Friday, April 30, 2010

Stone Edge User Group Meeting

I attended the Stone Edge User Group Conference last week at the Sheraton Society Hill in Philadelphia. They hosted a sell-out crowd of 150+ attendees from 92 companies, all of whom were enthusiastic about the meeting. 

The first copy of the Stone Edge Order Manager was sold on February 16, 2000. In the years since then, the Order Manager has grown from a simple Access-based system for importing orders and printing invoices and packing slips into a complete SQL/Server system (for the Enterprise Edition) for managing small-to-medium eCommerce and general retail businesses.

In ten years, Stone Edge has sold the Order Manager to more than 2,500 merchants, making it one of the best-selling order management systems on the market today. “Most of our users are still small companies that ship 10 to 500 orders per day,” said Barney Stone, founder and president of Stone Edge Technologies, Inc. “But as we have grown over the years, so have many of our clients, and in 2009 we had eleven users in the Internet Retailer Top 500, with some of them shipping four to five thousand orders per day.” 

Stone pointed out that pricing for the only order management systems used by more of the Top 500 merchants is in the $250,000 to $500,000 range, versus $6,000 for the Enterprise Edition of the Stone Edge Order Manager ($1,995 for the Standard Version), with no recurring fees other than optional annual maintenance contracts. “That makes us an incredibly economical alternative for growing businesses,” he said.

The Order Manager is compatible with over 40 Internet shopping carts and other sales channels.  Development on the Order Manager is on-going, with a backlog of more than 800 feature requests from users (not unusual for system vendors who are committed to evolving their solutions in an orderly fashion). 

Version 6.0 of Order Manager is PA-DSS compliant, using tokenization in lieu of storing credit card numbers. It will also support a broader number of processing gateways.

In addition, Vers. 6 (Enterprise Edition) will have a new warehouse management module, advanced e-mail management, more USB support for POS terminals (and encrypted USB card swipers), and vendor and merchant quantity-on-hand tracking. They are scheduled to have formal Return to Vendor functions by the end of the year.

Down the road, the Order Manager will have a set of user-programmable APIs, allowing users to fine-tune the system to meet their specific needs.

Other speakers at the meeting included Michael Ober, Sr. Manager, Merchant Development, at Yahoo; Marty Wesley, Director of Product Marketing at Bronto (e-mail marketing analytics and automation); Gordon Jennings of; Marlin Harris of eMerchant; Wing Ng of DYMO Endicia; and Nathan Focht, President, CommerceV3, an eCommerce Stone Edge partner.

User case studies provided an in-depth look at some of the many ways that Stone Edge has been deployed, including methods for saving users money in managing their operations.

There was also a "Training Track" for new users, and even some prospective system users were in attendance to become more familiar with Order Manager. That's always a good move on the part of a vendor -- to include prospects at User Group meetings -- but one that many vendors, unfortunately, are reluctant to take.

You can download many of the presentations from the conference at the Stone Edge Website.

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