7 Checklist to Identify a 3rd Party System for Pure Marketplaces Seller Operation.
Adrian (The more handsome guy in the photo) asked me to write, without knowing what he is getting himself into. This is the first time I blog for others. I am not affiliated or enjoying any monetary gains from this. I guess my benefit is the chance to be on Adrian good side and hopefully he will share with me more tips in future hahaha (Major sucking up here).
My first encounter with marketplace 3PS (3rd Party Software) was with Linnworks. One of my client used Linnworks to manage warehouse in UK, linking to different accounts in Ebay and Amazon in different countries. The client had around 3K SKUs with around 50k listings in different accounts. Linnworks is used in UK warehouse and Malaysia operation centre. Thus I do had my fair share of experience with 3PS.
By working with new startup seller, I found out that after initial successful foray into eCommerce, startup will start entering into the unfamiliar zone of Operation Management. Unless you had prior experience in Operation Excellence, then this will be the next“Hidden Boss” you need to beat to reach another lever for your business. You need to select the right equipment for this, just like a DOTA Games.
I am thankful to somebody up in the sky, because before becoming top sales in Huawei Malaysia, I am the Operation Guy in Motorola and Nokia. Thus with this skill set, I can provide more value to my clients in multiple perspective. (Thick Face Mode = ON) I am that good in operation that I was headhunted to head the team of Doctors Without Border in Nigeria.
Doctors? Yes, this was what I empower my previous colleagues in Nigeria with pride. We don’t save people. We save the next most important thing, their hand phones – HAHAHA. But we did dress like doctors as above. We built the first Nokia Care in Nigeria serving 200 million populations, during the time when Nigeria was well known for kidnapping and conman.
Back to the point. This blog is to share my 7 Checklist in selecting a 3PS for pure marketplaces seller.
1. Don’t get too optimistic on the great Marketing story that everything will be as easy as ABC once you subscribe to their services. Stay calm.
3PS is part of the solution, but NOT THE FULL SOLUTION. KEEP Calm!
Most of the time, it requires a lot of patient and hard work drilling in nitty-gritty details, in order to sync your current business practices with the system. Start will realistic expectation, to avoid the huge disappointment later from service provider marketing. I put this as my first checklist as I had experience much regret before, believing on a 3PS marketing info and later found out that it is much different from the truth.
2. Now after keeping the optimism in check, next I will suggest in Malaysia as a startup or new seller, you need to be thick face and "CHEAPSKATE”. You need to save every penny!
A good 3PS can be Free, when you are just a new seller. Don't believe that you had to pay to experience the power of 3PS.
Come on, if you are in eCommerce, you should never believe this marketing crap of Free stuff are not good stuff@ If you are small, you are entitled to many FREE THINGS! Just check out Linnworks pricing . Its free when you are trying out for the first 50 SKUs.
Why? It is a sign of confident that their system is that good that you will be happy after trying and will continue to upgrade and pay them more when your business grow. Just like Uber. Free first ride.
This is the 1st tick for Zetpy in my checklist, as it is FREE. Haha but it is not because their 3PS are mature and that good like Linnworks. In fact, it is the other way around, they are brand new. However I really like their sincerity in not hiding the fact, thus they are free now. This will allow them to keep improving on their first version until they are confident enough to charge. Adrian also promised that once they reach that stage, it will always be free for the 1st 100 orders, to help all the small new startup. (A great marketing funnel ! hehehe).
3. But free is not enough. Please don’t install some half done, half tested applications as your core Operation Management System. It is just not worth it. Once you depended on it, it will be a nightmare if something happened to it and you lost all the data. Also, please consider the software provider ability to sustain their business and not close shop? Worst case if there is some unethical or fraud intention in the software by installing trojan horse in your system? Ironically then it’s never 100% safeguard as Apple also do it (Slowing your iphone hahaha)
Don’t choose Free 3PS from unknown service provider to minimize above risk.
Zetpy got another tick. They are the same service provider for WebShaper, one of the top 3PS in Malaysia. Adrian is also the cofounder of previous EcommerceMilo and now EcInsider. I pray that he had no intention to harm some small startup. They could have done it with WebShaper if they want, but I had not heard anything so I guess they did not.
4. Web store and Marketplaces is two different market. Due to this, there is 2 different approach in 3PS.
Don’t choose a 3PS without knowing what you want and paying for what you don’t want.
The 1st type is from Web store sync to Marketplaces. You create your listing in your web store and sell it there. Then later you also like to penetrate marketplaces and sync your listing there. So basically, web store is your core and you like Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics and Ad words. Then Zetpy is not for u. There are other 3PS like Web Shaper, Woo Commerce and etc to serve your needs. Normally the charges include domain hosting and you need to pay for the payment gateway.
The 2nd type is that you sell aggressively on Marketplaces. The store you have is all with the marketplaces like Lazada. You like marketplaces SEO and marketing so much that you don't have a web store. In fact you don't even want to pay for any Website domain and Payment Gateway cost. You want to be super competitive in Price. You have multiple account in Marketplaces for listing strategy. Then Zetpy is for you. Zetpy allows multiple accounts under one marketplace for one business. 3 if I am not mistaken.
5. I had members of the community and friends sharing their horror story dealing with 3PS. One of the worst scenario we experience, is that when the 3PS is not syncing well with Lazada, we reported the problem and what the 3PS reply is “Sorry this is Lazada having stability issue, not our fault and nothing we can do.”. Then we ask. “Can you discuss with Lazada on the solutions and timeline?” “Sorry we don't know" and that's it.
Don’t choose a 3PS which don't have relationship with marketplaces, blame others and don’t treat their customer well.
Now Zetpy had not proven its value in this. But there are always signs if you observe enough. I like their effort in conducting Free Workshop. There were complains in the workshop. Zetpy took note of them and promise to come back immediately. Also, Adrian was 100% available in the workshop, listening to all the participants opinion which was much appreciated. Adrian received signed T-Shirt from top Marketplaces CEOs hehehe. This is good indication that there is higher possibility that Zetpy concern will be heard by Marketplaces in solving issues.
6. Although the client had top notch 3PS linnworks to help out the operation, sales had not benefited. Why? They believe that as a marketplace seller, they only need to concentrate on price and data is irrelevant. After having the opportunity serve my client, we started to do a lot of data analysis and use it to devised our strategy effectively. In one year, we achieve 300% growth in sales and profits. Later during cooperation with Miss A, we also found that even for startup seller, data was very important for growing her eCommerce business aggressively.
The core values for 3PS is operation efficiency, but the hidden gems in 3PS is the DATA. As Jack Ma said, Data is the next fuel for change after coal and petrol.
3PS which has data analytical feature is better compare to those which had none.
One of the highlights in the workshop was Adrian passion in data mining. Zetpy do not want to be a mere operation system, but also as an analytic tool in providing valuable insights to help Seller Business. From the workshop, it seems that there is much depth in their data analytical tool. For me, that is a great initiative.
7. Pure marketplace seller is bench mark by the marketplaces tightly. Any slight delay in shipping or fulfillment, you will see your ratings drop and customer come shouting. Thus replacing marketplaces website fulfillment , for example Lazada seller centre, with the 3PS fulfillment system is risky. One of the member trusted a 3PS fulfillment system and later found out that due to sync issue, some of the order didn’t appear in the 3PS from Lazada! And some not updated to Lazada! The member had to cross check everything and that freak him out.
It is high risk if 3PS which replace Marketplace website fulfillment process, unless they can provide proof for 100% guarantee syncing and matching.
You can fulfill thru Zetpy now for Lazada, but at least Zetpy don’t forcefully replace normal fulfillment process thru marketplace website.
Still in the workshop, we identify weakness in Zepty such as:
1. No bundling feature.
2. Different marketplace pricing method is different, but unclear in Zetpy
3. To me, Syncing with accounting system seems not that easy. Need to learn about the accounting system before this feature is meaningful. Additional these accounting systems are not web base, not subscription base, not eCommerce orientated and an expensive one-time investment for startup.
4. A track record of syncing efficiency and down time with marketplace with provide more credibility.
So the final conclusion: Is Zetpy the best recommendation for Pure Marketplace Seller 3PS?
I don’t know. Don't Flame haha.
Because I haven’t really tried it out. I had wasted some time testing some others, but it was a disappointment. This blog is about how I select 3PS before trying it. Zetpy gave me a good vibe from above checklist, so I am willing to give it a go. It is an embarrassment and waste of huge effort to tune a business process to a 3PS, and later found not suitable. Hopefully I will not be embarrass again.
If things turn out great, I will blog more about Zetpy. But if you want to try it out, by all means, it’s Free! Free stuff done with passion are great stuff, and deserve a blog. And we can even discuss this more in future workshop.
To Adrian and Zetpy team. Many pure marketplaces seller need this. Keep It Up!
One last thing. Please do not treat people which invested time and faith on Zetpy badly, on the reason it’s FREE. Invest time and effort in solving their key pain now, and this will earn Zetpy die hard fans and ambassador, which cannot be bought by money. I am in the mid of your marketing funnel, transforming to a die-hard fan. Please don’t bully me and treat me well. haha