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Mon May 21 2012 13:18:52

New UI and MultiChannel Selling Challenges the Buzz at MonCon

By: Julia Wilkinson

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An upcoming streamlined user interface makeover, challenges of managing inventory with growing businesses, and understanding the growing world of selling platforms out there were on online merchants' minds at this past weekend's annual Monsoon Commerce Conference, aka "MonCon," held in Philadelphia, PA. Sample screens of the planned UI makeover got a positive response from the audience of online sellers.

Many of the sellers here are mid-sized merchants, according to Monsoon Commerce CEO Brian Elliott, who explained their customers are generally people who do anywhere from $250,000 through $50 million in  business a year.

Leo Grinya, CEO of eParts and More, said his company ships about 50 orders a day. Eileen Kravitz, CFO at Shore Power Inc, said one of her company's challenges were things such as "getting things to talk" to each other. Shore Power Inc., which runs Battery Junction and is a global distributor of portable power product, uses the Stone Edge product (acquired by Monsoon two years ago), which manages their shipping and inventory.

In a session titled "Monsoon Commerce Product Roadmap," Monsoon executives John Evons and John Seaner explained how the company planned to enhance and simplify its product interfaces, significantly streamlining and de-cluttering the screens merchants would use to manage their businesses. Elliott explained the company was keeping its installed software programs, but was also going to a web-based based solution as well.

Beyond working with the Monsoon software, a lot of merchants were trying to wrap their brains around all the online marketplaces out there -- which should they be selling on, and why.

Randy Smythe, Merchant Evangelist at Buy.com, explained the vision of its Japan-based parent company Rakuten in his session, "Enabling Merchants to Succeed": Rakuten has a philosophy of empowering independent merchants, explained Smythe.  Sellers who haven't heard of the Rakuten Group yet surely will soon, as it is becoming a bigger and bigger jugernaut which owns or has stakes in Buy.com, Play.com, PriceMinister, Pinterest, social networking company Aha Life, and ereader Kobo. Smythe explained Buy.com sellers would be able to leverage Rakuten's Asian reach and sell to Japan simply by shipping their items to California.

There were several books and media sellers at the conference, many of which attended "The ABCs of Fulfillment by Amazon" session by Jeff Moore of Amazon. If you weren't convinced selling stuff via FBA would help your sales, by the end of Moore's talk, you would have been. And Monsoon's Ben Carmel talked about the finer points of selling on Amazon and eBay, and the importance of keeping your seller performance numbers within Amazon's acceptable range. There was debate about the value of offering free shipping on eBay, with one merchant saying he actually saw his sales decrease when he offered it, then pop back up when he took it away. And apparently, there is a way to have bad feedback removed on Amazon, though I have yet to discover it.

Did you attend MonCon and what did you think? Or what are your thoughts on some of its sessions (see article links in this blog post)? Post a comment here!




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