally installed on your infrastructure. And because of this commercial and deployment model, all of your purchase and setup costs will be upfront rather than incurred as a monthly expense. Support and other bolt-on packages cost more and are correspondingly billed monthly thereafter. The system still lacks an API so if your 3rd party systems aren’t supported out of the box, integration is almost impossible and this highlights a big concern over buying client-server applications like this – ongoing development. SaaS vendors have to continually innovate because their customers can leave at any time. Such pressures don’t exist for vendors like Orderwise.
SellerDynamics offers a good breadth of the usual features along with automated repricing for all of the main marketplaces. Headline pricing is competitive with packages starting at $120 per month for all you can eat based upon your sales. Users can link an unlimited number of marketplaces on all packages and SellerDynamics offer a range of convenient support offerings for their customers. There’s no denying it – SellerDynamics is really cheap!
It’s not all good news with SellerDynamics however. Their listings capability is very limited and does not support listing to Amazon at all. Their revenue-based pricing is so completely inconsistent with any of their competitors and their total lack of customer reviews online is a concern. Setup isn’t straightforward, user experience can be a little clunky and once again, there’s no messaging integration for Amazon and eBay and a lack of real-time stock updates can make them slow to take effect. But if you want the cheapest there is, this appears to be it.
SellerDynamics do not have a TrustPilot Trust Score.
SellerExpress focusses on the automation of listings, stock management and order processing. Their automatic repricing functionality for Amazon is pretty nifty. SellerExpress’s managed setup process is quick and painless and is done within an hour and your then quickly into using an easy-to-use web-based system that’s quite well designed and user-friendly. SellerExpress also provide customers with advice and guidance to help them get set up and improve their chances of success.
The downsides are that SellerExpress is a relatively costly solution with pricing starting at around £300 per month mark (no US pricing) and costs rise with the number of sales channels or sales channel accounts connected to the system. Support is restricted and not free either. There’s also no listing or messaging integration for Amazon and eBay, a lack of real-time stock updates can make them slow to take effect and the system is incapable of emailing invoices to your customers.
SellerExpress do not have a TrustPilot Trust Score.
Sellware are a US based provider of multi-channel listing, inventory and order management software. All the usual sales channel and other integrations are supported and are adequate for the US market. Analytical tools are useful and work well. Pricing starts at $99 per month for up to 2 channels and 250 orders. The software is well designed, easy to use and setup appears to be relatively quick and easy.
Sellware’s product lacks a number of the key functionalities found in its competitors specifically in billing, shipping and messaging features and its inventory management falls short of having real-time integration so delays can be experienced. Sellware’s competitive low-start pricing comes with restrictions through the range of packages linked to usage and impacting service and support levels at the lower end. Practically, few would get by with the limitations of the $99 a month package meaning that $195 is more likely to be the entry level. Crucially Sellware is seldom seen outside the US and this is likely due to a lack of support for UK and European sales channels and couriers.
Owned by Royal Mail, Storefeeder is expected to boast the most direct integration to Royal Mail on the market. Despite their ownership, they won’t prevent you from using a different courier entirely. We expected their ecommerce courier selection to be the largest on this list as they should excel in this department, however we were surprised to find the selection was more limited than others on this list.
Storefeeder’s entry-level package starts at an eye-watering £250pm. Though it has a generous monthly limit of 4,500 orders this will far exceed what most entry-level ecommerce retailers will require. A more granular pricing structure would be more beneficial here, as the jumps between packages are horrendously large also.
Storefeeder have received a 7.9 on Truspilot however have not received a review since 2016.
Veeqo markets its product as an inventory and order management solution. As such it comes with a comprehensive range of back-office features for retailers to integrate with most of the leading marketplaces and webstore platforms. Inventory management includes warehouse management and a barcode scanner is included for this purpose. Order management extends to shipping with support for US and UK postal and courier services. Veeqo is a good all-rounder and covers most of the critical features for retailers.
Listings capability or “product management” as Veeqo discribe it falls shaort of best in class and there’s also no capability to manage your Amazon or eBay messages so you’re forced to log in to your marketplace accounts come what may if you want to manage customer communications. Indeed Veeqo is exactly as advertised, a back office system lacking customer-centricity overall. Veeqo is also relatively expensive with monthly fees starting at $200 and ramping up substantially as you add users and connected sales channels. They charge for setup and customer feedback suggests that this can be complex and time consuming. TrustPilot scores are worst in class with damning reviews.
Veeqo’s latest TrustPilot Trust Score is 5.4 based on only two 1 star reviews.
If some software vendor’s make their pricing programmes deliberately opaque, Volo Commerce goes a step further by extending this strategy to their product feature set. So it’s not easy to say with any certainty what their technology does or get a clear picture of what their customers think of it but we believe the Volo software is primarily a multi-channel order management solution with the usual integration and with support for shipping handling. The also offer some managed services to retailers.
Little is known about Volo Commerce’s packaging, support or setup procedures and their pricing is firmly “by request” so if you know any more than we do, please get in touch! Their online customer reviews used to be very positive but have deteriorated significantly in the last 12-18 months and their TrustPilot scores are consistently amongst the poorest in class
Perhaps the most objective and independent way to rate all of these software providers and their solutions from both in terms of functionality and quality of service is to read genuine customer reviews. But we’ll save you the time and present the Trustpilot summary of Trustscores for all those vendors that have received customer reviews:
TRUSTPILOT REVIEW SCORES
N.B. Seller Dynamics, Sellware, Volo and OrderWise have received no Trustpilot customer reviews as of 1/8/18. Orderwise have received a 4/5 rating on Capterra but this was based upon only one customer review. Storefeeder have received a 7.9 however have not received a review since 2016.
Our analysis is based upon research carried out drawing information from vendor websites, Capterra and actual customer feedback posted on Trustpilot. It is valid as of 1st August 2018. If you feel that our analysis is inaccurate or misleading, please let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don’t forget, ChannelGrabber’s multi-channel ecommerce software helps you to automate the management of product, listings, stock, orders, billing, shipping and messaging so frees up your time to focus on keeping inventory off the shelves and into the hands of your customers.