Guide to the web store
There are several aspects to setting up a web store including, design and hosting. However this section deals only with our control panel and how to use it.
The control panel allows the following functions
- Arrange Categories
- Manage brands
- Manage suppliers / feeds
- Improve descriptions
- Set profit margins
2 main ways to get started selling online: –
- Turnkey solution with Magento. We have plug ins for these packages that allow you get a live site within a few days, although you can fully customize the sites as you wish. If you know Magneto you can run this completely yourself.
- Take our datafeed to populate your own ecommerce software with our stock, prices and product description data. Also for ERP and CRM uses.
We offer sample data and trials so you can try before you buy.
How it works
The following describes how the process of updating the site works, we will provide an online store that: –
- Fetches stock and price data automatically from your distributors and imports this data in to the web store (it logs in to collect your specific price list with the distributor).
- Allows you to add your own products either within the existing navigation or in a separate navigation you create.
- Provides full product descriptions for the products in distribution so visitors can properly evaluate the products on offer.
- Set margins by price of the product, vendor or category or set manual prices or manual margins per product and customer.
Our tool to manage what you sell
Stock in the Channel have developed a complete tool to manage the products that are listed on your site.
Broadly this allows you to: –
1) Control the margins in your shop
2) Manage the products you sell
3) Set price bands for customer groups
4) Choose which suppliers to include in the shop and if you wish to prejudice against them
5) Create custom categories and move and rename defined categories
6) Choose the brands to include
7) Customise the format of your file to be exported
A way of Setting Margins and Pricing
This model deals with virtual stock from your distributors. The lowest priced instance of an item that is in stock in supplier feeds is used as the basis for cost plus margins. (It is possible to prioritise your own stock). You can set a minimum stock threshold to avoid out of stock issues. Distributors with less than the minimum stock threshold will not be included (that means if they have a low price but stock below the threshold, their price will not be included).
The following controls over pricing are possible: –
- Costs plus margin by price minimum to price maximum, brand and category. (i.e. Brand: All, Price: £0 to £100, Category: Laptops)
- Multiple rules can be set up with an execution order. If more than one rule applies to a product the rule to be executed last applies. You can set the order.
- Manual pricing in actual £s or a manual margin can be set up.
- You can set hidden margins on distributor prices to prejudice against them – these can be either a fixed amount or an extra percentage – these extra margins are applied before the price rules are applied.
- You can set price bands per customer – as percentages – on top of the price list prices, so Jim could pay an extra 10% and John an extra 5% – A common requirement is to produce your main price bands – typically gold, silver and bronze, and then override these prices with specific set prices for the haggle products by customer.
- In your ecommerce software you may have the ability to set margins in addition to the above – by customer or overall.
Product Descriptions and content
Stock in the Channel has over 1.4m product descriptions – including images and specifications.
In our feeds we include product descriptions provided by Icecat, descriptions provided by distributors and user and third party reviews provided by TestSeek – all matched with the products from your suppliers and your own stock.
Icecat is a content subscription service that typically retails for 300 euros per month for its full catalogue. They also have an Open model that is free. The free open product descriptions cover about 60% of products, the full subscription increases this to 72%.
With our service everyone gets all of the category and attribute information from the premium subscription plus links to datasheets we host (branded for your company) containing the premium content. These datasheets can be included in an iframe to appear on your site.
If you pay for the full subscription you get the actual data rather than the iframe for the products that are only available on the full subscription. Cnet is also being offered at £75 per month that will provide a back fill for open Icecat products via the provision of their full product descriptions.
The following information is provided:
- Manufacturer’s Name / Part Number
- Product Name
- EAN code (if available)
- Category of product (e.g. Category computers, subcategory laptop)
- A link to a datasheet that we host which contains an all the product information – to which you can add your own style sheet.
- Total stock level from the distributors that you buy from
- Lowest price of the product from the distributors that you buy from and that have stock
- Name of the lowest cost distributor
- Links to images of the product
- Your sell price for the product (according to the rules you have set up)
- A separate file containing stock and prices from each separate distributor supplying the product
- Detailed product description
- Full product specifications
- Images – including a range of thumbnails, larger and high resolution. Some products have multiple images – up to 40 in some cases
- Product attributes (e.g. memory – 2GB)
- A list of related products
- User and Expert reviews of the products
Improving product descriptions
Over 1.1m product descriptions are provided. However that still leaves hundreds of thousands of products without descriptions. Particularly parts and obscure products are without descriptions. However to allow you to effectively sell these products we have developed tools to improve product descriptions in bulk. To begin, you search our site using any criteria available until you have the required list of products in front of you then: –
- Select one or more of the products and bulk edit. This is a one of action.
- Create rule, this does similar things to the bulk edit except that the rules run automatically everynight.
This will allow you to set the images for the product and the descriptions, copy or move the product in to a category, set the weight of the products, stock level, status, profit margin, product status and more. These rules are great for getting your products listed on shopping channels, for search engine optimization and fundamentally so you have better display on your web site.
Our main categorisation is from Icecat – which is great for the IT industry. You can create your own custom categories. Your site can include multiple category trees. Additionally we offer: –
- A toner finder – using data sourced from Bechlem and covering 31,000 printers. Compatible brands are included and your own compatible brand can be added. You are able to choose which compatible Brand(s) to sell.
- Office products solutions, Vow, Spicers, Azerty and others can be offered. For example with Vow we import all their products, using their own descriptions / images, plus Icecat and optionally Cnet. BOSS Federation categories are used to navigate.
- Custom categorisation, your own category structure can be uploaded to our system.
Stock from your distributor’s (virtual stock) feeds into the web store at least once a day. You can add your own stock (and other supplier’s products) too by providing an FTP location where our system can go to and retrieve the file. So fundamentally you should have no issues with out of stock items.
At most we can update the feed hourly so you can update stock changes. If you need real time data, a web service is offered that allows you to initiate real time queries of stock availability, however this only covers some of the suppliers as not all suppliers offer real time stock checks.
The ability to add your own stock & private suppliers
In addition to the 90 plus supported distributors you can add your own stock or other suppliers who are not already included. In this way the site gives you a complete view of the products you are able to source. Some of our customers include up to 80 private suppliers. All products are matched with product descriptions if available, products are updated via a manual upload – or by you setting up a task that puts the up to date product list at an FTP location – where our server can log in and collect it.
Private datafeeds have two rules that you can apply :-
1) Prioritise this feed – this means all other suppliers of the same products will be ignored
2) Do not apply pricing rules – this means you can put strategic sales prices in your feed
All the product data/prices in a spreadsheet
This is the information that populates your webstore. It is available in two different formats for you to download – import it to your ERP or CRM or export it to other sales channels. It is updated every day although there are hourly options available.
Choose one of our two file formats.
Simple flat file
One flat file – with your choice or delimiters and columns to include.
✓ POSITIVES – Easy to import into any application with limited technical knowledge.
✘ NEGATIVES – Not as robust as the relational database and slightly less information
Download a Sample in the Flat File format http://www.stockinthechannel.com/samples/productsfullexport.csv
11 table relational database
A set of interrelated tables using ids.
✓ POSITIVES – Robust and reliable with the full range of information.
✘ NEGATIVES – You need to be a developer to import this file.
To access this file you need to use FTP
Find details of the sample file on the demo page