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Ecommerce businesses are faced with many challenges, especially when it comes to reporting. Keeping track of profits, losses, and expenses can be difficult to navigate without the right tools at hand. We recently sat down with retired IT and finance expert Michel Gimena from SellerLegend, to find out how he developed a much-needed sales tool for Amazon sellers, and turned it into a profitable business model from sheer passion.
How did SellerLegend start?
In 2015 I decided to retire, but I was seeking a new project to work on to keep busy during this period. As a result, I took up an Amazon seller training course, but upon completion, I decided it wasn’t for me.
In spite of this, I joined a forum for Amazon sellers and discovered that a significant number of online sellers found it hard to generate detailed and accurate financial information from the Amazon platform, and were finding it challenging to work out if their business was even profitable.
That’s when I started creating and sharing free spreadsheets to help online sellers work out their sales, expenses, profit margins and more. These free spreadsheets gained a lot of attention and I was approached to see if I wanted to develop my spreadsheets further and create an all-in-one automated Amazon seller reporting tool, that I could eventually charge a fee for. Although I initially declined the offer, I did offer to help out with the support of a development team. Four to six months later, the original partner decided not to continue, and offered for me to take over the whole project.
After Beta testing of the platform, the product had around 70-80 users that were willing to pay for the automation tool. I now run SellerLegend in partnership with a development team in Pakistan.
What do you think made your product so successful?
The free spreadsheets definitely gained a reputation, thriving predominately on word of mouth recommendations through Amazon forums. By 2016, just a year after I was approached, the commercial product was live for use. The business model remains unique, and interest remains because I continue to be an active member of the seller community and see what challenges small businesses are facing with their reporting. This helps me provide value as this continued dialogue between myself and the Amazon seller community helps me keep abreast of their problems and come up with solutions to help. The tool consistently retains a sizeable user audience based all around the world, and I work with the dev team to constantly improve the service.
Where do WorldFirst fit into the story?
The original business owner set up a Stripe account in the US, but the disbursement of payments to pay our own suppliers was a big challenge. At first, we tried to manage payments through a high street bank but an arduous Know Your Customer (“KYC”) policy made it difficult.
With all 22 staff members (aside from myself) working in Pakistan, it wasn’t possible to access accounts without a UK address, and remittance funds must be in a Pakistan account. In spite of searching for alternatives, including obtaining visas for the team and flying them in, transfers could not be made due to tax regulations. That’s when I switched to a US dollar account with a different financial provider. This was also problematic as I still had to initiate everything from my side, and I wanted the team in Pakistan to be able to transfer funds themselves as equal business partners. This particular provider also didn’t allow access to the Pakistani account, and the origin account was limited to being in the UK and US.
That’s when I turned to forums and Facebook groups and discovered WorldFirst through recommendations. I switched to the World Account (now known as the International Collections Account) in 2016 and really value having a local USD currency account with which to accept my Stripe sales, whereby I receive money from Stripe and then pay the team straight in PKR or USD to Pakistan.
Working with WorldFirst means the offshore team can now log into the account as separate users with ease, and operate it as such. I now feel safe knowing that if there are any issues I can contact my account manager directly to help me resolve any queries efficiently – a service which was not available with the other providers I tried.
Was your business impacted by the Brexit result and Covid-19?
Whilst many online sellers definitely faced disruptions as a result of the pandemic, many also found success as more and more people turned to online services. Overall, this didn’t influence what I do and the amount of people using the platform stayed stable in spite of an increasingly saturated marketplace emerging.
Brexit, however, had more of an influence as it led to supply chain disruptions as production lines and the availability of goods slowed down. Many businesses also now needed fiscal representatives depending on which jurisdiction their business operated in which ultimately impacted business costs. As a result, we deployed a supply chain management feature to help sellers with their inventory and cost management.
What’s next for SellerLegend?
At present, SellerLegend facilitates a number of reporting methods including sales and revenue data tracking, product management, order management, customer management, customisable dashboards, smart forecasting mechanisms, PPC tracking and more. Looking ahead, the business will continue to be motivated to provide an intuitive service to the Amazon seller community, and help them streamline and maximise their amazon seller data for a crystal-clear view of their business performance.
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