We’re kicking off Spring 2015 with a flurry of new integration announcements! Here are the highlights:
1) With the ChannelAdvisor integration, you can extend HubLogix backend automation to multiple marketplaces such as eBay, Rakuten, Newegg, Sears, etc.
2) With the ShipStation integration, you can print UPS, USPS, FedEx and DHL shipping labels at the click of a button
3) With the SkuVault integration, the right orders will get sent into your SkuVault WMS – no manual entry needed
Take a look and if you’d like to learn more about these integrations, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Support team at email@example.com.
Earlier this week, the HubLogix team traveled to Las Vegas to attend ChannelAdvisor’s Catalyst 2015. It was a fascinating event, filled with great content from brands like Google, eBay and Shark Tank, plus “been there” insight from successful & growing online retailers.
Here are some common themes woven throughout the conversations in the desert:
Time is at a Premium in eCommerce
The concept of time as a valuable commodity was on the top of many retailers’ minds. For some, it is the redefinition (or absence) of personal work/life balance. The Herjavec Group and Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec made the point in his keynote address to not expect much of a balance when growing a new business, comparing it to being “like a crying baby, with no regards to your actual spouse or kids, needing to be fed on its own schedule.”
Many eCommerce retailers cited the ability of their technology partners to free up time with which to be productive as being a major driver of satisfaction. In his address, BulbAmerica’s Corey Frons described his productive relationship with ChannelAdvisor in terms of time – by delivering on their value proposition, “they (ChannelAdvisor) have allowed us to step back and focus on the business as a whole.”
HubLogix clients echoed this importance and scarcity of time – and the importance of finding technology partners who can help with efficiency – with Mike Solomich of Quality Hardwoods pointing out that “you are freeing up hours out of my day that I can spend getting back to growing the business”.
Data Accuracy Can Make or Break an eCommerce Retailer
The concept of “Big Data” was everywhere with two common takes on it – without operational data accuracy and integrity an eCommerce business cannot win; with analytical insight can unlock massive opportunities. Being a technology conference, many retailers pointed out that maintaining partner trust via accurate data feeds (such as inventory counts) have become table stakes when working with Marketplaces (“It has become impossible for Amazon to send a customer to your site to buy a toaster if Amazon no longer trusts that even have toasters available”). Vineet Buch, Google’s Director of Product Management for Shopping Search, outlined their new shopping features and their ever-more-intuitive ability to route searching prospects to sites to make their purchases. “Of course,” Buch pointed out “the experience all falls apart without the data.”
Ice.com’s CEO – and self-proclaimed data geek – Brandon Proctor built on this idea by pointing out that not only do good data practices prevent the negative, but they improve upon operations as well. “Good data is gold…for one thing, it will make your technology integrations much easier.” He then added that with the growth in importance of Marketplaces to the eCommerce ecosystem, the level of competition selling identical products will follow accordingly. Identifying, testing, and applying customer behavior data will define success for online retailers in these increasingly competitive environments.
Technology Partners Need to Be More than Just Apps
The rapidity of expansion in eCommerce was prevalent throughout almost every presentation and conversation. “Take a global mindset”, “customers are expecting more”, and “assume bandwith will be unlimited” were pieces of advice given from the stages. At the same time, maintaining lean organizations to protect margins remained a top priority of many of the retailers we talked with. “Sales growth is obviously important. It is why I am here, of course. But I don’t want the additional complexity in fulfilling the orders from that growth to be an enemy to my organization”, noted one retailer. Their solution was to find technology partners that understood their business – that complimented their existing technology stack & took proactive steps to add value and improve margins on the front and back-ends of their operations. From printing labels to inventory management and order routing, online retailers are looking for technology partners that can solve big problems for them without passing the burden of headcount and development investment onto the client. “I like the idea of not needing to invest in a lot of programming to solve my business’ problems” shared Corey Frons.
We could not have agreed more.
Today marks an exciting and important day in our commitment to driving efficiency and insight in the worldwide supply chain through automation. We are officially changing our corporate name from eCommHub to HubLogix to reflect the larger vision, values, and direction that our company delivers today and in the future.
Why the change to HubLogix?
HubLogix (formerly eCommHub) has cut fulfillment costs and created competitive advantages for thousands of thriving online retailers, distribution partners and technology providers since 2010. It’s important that our brand identity reflect the larger vision, values, and direction that our company delivers today and in the future.
We’re driven by the desire to ensure that each of our clients scale effectively while maximizing profits through back-end efficiency – by automating their processes today to cut costs and providing insight to intelligently scale their back-end for tomorrow. Amidst the rapid disintermediation of the worldwide supply chain, our clients should have the necessary tools and solutions needed to thrive. Today’s successful eCommerce retailers are selling across multiple channels and using multiple distribution partners to fulfill their orders. As HubLogix, we will continue to provide innovative automated solutions for eCommerce back-end processes in addition to serving as a powerful insight engine for online retailers.
What Does This Mean for Customers & Partners?
We will continue to provide technology solutions – including our order lifecycle management platform – to connect online retailers, storefronts, marketplaces, distributors, drop-shippers, warehouses, companies and related technologies to lower fulfillment costs and improve margins. In addition to the name change, we are also expanding our Atlanta headquarters to house our growing technology development, integration, and account management teams. Functionally speaking, our customers do not need to do anything as part of this transition outside of visiting HubLogix.com to access their account going forward. All of your data – your orders, SKUs, storefronts, vendors, etc. – will continue uninterrupted throughout the rebranding.
All of today’s announcements reflect our continued and focused commitment to helping our clients and partners realize measurable, scalable bottom line results through operational efficiency. In the coming months, we will release a variety of innovative features that make it even easier for online retailers to unlock the capability to efficiently scale their growth – to make adding new storefronts, distribution partners, and technologies to your ecosystem fast, flexible and affordable – in addition to providing unprecedented visibility into your multi-channel, multi-partner back-end ecosystem. If you have any questions, please contact your HubLogix Account Manager (same as your eCommHub Account Manager) or info@HubLogix.com
– Kevin McCarthy, CEO, HubLogix
When the term “process automation” is used, the usual benefits that come to mind are around the topic of speed. In our recent post on The Hidden Hard Costs of eCommerce Orders, we talked about how all eCommerce orders go through a series of necessary, time-intensive steps that can cut significantly into a retailer’s margins if not optimized through back-end automation.
Another key benefit to eCommerce automation is the ability to cut error rates in order management & routing to nearly zero. Consider these common, error-rich pitfalls when manually processing orders:
Manual errors are inevitable.
Errors are costly – from mistakes typing addresses or SKUs, to over or under ordering stock, from picking or packing the wrong merchandise, to shipping to the wrong customer. As a company grows in size, revenue or SKU count, its complexity increases, and so do the chances for making mistakes by manually entering this data. If you get bogged down fixing mistakes, you are not fulfilling orders, and you are not selling.
“Typical error rates for manual data entry are about one error for every 300 keystrokes.” - Purchase Order Management Best Practices: Process, Technology, and Change
“For Amazon, the maximum length of the SKU that can be sent is 40 alphanumeric characters.” (That’s a lot of opportunity for data entry errors)
More errors means more returns.
Returns are a fact of life in eCommerce. In fact that is one of the great incentives for customers to shop online. If they don’t like what they received, back it goes. According to investment banking firm Kurt Salmon as much as a third of all Internet sales gets returned.
“Handling each returned item costs online sellers between $6 and $18, and that is before the losses from items that are returned in unsalable condition.” – The EconomistClick to Download Infographic
Order processing is complex enough with one online storefront and one vendor. When you are using multiple marketplaces and multiple distribution vendors, the opportunity for costly human errors in the processing of orders grows exponentially.
Automating your order lifecycle – especially your order routing, inventory management and shipment tracking processes – can significantly reduce your time and costs spent remedying these preventable issues. Plus, the right automation platforms will allow you to scale going forward, simplifying the addition of new storefronts and distribution vendors (drop shippers, 3pls, 4pls, warehouses, etc.) to your supply chain ecosystem, and ensuring your orders are accurately routed to them at near-perfect rates.
Any online retailer accounts for the typical costs of working with drop-shippers or distribution centers – shipping costs, cost of goods, etc. Likewise, every site owner is aware of their marketing expenses to get shoppers to click “purchase” on their carts.
But what about the hidden costs? The ones in between the purchase and the fulfillment of the order?
For most eCommerce sites, there are often overlooked hard costs in managing your order lifecycle – real costs that affect your margins and your ability to scale.
Download The Hidden Costs of Processing an Order Infographic
Every time an order is entered into your shopping cart,you must…
1. Double-check the SKUs inside the inventory file. If it’s out of stock, you have to email the disappointed customer, issue a refund or backorder.
2. Route the order. Choose the appropriate distribution vendor – dropshipper, fulfillment enter, etc. – to fulfill the order. Manually enter info into a spreadsheet or flat file in their preferred format. Then send them an email or FTP.
3. Update Inventory. Later, you receive shipped order(s) information from your vendors. Update the inventory in your shopping cart. Copy and paste the tracking number back into shopping cart, and mark it shipped.
4. Communicate with the customer. Send the customer an email telling him that the product has shipped.
What’s All This Cost?
Let’s assume you pay somebody – or yourself (your time is money, right?) – $19 per hour to handle these functions*. Data from our customers suggest each manually processed order can take about 12-15 minutes to complete.
That’s over $4 per order. Not on marketing expenses or shipping. Just to manage your order lifecycle.
So if you’re doing 1,000 orders a month, that’s up to 250 man hours or $4,000 per month!
The order lifecycle process is complex enough with one online storefront and one vendor. When you are using five marketplaces and multiple distribution vendors, these manual processes don’t scale, but your costs do.
Automating your order lifecycle –inventory management, order routing and shipment tracking processes – can significantly reduce your time and labor costs. Orders are routed and systems updated in near real time (vs. up to 15 minutes), giving you valuable time and money to reinvest in your growth elsewhere. Plus, the right automation platforms will allow you to scale going forward, simplifying the addition of new storefronts and distribution vendors to your supply chain ecosystem.
*based on $50K salary (261 days x 10 working hours per day)
eCommerce automation is the next big revolution in ecommerce.
Over the past several years, ecommerce has grown exponentially. It’s been democratized – by players such as Shopify, Bigcommerce, Magento, etc. – that have made it easier and cheaper than ever to start an online store (Shopify alone has exploded from 20,000 customers to 140,000 in the past couple years!)
Back when I started my first ecommerce business, it was still the wild west (see Kurt Heinrich’s answer to What are some potential low-cost businesses that can be started and operated by a teenager?) Simply having an online retail presence in a niche market was your competitive advantage (okay…maybe it wasn’t quite that easy…but it’s somewhat true.). The barrier to entry was higher because it wasn’t so easy to start up an online store. The solutions at the time were either open source PHP carts, writing your own from scratch, or Yahoo Stores — all of which you probably needed a degree in computer science to use.
So with all this tremendous innovation on the front end of ecommerce (shopping carts, mobile, two-day shipping, same day shipping!), there’s been an area of ecommerce that’s been neglected. That is: what happens to an order after it’s been placed?
Well, we call this the Order Lifecycle – a dark, messy place that no one likes to talk about. It’s everything that takes place between when the checkout button is pressed on the website and when you ultimately get your package 2-days later on your doorstep. For online retailers, it’s manual. It’s painful. We colloquially called it “the muddled middle”. For online retailers it can involve anything from spreadsheets, to phones, faxes, manual order entry, or hope-to-god-not-ugly EDI. You’d be surprised, but most ecommerce retailers today either handle this manually (people literally copying and pasting) or by trying to wire together their own custom scripts to automate things. It’s not a pretty sight, and worse, it’s inefficient.
So what is eCommerce Automation? It’s automation of the Order Lifecycle, from the point of checkout to the point of delivery.
To end with an analogy, the shopping carts have done to ecommerce what Salesforce did to the CRM world. It’s a new era for ecommerce and there’s a need for automation on top of the shopping carts, similar to the way companies like Pardot, Hubspot, Marketo automate on top of Salesforce. That’s called Marketing Automation, but mark my words in a couple years there will be a new category in the software industry: eCommerce Automation.
Founder Kurt Heinrich and Nate Kristy talk the future of e-commerce, technology, and Crayola
Earlier this week, eCommHub was the special Tech Tuesday guest on the Atlanta radio institution “The Dana Barrett Show”. The team talked about the company’s origins and growth, plus shared off-the-cuff opinions on the Crayola Experience and the trend of digital entrepreneurs buying up traditional media properties.
Hear the full interview and show notes here
About the Dana Barrett Show
Dana Barrett is a Business Commentator, Social Critic and Host of The Dana Barrett Show on biz 1190 AM WAFS in Atlanta. Each week, the Dana Barrett Show features the top Atlanta business headlines and introduces you to the industry execs, thought leaders and innovators.. Dana also discusses the hot topics of the day, from healthcare reform, to hiring practices to the latest movies and the best places to go in Atlanta.
How iPods, Technology, and Atlanta have influenced the Company Thus Far
This week, eCommHub Founder and Chief Platform Officer Kurt Heinrich appeared on NBC’s Atlanta Tech Edge to talk about how his experience as a school-aged entrepreneur and online retailer led to the creation of the company. “The part of e-commerce that has been neglected is what happens when the order is placed,” shared Heinrich. “As I developed technology to automate my stores, I started to think ‘if I am having these manual problems with my order order lifecycle, other retailers must be as well'”.
See the full interview with Kurt Heinrich on Atlanta Tech Edge
About Atlanta Tech Edge
Atlanta Tech Edge highlights the latest technology advancements and reveals a behind the scenes look at the people and businesses that make it happen.With Atlanta quickly becoming the Silicon Valley of the South, it’s fitting that this burgeoning industry have it’s own locally produced television program. Atlanta Tech Edge, hosted by Wes Moss, airs Sundays at 1:30am & 11:30am. All the segments can also be seen on the website: www.AtlantaTechEdge.com.
We are pleased to announce that Amazon Webstore users can now get started with HubLogix through the Amazon Webstore App Store. While Amazon users have been able to integrate their stores with HubLogix for some time, being an official solution provider makes it easier than ever for growing sites to start automating their operations.
With HubLogix, Amazon users have the ability to manage their site’s inventory, route orders, and track shipments automatically. Once we connect your storefronts and suppliers (drop shippers, fulfillment vendors, etc.) through our online platform, HubLogix will put your Amazon Webstore on autopilot, letting you spend more time growing your business and less time managing it.
Learn more about our integration with Amazon here and sign up for your 15-day free trial – including assisted implementation – by contacting us here.
HubLogix empowers efficient e-commerce for online retailers and their suppliers. Our SaaS-based platform allows effortless integration of supply chain vendors, storefront and marketplace platforms, and back office systems so that mission-critical communications and operations can be easily automated and updated in real time. We enable our customers to put their web stores on autopilot and spend more time growing their business and less time managing it.
Presenting companies highlight strength of Georgia’s technology community and further position the state as a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity and innovation
eCommHub has been selected as a presenter at Venture Atlanta 2014, Georgia’s premier event connecting technology innovation and investment capital, to be held October 21-22 at the Georgia Aquarium. The 34 early and later stage companies chosen to present reflect a wide range of technologies and diverse markets, while highlighting the innovation of Georgia businesses.
“We are thrilled to be invited back to Venture Atlanta this year,” said Kurt Heinrich, eCommHub’s founder and CEO. “This is an outstanding opportunity to present along with other leading Atlanta tech companies and network with top-tier investors from all over the country.”
Presenting companies and conference attendees will have numerous opportunities to network with regional and national venture capitalists and investors during the two-day event. Now entering its 13th year, Venture Atlanta has helped local companies raise more than $1.3 billion – a number that continues to grow. The conference provides an invaluable experience for entrepreneurs, resulting in funding, national investor exposure, unparalleled relationship building, and mentoring by successful technology executives.
“Venture Atlanta continues to draw attention to Georgia’s start-up activity,” said Melanie Leeth, vice president of Imlay Investments and also the event’s chair. “The 34 presenting early and later stage companies highlight the strength of Georgia’s businesses and robust technology community.”
For additional information about Venture Atlanta or to view the conference schedule, please visit www.ventureatlanta.org.
eCommHub is an Atlanta, GA based company that provides back office automation technology to online retailers. Since 2010, eCommHub has enabled retailers to put their web stores on autopilot and spend more time growing their business and less time managing it. For more information on eCommHub (now HubLogix), please call 404-900-6946 or visit hublogix.com.
About Venture Atlanta
Venture Atlanta, Georgia’s technology innovation event, is where the state’s best technology innovators meet the country’s top-tier investors. As the region’s largest investor showcase, Venture Atlanta connects local entrepreneurs with venture capitalists, bankers, angel investors and others who can help them raise the capital they need to grow their businesses. The annual non-profit event is a collaboration of three leading Georgia business organizations: Atlanta CEO Council, Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). For more information, visit www.ventureatlanta.org. For updates, join us on LinkedIn, follow us on Twitter, and our blog.