22 June 2015 | 23 Comments
Shoplocket is no more.
Actually, Shoplocket–an e-commerce platform that I lauded in this post–will be dead to everyone as of June 30, 2015. If you used Shoplocket, this isn’t news to you.
My heart sank when I heard about Shoplocket shutting down. Even though they weren’t nearly as big as places like Magento and Shopify, they were cost-effective and reliable. Also, it meant that I had to transition all of our products from Shoplocket to some other solution…ugh. Moving is the worst.
Why do crowdfunders need to have an ecommerce solution? In fact, you may not need it if you only made enough products for backers or if all of your non-backer rewards are entered into distribution.
But maybe you’re like me: You want to accept pre-orders after your crowdfunding campaign, you have some products (in distribution or direct-sale products) in stock that you want to sell after you’ve fulfilled your backer rewards, and you have two cats.
Why two solutions? Because pre-orders act differently than orders for current inventory. You may only need one of these solutions, but I need both. Consider the following scenario:
Takuya in Japan wants to pre-order our Energy Box to enhance his copy of Power Grid. The expected delivery date is January 2016, and the shipping cost is $9.
Takuya also wants to buy the original Treasure Chest, which is currently in stock at our fulfillment center in China. The shipping cost is also $9.
Now, if both of those products were currently in stock, they could ship together for a total fee of $9, not $9 each. But that’s not the case–the Treasure Chest could ship at as soon as tomorrow, while the Energy box wouldn’t ship until January. Each one needs to have its own shipping fee in a way that is clearly conveyed to Takuya.
At first I looked for a solution that could delineate between pre-orders and current inventory for this purpose, but I couldn’t find it. So I have a dual solution that requires two different accounts. At first that seemed super annoying, but in fact it was only mildly annoying. Here’s the system:
Celery (2% fee per transaction + 2.9% + $0.30 Stripe/PayPal processing fee; use for pre-orders)
Celery has been awesome to work with in terms of customer service. They’re built for pre-orders. The website is super easy to set up. If you have a lot of shipping prices for different locations, you only have to set them once, not once per product like on Shoplocket. Also, very importantly, it lets you create different “collections” for pre-orders that are arriving at various times. For example, we have a pre-order for Between Two Cities (November 2015 delivery) and a collection for our new treasure chests (January 2016 delivery).
You can charge customers right away or hold off until you’re ready to ship; if you wait, Celery doesn’t charge you anything until you issue the charge.
Celery was very kind to create an offer for my readers: If you sign up for Celery, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and mention that you were referred by Stonemaier, they’ll waive the Celery fees (their portion is 2% of each transaction) for your first $1,000 in pre-order sales. This is 100% for you–I’m not getting any kickbacks. In fact, to my knowledge I’m not even getting that offer. I’m just a normal customer. :)
Shopify ($29/mo for basic plan & 2.9% +$0.30 fee per transaction, use for current inventory)
It took me a few hours to set up Shopify (their system for setting up shipping is very elaborate, but precise), but man was it worth it. It’s just so robust. You can set up lots of different types of products, showcase their MSRP versus their sale price, have access to a ton of reports and data…there’s just so much here. It’s not particularly hard to set up (no coding needed or anything like that), but there is a lot going on.
One of the best things about Shopify is that you can have a uniform storefront like this one where customers can see everything you’re selling. Theoretically that will encourage customers to pick up a few different items at the same time to consolidate shipping (just make sure they’re located at the same fulfillment center!). You can even use Shopify as your website if you’d like–it comes with a built-in blog function.
Also, you can link it to your professional Amazon seller account, which means that someone can buy a product from your website and Shopify will automatically tell Amazon about it so Amazon fulfillment can send the product to your customer. You no longer need to go through those steps yourself.
I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more about these platforms (and others) the more I use them. If you have any questions or suggestions about other platforms, please let me know!