Nearly three years ago in a fit of frustration I wrote a post detailing what I considered to be a relatively obvious set of requirements for a small manufacturing business I am a shareholder in. To recap – we currently use a bunch of disconnected systems because there is no painless and relatively economic way to get a solution that integrates e-commerce, backend accounting, inventory management for a multi channel approach and basic CRM functionality.
Three years later and that business is still using similar systems to what it was when I wrote that post. So I was excited to sit down the other day to talk with Andre Mulvenna, US GM and co-founder of Brightpearl, a solution that I call ERP for the SMB – one that offers eCommerce, Inventory management, Accounting, Order processing, CRM and Servicedesk – and all from one integrated system.
Brightpearl have recently introduced their multi channel offering, which is a really compelling proposition for businesses that follow a multi channel strategy (as my one does) – perhaps selling through eBay plus their own webstore. With this offering, businesses can integrate their ecommerce solution on Magento, a marketplace approach with eBay and all the while have things updated in real time within their core back office system, Brightpearl.
The offering is pretty compelling. Brightpearl was already a product I was very bullish on – it delivers far richer functionality than the other SMB account applications like Xero. Freeagent and Kashflow, but at a significantly lower price than the top shelf SaaS products from NetSuite and Intacct. This multi channel adjunct is a compelling proposition. Of course there is the usual caveat and that is that by tying their horse specifically to Magento and eBay, Brightpearl misses on delivering a strong proposition for the legion of organizations that use other solutions – Shopify and Virtuemart among many others. I put this to Mulvenna who said that they;
we would like to deepen our relationship with eBay/Magento communities before we work on other integrations
It’s a strategy that makes some sense, by going deep with these two channels, Brightpearl delivers very deeply and should manage to capture significant customer numbers from these two channels. it’s also a strategy that seems them pick a couple of key winners and partner deeply with them. But yet, I’d love to see them spread a little broader and support a few more platforms.
While meeting with Mulvenna in San Francisco where he has moved from the UK to open a beach head operation, I was impressed by the traction that Brightpearl is gaining it what can well be regarded as the holy grail of software markets. As I remarked when speaking to him, Brightpearl stands largely unchallenged by cloud applications in the large space between the micro business offerings and the mid sized business products. If Brightpearl manages to execute, they look set to be the only credible alternative to the QuickBooks hegemony for mid-sized businesses.
(Cross-posted @ The Diversity Blog - SaaS, Cloud & Business Strategy)