Vitec, the global provider of accessories and services for broadcast and photography, uses Highstreet.io’s platform and managed service to simplify its integration with major marketplaces, such as eBay and Amazon, and Rakuten.
The strategic advantages of a truly omnichannel customer experience were immediately evident to Vitec.
Marketplaces have become a central element in the growth strategies of many companies that, especially in recent years, have opted for omnichannel customer management.
According to the Ecommerce B2C Netcomm Politecnico di Milano Observatory, in 2020 the boom in product sales (+ 45% in 12 months) brought the total turnover of eCommerce in Italy to a value of 32.4 billion euros., up 5%.
Significant contributors to this increase were online marketplaces, which, especially in the last year of the pandemic, have allowed numerous companies to expand the size of their business from a national to an international presence.
Index of topics
Integration with marketplaces: why it matters
Attracting potential customers from virtually all over the world makes integrating with online marketplaces particularly attractive for companies.
The ability to sell products to a larger market, without having to invest huge capital in additional sales and logistics networks, allows retailers and brands to optimize production without the risk of accumulating excessive inventory.
One of the main problems that sellers encounter when “entering” the world of marketplaces is the enormous effort required in keeping product availability up-to-date. Marketplace integration can be complicated because each platform has its own rules for loading and displaying product data and that data may need to be reformatted.
This is why the use of synchronization, integration, and feed management solutions services are growing.
Marketplace integration involves the automation of many activities such as:
- Acquisition of customer data on an eCommerce platform and the seller’s CRM
- Real-time inventory synchronization logistics (normal and return) and payments or automatic billing
How integration with marketplaces is achieved
The popular marketplaces offer the ability to automatically update product data, and export it from the most common eCommerce platforms through application programming interfaces like (API), CSV files (Comma Separated Values), XML files (eXtensible Markup Language) and RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary).
However, this process can be a complex activity, which requires specific development skills, database administration, CRM, feed management, and content optimization.
Vitec Imaging Solutions discovered the challenges of marketplace integration two years ago when it decided to strengthen the omnichannel strategy for its leading brands Manfrotto, JOBY, Lowepro, and Gitzo by entering into agreements with the main international marketplaces, Amazon and eBay.
Vitec, a world leader in products and services for Imaging, serves professionals from broadcasting to photography.
Its offering ranges from electronics to industrial products and its customers are film production companies such as:
- Netflix and Amazon
- Television networks
- Ad agencies
- Physical and online consumer electronics chains such as Adorama, BestBuy, B&H or Mediaworld
- Image professionals and amateur photographers
A “pocket multinational”, is how Flavio Fiorio, Senior Vice President of Information Technology and Web of Vitec Imaging Solutions describes his company, with the typical problems related to operating in different geographies. “Vitec generates about 250 million euros yearly but we still operate with the limited resources of a medium-sized company.”
“We started a digital project at the end of 2019 – he explains-. We are a company that initially operated in the B2B field, but has undergone a strong evolution in recent years, digital direct channels account for about 7% but already 60% of our products are sold online between direct and indirect, so eCommerce plays a strategic role that we wanted to enhance and strengthen to meet the demand of end customers, that is, the customers of our customers.
The main objective of this project was to create a presence not only in the galaxy of Amazon vendors but also in the different marketplaces.”
In taking this important step, Vitec relied on Highstreet.io’s data integration services. The goal was to simplify and speed up the synchronization of product data on marketplaces and ensure their updating in real-time. The service, managed on Highstreet.io’s SaaS (Software as a Service) model, allows its eCommerce platform to integrate with eBay, Amazon, and Amazon’s VCS automatic billing service.
We chose Kipcast because “it has shown that it knows how to combine the technical and business aspects well. The people at Kipcast speak our language well and their HighStreet.io solution integrates seamlessly with our IT environment and, in particular, with the EDI platform (IBM Sterling – ed). Today HighStreet.io manages all sales on Amazon and we are also extending it to eBay. ” The result is “a functional and functioning interface with the marketplaces. This is not a small result since they are all non-standard worlds but, indeed, rather complex. The role of Kipcast is fundamental because their platform acts as middleware between us and them, allowing us to communicate and integrate without problems.”
Highstreet.io at the Heart of The Vitec Group’s Omnichannel Strategy
In the vendor selection phase, Kipcast’s presence in Italy represented an undoubted advantage for this Italy North East company: “Proximity played an important role – explains Fiorio -. Finding an Italian supplier with technical expertise in a particular sector like this was not easy. The proximity problem is not insignificant, because trivially the main suppliers of these solutions are Californians and with the time difference there is a short window of a couple of hours a day to be able to talk to each other.
Another reason that led us to choose Kipcast is linked to their in-depth knowledge of the main marketplaces on which we operate and of those, such as Rakuten, which we are evaluating for the near future.
Ease of integration, speed of exposure, updating, and modification of the product offering are the main advantages of a transparent and fluid integration between the backend of the company – ERP and CRM in particular -, eCommerce,eBay, and Amazon platforms.”
Technology as a strategic value
“The added value that Kipcast has provided is linked to three fundamental factors for us – comments the manager -. First of all, the technical competence. This means not only knowing the eCommerce business well but also listening to our needs and, above all, knowing how to translate them in a short time into an effective solution. Another distinctive element that we particularly appreciated is linked to this aspect, namely the ability of Kipcast to also grow our skills in the field of eCommerce and online business. In my team, there are 18 people and until a few years ago our skills were certainly more limited than today for what concerns the WEB world. Now when we also interact with other technology vendors we are able to ask the right questions because we know what is behind the scenes and this gives us much more confidence. Last but certainly not least, there is another key aspect linked to the availability of this partner, so we can call for any problem or update and Kipcast specialists intervene in real-time at any time. “
In the future, the idea is to extend the use of Highstreet.io to new geographies, such as Australia and New Zealand, where Vitec Imaging Solutions plans to rely on some local marketplaces.
“We have found – concludes Fiorio – a truly customer-friendly supplier, which helps us to grow our structure by simplifying the interaction with these very complex worlds and this is a value that goes beyond the aspect of services and technology. It is a strategic and business value.”
This post has been translated from a publication located at Digital 4 Biz.