Accounts integration software offering financial control for online retailers
Tradebox review by Alex Ingham
Alex Ingham’s company, MI Supplies was founded in 2005, launched their first online venture with an eBay shop in 2009 with their safetyandclothing shop, and are now taking their online venture further with their ecommerce site. They supply workwear, footwear and embroidered clothing throughout the UK from individuals to major global companies. They are approaching £3/4m in sales for 2011 and still growing.
In response to Dan’s suggestion that readers who use other services, should offer to write a review for Tamebay, Alex has submitted a review of Tradebox and how it has helped grow his multichannel business.
MI Supplies accounting problem
Following our first four months of selling on eBay, we realised that a large amount of time had to be input daily for the administration of our orders. We run our company and all its processes through Sage Line 50, which runs our stock control of over 12,000 products, plus all customer info, accounting, VAT etc. Before selling on eBay, we were used to larger orders for a very small number of customers, now it had changed to lots of smaller orders all for different customers, with different addresses etc, plus a large amount of customer payments to tie up for our accountants side of things.
We were at the stage where an average week of orders on eBay, would take a minimum of 18 hours per week purely for inputting the orders, allocating payments, allocating stock, ensuring customer address info was correct. It was becoming a huge drain on our resources. More importantly we had built our business up on excellent customer service and we didn’t want that to suffer due to the extra workload.
MI Supplies investigate Tradebox
Following a few weeks of searching the web, reading reviews for what the best option was, we kept reading great reviews of Tradebox, ex Sage developers with a programme that pulls all your orders from eBay (also compatible with ekm, play.com, amazon) and automates the inputting into Sage. Sounded too good to be true.
Tradebox gave me an excellent remote demo over an hour period, and answered every question I fired at them. Giving it thought over the following week, I continually went to them with questions which were always answered quickly and in a non techy way. Additionally, they have a 30 day money back guarantee to ensure it is going to work in your business and work well.
What Tradebox does for MI Supplies
The best way to describe Tradebox is as a very cheap data inputter for you. We have the system set to automatically book all eBay orders on our system at 4am each day. Everything is there for us to start picking when we open up at 8! 8,000 eBay transactions a year it transacts for us, with pretty much 100% success each and every day. We paid £500 for it, and I estimate we have saved over £9K in wages alone. Probably the best testimonial I can think of. Generally any rare issues that arise are of our own making.
You can manually press the button to synchronise your orders, as and when you see orders in eBay to process, we probably do it 3 or 4 times a day. It really is great, we see the orders in eBay, press the button and two minutes later the orders have appeared in your Sage system and are ready to pick and pack. Without Tradebox, we would have had to employee further admin staff by now incurring additional wages, National Insurance, holiday cover, sick pay etc – and no guarantee of the quality Tradebox gives you every day.
Who would Tradebox be suitable for?
Why would it not be for you? If you don’t run Sage or a strict stock control system, it is pointless. However if you are on Sage and run stock, this is the one I would recommend on our experience – it really is superb. Tradebox can advise and supply Sage also by the way.
For it to work, you need your internal Sage part numbers entered on eBay as the “Custom Label” – Tradebox then reads this info and books the product out. It will put all customer address info through and also include customers messages from paypal – this then appears on the despatch note, e.g. “please leave parcel in back shed”. From an accountants point of view, it’s great as all the VAT is worked out, and all payments are done individually from the customer and allocated correctly in your system. Just think that you have given your employee an order for a pair of boots, with the payment card details (which needs transacting), customer address etc etc, that is exactly what Tradebox does.
As with a lot of computer programmes, we don’t use all its features due to it being available on Sage or we just don’t need or looked in to as yet. However, if all we ever use Tradebox for is booking out our orders, it really is the best purchase we have made since forming our company and would hugely recommend.
The time saving benefit of Tradebox for MI Supplies
We have spoken similar companies like ourselves with lots of small value transactions, and it appears a lot of companies are employing people to book out these orders all day long, whereas Tradebox can book thousands of orders out in minutes!
If you buy it, put the necessary resource (which may take a month or two) in to ensuring your Sage codes match on eBay and you will gain massively. After you have done this, and you change an internal Sage code months or years later, you can go into Tradebox and tell it to read a new code. It is flexible and you depend on it as much as you do on your staff!
If this is of interest, would certainly recommend visiting the Tradebox website and get a demo and free trial. If anyone wants unbiased info from me, I would be happy to help on [email protected] In times of economic and cashflow struggles, Tradebox could benefit your business hugely.
We have been usIng Tradebox for just over 2 years and I’d agree with Alex says. It has been a money and time saver for us and the only thingi I can’t believe is the weeks we took deliberating on whether to go ahead with it because as Alex says they have answers to every problem you can think of with the system.
As a note we use the system on our own site, eBay, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany and Amazon France without issue.
Also, if you use AimCo software to collect orders on your own site to produce invoices there’s a plugin that exports the data ready to import into Tradebox. So there’ll be no expensive development costs getting your own site data into Tradebox if you use PickitPackit already.
My advice if you’re thinking it might work for you is to set up a demo. You won’t believe how easy it makes everything.
Someone should write a reveiw about how you can import eBay listings into your EKM Powershop. Although I sell on eBay and via an EKM website, I never use the import feature as my website listings are completely different to my eBay listings. But if anyone sells on eBay and are looking for a website they could try EKM.
We’re always open for guest posts so if someone imports/exports eBay listings onto other sites and wants to write about it drop me a line.
Would be interesting to know how they strip out eBay specific information or if they have pure “description” descriptions how they strip out any custom HTML.
I suspect most multichannel sellers start off the opposite way around though – they have their descriptions and then software wraps it into a template for eBay, EKM or any other site they use.
When I opened my website, I rewrote my descriptions and improved my images so I never imported anything from eBay.
I saw someone in a post on Tamebay the other day with an EKM powershop with their eBay feedback displayed on their website as I clicked their link, so there are people who read Tamebay who will have used it.
I have used tradebox for a number of years. It’s a great product that works really well. The support is excellent. The only thing that it doesn’t have that I would love is a way of managing stock allocations across multiple channels. I’m sure there is a spot in the market for a good “middleware” aplication which could manage stock allocation between Sage and amazon, eBay, website, etc.
Check out the Channel Grabber review I did a few weeks ago.
Other products that do stock mgt are Linnworks; Channel Advisor; 247topseller
I would like somthing that intergrates with Sage and that will also handle “Fulfilled by Amazon” stock.