Amazon hits its merchant account customers

The hidden costs of taking shortcuts to eCommerce success

If you have a good idea for an eCommerce business but limited technical expertise, operating on somebody else’s platform seems like a great shortcut to making it happen. Many have followed that route and built up multi million £ businesses.  But now they are finding that the hard work is built on quick sand.

In March 2013 Amazon decided to make a grab for its Merchant customers’ money. With just a couple of months notice they increased their fees from 7% of sales to 12% of sales (for some classes of products). For many of the traders who had set up their businesses on the Amazon platform, it now means that Amazon has just wiped out most of their profits. Just to make matters worse, these traders are hamstrung by Amazon’s terms and conditions that restrict their ability to take independent action elsewhere, such as offering lower prices on cheaper eCommerce platforms…..There is very little that they can do now and nothing to stop Amazon imposing another price hike in the future!

By comparison a Denaploy ecommerce customers with £1m of sales per year will probably pay under 4% pa for maintaining a dedicated site built around the specific customised requirements of their products, and the customer ends up owning the asset that they are building and which is the core of their business. You sacrifice a slower build up for the business but create a more valuable asset in the long run.

I also like this article on Amazon buying out English™  – View

Green Deal website launch

Denaploy is pleased to launch the new website that we have created for SustainaBuild, offering free support training for construction companies in the South East  that want to become accredited as part of the government’s Green Deal initiative to encourage energy efficient construction practices.

SustainaBuild is part of the Climate Energy group of companies.

The website includes a Content Management System (CMS) that enables staff at SustainaBuild to to maintain all the content on their website, including updating events and tracking of all attendees.

2013 forecasts a further decline in construction industry

The Construction Products Association’s latest forecast for this year is that there will be a further 2% decline in construction industry output on top of the already devastating 9% decline that we saw in 2012.

The decline is expected to be in most sectors.  A 5.7% fall in commercial sector, and an 8% to 10% fall in retail, education and health construction sections.  Only road and new housing starts offer any real prospects for the coming year.

These difficult trading conditions will put strain on all of us working in the construction sector and since that sector represents 9% of the country’s total GDP, it also has a significant impact on the country as a whole.

Here, we focus on providing documentation and IT services to companies in the construction sector and are still growing as more and more companies recognise that the production of high quality H&S manuals and O&M manuals is best subcontracted to specialists.

There is an old saying that a good manager should never waste a crisis as an opportunity to introduce change. I suspect that the industry will come out of this recession very different from how it went in.

Win 8 Launch

We always try to run a new operating system through its paces before it goes mainstream – that way we can start designing our products to take advantage of the features that will be coming down the track as the new system goes mainstream .

Win 8 is a serious break with tradition and is very uncomfortable for somebody familiar with previous versions of Windows going back to Win 98. I have been running it now for about a month and am still struggling to do some things that I would previously done without thinking. The thing that everybody has commented on is that the ‘Start’ button no longer exists which means it sometimes takes several extra clicks to get to the same result. For those of us who are not ready to loose that bit of function you can add it back by installing this bit of software.

The real stories of Win 8 are:

  • the way the App Store that we have got used to on mobile phones and Tablets are now coming to the PC
  • The integration of collaboration tools into all aspects of both the Microsoft and Chrome offerings.

This is more than just a simple upgrade.  Once it has settled down I would bet that it will change the way we all work together.

New Server 2012

In Sept 2012 we undertook a major upgrade of our web hosting servers.  Because of long days and hard nights our Denaploy team successfully transferred all our sites without missing a beat.

As always happens with these things, we now have a server that has massively increased processing power, vast memory and upgraded software.  We might well sit back and think that this should last us for decades to come, but experience tells us that within the couple of years we will be looking at the issue with fresh eyes and planning how to implement the latest toys….

Win 8 – Menu systems

One of the changes that Win 8 brings is an attempt to make the menu area less cluttered.  The way this is achieved  is to only show those menu options that are likely to be needed. Let me demonstrate what I mean with an example.

I wanted to adjust the search indexing on my new laptop running Win 8 – a very important area to control if you want to find your work quickly and easily. If you go to Internet explorer – there is the search option as you would expect, but no way to set the controls…..

But now click in the search box and suddenly the new Search Tools menu with all its features appears

On the whole this might work well, but it is a change in the way you need to think when exploring the new PC environment, and it can be very frustrating until you realise what is going on.

Another example that caught me out.  I like playing Spider Solitaire and for those of you unfamiliar with it I should explain that there are varying level and versions ie it can be played with a single suit, 2 suits and 4 suits. The game is beautifully recreated as part of the Microsoft Solitaire games pack, but I couldn’t find out how to set the suit options. A careful reading of the written instructions told me that F5 opened the Option window.  What it didn’t tell me was that the options offered where different depending on context; so F5 when in the help area did not include the suit changing feature, but F5 in the game area was context specific and did include the suit changing option with a single click.

This can be deeply frustrating, so I offer this blog as a helping hand to anybody trying to get to grips with Win 8 for the first time. Be aware that lots of option may be hidden from immediate view and will only appear when you have clicked on the relevant feature.

Ecommerce up 12% – Xmas 2012

The early results from the credit card industry suggest that while Christmas shopping is up 3% this year on last year,  the shift towards online shopping continues with a 12% growth on last year and even this understates the potential with our own magazine subscription business showing a sustained growth rate of 35+% pa.

Our experience in selling magazine subscriptions on-line at is that we are breaking all records, with 35% growth year on year for the 3rd year in a row, and no sign of it abating. In fact, December is shaping up to exceed our already ambitious expectations.

100 Mbps broadband for every citizen by 2015

Unfortunately, that is only in Finland or South Korea where higher speed broadband access is recognised as both a human right and a vital commercial necessity.


Here in England most of us are still dawdling along at 6Mbps downloads and <1Mbps upload speeds, while dreaming of the day that optic fibre will reach far enough for us to enjoy the 50Mbps it promises to deliver. In the meantime the government is still intent on a massive investment in the old infrastructure of railways so we can shave 20 mins off a trip between London and Birmingham.

If the future of GB plc is dependant on us beating the world in the white hot technologies that will create competitive advantage, then the two most important elements that we need are

  • A modern infrastructure
  • A vibrant venture capital sector that will fund a great business idea, even if the entrepreneur does not have caste iron assets to put up as collateral.