Elsie’s Antiques – FillZ.com Case Study
Elsie’s Antiques has been selling online through FillZ.com since September 2003. Based in a western suburb of Chicago, the firm is owned by Kenneth and Susan Hickey and offers used books, videos and CDs.
Elsie’s Antiques’ memorable name comes from the famous cow that fronted the Borden Milk Company’s promotional campaigns across America in the 1940s and 1950s. Although the name might be a throwback to another generation, its use of the internet is thoroughly modern.
“I spent nine years selling online from my home and have run a retail store for the past four years,” explained Kenneth, who spent 25 years in the video rental business before becoming an online seller. “I’ve now returned to selling solely from my home because the store didn’t get enough foot traffic and overheads were too high.”
One of FillZ’s first clients, Kenneth lists around 35,000 items on seven online marketplaces – Abebooks, Amazon, Alibris, Half, ChooseBooks, Biblio and eBay. General used books make up 80 per cent of Kenneth’s inventory.
“I first began selling on Amazon. I was the owner of a video store and had too many tapes, so I started to put them online. I also started to sell books through Abebooks by using its software HomeBase,” he said. “I moved more into books and I then realized that I wanted to sell on as many online marketplaces as possible - that’s when I came across FillZ.
“Customer service is really important to me. I don’t want to lose a single order. It’s not easy to manage your inventory across multiple websites and that’s why I use FillZ.”
Kenneth and Susan take care of order fulfillment while four other members of staff input data to maintain the inventory.
Although all the marketplaces have different criteria for sellers, FillZ writes custom java scripts to ensure Elsie’s Antiques conforms to all their demands. For instance, FillZ ensures Elsie’s Antiques only provides books to Abebooks.com – a marketplace that doesn’t sell CDs or videos. FillZ ensures teacher’s edition textbooks are not sent to eBay and Half.com where they are prohibited.
“We receive around 75 orders each day,” said Kenneth. “We build the inventory by using SellerEngine – a third party software for listing and then our file is uploaded to Fillz where they take care of the rest. If a book is pre-ISBN then we manually input the data into the FillZ online interface.”
Kenneth’s staff uses a barcode scanner to enter basic book data into the inventory management software. In order to make his listings more detailed, the condition of the book is then manually entered to enhance the listing. Antiquarian books also receive detailed descriptions to catch the eye of rare book-buyers. We also take digital images of more expensive books, and FillZ provides that image to many marketplaces.”
Thanks to FillZ, Elsie’s Antiques is able to easily sell on Amazon’s marketplace, which is designed for ISBN books, and also Abebooks, Alibris and Biblio – three sites dedicated to pre-ISBN books.
Individual listings can be manually edited via the FillZ online interface and Kenneth regularly provides new files of additional inventory to FillZ for uploading across the marketplaces. FillZ also has a series of pre-written java scripts for clients wishing to make wholesale changes – such as an inventory-wide price increase or decrease.
“I even use FillZ to place our inventory on our own site – www.elsiesantiques.com ,” added Kenneth. “It’s easier to use FillZ than manually do it ourselves. FillZ adds all items to our own website, designed by Chrislands, and processes orders reducing inventory automatically so all we have to do is pull item and ship it. Shipping is interfaced with Endicia, an online mailing program, and shipment confirmations are automatically sent to the buyers, who greatly appreciate the updates.”
Ken added: "FillZ's automation of inventory and order processing has provided me more free time to scout new and higher value books, thereby increasing our success in the online book business."