I am going to write a review and I thought I should send it to you first so that you can prompt me with anything I may have missed. I genuinely believe you have done the best you can for me. I feel there should be more advice for beginners like me when considering using Channel Unity.
Case: 3 person team, 1 beginner, managing Channel Unity for linking shopify to ebay UK and amazon UK (other countries have been disabled due to the pitfalls of beginners experience)
All comments are intended to be used as constructive advice for those looking to use Channel Unity with beginners experience.
Summary: pay someone to use Channel Unity for you as you won't have the time to figure it out.
Initially, I was sold this fantastic product with the understanding from the salesman that everything was easy and self managing. I am sure this is true for those who are experts in eCommerce and understand how everything works. The team were very helpful in the beginning to help set up basic use. Support continue to be helpful under time restrictions (offer little examination of core issues) and with up to 2 weeks delayed response. We tend to go around in circles over the same problems that keep coming up. Advice is worded for like-minded experts who have a strong understanding of eCommerce so it is not suitable for newcomers (unavailable time is spent trying to act on advice). N.B pay an expert to manage it for you.
Ebay: These points will be obvious to experienced eCommerce managers but are not currently illustrated anywhere I can find for beginners. Everyday 100's and sometimes 1000's of listings have to be deleted from eBay as they are flagged, 'fix required'. If they are not deleted, listings loose their link and you will miss the orders as they won't we sent to your 3rd party tool (eg. shopify). This makes it hard to build trust with customers. Some of the 'fix required' are explainable through changing (developing) products in shopify (unavoidable through ebay listing restrictions). Advice: create listings as a finished product rather than with changes in mind as there's no room for error. You can delete products manually from Ebay as you go but you're often pulled away on other operational tasks and loose the thread of that particular task. Also, check each platform directly, everyday to monitor missed orders as you cannot rely on Channel Unity to send all orders to Shopify if you have made changes and forgotten to delete them from eBay. Deleting listings means that every time you relist them they loose their metrics (history of successful orders) and the listing goes to the back of the visibility cue. I had to find this out the hard way. N.B pay an expert to run it for you
Amazon: Listings are created in ways that are hard to search for, find and use in the competitive market. Listings loose their links so you have to look at amazon everyday to make sure you don't miss orders. Inventory management is difficult when links are lost as it's hard to filter unlinked listings from linked listings.
Amazon's way of doing things often clash with ebay's methods. For example, Amazon cannot cope with many variations per listing. So, if you are using one source (Shopify) to link to ebay and amazon there's a lot more to consider when designing your website N.B. hire an expert
Conclusion: Channel Unity are the only stitching service that link shopify to Amazon so, 'like it or lump it', if you want to link to Amazon. However, shopify do provide this service in America and are looking to enable it in UK. There are alternative stitching companies that generate more turnover, provide a more user friendly/ easier to use interface than using Channel Unity to link with Ebay.
I hope this feedback will help your development and marketing team
Thanks very much for sending across your review prior to publishing. There’s clearly a lot of thought and time gone in to that and it’s extremely useful having that kind of feedback. I suppose that my main goal is to ensure that we respond appropriately to this kind of feedback by focussing on how we ensure that customers who start in the position that you did do not end up feeling as you do now. You starting point is quite a rare one, your product set is relatively large, at the more complex end of the spectrum as far as marketplaces go and your own knowledge was of a beginner, as you describe. Whilst it’s rare, it’s still my goal to ensure that we suitably cater for people in that position by giving them the heads up on how much there is to learn and a suitable alternative to needing to do that if they would prefer to pay us to manage the account for them.
Some of the points that you’ve raised have obvious answers that we can get in place in very short order, which I’m sure will help customers that start where you did. Some of the points that you raise, I’d like a bit more clarification on before determining how we can best respond to them. I’ve just detailed these key points and discussed in an improptu Support Team Meeting:
1) You make a general point a number of times that for someone in your position with time limitations it may be best to have someone managing ChannelUnity for you. We’ve already started offering customers managed setup/ongoing managed services and part of that onboarding process is now to determine whether a customer would prefer to learn about marketplaces for themselves or to engage us to manage their marketplaces sales.
2) You didn’t have access to enough material detailing some of the marketplace specific information that would have prevented some of the issues that you’ve had. This is great feedback and as a result we’ll be putting together beginners guides for each marketplace, to be completed and highlighted to customers at the point that they connect a new marketplace. I won’t detail them all because this email will be long enough as it is but you’ve given loads of great examples which we can document so thanks for highlighting that.
3) You note that support continue to be helpful but offer little examination of core issues due to time retrictions. Could you give me a bit more detail about what you mean here? The support time expectations of smaller customers is one of the topics we discuss internally most frequently, but we’ve not yet put any kind of limit on the amount of ChannelUnity support which is available before additional support payments are required. I gather than in some cases the support that you have required is not with ChannelUnity but with the marketplace itself, an area where we would draw the line at the moment although as I understand it, it may only have been this week that you were offered the opportunity to pay for additional support if you’d prefer our team to complete something outside of the scope of our support.
4) You mention up to a 2 week delay in reponse from our support team which doesn’t feel right, is a million miles from what the average CU customer expects/receives and doesn’t seem fair in your case when looking at the stats - your tickets have been responded to in an average time of 1.5 hours. Could you give me some more info as to what you’re referring to here as I’d really like to understand it more?
5) You note that you feel that support responses are worded in a way that is beyond what the average beginner might be expected to understand, and that as a result you feel like the same issues keep on coming up as they are not properly resolved. Could you give me some examples here please? This is so far from the feedback that we get from other customers in your position that I’m struggling to reconcile it and having had a look at a couple of your tickets at random I’ve not seen any sign of what you describe. You mention that you are pushed for time, I wonder how much of this is related to the time that it will take you to follow the advice is given and how much is the advice itself? Really I just want to understand this one more, with specific examples where appropriate.
6) You mention that 100s/1000s listings fall into ‘Fix Required’ on a daily basis and that if not resolved these become unlinked. Isn't a fair reflection for the average customer but I do understand that this has affected you given some of the things you’ve been changing (which have been prevented with these guides). I understand that the issue that keeps cropping up in relation to this is that you are changing variation specifics, which eBay will not allow so hopefully we can cover that in the guide and also create a ChannelUnity warning when this is attempted so that the results are understood. I also understand that during your time with ChannelUnity to date there was a specific issue which created more problems here which has subsequently been resolved. The de-linking of products is something that should never happen and we are not aware of any examples of this on either Amazon or eBay. Do you have a ticket reference that I can look into further? Items falling into fix required will remain linked indefinitely so I can’t reconcile your report in relation to products become unlinked and would like to look into this further.
7) You report that you need to check Amazon/eBay daily for orders which may not have been processed. I can’t understand this one. Regardless of whether a product is linked or not, we will receive order data from the marketplace and try to pass to Shopify, where this is unsuccessful in being processed for any reason an error automatically logs a ticket informing both you the customer and our support team of the issue. This is frequently reported to us as a key benefit of ChannelUnity over other competitors so I’d really like some more info on instances in which you have needed pick up orders that haven’t been treated in this way so that I can look into it further.
8) You mention that Amazon listings are created in a way that are hard to find/search for. ChannelUnity will list them in the way that you ask it to. If you map a product title that is hard to find then it will be hard to find. I think that there’s a big benefit to adding some information on Amazon search optimisation to the Amazon Beginners Guide that we’ll produce. For customers who have the time and want to do their own research to optimise their listings this would help them, for those that want to pay ChannelUnity to manage that on their behalf we have the managed services I’ve previously mentioned. Had those two options existed do you think that would have given you a suitable way forward with this one?
9) Your conclusion is factually incorrect, ChannelUnity is not the only stiching service available. You are correct that Shopify has released its own integrations. Over 50% of our customers are based in the US, the vast majority of customers using Shopify have not deemed the Shopify services to meet their needs, those that have tried it out have moved straight back.
10) You mention the need for a more user friendly interface. I totally agree with you here and work is in progress at the moment to complete the next phase of our interface development, intended to dramtically reduce the amount of ‘clicks’ that a customer need complete and bring more error reporting into ChannelUnity before errors are received from the marketplaces.
11) You mention other stitching companies that generate more revenue. I’d love to understand what features you feel are responsible for that. It always useful to know where others may be ahead of where we are.
Thanks again for the feedback. I don’t want to take your time up needing a written response to this. Would there be a good time to catch up on the phone quickly on it which I’m sure will be much quicker.