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  • #968680
    XSQUIZZIT Day
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    Hi all,

    Just to introduce myself, I started my company when I was 20 years old (in 2001) because I was bored at uni studying computer science and I thought, why not have a crack at it. So, I created an online store for a company in Melbourne and found it so painful to integrate to their accounting platform (using perl, php) that I thought I would develop my own eCommerce language (XML on Java) and create a scalable platform centered around accounting system integration which eliminates the manual data updates, costly errors and manual keying of orders. I did this because I wanted a solution that could easily adapt to complex B2B/B2C business models. Hmmm, so I locked myself away and started coding by night and selling sites by day…

    After 10 years of creating this flexible eCommerce platform and deploying it for 60 wholesalers and retailers (which thus far has processed over $350m online sales), I have hit a snag. Our team of 10 cannot produce sites fast enough to keep up with the pace of development.

    So I’m thinking of changing the business model and opening up our technology/online documentation and allow others (web developers, creative agencies, individuals) to create integrated web stores using our platform. This means we can focus on technology development. Customers would pay us based on renting the software features they want and implementers would bill out their time to design and produce web stores. I’m thinking we would package features in different editions. I would even like to create a free community edition so that anyone can deploy their own eCommerce site under a community domain.

    We also have a plan to release our integration framework so that others can develop adapters for different accounting packages they have.

    My question is, do you think the business and web developer community would support this model and what sort of things do you recommend that I consider? Also in turn, what is it that we could work further on in order to contribute to the eCommerce/online business community?

    Many thanks in advance for your time and feedback.

    Cheers,
    Glenn

    #1034583
    Raky
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    Hi Glenn,

    Congratulations on the success you’ve had with obviously what is a great product.

    I am not too sure if I understand your new business model in depth. Are you referring to white labeling the current solution you have? Allowing developers and integrators to develop plugins/addons to the current platform you have and charge others if they want those plugins?

    I do think it’s a great idea and I’m extremely interested in the idea however I’d just like to understand it a bit better :(

    #1034584
    XSQUIZZIT Day
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    Hi Raky,

    Thanks for your compliment. I checked out your website and we must chat also about integrating to your payment gateway. Well done on setting up your business. Looks impressive.

    I guess your term “white labelling” is accurate.

    The new licensing system is feature driven and packaged into different levels. Features can be purchased for a fee/mth or if they require considerable features, they can upgrade to the next package level.

    The idea is that the client can grow into the technology as their online business needs expand.

    So for instance, a small businesses may want to start with a Web Store in Standalone mode (meaning no integration). Then when they are ready, they can turn on the MYOB integration feature for a fee/month.

    There are three main opportunities under this new model:

    1. I believe there is a lot of talent in the marketplace that design and implement fantastic websites. Often they are not programmers or do not have an interest in this area or find integration too complex. They can sell their services to their own clients or for designers, we will allow them to implement the design on our CMS platform and sell them through the online Design Store.

    2. As you suggest, there is scope for other companies to develop integration plugins that they can submit and after passing our rigourous QA process, we will add their component to the feature store built into the Administration Centre. When a customer purchases that feature, the developer will be remunerated via a rebate process.

    3. Our technology will be expanded to support auto-deployment. This will allow ISPs / Domain Hosts / Payment Gateways to sell eCommerce Web Stores from their own website.

    Cheers,
    Glenn Drew

    #1034585
    Raky
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    Hi Glenn,

    Thanks for the explanation on the types of changes you’re looking into implementing. Personally, I think it’s a great idea. I see Developers and Integrators seeing great value in it. I also like the idea of giving customers the chance to upgrade single features as they require them.

    It sounds like a very well thought out process and if implemented correctly I believe will be brilliant.

    I hear from a large number of merchants that they are upset with the amount of outsourcing that they have to do in order to get an online site together. There’s the design, the development, the payment gateway, the integration etc. I believe that’s the reason companies such as BigEcommerce and others are experiencing such great success at the moment. It’s a central and easy process to get an online store up and running.

    Your idea on the other hand takes this to a whole new level. It’s basically allowing customers to “customize” a shop and pay for the features which they require and upgrade “features” as well as “packages” as they become necessary. Throw in an open source community and almost like an “app store” development program.

    I love it Glenn. Well done.

    Feel free to PM me your contact details.

    Best Wishes,

    Raky

    #1034586
    John Debrincat
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    XSQUIZZIT Day, post: 41517 wrote:
    My question is, do you think the business and web developer community would support this model and what sort of things do you recommend that I consider? Also in turn, what is it that we could work further on in order to contribute to the eCommerce/online business community?

    Many thanks in advance for your time and feedback.

    Cheers,
    Glenn

    Hello Glenn,

    There is nothing new or innovative that you are proposing. There are numerous providers in the market that offer the same model. Internationally companies like Interspire, Adobe (Business Catalyst), Magento, ePages and many more. We have been in business since 2003 and doing what you outlined in Australia since 2006 and have deployed over 1000 online stores (B2B and B2C) with and without integration to 3rd party systems like SAP, Navision, MYOB and others. We already have mass deployment and can create a feature rich store in real time via web services and deploy within minutes. New features and services can be added dynamically. We have over 65 partner companies in Australia doing everything from hosting to design and implementation to feature development. All work is done within a defined developer framework using supplied APIs and integration points.

    So to answer the first part of your question the model works and its relatively easy to engage the web and IT community but the issue is maintaining quality and a high level of professionalism.

    The market in Australia (and overseas) is big enough to sustain new entrants and operators. There is a relatively small percentage (around 20%) of our Australian businesses transacting online, which is below other countries like Germany, UK, USA, Japan and others. We’er not in the top 10!

    For the second part of your question you need to determine what you have as a specific competitive advantage.

    Australia needs new technologies and professional operators in the eCommerce space because the more good choices Auatralian businesses have the better off we will be. I’d be happy to discuss our experiences with you if it would help.

    Regards

    John

    #1034587
    XSQUIZZIT Day
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    Gday Raky / John,

    Thank you both for your feedback and time spent in your detailed responses. It is greatly appreciated.

    Our competitive edge lies in the more advanced requirements businesses have for an eCommerce system. Features such as mutliple eCommerce sites running in a parent/child heirarchy and sharing products with markups applied, inventory permissions whereby some customers are licensed to purchase a range of products whilst others cannot or customers who have contracted prices that override their assigned price lists, or backorder rules that apply based on certain stock conditions, or eMedia sent to clients based on realtime data analysis). At the entry level, I agree with you that we compete head on with our competitors but as businesses require more from eCommerce, we start to have more punch. Our challenge is to educate the market as to what is possible for them in the future. That said, I understand our model is not ground breaking but I believe our technology applied to the model adds a lot of weight.

    Internally, we have created an RnD model whereby all our clients run on the same software version. We have a monthly release cycle and releases are deployed to all clients within minutes. This means that no eCommerce site will ever be out of sync which often creates complex and costly problems. The other part of this is that releases undergo a rigourous testing program to ensure the software functionality is not compromised.

    Integration is a complex and difficult aspect to making eCommerce systems work particularly as businesses have very diverse requirements and ways they operate. Most eCommerce platforms I come accross are feature driven rather than customer driven. At the core of these platforms is the shopping cart. At the core of our platform is the binding relationship between online user and the accounting system debtor account. Most systems I have evaluated, Magento etc are focused around the shopping cart application rather than the customer relationship. This makes it very clunky to implement integrations for companies that have very intricate pricing models, product permissions, stock rules, freight rules, account management rules.

    Pricing is a very difficult area for eCommerce platforms to handle. Every accounting/ERP system does it differently with varying levels of complexity. Our second generation integration architecture has at its core a unified pricing algorithm which enables lightning fast searches no matter how complex the pricing matrix is in the ERP and the number of products in the inventory. This will allow us to create a common integration architecture that we plan to release as open source.

    I plan to release the package levels and feature list in the coming weeks and your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    John, we will be exhibiting at the Online Retailer show also and I will defaintely drop by your stand for a chat. Raky, feel free to come and have a chat if you are based in Sydney.

    Best Regards,
    Glenn Drew

    http://www.xsquizzit.com

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