How to implement eBay Order Tracking system

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Abstract
Many decent companies offer customers to track their order online. It seems quite a tricky system to set up. And as things go, very few eBay sellers offer such service. Here the discussion is primarily what options you have when thinking of setting up customer order processing and tracking system, and how much those options cost to a mid-size seller.

Order tracking

From customer point of view this is not only an attractive option to have when buying goods online, but also renders the image of the seller as being a true professional. There is no question that such service is benefiting both, seller and buyer. So how hard can it be to set up order tracking service?

First let’s look at what it will do for your customer.

  1. Confidence in you as a seller as you’re a making the process of shipping goods they have paid for, transparent and clear
  2. Ability to ensure the goods have been shipped in a timely manner.
  3. If it takes a little too long, instead of contacting you asking for assistance, your customers simply go to a web site put eBay item number and their post code. The customer instantly gets information about the status of their order, such as when the order has been received, when it was shipped, what mail currier is handling goods and tracking information from the currier

You as a seller benefit from:

  1. Boost confidence in you, in the eyes of the buyer
  2. No more questions "has my item been shipped yet?"
  3. Traceability

Methods

First thing is to integrate your order management system, if you have any with the payment processors and of course eBay itself. If you have access to some decent IT solution provider - consult them as this is relatively straight forward to set up on individual bases. If however, you don't have resources or opportunity to pull of your own system development, you can always use commercial products widely available for this purpose, examples are - finaWare (by linnsystems dot com), netsuite (by netsuite dot com) or marketrangers (marketrangersolutions dot com).

Once you have integrated the order management systems and have to set up streamline shipping of the goods using the solution, you are ready to open up the data and offer it online. There is a whole bunch of security consideration to take into account if you placing your whole system online. Most sensible thing to do is to open up aggregated data, or cut down version of the data, such as postcode, item number, status of the order and tracking number. Again many already made out-of-box solution will do it for you, even if you don't have a web site. FinaWare does it in the simplest way, it synchronizes data with prebuilt service provider, exporting only tracking information. Netsuite is a bit bizarre with respect to order tracking features, it requires your own infrastructure involvement, but the tradeoff is that you can customize the service as you wish.

Costs

  • Out-of-box
    there are many vendors of already made systems. They are a bit restrictive, since they are made for general use and tuned for mass use. However, they are relatively cheap. I can speak for finaWare as I have extensive experience of using and supporting it - the solution can be setup in about half a day, plus about 2 weeks to get a grip of it and start using it for day-to-day operations. There are of course drawbacks, such as no supply chain management and no full connectivity with postal services and curriers. But the price is good, around $50 for the product itself and if you need support package around $200 for 3 month. I also tried Netsuite which is a bit more expensive and much more versatile, this will set you back by $60 per month, and is a bit tricky to set up. Netsuite doesn't offer support and customization for the product, so you will also need to consider getting some help from someone who knows what they are doing.
  • Custom solutions
    Costs may very from £500 (around $1000) to £20k (around $40k). I recently have been involved in setting up the whole system for very large eBay seller. The impact on the business was dramatic and the cost was quite frustrating for the seller over $10k, with the system nowhere near being perfect.
  • Outsourcing from contracting companies
    Some companies offer IT system development outsourcing. Meaning they will pop in to India and get some cheap coders to write your system. This is absolute "No, No". There is a quite a high chance that they will come back to you with a bunch of spreadsheet and collection of downloaded macros. However, for small scale development, if you feel confident about outsourcer, this will set you back by about £5000 ( around $10000).
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