Firstly, let me give a huge thanks to Helen and Michael from Vendio who took a good long time to show me the service today and answer my questions. As regular readers know, I am a real pain in the butt so I am very appreciative of their attention and for taking the time to answer my questions. 🙂
There is a lot of really great stuff that others went over yesterday so I won’t recap. I do, however, want to cover a few new things I learned today that I hadn’t seen anyone covered elsewhere.
The most exciting thing I took away from my talk with them is the Vendio platform is shaping up to be the WordPress of web stores. It is as close to an open-source platform selling as I have seen.
There are no restrictions on how you can customize the store, including external links (to allow it to fit seamlessly with your existing site), adding your own HTML and even ads if you wish. They are already in talks with Google to add Google Adsense capability. This is cool on two levels. Firstly, you have the option to make some money from your site by putting ads on it and secondly, if there are already ads on your existing website, it’s easier to make them match visually.
Store can be customized by HTML or CSS as well as their neat drop and drag feature so while customization will be easy for the knowledgeable, I am sure there will be a booming market for third party providers who can customize templates for you.
What this amounts to is that anything you want to do with your store, you can pretty much do. You can show your Bonanzle or Etsy items in the sidebar if you wish with a widget. You can use a Twitter badge to show your Twitter updates. You can syndicate your blog right alongside your products. You can even link to your eBay listings using your affiliate links if you wish. It is really slick and the options are pretty endless.
They have already developed a few ready made add-on widgets like WordPress plugins and my next question was to see if this was an opportunity for developers to create apps for the platform and sell them. The short answer was, not yet but they might be open to that in the future. But, as discussed above, with the HTML, the options are pretty endless so they likely isn’t a need for many new widgets since you can do it all with HTML.
A few other things:
I had asked then if the $10 a month fee applied per platform, in other words if I sold on Amazon and eBay, would it be $20 a month. The good news is that the $10 a month gets you a single account on each platform. So if you only have one account on Amazon and one on eBay, you are truly only paying $10 a month. If, however, you have more than one eBay or Amazon account, you are looking at a higher fee which is on a sliding scale based on your needs.
As of now, the store will only support eBay, not Half.com as well. Just wanted to make that distinction for the benefit of media sellers.
They already have integration set up for Google Analytics so you don’t have to rely on an unfamiliar external traffic engine. Very cool!
There is some “rudimentary” (their word, not mine) automation between channels. Not 100% sure what this means but as this is still an evolving service, any automation between channels is a good thing but I look forward to see advanced features of this in the future.
Payment methods are varied and up to you. They are the same payment methods offered by eBay (and the checkout engine is based on their eBay checkout system) and a few extras. This gives you greater flexibility to sell whatever you want, however you want.
There is no fee for the store AND no fees whatsoever for listing or selling an item in the webstore. The only fees at this time are if you wish to use them for the image hosting of your webstore but they plan to add optional upgrades in the future.
If you are a seasonal or only occasional seller on eBay or Amazon, upgrading and downgrading your account to add or subtract cross platform functionality from your webstore is simple so you needn’t pay for, say, their eBay services all year if you only use eBay in December.
I am, obviously excited. The pessimist in me cannot help but temper this by saying I should wait and see the reality before getting too excited but the biggest thing that struck me is that they started out right and gave the sellers so many options, even if there are some small hiccups in the beginning, this has the makings of an amazing, powerful platform.
In the end, the biggest advantage to this is that it finally solves the problem that every multi-platform seller has: where do I link to? Now you have an infinitely customizable webstore that you can integrate with your existing website as well as your Amazon, eBay or (with the use of HTML and widget) wherever you sell so you only have to send buyers to one place.
If you sign up on their site today, the webstore is totally free right from the start and there is a free 2 month trial of the Amazon/eBay option. If you already have an existing Vendio account but have only used their free services, not their listing services, you can ask to have your account optioned into the platform. If you already use Vendio to list your items on eBay, you will either need to create a new account or wait, to quote them, “a long while” before they have the capacity to move it over.