One of the more tedious tasks we face as booksellers is inventory management, making sure everything is properly described, correctly uploaded, and promptly deleted once a sale is made. Recently, one of our readers, Gary Nargi of Bowerybay.com, introduced me to a new system on the market called Fillz http://www.fillz.com. According to their Web site, the program is a comprehensive method for multi-tasking.
Fillz.com is an online inventory and order-management service for book, CD and DVD sellers. FillZ automatically lists, de-lists and retrieves orders from venue sites such as Amazon, Alibris, Abebooks, and more. The site says, "You can now "load once, list to many." FillZ will streamline your sales process from inventory through fulfillment."
Jie Zhang, one of the co-founders of the program, said the idea came last year when her partner Ron Cuperman watched a friend sell books over Amazon.com. The tedious nature of the process prompted him to "try and find a way to automate the daily tasks," she said. Both partners had more than 10 years experience developing software for corporate giants like Starbucks and Schwab. They felt they could make a contribution to the online book trade that would allow sellers more time to focus on the selling of books once inventory management became easier.
So far more than 100 customers are using the program, and Fillz regularly mines their knowledge for ways to improve and streamline Fillz. "We talk to users constantly," Jie Zhang said. A note on the Fillz site addresses the merger of Half.com into eBay. "Half.com recently informed us that they are not giving out any new ftp accounts for merchants. We think it is possible that eBay will drop the Half.com backend infrastructure after replacing it with expanded functionality on eBay. eBay just started to offer the ability to list an item by ISBN/UPC. This, plus eBay Stores are the first steps subsuming the functionality currently offered by Half.com. We are continuing to support Half.com users who have a ftp account. We are looking into supporting eBay next but we want input from our users as to which site they would like us to work with most."
What Fillz has to offer is outlined clearly on the Web site. When an item is sold on one site, its quantity is automatically adjusted on FillZ and on each listing site. Orders from all sites can be processed together via the FillZ interface. Orders can be moved to New, Processed, Completed, Cancelled and Deferred status. A user can download orders of any time interval from all sites in one tab delimited report as well as various file formats that are supported by all major online postage services. A barcode can be printed on each order for easy tracking.
FillZ provides complete-order fulfillment and processing tools. Users can easily generate pull lists and packing slips, sorted by location, order number or SKU number. A confirmation email can be automatically sent upon order shipment. Integrated postage printing through leading online postage services is provided. Orders can be downloaded into QuickBooks or Amazon format anytime. Sales report with graphs is provided online. It allows for bar-code scanning and bulk-loading.
"The biggest challenge right now is spreading the word about the program," said Jie Zhang. Since this company is self-funded, dollars are tight and they do all tasks themselves. "It's hard to get known, especially when there's no money for advertising. Right now all our customers came from word of mouth."
Despite the tight schedules and heavy workload, Fillz is promising continual improvements and to achieve their goal for 2000 customers. Four people are on staff in the San Francisco office providing customer support, database improvement, and marketing. "We make every effort to make our program fit everybody's needs."
Fillz is a UIEE based program that, Jie Zhang says, is compatible with most book-related services and sites. The program currently provides access to eight selling venues, the Endicia postage system and Stamps.com. Most questions are easily answered on the Fillz Web site, and the company offers a 30-day free trial for newcomers.
Customer costs are calculated by what is sold. Not counting shipping reimbursements, sales are charged 1.5% for up to $4000 earned in a month. After $4000, the percent drops incrementally.
Peruse the site and try the service for a month. If you have any questions, contact customer service at Fillz.com.