As an online merchant’s business grows, it is important to add new staff that will manage such things as operations, fulfillment, marketing, design, and customer service. But adding staff and growing an ecommerce business does not necessarily mean leasing office space and hiring locally. Rather, online collaboration tools make having a virtual office easy and inexpensive.
With virtual offices, merchants can hire highly qualified candidates from across the county, save money on leasing or buying office space, and often get more work done.
Onehub makes collaborating, file sharing, and managing the day-to-day business of being an ecommerce merchant easy and affordable for companies of all sizes. Essentially, Onehub is an on-demand, software-as-a-service (SaaS) application that can serve as your business’ central information and project hub. Which is why I am awarding it four out of a possible five stars in “The PeC Review.”
The PeC Review is my weekly column devoted to introducing you to the products or services that I believe can help your business. This week, let me explain why I like Onehub.
Video: Setting Up a Collaboration Hub is Easy at Onehub
Centralized Project Messaging and Control
I started this review by speaking about virtual offices. I have to confess, I am biased. I work in a virtual office here at Practical eCommerce. And I believe that working virtually—rather than schlepping my stuff (and myself) across town, past the Starbuck’s, and into a physical office—is, very often, more productive. For example, I no longer have a 45 minute commute each way, which means that I can apply an additional hour and a half to my work day and life. Not to mention that stray co-workers no longer wander into my cube and interrupt when I am writing product reviews.
But if working from a virtual office has a weakness or potential weakness, it is in project messaging, version control, and document/file control.
And project messaging, version control, and document/file control is what Onehub does best. Onehub allows me to upload documents, files, and images, track who last changed a particular document, and comment about every aspect of the hub.
In the ecommerce business environment, you could pass design concepts back and forth with your graphic artist, carry on a conversation with your developer (that is captured for future reference), and review shipping recorders with your fulfillment manager no matter where any of these individual contributors are physically located.
Onehub also includes calendar functions, so that you can schedule meetings, add a reminder about updating your deal of week, or even schedule project milestones. And the calendar is compatible with some email calendar clients like Outlook.
Onehub is also very flexible and customizable. Using a number of widgets, you can adjust the content and layout of every page in your hub, adding comments to calendars or videos to tasks.
Onehub allows you to decide what users see and how they can exchange information, files, or documents on any page of the hub. In fact, you can even add RSS feeds to monitor inventory levels from your site, competitor’s sales, or business trends. And Onehub also allows you to customize the visual experience. You can pick your colors and add your logo to make the place feel like home.
Onehub offers a number of pricing options. If your business requires just one hub, about 1 GB of storage, and maximum file upload sizes of around 200 MB, you can get an account for free and start collaborating right away.
Paid plans start at $19 per month for five hubs, 5 GB of storage, 2 GB file uploads, and an FTP gateway and can go up to an enterprise-class offering at $499 per month that allows for unlimited hubs and many additional options.
Every plan allows you to have an unlimited number of users—your contributors and collaborators.
Onehub is an example of a SaaS solution that makes sense. For free or a nominal fee, you can create very functional hubs that will allow your employees and vendors (like when you hire an outside developer) to work together, share large files that would crush most email clients, and keep track of versions and changes. For all of these reasons, I awarded Onehub four out of a possible five stars in this “The PeC Review.” If you need a virtual workspace, I would encourage you to try Onehub.