Brightpearl: Leveling the Playing Field for SMB Retailers

October 21st, 2013

Laurie:  Hi, this is Laurie McCabe from the SMB Group and today I’m talking with James Scott who is Senior Vice President for Customer Success at Brightpearl. Brightpearl is a cloud-based software vendor that helps small and medium sized multi-channel retailers integrate data from different sources – customers, orders, inventory, accounting systems – into one real-time system.

Before we get into what Brightpearl does, James, can you just describe a little bit about your company for me?

James:  Absolutely. Brightpearl was actually built by two retailers, so retail is very much in our DNA, and the story started a few years ago when our founders, Chris Tanner and Andy Mulvenna build a very successful longboard retail business called Lush Longboards.

Things started off really well, and then like many retailers, they hit a challenge when it came to scaling the business. They started looking for possible solutions but quickly became frustrated by the expense and the limited functionality offered by business software. Lacking the budget to buy an expensive IT System, Chris started to build Brightpearl, and in 2007, launched the company.

We have 90 employees across our two offices in the UK and here in San Francisco. We recently expanded our senior management team and announced eight million dollars in funding. In August, launched a strategic partnership with eBay. So, we’re getting great momentum.

Laurie:  Great, so can you tell us a little bit now about what Brightpearl does? We know it’s for the multi-channel retailers, but how do they benefit from it.

James:  Sure, Brightpearl is cloud software that helps small to mid-sized retailers do what they do best, which is finding great products, delighting customers, and growing their businesses. Our platform does that by integrating data from across the business, putting customers, orders, inventory and accounting all in one place. That provides a real-time business management system that sits at the core of our customers’ businesses.

It gives them the foundation they need to grow rapidly and efficiently, and also with greater insight. The key to this of course is integrating with the various channels, online and offline, for which our customers connect with their buyers. As an example, our currently integrations include sales channels like Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, eBay, Amazon, as well as outbound marketing services like Mail Chimp and shipping software like Shipworks and Ship Station.

One of the real exciting things that we just launched as a result of our partnership with eBay is a deep integration into the eBay marketplace so our customers can automatically list, update and manage their inventory for their eBay stores, which of course saves time, which they can then reinvestment into growth activity.

Laurie:  Where are you seeing the most traction? Is it with the small retailers, medium, or is it kind of across the board?

James:  It’s across the board. Wask our customers often what the key benefits are that they’re getting, and they tell us, “It reduces the headaches and the time spent managing the core retail operations.” It enables them to provide improved customer service through accurate tracking and recognition of customers and orders whichever channel they’ve come from. It provides them real-time inventory status and updates that across all the retail channels, which means that they’re always presenting an accurate picture they have in stock, so they’re always taking advantage of every opportunity there is to sell and equally not selling things that they don’t have.

 For more advanced users, it delivers the profitability insights that they need by product, by channel, by supplier, by customer, which helps them make more intelligent decision-making. So, it helps businesses across the spectrum who have those sort of challenges.

Laurie:  How can people try it out? Is there a free trial or how do they get an idea of whether this would be a good solution for them.

James:  We find that the best way to find out whether Brightpearl is right is to give it a try, and we have a free trial on our website. One of the things we love about this business is that every single retailer is different and has a unique story and unique goals for their business. We love to talk to every perspective customer and make sure we understand their business and their needs, and then we package the right combination of services to make sure they have what they need to be successful both initially but also into the long term.

Growing rapidly across multiple channels can be both exciting but also incredibly exasperating. Most of them start out by running their business with a combination of spreadsheets and manual processes and single purpose software tools, but these tools just don’t scale well across multiple channels and as their SKUs increase.

That starts to lead to problems like double selling inventory, late shipments, poor customer service, and as a result, as the retailers grow, more and more of their time can get consumed by all these headaches of day to day operations and wrestling with systems and data, leaving them less time to focus on what they really know best and what they’re passionate about, which is finding great products and merchandising them to customers and creating a really great customer experience. That’s the challenge and the pain that these customers face that we’re looking to help solve.

Laurie:  You can make a lot of mistakes when you’re trying to patch between all different kinds of things.

James:  Absolutely, and they’re competing with large established retailers who have expensive, highly-integrated complex IT systems, and we’re trying to level the playing field and give them the same sort of integrated systems so they can compete effectively.

Laurie:  Definitely, because the customer expectations are so much higher now, right?

James:  Absolutely.

Laurie:  Do you sell this directly through your website?

James:  Yes, we do. Pricing starts at $99 per month per concurrent user, and the concurrent user means the number of staff logged in at one point in time. Our customers like this because it gives them more flexibility. For example, they can give access to all their part-time employees, which is common in retail, and only pay for when they’re actually using the software.

Laurie:  Small and medium business really just want to pay for what they use.  I’m intrigued that you also though spend some time with them to get it working according to their needs. So, it’s not just like, “Okay, you sign up, try it, buy it, you’re on your own.”

James:  Right. We have an experienced professional services team here to help every customer get set-up correctly. We tailor that set-up on the needs of the customer and what their business looks like and kind of what their priorities are for the short term but also the long term. We find that investing that time upfront to get things set-up right really pays dividends down the line. So, that’s a really important part of the service that we offer around the software.

Laurie:  I think that’s something that is not necessarily recognized right off the bat especially by smaller companies. When somebody with expertise walks you through and gets you up and running, it can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. That’s an invaluable service that don’t get with some cloud solutions.

What is the URL for your website?

James:  Brightpearl.com. We also have a really great YouTube channel as well. Search for Brightpearl YouTube  for videos demonstrating not only the functionality of the software, but also sharing general retail advice and best practices,

Laurie:  Absolutely, well James thank you again for talking to me today and sharing this information.

 

 

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