As Was Doesn’t Compete With ChannelAdvisor


Monday, 13 February 2012 at 5:18 am Pacific USA Time.

With so few of our clients using ChannelAdvisor, they’re not a company I’m normally thinking about. But they got my attention recently. First, a number of my non-CA customers contacted me to tell me that CA was aggressively cold calling and emailing them. Then, I got an email from CA trying to sell to someone who isn’t me. The email was addressed to one of our former clients (from MANY years ago) with like 10 people CC’ed. I think aggressive tactics like that tend to look desperate.

Maybe this is why CA is being more aggressive about trying to find more customers:

Or this from Alexa.com:

This was the email I and like 10 other people received (click to enlarge). Many of the other people did not receive it as it was sent to a dot com that is no longer registered by anybody. No website there. Certainly no email boxes at a dot com not owned by anybody. But nobody at CA noticed, and the email went out…

But what really caught my attention was when a client who got cold called told me that ChannelAdvisor told him we are competitors. As Was does not compete with ChannelAdvisor in any way. We do not offer software at all. They offer software. They fired their designers years ago, and have a web page on their site where they recommend “design partners.” We used to be on that page back when I was doing everything I could possibly do to support and recommend CA. Once I was hearing from so many unhappy CA clients, I could no longer recommend them, so they took us off their page. But we don’t compete. You can work with both of us as we supply different services and products.

We have supported CA customers since we first saw the system in 2001. We can install our fantastic eBay listing templates. We can do CA basic stores, though you’d never really want one. :) We can do CA Premium Stores, should you think you want one. If you are considering Channel Advisor, we suggest looking at Solid Commerce. We make no money from these recommendations. As consultants who live on our reputation, it’s important for us to make impartial and unpaid recommendations to match sellers with the right system for them. Most people looking at ChannelAdvisor would probably be happier with Solid Commerce, or so I’ve found. But then again, we had some clients leave ChannelAdvisor for Blackthorne and Auctiva! I have a British client trying StoreFeeder.com instead of CA. No idea if StoreFeeder is any good, but it sounds like they’re an option.

I also think Magento is a fantastic choice. It’s a GREAT eCommerce system that we’ve been designing for for years. You can list to eBay, Amazon, etc… It’s a real multi-channel system with a lot of flexibility. Magento was great before eBay bought them, and now, eBay appears to be putting nearly all their eggs in the Magento basket. This means we are (still) not recommending ProStores.

I can’t really make much sense out of ChannelAdvisor. I never understood why they told people they competed with us when they don’t. I never understood why they told people in 2008 that eBay was going to outlaw As Was templates. Wasn’t true then and certainly isn’t true now, but was really surreal. Any company that has to say these types of things to try to make themselves look like a better choice… well, I guess they feel like that’s the best way to try to compete. CA and As Was can happily co-exist.

It also never made sense to me that ChannelAdvisor had $75 million in venture capital funding, but had its first profitable quarter at the end of 2008. To get that profit, they had to cut 19% of staff. Plus it shouldn’t be missed that the profit came in Q4, which is holiday selling time, and CA takes a percentage of their users’ sales. It was interesting that they announced at that time that they’d stop innovating around eBay. I had always felt that they had stopped that around 2002. :) But their profit in late 2008 was on $10 million in revenue for that quarter. This means that investors gave them $75 million, and they used that to bring in $10 million of business in their best quarter to date. I think that’s a bad sign. Give me $75 million, and I promise to turn it at LEAST into $75.1 million. :) And I’ve noticed that CA has stopped publicly talking about their revenue or number of customers.

So in closing, we don’t compete with CA. We don’t recommend them. We think other options will work better and cost less for most sellers. Some sellers will still need CA, and we support them. We can design for CA’s stores and eBay features. If you sign with CA, my main suggestion is typically to mark in your calendar the day you need to tell CA whether or not you are continuing with them another year. The word on the street is that if you let that day come and go, your contract renews for a full year, and there’s no way to break the contract. Mark your calendars just in case you want to terminate with CA as you’ll need to play by the letter of the contract.


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