Software Trap

Today, you have several options for online barter software to manage your barter exchange. Making the best choice not only depends on your specific needs and desires, but also choosing the right business partner to provide and host your barter exchange and member management software.

Many exchanges make a hasty decision based on features or attributes that they think are important, but in actuality, aren't, and hardly ever contribute to success.

Other exchanges are fooled by a low introductory fee, but end up eventually paying much higher fees that are based on a percentage of revenues.

Don't get stuck in the Software Trap, faced with the daunting task of switching software. Here's what to look for in Barter Software, as well as considerations that should be a warning sign for you to look elsewhere…

You want your software to be bullet proof and hosted at a top tier hosting facility to assure reliability and zero downtime with weekly and daily incremental backups.

You should be able to make your own rules and business decision about your barter exchange, rather than being told by your software provider what you can and cannot do.

Not all barter software provides you with a platform where you can control your member’s online trading experience using simple configurable settings, so that you can run a world class business to business barter exchange where you, not your barter software provider or licensor, sets the rules.

Barter software should be business-to-business focused and not feature a huge marketplace filled with yard sale merchandise, overpriced off-brand products, used household items and trade listing offers that often never get shipped.

Your barter exchange and its members should not be locked-in to participating in the marketplace as well as sharing your member directory information and barter opportunity offers and listings with all of the other members in all of the other exchanges using the software. You should decide and manage if and how your exchange, members and trade offers will be linked to one or more other exchanges.

You want to make sure the barter software user interface is totally intuitive, simple to use, easy to navigate and doesn’t require a college degree in computer technology or you will be spending your time showing members how to use it or actually doing everything for them.

Your barter software should automate typical time consuming administrative tasks such as email marketing and new barter opportunity notifications, newsletters, member directories, travel bookings, transaction processing, monthly statements, and billing and collection, so that one or two people can manage a 300 to 500 member exchange and you are enabled to spend most of your time acquiring new members and generating trade velocity.

There should be multiple easy ways for members to process barter transactions on their own, such as in a shopping cart enabled marketplace, online postings, toll free telephone postings using a touch tone phone and perhaps even using debit “swipe” cards. Using checks, trade drafts or sales slips is so 1990's, and will give you an administrative paperwork nightmare.

Your barter software should be capable of automatically processing ongoing repetitive transactions, just like online banking software, for members such as health clubs and other monthly membership based businesses, or for automated monthly processing of barter mortgages or trade dollar loans.

Barter software should enable your members to search and view a Yellow Pages type of online real-time properly categorized member directory, so that your members can find the products and services they want without always calling you for assistance.

Members should be able to display a complete up-to-date real-time Member Directory and then print it, saving you uncountable hours that it would take to manage, update, print and mail a member directory.

Your barter software should empower you to easily set directory search limitations or disable printing on a member by member basis for those members that you do not want to provide access to a complete member directory.

Barter software should feature the ability to set-up brokers and salespeople, delegate broker permissions with a few clicks and assign each member to one or more brokers to facilitate member management and generate commission reports.

Your barter software should automatically generate a member call list each day for each broker to contact those members and then enter call notes for your review, so that you know that your members are being provided with exceptional customer service?

Barter software should have built-in contact management so you can enter notes, calls, and reminders as well as accommodate for repetitive tasks. It should also have a simple referral application to send provider referrals contact info to members.

Most important, can the barter software provider enable you to facilitate large corporate barter transactions without the need to build the infrastructure, so that when a transaction doesn’t fit into your retail barter exchange model, you can still earn fees that are typically three times the percentage you would earn from a retail barter transaction?

Oh, and get this... most barter software providers charge a percentage of your fee revenue because they think that they should be your partner and the more you earn, the more they should get!

And, more than one barter barter software company is actually your competition. They focus their efforts on running their own barter exchange, and actually designed their software for their own use, but are now licensing it to other exchanges to make some extra cash.

Perhaps you are exploring a barter franchise in a regional or national barter system. Do you realize that these franchises or licensors often keep 25% to 40% of your revenues for accounting, collection and administrative services that you can actually do yourself in a couple of hours a month for less than 5%!

Explore all of your options, ask questions and do your due diligence as barter exchange owners often make the wrong choice and then have to deal with the perils of switching software and perhaps, even loosing their members to an unscrupulous software vendor or franchisor who won’t release their member and transaction data.