Ecommerce sound great, huh? What do you mean Full Service?
So it is 2024 and ecommerce just keeps getting more complicated!…
There’s soooo many channels for marketing and sharing your message now, there’s rules – and they are different on every channel and in every country, there’s bots – and bots replying to bots – and bots monitoring the bots, security, privacy, SEO, CMS, PIM, ERP, analytics, crypto-currency blockchains, git version-control, compliance, audit-trail logs, user role permissions, accounting, fraud, trolling, gaming, discount code vouchers, affiliates, currencies, languages, warehouses, click and collect retailers, mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop devices with screens from 5″ to 55″ that you can navigate with a finger, mouse, voice control and screen readers, firewalls, newsletters, spam filters, security certificates, copyright images, words – lots of words, and untold amounts of data! 😮
And not everyone that already has great systems wants to share them for anything less than an up-front mortgage  agreement – before you can sell or make anything.
We like sharing though, and are completely paid on performance and delivery, so we are opening up our toybox to offer an invitation-only, full-service, do-all-that-for-you, paid-only-on-results, ecommerce systems & management-as-a-service – service.
Still want an ecommerce website? And to be an online rock star?
Good! You’re in luck – we already have a capable and growing team, of 100+ people now, that have been working in ecommerce for the last 10-20 years, since before online credit card payments were even a thing, and many of us with computers for over 30 years now (as one of those, I can tell you the time has flown!).
OK, so you just want to use the site, show it off, put it on your business card proudly, and it not give you any headaches – you need friends that do that kind of thing all day; build it, connect it to everything, and make it all super-safe and reliable – and won’t let the site break when you demo it in that big meeting.
If you like this site or our existing client sites, great, you can have one too, just like it – with your domain name, your trademark, your branding, your images, your content, your connections, your customers, your colleagues, let’s get them all round for dinner, some sweet ecommerce, and a relaxing drink.
We can seed all of your existing content and products for you, with all the extra bits you didn’t even know you’d need, sign all the your-data-is-your-data, and your intellectual-property is your’s stuff too – and rightly so, you earned it.
You’d be surprised how much it costs us to run our team and all the techno stuff – but that’s a wheel that has already been invented, tried and tested.
We’ve all been raised to be sharing & caring – so we have created this Brandlight platform as a way to make that a lot more affordable and fairer for brands and customers.
You get what you need, want, couldn’t find – and we get economies of scale for what we do, we keep learning, inventing, and ultimately adding value to the world by making things cheaper, faster and easier.
We don’t need a rock-star yacht as well, we just need good friends like you with them – and to be great company for the invitation :).
Here’s how we propose to solve all this…
We do all the things you’ve not done before, would like done better, or would just like done by those that do that all day & night to get it sorted without a fuss – and you spend more time doing what you are best at, like finding & creating great products, and looking after your customer’s needs as the product specialists you are rightly proud to be.
Maybe you’ve heard this before, someone’s nephew does websites with Shopify or something or Agency X’s sales rep swears by Magento and wouldn’t touch anything else – but this is what we already do, we build the platform and already process thousands of orders a day with it – and you can ask any of our existing partners anything you need to be reassured.
Are we expensive?
No. We’re good at what we do because we use technology wisely, with thoroughly researched decisions, to make things cheaper, safer and faster – because time & money are both scarce and need to be used equally respectfully to all invested.
most charging models are just wrong
How do we charge?
Personally, I (your author of all this info) have thought about this for a very long time…
We are all users and customers of a lot of software, and evaluate ten or more times what we finally choose, including their charging models.
Regrettably, most charging models are just wrong – they are designed to either create vendor-lock-in and then empty your bank by stealth when you forget you stopped using them, or they have pricing tiers that someone thought were a good idea because they don’t think their customers can contemplate any more than 3 options, extrapolate total costs, or they just don’t want or can’t accommodate certain sized customers.
Then there’s the ones that want to charge a commission for the things that they have relatively fixed costs on – so they are cheap to start with but the total monthly outlay will keep growing as you do, to the point you’re paying a mortgage for their mansion and not yours.
We’re not in the taxation business, nor trying to trick you into that, although that is very profitable for those collectors, and we are proud net tax contributors.
Among the many, there are a few software and service licensing models that we really like, that have extremely fair and granular usage based charging models that connect the costs directly to the resources you need or don’t need, and the best ones adjust with you too. 
So, we’re doing what all smartest people should be doing – copying the best ideas and re-purposing them for our mutual aims. And this is what we’ve come up with from all that data we crunch…
So, what does it all cost?
Your ecommerce website
10 cents, per product page, per day – why? Because you don’t need a million products to be successful, and the hosting & bandwidth is closely related to this number – yes it really does cost that to provide all the enterprise-quality technology, hosting, electricity and monitoring alone. This might also help you re-consider spreading yourself too thin across too many products too 😉 It’s still much less than the cost of one click from most online adverts, so think about how good their mark-up with many clicks per day through to you!
1 cent per information page per day – why? Because this is significantly less resource intensive for our servers, and we both need this cost in particular, to be as low as possible – this is to encourage you to publish as much information as possible and become a library of knowledge for yours and our customers.
0.5 cents per translated language page per day – why? Actually, this costs us rather a lot with the multiple artificial intelligence translation APIs we need to connect to for generating these at the speed of light, and providing the full frontend editing interface for your local partners to refine with, so we also charge this as close to cost as possible to encourage you to broaden your horizons, communicate with the world, and enable the launch of your products into new markets as you build a partner network that can hit the ground running with the same great quality of products and services you provide at home.
10 cents per sale – why? Because it costs us no more or less to process a $3, £30, €300 or ¥3,000 order through a website, the bandwidth is the same, percentage calculations penalise growth. You won’t have any worries starting out or a stealth tax on getting to hundreds and thousands of orders a day either.
Full service ecommerce – al-la-carte
All percentages are calculated to be net of local sales taxes – so you are only cost-sharing true costs – and we believe at the same percentages that you would also need to budget for in-house resource planning.
3% of sales, that is our recommended investment in making sure that good Customer Service is more than just something we say, it is something we commit to. Customers are our employers, we make sure we are always on duty for the trust and investment they make in their purchases with us.
Buying & Logistics Planning
1.5% of sales, you crystallise a profit when you sell satisfactorily, you make a profit when you buy intelligently – it takes a lot of data-crunching and communications to do that with the minimal of guesswork – that’s how we roll.
1.5% of sales, these places need to be secure, safe, organised, clean and efficient, and systems as advanced as any website to keep track of everything from expected arrival to shipping – pick a country and we’ll implement our systems in any of yours or our warehouses.
5% of sales,
5% of sales, many companies will charge you a percentage of your advertising spend – that’s a direct conflict – our model is completely aligned to making your online spending as efficient as possible.
The more sales you make for less money, the more marketing we can do and make more sales – this is our primary growth driver and insurance policy to protect from online advertising channels slight-of-hands that try to continually increase your spending regardless or performance. That’s how they pay for self-driving cars and missions to Mars. We just need to pay for coffee and our connections to the internet.
Accounts, Analytics & Reporting
Maximum total costs
20% of net sales revenue after taxes and platform commissions (save you getting the calculator out)
Our general experience is that the price we have traditionally purchased goods for in one country is approximately 20% of the eventual resale price, the cost of getting them from manufacturer to a customer in another country is then generally another 20%, and the 60% margin that is left is going to the reseller, marketplace commissions, pay-per-click advertising and perhaps other marketing activities.
Now, the important part here is that our total full-service costs we have calculated so that, as a general rule, you should be making an increased margin on all your export sales equivalent to doubling the price you are currently charging for those goods.
So, you could use that as additional profit to help fund your research and development, use a proportion to fund travelling and building international relations with your new international partners, or use the cost-savings to reduce your end consumer prices and grow market-share by providing greater value.
You also will be showing approximately 5 times the revenue per end consumer sale in your accounts to reflect the full brand value you have internationally.
Resellers and wholesale customers
Your larger wholesale customers will need the most margin possible to be effective at what they do – and they provide economies of scale in the size of their orders. So we pass on the economies of scale in handling their orders by reducing all of our percentage rates above by 50% for these customer types.
You might find you are replacing the service that some of your resellers are currently providing, particularly for marketplaces now that you have a way to sell direct on any of those – which is where you will be recovering a much larger margin from the sales that you have been previously without these capabilities.
We will also attract new wholesalers and resellers for you through our partner network with retail stores and brokers – who will receive a full, experienced and specialist support service from us for their data-feeds, presentation and account onboarding needs.
One Master Distributor per Country
We highly recommend you pick your best existing wholesale customer in each country to become your Master Distributor for that country. This way, they will have full oversight of that market, consistent pricing for purchasing and selling, be able to maintain all their own direct sales much more cost-efficiently, and service the resellers in channels they do not operate in efficiently, from one consolidated localised inventory.
We have a lot of complicated but safe price and cost calculation logic implemented in our systems to work out everything for them, and for yourselves, to provide them local currency RRPs, wholesale cost prices and accurate margins for single-unit sales and multi-buy offers for accurate and sustainable business management.
We’ll integrate with their inventory management systems to make all their inventory holdings are available through through your new website for that country, to all direct and reseller customers of their own.
This we call a true-partnership, and the safest, simplest and most motivating setup for having a trusted local team, invested and supported in growing your customer-base.
Included. Because there no such things as “free” – of costs that is. We are transparent about our own costs, margins and reinvestment commitments for your trust, value and our growth together.
Everything is optional, opt-in, opt-out, opt-back-in, half-in, half-out. If you have a partner for some things, we can work with them too, we’ll onboard, train and support them just as we would our own team.
The modern workload changes fast – you won’t be stuck with us, or have to worry about scaling fees for things you don’t need or can’t use.
This is a complete *pay as you go* and *paid on performance* pricing model, designed to completely cost-share what you need and what we can provide.
I wonder how much profit is in all that?
50% gross, 0% net – transparency, fairness & intelligent investment is our business model, so why wouldn’t we tell you that too.
All our direct costs are worked out to be as close as possible to half the price we charge for them. The rest is a sensible investment for both of us in management, recruitment, research and development of your staff and systems planning for growth.
Technology moves fast, security needs to continually evolve, scaling teams requires a lot of up-front investment in building capacity for growth – we re-invest 100% of profits back into the team and tools for all of yours and our benefit.
Maybe one day we might have a mansion house and yacht too, but for now, we’re happy to come round to see yours first, and sail with our happy boaty friends – in between growing websites of course.
Setup and launch
It is going to take us a significant amount of up-front investment to create your websites, populate them and connect them to all the local search engines and channels – so because we expect this launch period to take take up to 12 months for the full-service around the world integrations we need to do and build up your sales – we politely ask that you assist with these costs in the fairest way we could calculate to make sustainable and maximise all of our chances of success.
So, we put a 100% markup on just your ecommerce website costs for the launch and growth – and provide a proportion of all of our teams time for the full-service needs you will have for Customer Services, Buying & Logistics Planning, Warehouse Management, Marketing, Channel Integrations, Accounts, Analytics & Reporting.
We then actively pursue growing your sales as quickly as possible in all markets to surpass these costs and move you over to the full-service-ecommerce rates that are recommended as the budget for each area.
Of course, you can take on some or all of those management roles if you want your in-house team to learn and participate in that – but we recommend this initial 12-month period where we will manage everything for you, so that we can gather and document everything we learn i this growth phase and have that built up within your website too, so you can have full handover documentation and training to make your own team just as brilliant in whichever area you wish to have that responsibility for.
Why should I pay this or that?
You don’t and you’re not.
Customers pay all of us to get them what they need and want, quickly, reliably and politely. They also pay on dispatch, so they are the ones that choose to trust us, and reward us both with their loyalty and their very important feedback and reviews.
Customers are all of our employers, and can fire us a thousand times a day if we don’t get things right or fix them quickly and politely if they don’t go quite right first time – so we focus on winning their hearts & minds for value and affordability in partnership with your great product & service development.
If you can do all of this already, great! Thanks for reading anyway, we can always geek-out over coffee and share stories and ideas – we are a zero-pressure service, and work for just what people need and none of the hassle you don’t.
If there’s only parts you want us to do, also great, we are all avid online customers, we don’t like being unhappy customers, and we chose our careers to be using technology to make improve the things in life that we can – with a little spare time in between to get back to nature with the kids & dogs – so we’ll still help you, but you’ll appreciate we have to focus resources on managing a sustainable business model for all partners.
We persevere to create efficiencies and reduce both time and money costs, to give the customer the best possible value and yourselves the happiest and most loyal customers – we truly do not see any unearned income, and believe strongly in paid-on-performance business models.
Our costs are monitored as closely as our systems, and as we bring those down, we will pass on savings and benefits to yourself, to keep you able to price competitively with your own healthy margins for investment in product & service development.
Who owns the accounts?
You do! This is really important to us – we provide a service but you own everything, all your brand assets, all your website content, all your intellectual property, all your accounts and all your money.
It is your brand, your trademarks, your domain names, your bank accounts, your payment, channel, social media, email, phone numbers in any country, your content – it’s all yours.
We can set them up, or you can. Our job is to maximise their value for you and your important customers.
We will log and audit who has access to what to ensure your data and ecommerce business is protected, respected and guarded within the strict regulations we all abide by.
Who owns the website software?
The Brandlight platform is built with code and copywriting by all the people that work on our team, with various shares and interests in the platforms depending on their contributions to them.
People look after the stuff they make and own with great pride – just look at how important online ratings became as a simple measure of remote trust – so owning their own work and feedback ratings really is the best motivator for making better systems that our whole team partnership enjoys using – to delight your whole team and customers too.
You probably don’t even want to know about all the software and intellectual property licensing issues in trying to own software that you didn’t create, mixed with bits we created, and other bits we licence – this is our speciality, so yo just don’t have any worries, distractions, hidden or unexpected costs.
If you want to create your own website and do what we do, cool, we’ll point you at all the best software we know of that might help – but the real work really is in the configuration, maintenance, risk management and ongoing evolution as markets change.
The software is the only product we have, everything else is a service, so unless you are a software developer too, don’t worry, we keep refining that – and you can focus on your brand development.
If you want to sell your company for many billions, we’ll do exactly the same for the new owners and investors – all your accounts, brand assets, content, products and customers are yours remember, they have the most value – grow them, sell them, retire somewhere nice, and your choice of reliable partners like us should just make all that easier for you and any new owners.
To repeat, we really are only paid on performance, having been buying and selling products online for 20 years now, and we only engage in fair and mutually beneficial relationships, your competitive edge is our passion – to keep your ecommerce website experience enjoyable for all – and the customers are paying us both to look after each other in this way too.
A fair contract is a very strong contract – with mutually aligned success and commitment to stability & security.
Can I change the website layout?
The content – yes, if you want and are good at that kind of thing, although we will guide with recommendations and feedback for that based on our experience or onboard any or all preferred creatives and agencies you like to work with.
We will brand everything according to your style-guide and share one with you if you don’t already have that. If your brand needs some polish, we’ll do that too, we need all our clients to look great!
The functional parts, no, they all have one constant, highly optimised layout. So you can help with feedback and recommendations for improvement but user interface elements are all consistent for the benefit of the user experience and search engine compliance needs, so we evolve that based on their needs for accessibility, speed, simplicity and accurate information.
Banner fonts can be anything, but for many technical reasons, some interface fonts, like menus are restricted to “System Fonts” for performance and accessibility reasons.
We, and users, have an aversion to unnecessary animation – so if you have a creative yearning to make moving elements, video is the ideal medium for that – otherwise the best attention grabbers are beautifully created imagery and content presentation.
Can you work with your different software for this, that and the other?
Probably, if it is any good and has a well documented API – but we will also recommend you the same tools we also use. If you have better ones we might consider changing our own, but we test a lot of software, and develop software, so you might just find it is worth migrating to some of our recommendations over time because we always choose what we do for very good reasons.
It is all al-la-carte, so we can find out where you have the best systems for your needs, and what we might be able to improve – helping you decide which services we offer, which you already have a competitive edge or preference for, and which bits we need to help make more competitive for you.
On a personal note, I truly do hope you find this presentation refreshing, open and aligned with your experiences for the great needs that international sales has.
I am always keen to hear directly from all brand managers, most of which have become my worldwide friends network – so, if you have any questions, please contact me directly or anyone on the team through whichever channel works best for you.