On December 12th, our team joined forces with District Hall and Swell Rewards to host the first ever Shopify Merchant Holiday Bazaar. The event took place in the Seaport District of Boston, which was a great setting for bringing together people that are passionate about innovating online retail. The idea for this event was born while I was talking with a Shopify merchant who was based in Boston. While chatting, I realized what a special opportunity it is to meet the merchants behind a budding online brand. In many cities, we are always talking about buying locally, but one does not usually consider that ecommerce merchants are an important part of the local economy.
Shopify merchants are a diverse bunch and we were fortunate to have the involvement of more than a dozen from the Boston area. Each offered something unique, but I wanted to highlight a few that example the uniqueness of the community.
Angelo Igitego: This is a great brand story exampling the partnership between Anthony, a US-based entrepreneur and Angelo, a Rwandan-based entrepreneur who together developed a really unique line of bow ties. There is an interview on the Style Podcast that fully explains their story which I highly recommend. Their bow ties are really great for formal and casual occasions.
Pavlok: If you are like me and have more than one impulsive habit to break, you will love the Pavlok. Here in Boston, the best change you have for a cure is a very expensive visit to the Mad Russian. For about $200, Pavlok offers a wearable technology that zaps your wrist whenever you are going at a habit you are trying to quit. The technology is a little imperfect, but it works and they have an awesome 6 month money-back guarantee.
Sailormade: Taking trendy friendship bracelets to a whole new level is what Sailormade is all about. It took about 10 seconds for me to fall for the Contender Rope Bracelet, which thus far has worked out to be a very well crafted accessory. When I first saw their products, I immediately thought of summers in Newport, Rhode Island. It was quickly pointed out that the vision for this line of products has close ties to the beaches and shoreline towns of New England.
For three hours, about 100 members of the Boston community sipped wine and mingled among the fifteen merchants that participated in our inaugural bazaar. Proving the success, I know of more than a few people that enjoyed holiday gifts sourced from this event. Hopefully we can plan a little further ahead and have a larger event next year!
P.S. Three cheers for the merchants that helped support this event. they are listed on this page.
HubLogix and 71lbs are the focus of this weeks webinar hosted by ChannelAdvisor. Join us as we talk about how to grow business using HubLogix to automate inventory and ordering processes with vitrually and fulfillment point or drop-shipper. This briefing will include an overview of several vertical markets where we are able to offer button tight integrations from automotivee, powersports, consumer electronics and sporting goods. In addition, we have great support for a growing list of third-party logistics providers.
Joining us on this weeks webinar will be 71lbs. If your looking for ways to find profit hidden under the rocks of shipping delays and similar logistics mishaps, the team at 71lbs has a solution to automate the hunt for those lost profits. No need to call John Walsh when 71lbs is on the case!
Follow the link to sign up.
Post game, the webinar will be posted here.
HubLogix loves helping retail customers grow their online business – something we do every day. One way to grow online business is by working through distributors that fulfill products on the retailers behalf, commonly known as drop shippers. We also work closely with partners like ChannelAdvisor to make it easier for customers to automate their workflow with distributors around the world. ChannelAdvisor and HubLogix go well together because our connectivity is complimentary, allowing our customers to maximize efficiency so they can focus on marketing and selling products.
Working with ChannelAdvisor and our mutual customer Woodbury Outfitters, we developed a clear before and after analysis that explains how HubLogix and ChannelAdvisor partnered to help Woodbury grow their online business by about 300% and increase product selection by 400%. The results are a perfect example of how we deliver meaningful returns to online retailers every day.
Read more about how we worked with Woodbury Outfitters and ChannelAdvisor, here.
We’re beginning 2016 with some exciting news.
HubLogix has acquired one of our key competitors, OrderPigeon. The acquisition increases our reach into mid-market and sub-enterprise retailers as well as in several important vertical markets. And it positions the company and our customers for growth in the $300 billion ecommerce marketplace.
The deal was backed by two long-time investors: Atlanta-based Mosley Ventures and Boston-based Sigma Prime Ventures. They worked with our OrderPigeon founder and CEO, Christian Hassold and HubLogix founder, Kurt Heinrich, to orchestrate the acquisition.
New leadership team
We’re pleased to announce that Christian Hassold is coming on board as our new CEO. He has over 15 years experience in our industry as an innovator and tech entrepreneur. Kurt Heinrich, who joins Christian in the executive suite, will now lead our product team. OrderPigeon co-founder and CTO, Cagdas Ucar, is now leading engineering for the combined company.
The business will operate under the HubLogix name and will integrate OrderPigeon’s proprietary SAAS order management platform into its architecture.
According to Mosley Ventures partner, Wei-chun Tai, “Christian is a savvy, experienced leader with a vision to build on the solid foundation of the HubLogix product, forge new partnerships and take the business to the next level.”
The combined operation makes good sense because the two companies build on each other’s strengths. HubLogix has solid relationships with dominant ecommerce platforms including Shopify and BigCommerce. OrderPigeon has established partnerships with Channeladvisor and a large base of mid-market customers.
Christian saw the potential a combined operation would bring to our customers in the US, Canada, UK and Australia.
“We are the only ecommerce order automation solution with a global network of distribution and fulfillment partners that are able to support the increasingly complex needs of online retailers. We are excited to grow the business with the combined team,” says Christian
“This business combination provides a great opportunity for our customers, investors and the marketplace. We will now offer best-in-class omni-channel order management and serve a broader range of customers and fulfillment partners. ” Kurt adds.
About our investors
Mosley Ventures Mosley Ventures is a venture capital fund investing in early stage technology startups in Atlanta and the Southeast. We primarily invest in the following sectors: security software, mobility and wireless, big data and healthcare IT. Sig Mosley is the Managing Partner of Mosley Ventures. Since 1990, Sig has been the most prolific southeast investor in 122 startups with 83 liquidity events. Sig is currently the record holder of the largest southeast venture deal with the $5.7 billion acquisition of Tradex by Ariba. Please visit http://mosleyventures.com.
Sigma Prime Ventures Sigma Prime Ventures is a venture capital firm that invests in early stage companies in the areas of SaaS, Cloud, Mobile, Disruptive Technologies and Technology-Enabled Services. The partnership focuses on great entrepreneurs and works in conjunction with them to build great companies. The firm’s partners have deep operating and startup experience, collectively having founded 11 companies, provided executive leadership to 17 companies, and had exits worth over $4.2B. Since 1984, the firm’s partners have fostered the growth and exit of numerous technology companies, including Internet Security Systems (IPO), m-Qube (acquired by VeriSign), Storage Networks (IPO), Vignette (IPO), Vlingo (acquired by Nuance), Aprimo (acquired by Teradata), Initiate (acquired by IBM), Octane (acquired by e.Piphany), OpenPages (acquired by IBM), Tradex (acquired by Ariba) and others. Sigma Prime Ventures has offices in Boston and New York City, and invests across the U.S. with a focus on the East Coast. For more information, please visit http://www.sigmaprime.com.
7 tips to make sure you add the right dropshipper to your back-end
The beauty of dropshipping is that lets you sell products online with very little investment or risk. For businesses that are looking to expand their offerings on their current storefront, open a new one, or test new products outside of those currently handled by their 3PL or warehouse, adding a dropshipper to their fulfillment ecosystem is a commonstrategy. The retailer does not keep goods in stock but instead transfers customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer.
While dropshipping is a great way to do business, finding the right dropshipper to add to your mix can be challenging. There are plenty of middlemen and brokers who claim to be genuine but can end up negatively impacting your margins and seller performance. To avoid being exploited, retailers must do their own research to short-list legitimate dropshippers.
Being focused on eCommerce back-end automation and the connections between online storefronts and their fulfillment partners, Hublogix has worked with thousands of dropshippers in many different industries. To assist you, we’ve developed our own short list of important considerations in selecting a dropshipper, plus a more detailed worksheet to help you compare the performance of various dropshippers, once you have begun your search.
#1 Start with the manufacturer.
The more successfully you remove the middlemen from your supply chain, the more success you will have. Figure out who manufactures the items you want to sell on your store and contact them directly to ask them if they can dropship their items. Even e-tailers with large inventories and a variety of products should directly contact the manufacturers of the items they want to sell. They’ll usually have the best prices if they do dropship, and if they don’t, they’ll likely have leads on reputable distributors, who may carry a selection of similar products from different manufacturers you can considering add to your inventory.
#2 Put them to the test.
Ensure your dropshippers are reliable by placing a few test orders with them. Take note of the average shipping time and quality of the items received. Remember – your customers’ experience will reflect on your brand, not the dropshippers.
Keep in mind you no longer have strict control over the look and feel of the package being shipped. While the dropshipper should use the label provided by you, they may not agree to adhere to other packing requirements which are preferable to your brand or which minimize the potential of damage.
If you sell in a marketplace (Amazon, eBay, etc.) make sure that the dropshipper will deliver within the marketplace’s required timeframes. If your product is delivered by the dropshipper outside of the required delivery time, this can result in negative feedback on both eBay and Amazon as well as penalties against your seller accounts.
#3 Ensure they have a competent support staff.
Contact dropshippers who fit your criteria for products offered. If you are not able to quickly connect with a representative on email or the telephone, it can be indicative of the type of customer service you will receive if you use them. Ask if your company will be assigned a representative or if you will be dealing with a different person every time you need assistance. Either type of system can work if the dropshipper’s service is acceptable.
#4 Make sure you are paying true wholesale prices.
Are the product and shipping costs within a profitable range? Many product suppliers claim to do this when in reality their prices are retail or just below retail; which means that you would not be able to have a desirable profit margin.
Legitimate dropshippers rarely require account set up fees or monthly account maintenance fees.
As you identify products that sell well for you, you can invest your profits into purchasing those products in larger volumes to leverage volume price breaks your dropshipper should offer.
#5 Plan for returns and other issues.
Backorders, lost shipments and returns are all part of retailing. These are issues retailers can plan for but when using a drop shipper, some of these issues are beyond your control. Be prepared for these instances by discussing policies and expectations with the dropshipper ahead of time.
Because your customers expect their products to be of a pretty high standard, your dropshipper will need to guarantee you a certain standard of product quality, and be willing to replace any defective products. Be wary of dropshippers that do not offer these guarantees.
#6 Pay attention to the metrics
Be sure to research and compare your potential dropshippers objectively against the metrics that matter most to your business (here’s a worksheet that is popular with our clients that can help). Common questions to be sure to answer include:How many sites have used this dropshipper for at least 1 order in the past 30 days? This is an indication of the dropshippers’ competency/size. How accurate is their inventory feed? How often is it updated? What is their backorder rate? At any given time, what % of their inventory in stock – by SKU and across their total SKU volume? Do they support the partial shipping of orders? Do they allow backorders? What are their shipping methods & costs? What is their average shipment time after an order is processed?
#7 Favor dropshippers who embrace technology.
The more partners you add to your supply chain, the greater the complexity in your order management processes and decision making. If a dropshipper isn’t up to speed with the latest technologies and isn’t willing to be compatible with your technology stack, move on to one that is. Manual handling of issues such as order routing and purchase order generation are simply too subject to manual errors, lost orders, and shipping mistakes, all of which can cost you customers. Automate as much as possible. Remove the manual labor from the equation so you can focus on growing your business. Dropshippers that can make use of emailed or FTP order fulfillment, and provide their inventory in a highly compatible format like CSV can make managing your store and integrating with other eCommerce technology providers much, much easier.
IRCE 2015 is just days away (June 2-5, Chicago), and not only will HubLogix will be exhibiting – be sure to stop by booth 569 to meet the team – we’re particularly looking forward to connecting with the thousands of Merchants, Distributors, and Manufacturers that we are helping automate today.
IRCE also brings together 200+ expert speakers representing all areas of e-commerce. Based on the agenda’s session titles, it looks like the topics of automation, integrations, fulfillment, and growth are going to be prevalent. Being focused on the connections of the eCommerce “back-end” ourselves – between carts, marketplaces, distributors, warehouses, companies and technologies – here’s a few of the sessions on the top of our ‘most anticipated’ list this year:
Graduating to Automated Fulfillment: Along the Growth Path, When—And At What Cost Speakers: Jeff Hedges (President – OPEX Material Handling) & Stacie Sefton (Chief Executive Officer – BHFO) “The rate of e-commerce sales growth is unpredictable, yet fulfillment operations are capital- and labor-intensive fixed costs. At the same time, shoppers’ expectations of fast delivery and easy returns are rising. At what point does it makes sense to move to an automated warehouse or distribution center, especially for small to mid-size retailers that must watch every expenditure? In this session, you’ll learn how growing e-retailers can add automation elements to fulfillment in ways that boost throughput and lower costs without breaking the bank.”
Outsourcing vs. In-House Fulfillment – What it Takes to Win Speakers: Mike Manzione (Chief Operating Officer – Rakuten Super Logistics) & Jon Elliot (Co-Founder/Partner – A3 Merchandise) “Outsourcing order fulfillment is one of the biggest leaps of faith an e-commerce company can take. Placing inventory and shipments in the hands of someone else as opposed to keeping it in-house can be a difficult choice to make, but its impact on a company’s growth can be great.”
The Grass Is Never Greener on the Other Side of a Technology Integration Speaker: Scott Cohn (Vice President, E-Commerce – Chinese Laundry) “Whether the reason is maximizing the life of a legacy system, budget concerns or management changes, businesses often find themselves piecing together disparate retail management platforms. Whatever makes splintering software among two or more platforms seem attractive at first is quickly overshadowed by compatibility issues that result in all sorts of customer facing headaches—like pricing errors, out-of-stocks and hours wasted chasing down data.”
David vs. Goliath: Technology for Leveling the Playing Field for Small to Mid-Sized Retailers Speakers: Nicholas Macco (Founder – Southtree) & Andrew Scarbrough (Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer – Delegator) “Large retailers can afford the technology that helps them grow exponentially. Smaller retailers struggle with such investments. But that doesn’t mean small retailers have to struggle with second-rate technology. A slew of free and low-cost technology exists that can help smaller retailers thrive—if they know where to look for these tools.”
And a bonus session (because it’s always fun to see a successful client on stage):
Advertising on Amazon Speaker: Corey Frons (Chief Executive Officer – BulbAmerica) “Corey Frons has implemented various e-commerce and marketing technologies that have placed his company on the Inc. 500 list for the past three years, making BulbAmerica one of Americas fastest-growing companies. He has built a reputation for helping organizations and senior executive teams understand the impact of the web and digital marketing technologies for their existing and future business. Corey has helped identify, create and execute transformational e-commerce strategies and organizational changes in multichannel environments.”
What sessions are you most excited about? Let us know on twitter @hublogix
We inherently know that a stockout (aka an out-of-stock or OOS) is a frustrating experience for all involved in eCommerce. What isn’t always appreciated is how just one stockout event with a single customer can have a ripple effect across a retailer’s eCommerce revenue and reputation.
Short-Term: Losing the Sale(s)
Meet Christine, who is in the market for a new set of cleats for the upcoming softball season. Christine finds WickedAwesomeSoftballGear.com via online search (all that marketing investment on the seller’s part is paying off!). While on the site, she adds the cleats plus new socks, batting gloves, and a new bat to her cart. She submits her credit card info, makes the purchase, and excitedly receives her confirmation email from the site. But…two days later she gets another email saying that the bat is actually out-of-stock.
In their paper on Measuring and Mitigating the Costs of Stockouts, researchers from Northwestern, Duke and MIT observed that a stockout on an individual item impacts the customer’s likelihood to purchase additional items as part of the same transaction.
“A stockout on one item increases the probability of customers cancelling other items in that order, representing 33% of the total short-run opportunity cost.”
Christine decides to cancel her entire order and is back on the hunt for cleats to buy online.
Long-Term: 1 Customer Lost Today, Profitability Tomorrow
Not only is Christine cancelling the purchase of her entire basket due to the stockout on just one item, she is less likely to do anything with WickedAwesomeSoftballGear.com going forward.
“Customers who experience a stockout were less likely to place a subsequent order, ordered fewer items, spent less (revenue), and had a lower subsequent conversion rate”.
Now that one stockout has cost the retailer one basket’s worth of revenue. And even if Christine returns to the site in the future, her basket size will likely be smaller.
Consider the inverse possibility – according to Bain & Co, “a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%”.
So Christine’s cancellation of the order hurts today and her unlikely future return hurts tomorrow. For the retailer, the time spent processing the cancelled order, coupled with the upfront marketing investments to bring Christine to the site in the first place, all add up to seller expenses that drove no recognized revenue.
It is not just a lost sale – it is a hit to the site’s profitability.
Big Picture: Your Ability to Work with Future Christines
If Christine had found WickedAwesomeSoftballGear.com’s offerings through a marketplace like ChannelAdvisor or Amazon, that softball cleat order cancellation can now create selling problems for the site’s other customers and transactions. Refunding orders is not enough – cancellations can negatively impact a site’s seller performance rating.
“You get ‘dinged’ as a vendor when you cancel orders. If you cancel several per month, Amazon will end your account. Once your account is banned, no one with your SS# or IP address can open another.” – Amazon Top Reviewers Forum
Maintaining accurate inventory counts on your online storefront and marketplaces is paramount to avoid cancellations (or worse). Stockouts are a problem for retailers of all sizes – small and midsize retailers may think of it as unique to them, but larger enterprise and brick-and-mortar retailers face the same challenges. For retailers with multiple fulfillment vendors (dropshippers, 3PLs, etc.), maintaining inventory accuracy becomes a more challenging task when handled manually. Automating your inventory management – with an Order Lifecycle Management platform like HubLogix or another technology – can significantly reduce your time spent managing your site’s inventory levels and take your error rates to nearly zero.
So you can get back to selling more softball gear to more Christines.
Download HubLogix’s full “Hidden Costs of Order Processing” Infographic
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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