I am evaluating Channel Unity with BigCommerce, Magento, Amazon, eBay, and Rakuten. The primary goal is ease of use. Sometimes Channel Unity falls short. For example, we frequently run into delays caused by silent errors in general and intermittent errors with eBay.
I read about other 2nd generation services. Most of them are more expensive and focus on features we don’t need, such as inventory management.
Can anyone recommend an alternative service that is easier to use than Channel Unity, but with a comparable cost?
If you are looking at the 2nd Gen vendors, you need to look at Return On Investment (ROI). A good 2nd Gen vendor is going to cost you and there is no real bargain available if you want it to work.
In my opinion, there are only a couple of reasons for anyone to consider a 2nd Gen vendor.
1. You are technically challenged. A bit harsh, but even as simplified as UnderstandingE has made the 3rd Gen, there are some people who barely can turn on their computer. If you fall into that category, 2nd Gen may still be your best bet. At the end of the day, even if you delegate the 3rd Gen setup to an employees or subcontractors (both which are cheaper than the average 2nd Gen setup), you still need to have some descent basic theoretical understanding on how it all works.
2. You are a large corporation and consumer driven ecommerce is a just a side business. As a large non-ecommerce focused corporation with presumably hundreds of employees, a 2nd Gen service provides a safety net. If one employee quits, the 2nd Gen vendor can take the task of training and maintaining the small e-commerce department. Often times in house IT departments are better suited for the daily needs and operations of the company and not building and maintaining an ecommerce operation or even a website.
The 800lbs Gorilla of 2nd Gen is Channel Advisor and many large corporations use them. Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive to start up with and maintain, so you really need to be sure that you can afford them. I see a lot of smaller businesses in my industry use them and drop them, and the only reason I can gather is that those are business owners that don’t understand the concept of proper ROI calculations until they actually loose money. I live by a simple philosophy, if I can’t make it come out right financially on paper, it will never work and I never expect any sales growth beyond 5% to 10%. Often times CA and other 2nd Gen vendors will try to sell you on sales growth well beyond that number and for the average business that is unrealistic.
I know this didn’t answer your question directly, but hopefully gave you some additional food for thought.
Thank you for the helpful response, that is good food for thought. I am arriving at the same conclusion regarding ROI. ChannelUnity appears to be a great value. My question was a sanity check in case a better alternative was sitting right in front of me (greener grass). M2e is not an option for this client because they are using BigCommerce, but I plan to evaluate it for another client who is using Magento.
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