Starting up e-commerce? Think ahead – part 2 – Tools
In part 1 I tried to highlight some ideas which are often forgotten by young e-commerce firms. Part 2 will focus more on the tools I used and will use in the near future.
Each business is a bit different so one should make a quick investigation of what obstacles could arise when scaling. This is part of strategic thinking and as always – solutions come with time and experience. From my side I would suggest asking key questions:
- Will we only sell off-shelf products?
- Will we use drop shipping?
- Will we run production of the parts we sell?
- If we will produce products we sell – will it be advanced or simple production?
- How big a team can be in 2-4 years?
What we did not take into consideration was the complexity of the production chain and amount of products that will be added in a short period of time when we introduce the solution 2. This worked for a period of time with all benefits of team communication and production order simplicity – but we were not able to control our raw material stock. This requirement forced us to think again over the tools we use and lead to solution 3 introduction.
Below I listed 3 solutions we used or will use that worked for us for a given period of time.
Solution 1: E-commerce platform + Baselinker
This is a great setup for simple resellers in e-commerce. You can use free tool like WooCommerce for launching your shop but for proper warehouse management, invoicing, shipping etc. I would suggest pairing it with Baselinker. This is a very cost efficient solution and can save quite a bit of money (a lot of e-commerce platforms charge fees from resell).
Baselinker is a Polish platform that integrates e-commerce platforms in one place (webshops, Ebay, Amazon etc.) making orders much easier to control. Features like invoicing, couriers (shipping) integration, different users come embodied. You can check all information about this product on: www.baselinker.pl
Another cool feature about baselinker that is very useful is automatic action. You can set up a condition e.g. when an order is imported from e-commerce but the payment method was wire-transfer it goes to the “Awaiting payment” category. Such makes it much easier to identify what happens with order – especially when you start to have 200+ each month.
Solution 2: E-commerce platform + Baselinker + Nozbe
Very similar to solution 1 but here we are able to introduce more of the team work and production tracking. Nozbe is a self organization and team collaboration tool with one very important feature – you can create new tasks via e-mails. And this is how we bridge two tools together:
- using automatic actions Baselinker sends e-mail to Nozbe account (how email should be constructed can be found in NOZBE help documents)
- new task is created in Nozbe and given team member is marked as task owner
- within Nozbe App team members can communicate on given task upon its completion
- Given task can change categories or owners (e.g. product needs firstly be bespoke designed (person 1), then cut (person 2) and in the end painted (person 3) – after each step is finished task owner changes to another one.
- When task is completed it can change category to “Ready”
This tool also helped me improve communication between team and clients as all information is stored in one place and can be easily shared between each other. I would recommend such a setup to any as it works and speeds up internal processes.
Solution 3: New E-commerce platform + Subiekt Nexo + Qcadoo
Solution 2 was a good mix to a certain point, few factors forced us to make another change. One we did not expect to be so critical.
- full accounting requires detailed stock count of raw materials
- more and more parts we sell come from our production
- different VAT rates – B2B, B2C
- amount of plugins for wordpress made our shop not stable
- necessity to centralize all departments (we have 4)
Until now we are in the introduction phase, so once it will work as we want I will be happy to share my thoughts on solution 3. But above are just examples how things change in ones business model and how important it is to make quick changes or learn from others and predict what the near future can bring.
In the end this is an important factor to look at when choosing different e-commerce platforms – especially in the beginning. My proposals of 1 and 2 are very cost efficient as they cost almost nothing – no fees for transactions etc. from e-commerce provider. With solution nr. 3 we are using more sophisticated products and that comes with price. Although they are economically justified.
If you have any questions feel free to mail me 🙂