We are currently part of a beta test group for ChannelAdvisor, testing their integration into a new ‘premium’ storefront.

I was pretty eager to put my hand up for this, as the old store has a lot of limitations and shortcomings. It certainly isn’t a best of breed product. Is the new premium store going to be worth the wait?

It sure will be.

The new platform is AspDotNetStoreFront, served up from ChannelAdvisor’s own servers.

Before ChannelAdvisor bought Marketworks, Marketworks had developed some integration with this same storefront. The ChannelAdvisor integration is now done via the new Universal Commerce Connector (or UCC for short).

When your account is enabledfor premium store access, the Store menu link on MarketplaceAdvisor gives you two options, CA stores and Professional Stores.

Professional Stores allows you to set up a ‘mapping’ to a Premium Store (AspDotNetStoreFront) or to a Yahoo store. Yahoo store access seems to have been available for CA customers upon request in the past, but this didn’t seem to be widely know, or used. Perhaps it was a little buggy? Seems that it will be another viable option soo though.

The connection to the new premium store walks you through syncing (and mapping of) inventory data, mapping of shipping carrier names and order pulling. Fairly straightforward to get the basics going.

So, to the guts of it!

What extra functionality does this new premium storefront give CA sellers?

I’ll list dot points, as I have discovered so far.

  • Complete template control over entire site (template, category, product display etc)
  • Built in Wishlist function, Gift Registry functions
  • Support for ‘Kits’ or ‘Packs’ of mulitple SKUs (CA haven’t confirmed if this is supported yet or not)
  • Built in ‘Bestsellers’ page.
  • 6 default templates to choose from (some are ok)
  • Products can be assigned to multiple categories
  • Shipping is totally independent of CA (and therefore eBay sales etc)
  • Checkout is customisable, and you can choose one page checkout
  • Full control of Page title and Meta information for Category, Brand, Individual products
  • Navigation by Manufacturer (each Brand can have it’s own page, with images, HTML etc)
  • Ability to update shipping costs ‘in page’ with Ajax
  • News section for static content (add your own HTML news items to the site)
  • Mini shopping cart on page

There are probably many more things. There is a ton of customisation available in the back end using the seemingly hundreds of application configuration parameters.

But the real bonus is now you can get a professional store design done, and extra functionality can be added.

You might want things like

  • 3 column template
  • ‘Last 5 items bought’ list
  • ‘Top 5 discounted items’
  • etc etc

Quite powerful. But to get the most out of it, you are going to have to play with code…

Summary

So far, it looks to be great software. Some massive companies use it for retail. It has the potential to give your users a much better experience than they would get with the basic CA store (but will require programming).

Hopefully, we will have our new site working ina  few weeks, and since we have a bucketloadof analytics data for the old store it willbe very interesting to see how the new one compares when we flick the switch! Stay tuned…