The company recently unveiled an upgrade to its StoreSense e-business offering that enables e-commerce sellers to post products on eBay, manage auctions, and handle billing and shipping through the same StoreSense interface used to manage their online storefront.
StoreSense’s interface guides users through the process, enabling merchants to select products in their inventory and create customized eBay listings based on data, like descriptions, that already exist for the products. Merchants can customize descriptions, as well as the resulting eBay product listing page.
In addition to benefiting from a unified interface to handle both their Web storefronts and eBay auctions, online merchants can simplify their inventory controls and their accounting. That’s because StoreSense’s new eBay feature enables merchants to quickly take available inventory and prepare it for auctions, and, just as with Web storefronts based on StoreSense, the software’s new eBay feature can feed data to business accounting software like QuickBooks.
“Your experience as a merchant is that you’ve never left the StoreSense interface, from the beginning to end of an eBay auction,” Pierce said. “You can select a product that you either do, or do not have in inventory … and post it to eBay — without having to go through eBay. On the backend, you get to manage the auction entirely within StoreSense, as well — you can see the results, track it as it goes along, or track them in aggregate if you’ve got more than one.”
The eBay link is offered in all versions of Kurant StoreSense: Starter Edition, Standard, Pro and Pro Plus. (The latter two editions offer inventory management capabilities; Pro Plus adds a supply chain management system, which also integrates with eBay auctions.) It also ties into StoreSense’s shipping engine, which can offer shipping via FedEx, UPS, or other services.
The new version of Kurant StoreSense offers a level of deep integration with eBay rivaling that provided in competing solutions, such as those marketed by Interland, AuctionWorks, Bizfinity, and others. For one thing, product categories, eBay partner logos, and page design elements are downloaded in real-time from eBay itself — so if the online auction site reorganizes its category listings, for instance, StoreSense doesn’t require a hard-coded software update.
Yet while Kurant StoreSense’s new eBay features help merchants closely tie their storefronts with their online auction activities, there remain some areas where the auction process is disconnected from a merchant’s Web presence.
For instance, when a customer wins a bid on eBay for a product that had been submitted through StoreSense, the winner cannot complete the purchase through eBay’s built-in interface. Instead, they must visit the merchant’s StoreSense store for check-out. Fortunately, StoreSense automatically sends an e-mail to the auction winner, asking them to do just that — and future upgrades to the eBay API (define) may enable merchants to add a link to their purchasing Web page on winners’ result pages.
Despite the bevy of features, perhaps the most important aspect of StoreSense’s new eBay integration is simply being able to manage auctions and e-tail sites from the same system.
“Whenever I want to load something up for eBay, I can do it straight off my own Web site,” said Robert Taylor, owner of R&R Worldwide and an early tester of the eBay feature in StoreSense. “You don’t have to jump around, cut-and-paste — I pull up the item I want from my own site, push a few buttons, and it loads it up into eBay.”
“It only takes maybe a minute, depending on how fast your machine runs … I click on my eBay link and click on my decisions, and all I enter is how many and how much, and how I want it to run,” he added. “As far as having to cut and paste all the description stuff — all the pictures and whatnot — all I have to do pull it up from my Web site. Without it, I’d just be spending a lot of time cutting and pasting and trying to figure out what to put on where.”
Agreed Pierce, “It’s a hassle to maintain listings in two different places.”
The upgraded StoreSense builds on a similar vision first revealed in 1999, when Kurant struck a deal with auction interface software provider CommerceFlow. Ultimately, however, the deal broke apart after CommerceFlow changed its corporate focus and since vanished from the auction services landscape.