Well, if you accept ChannelAdvisor's definition, it's when you hit the magical $20,000 a month mark. That's about when you're eligible for the recently released latest generation of the company's ChannelAdvisor Merchant product, which the company says is a platform tailored for businesses selling in excess of $20,000 per month via online marketplaces especially auction sites like eBay.
ChannelAdvisor says the new release adds "significant" functionality to automate processes for businesses that use Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software and package and delivery services such as UPS and FedEx. The original self-service Merchant product was rolled out in March.
Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based ChannelAdvisor says the latest of its Web-based user interface product is "true enterprise-class software," of the sort being used by IBM, Motorola and Sears in their eBay marketing efforts.
One thing that caught my eye was a feature that lets a user automatically extend a "second chance offer" to eBay buyers who did not win an auction, but were the highest underbidder on an item.
I've not had a lot of luck with second-chance offers on my eBay sales (darn those sour-grapes losers!), but anything that automates the process is clearly of help, and the more auctions you have, the more help it is.
Perhaps even more important if your business is approaching the mid-size range are the integrated accounting and logistics features. Offering direct support for both accounting and fulfillment systems, the new version can generate reports for direct import of data for sales reconciliation, invoicing, label generation and fulfillment.
The new version also includes support for multiple users (you've got employees now, remember?) with different roles and permissions, inventory control, integrated payment processing and improved performance reporting.
And there's a new "recovery rate maintain" scheduling feature, which means you can maintain a fluctuating number of auction listings. The higher the prices you're getting, the more auctions posted. If closing prices edge down, this schedule reduces the number of auctions it posts to match your pre-set formula.
A self-guided tour of the new capabilities within ChannelAdvisor Merchant is available online.
"ChannelAdvisor Merchant is the only auction management solution that gives companies the ability to double their sales while reducing their cost," said Scot Wingo, chief executive officer and president of privately held ChannelAdvisor.
That may be true, or it may be a little corporate chest-thumping, but the new features are indeed interesting, especially if your business is reaching the point where you're just being overwhelmed by all the details shipping records, inventory control, customer inquiries, bookkeeping, etc.
And if you're not quite there yet, there's also ChannelAdvisor Pro, designed for smaller businesses and eBay power sellers.
Competition is intense in this arena, and if you're shopping for a way to ease your growing pains, you might also want to look at FairMarket and Vendio (formerly AuctionWatch). A fast search on Google turned up literally dozens of other potential solutions, too, some of which integrate with QuickBooks, although many seem oriented toward the smaller sellers.
My advice would be to do your due diligence before signing up for anything as always.
Adapted from ecommerce-guide.com.