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Managing products on multiple sites?

2:42 am on Jan 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My sister has been selling pottery and clothing on Etsy for a while, but wanted to list her products on her own site (on Shopify) as well as on other marketplaces like Ebay, Amazon and Google Shopping. Right now she has been managing her inventory (~200 skus) with a spreadsheet (Google spreadsheets) and just copies it into Etsy every day based on order information.

I have a few questions about this:

1. Are other people using these marketplace sales channels and do they find the incremental sales to be worth the effort of managing listings?

2. Are there any tools that can help with automatically listing and managing items on those marketplaces using the values she enters in her spreadsheet? I feel like there are nuances to adjusting pricing for each market that would get difficult to manage. Iíve heard of products like Linnworks but that would require her to manage all of her products in their system. Is it worth the extra cost and complexity?

3. If I wrote something to send her product listings from the spreadsheet to these other services and update product listings (say an hourly cron job or Google appscript trigger) - would other people find it useful? What else would it need to do besides list the products and update inventory based on order reports?

What else am I missing? Iím not really an ecommerce expert as most of my work has been SAAS web and mobile applications.
2:58 am on Jan 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Interesting questions and I think it is worth listing products on other platforms only if it is automatic as any time spent doing it manually is a waste of time: she should work on her own website and quit working for others...
6:12 pm on Jan 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I don't know much about the best way to handle multiple site listings, but on the subject of her products.... I don't know what her work looks like, but normally that could fall into the 'art' category. Which means that, selling something in a more refined and exclusive way, could actually allow for higher prices and a better rep overall. In that scenario, listing in all those places would probably lower the value placed on her stuff. But to gain the 'highbrow' crowd, you do have to make more of an effort in how you present the products. ie: A personalized, well crafted and stylish site. Might take more effort and time than just throwing up on the market places, but the end result could be worth it.
8:13 pm on Jan 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yes, it is worth to sell more expensive.
2:11 pm on Jan 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It is necessary to have your inventory synched across all marketplaces - you don't want to be out of stock when someone buys. Managing that inventory manually is painful. Obviously pricing needs to be different based on the selling platform. We tried several services and found them expensive and ended up writing our own. One thing to keep in mind about pricing is that Amazon TOS require that the price you have their be at or below the lowest price you have elsewhere.
8:39 pm on Jan 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Some notes:

1) Google Shopping is not really a sales channel. It's a Comparison Shop Engine like Bizrates. Feeding her products into that is quite simple. You can do it manually or through a third party like GoDataFeed.

2) Managing products across eBay/Amazon/Etsy is essentially a job in itself. Syncing inventory is very important as mentioned and a tool like Linnworks does it very well. Pricing can be a little bit more difficult but still manageable.

In terms of syncing descriptions et al, there is always going to need to be a fairly manual component involved. Amazon and eBay have extremely different listings requirements/options. Linnworks does offer some of this functionality but not very well IMO.

You can write some software to sync inventory and prices but I personally wouldn't even touch any other aspects. Platforms constantly change and add/remove requirements so it'll be a job just staying on top of it. Yes a lot of people would find this useful but if you're not willing to spend a lot of time/money on it, don't bother. There's already other bigger companies trying to tackle this problem.

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