Last Thursday I had the opportunity to jump on the train West to sunny Bristol and spend a day with the people behind Brightpearl and some of their most valued Clients
For those of you that don’t know, Brightpearl is web based business management software to handle CRM, Accounting, Sales, Invoicing, Stock/Inventory (not the barcoding bit) and Websites.
I arrived fashionably late and entered as one of Brightpearl’s technical wizards was explaining what sits ‘under the hood’ of their system.
The content was ‘technical’ and although I must admit that I was left feeling slightly bamboozled, I did get a key takeaway:
The Brightpearl system is hosted on the Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) .
What this means is:
- Brightpearl can add new instances to the system very quickly
- They have a technical structure that is capable of rapid expansion
Salman Malik , CEO of Brightpearl, described how the Amazon cloud had coped with the rapid growth of a web application - Animoto.
Animoto takes users images, videos and music and turns them into a movie-style trailer. In March 2008, Animoto launched a Facebook application.
In April 2008, Animoto had 750,000 new sign-ups in three days with almost 25,000 people using Animoto every hour. It has since gone on to become one of Amazon’s cloud computing success stories, Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) even mentioned Animoto when giving a speech on Amazon’s Web Services.
Amazon’s ability to cope with this speed of growth is what makes it the platform of choice for software-as-a-service providers like Brightpearl and Peoplevox. Complicated technical content, but reassuringly so :o.
Streamlining warehouse and distribution processes
A quick show of hands confirmed that for the majority of Brightpearl Clients, what goes on in the warehouse is important to the success of their business.
There were quite a few online retailers in the room who had decided to run their own warehouses. One Client said that the had tried to get suppliers to drop-ship on their behalf but they could not get them to work to their standards.
This mirrors the trend that I have been observing over the last 6 months, online retailers are *winning* by retaining complete control of their own warehouse and fulfilment. Reputation and customer satisfaction depend on efficient fulfilment.
A big difference between running your own warehouse and using a 3rd party fulfilment centre is how you are able to respond when things don’t go to plan. Being able to trust that you picked, packed and shipped the right thing can give you a real edge over your competitors when it comes to customer service.
Enter stage left...Peoplevox (more specifically - me!)
“Peoplevox provide a web-based inventory management software that can help you to make your warehouse more efficient...barcode scanning to make sure you pick the right thing...integration to carriers...Peoplevox compliments Brightpearl exceptionally well if you are running a busy warehouse operation.”
“Our number one priority is making our software easy to use”
“We are very excited to be teaming up with Brightpearl!”
It was a real pleasure to catch up with some of Brightpearl’s Clients, to hear about their warehousing challenges and understanding how we might be able to help their businesses.
The growth of ecommerce sales was not being ignored by Brightpearl’s customers. Most are selling via multiple online sales channels too. I heard Amazon, Ebay and Etsy being mentioned.
Integration with these various platforms to manage stock was discussed, Amazon seemed the most popular.
One business owner had an interesting perspective on Ebay, “Our Ebay customers are completely different to our main website’s customers.” Different sales channels will broaden your reach and will ultimately drive traffic back to your main website (where you don’t have to pay anyone fees).
One Client described a situation where he had got into a spot of bother regarding return handling terms and conditions when selling via Amazon. Sometimes the T&C’s of the sales channel can supersede your own.
A word of warning then; always read the T&C’s for any sales channel that you use. For this Brightpearl Client it had meant a legal case to defend his right to not take a return on a very bespoke item.
Thank you to everyone at Brightpearl
It was a very enjoyable day and my first real step into the Brightpearl and Peoplevox partnership. A big thank you to everyone at Brightpearl, they really are very good at hosting ;)
A final thank you to Jean Pierre Hourlier of Hourlier Wines who provided the wine tasting, well worth checking out his website if you are into French wines.