“I just didn’t think that people would pay enough to cover a reasonable profit margin plus Amazon fees on a sale. We now do approximately 50% of our revenue through eight different marketplace channels and that wouldn’t be possible without ChannelUnity.”
Masters Games has a fascinating backstory. When James Masters wrote a website in his spare time on the history of games in 1997, he never expected it to lead to the receipt of a high number of requests for information on where these games could be purchased. Masters Games was born in 1999 to meet that requirement, grew to become a full time occupation turning over £1.7m, with approximately 50% of that coming from marketplace sales.
When Masters Games first started looking for solution for multichannel selling, they were considering Amazon Marketplace but were concerned about sales margins and integration with their existing systems – a custom ecommerce and fulfilment platform, built by an in-house team.
Masters Games selected ChannelUnity’s to integrate their systems with eBay.co.uk and Amazon.co.uk initially. They business has since expanded to sell on multiple international domains of the Amazon and Ebay platforms, in Europe, North America, as well as Japan and Australia.
Before choosing ChannelUnity, the business looked at 10 different vendors. James Masters – “Some weren’t able to fulfil our integration requirements, others had horrific setup fees. With ChannelUnity, we could easily integrate our systems and the percentage-based fee meant that there was minimal risk in giving the proposition a really good test”.
One of the key requirements at Masters Games was the ability of any marketplace solution to integrate with the existing in-house developed systems in use in the business, which ran the website and fulfilment operations. Whereas ChannelUnity and many other vendors provide pre-built apps for integration with popular ecommerce shopping carts, the ChannelUnity solution also comes with a comprehensive and thoroughly documented developer API, which allows custom integrations to be built.
The integration was managed by Masters Games with support and advice from ChannelUnity. It was completed in approximately 4 weeks.
“Completing the integration was relatively straightforward in the end. The API was excellent and ChannelUnity where on hand to help and guide our developers as needed. The custom integration has not compromised the functionality in the slightest. We have ended up with all the functionality we expected, and all the functionality available to any other ChannelUnity user”.
Masters Games list over 1,600 products in over 10 marketplace channels, making a total of 16,000 live listings. This generates over £1m a year in business and according to James Masters, it wouldn’t be possible without ChannelUnity.
It wouldn’t be possible to manage the number of different sales channels that we do manually. The automation of product feeds, stock updates and order imports is the core functionality that we benefit from with ChannelUnity. We have the skills in-house to develop our own integrations but the thought of the time involved in doing that and then supporting it on an ongoing basis when it was possible to do this all through ChannelUnity made it a ‘no brainer’ to bring in a specialist.
The business uses a combination of Fulfilled-by-Amazon and Fulfilled-by-Merchant approaches, in different regions. Fulfilment partners are used in North America as well as inventory held at Amazon. ChannelUnity is able to switch automatically between fulfilment models depending on inventory positions. This flexibility has allowed the business to enter new markets, in regions where it wouldn’t otherwise be economical to hold inventory.
Masters Games is clear that marketplace selling through ChannelUnity has allowed its product to reach a new audience. Not just internationally, but in the type of customers even within its home UK market.
“it’s become clear that there are customer demographics who are shopping on each of the marketplaces and clearly aren’t looking anywhere else. If we are not selling on those channels, these prospective customers aren’t going to find my products and I’m not going to sell to them”.
In setting up these capabilities, the business has relied on the experience and know-how of the ChannelUnity team.
“Expanding internationally, having compatibility with Fulfilled by Amazon and opening up new channels, the support has been extremely beneficial. I know that I can always get hold of someone at ChannelUnity who knows what they’re talking about from a technical perspective. If there is ever anything that isn’t working as it should do, it gets sorted promptly. We’ve never felt anything’s been been kicked into the long grass”
We asked James Masters what ChannelUnity and marketplace selling has meant for his business.
“We sell more. We are less dependent on each individual revenue channel and that reduces risk. The profit on each marketplace sale is lower than selling direct but overall, but the sales volumes more than offset the margin concerns we had. Marketplaces are now our primary sales channel, and ChannelUnity has been instrumental in that growth”.