STORENVY CUSTOM STORES 2015

STORENVY CUSTOM STORES 2015

Will Storenvy be a good place to sell in 2015?



(IMPORTANT NEWS UPDATE #2 - Announced on 12/27/15 by Storenvy.
Some sellers took a recent request from Storenvy for donations to help pay for the yearly costs of its "free stores" as a possible sign that Storenvy may not survive until 2017. 

The free stores are already subject to a 10% final value fee and 10% shipping commission fee any time that "Storenvy" identifies it's main market contributed to the sale. Only sales specifically driven by the store owner to their custom store are able to avoid paying the commissions. Once Storenvy can determine they contributed to a sale occurring on a custom store, all future sales in that custom store will incur the commissions fee when made by that particular customer. 


Storenvy asks for donations at the beginning of 2016

This has recently caused some upset on the Storenvy Facebook Group, from sellers who claim that they drove their customers to the store front and feel Storenvy unfairly took the 10% fees on the sale.  It is a system that in this reviewers opinion is poorly thought out and executed, causes confusion and frustration with its sellers, unneedingly ties up its limited four member support teams time, and ultimately will lead to all sales in the custom stores being charged a fee as the process trickles down.  

Storenvy has a history of implementing buggy service updates, poorly thought out new policies and implementing strange methods.  Asking for donations for its free custom stores is another weird method of generating revenue.  Is it even a "Contribution" or donation when a seller coughs up some money and hands it over to Storenvy upon request?  How do you record that contribution on your taxes?  You can't call it a donation since its a for-profit business.  You can't call it an investment since you are not collecting a return on that contributed money.  Do you call it a one time store fee?  What about commissions? Would the $4,100,000.00 commissions from store front sales (based on the $41,000,000 sales stats * see graphic below) not be enough to cover its yearly expenses?

Storenvy asks its custom store users to make a donation at the beginning of 2016
(Click to make larger)




(IMPORTANT NEWS UPDATE #1 10/14/15 by Chi-town57 - Storenvy marketplace and store fronts no longer require Stripe and both can once again use PayPal alone.  This re-opens Storenvy to international sellers.  More information available here on the Storenvy website.
Thank you to Chi-town57 for notifying me of the change via my Randy Dreammaker YouTube Channel.




Here is an Example store at Storenvy that has been lightly customized with very basic html.  

There are plenty of more advance developed stores using customized liquid code and custom templates - but this example will give you an idea of a basic store with light html customization that anyone can set up pretty easy with a little patience.

STORENVY CUSTOM STORES 2016 (Updated)

(Click graphic for larger view)

This store has web site links added to the left column that are inserted into the LayOut. These are custom links to extra html based store pages about additional information and links to the associated website.  There is also a custom link to Storenvy.com's customer support page so a customer can contact Storenvy easily in case of any questions or concerns that can only be addressed by their support team.

Storevny's Layout is where all the html is located for the store front that shoppers see when visiting the store. It is fully customizable using a mixture of Liquid code which is specific to Storenvy and basic html.

Adding third party html to the layout or even within a product description is possible, including YouTube videos as shown in this example product description.

While there are a plethora of possibilities, one feature worth considering customizing are the (On Sale) and (Pre-Order) codes which are activated via a check box during the product description creation.  In this particular example store, the (On Sale) code was edited in the LayOut html page and Product html page where (On Sale) was changed to (Free Shipping).  This allows visitors to be presented throughout the custom store with the notification that a product offers free shipping,

To customize this option, simply go into the stores html pages and using the (Find) feature of your browser (I am using chrome) search the html page for the text (On Sale) then replace it with (Free Shipping).  You will need to do this on several different store page html.  This will allow you to enable the Free Shipping notification across the store front by clicking the check box for (On Sale) when creating a new product description.   You could also alter the (Pre Order) check box in a similar manner, though I personally found the (On Sale) more functional for this purpose.

STORENVY CUSTOM STORES 2016 (Updated)
SHIPPING:  Because Storenvy does not currently offer calculated shipping, the majority of the items in this example store use Free Shipping to the USA to make things simpler on the store and for the customer.    Storenvy's Flat Rate Shipping is initially complicated to figure out. It took a year to get it figured out for this example store.

One of the complexities of the flat rate shipping model, is that a product shipping locally does not cost the same as a product shipping across the nation or internationally.  For this reason, this example store which is based in Los Angeles, California, uses the shipping rate for products shipped to southern, Florida or northern New York for its flat rate costs.  These are the same rates calculated into the free shipping prices.

Technically, International shipping could be easier since flat rate US Priority boxes are often more cost effective depending on the product.  This store does not ship to international locations, but it still has to address the forced flat rate setting.  In order to deal with this, international shipping is not mentioned in any of the store facts and the prices for shipping anything when a non-USA location is selected is set to $999.99 USD.  There is currently no other way to disable international shipping on Storenvy.

Because this store shares some of its inventory with three different eBay stores using the third party application Shopseen. It was easier simply to offer free shipping on all products being pulled in from eBay.
STORENVY CUSTOM STORES 2016 (Updated)
Categories - After a year of exploring many different kinds of Categories which are located on the left column, the final category strategy that seems to work well is having a dollar value and simplified product type category.   The list/column style of categories for products was chosen simply because the layout is similar to ebay and bonanza, however it is possible to have these represented by a graphic or product image which appear in an adjusted layout the extends across the page where this example store has the categories list on the left and products on the right.  Digging even deeper into customization, if you have the skills or know someone who does, you can pretty much move this wherever and however you desire.

The Graphic header image and logo change based on the season in size and content. Storenvy offers other options such as having a background and showing the store name instead of the header graphic. The header graphic, logo, store name, and background can all be enabled or disabled.

STORENVY 2016
Some of the more fancier stores like StarCrush implement drop down menus, sliding photo galleries, blogs, e-mail subscriptions and various other kinds of third party tools.  While they are less common on Storenvy, some of the customized stores are really quite amazing.

Payment options - Storenvy custom store can offer PayPal and/or Stripe. PayPal is the preferred since Storenvy's Stripe integration has been a poor integration since it was offered initially back in November 2014, which has ultimately led to an exodus of sellers outside of the USA who were unable to use Stripe.  Unfortunately, the lack of PayPal in the Market Place has forced a large number of sellers using the custom stores to close off their products from being offered for sale on Storenvy.

STORENVY 2016

Storenvy allows products individually or all products to be turned off for sale on it's Marketplace, so if you are selling a product you want to sell to an exclusive audience or only on your custom store, you have an on/off button on the products description page.  There is also an on/off button on both the actual Store Settings and Marketplace Settings.

STORENVY 2016
To have your products also show up in Storenvy's Marketplace the Stripe Payment Service is required since Storenvy made the decision to disable PayPal as an option on their MarketPlace. This mistake on Storenvy's part has limited sales traffic being generated through the MarketPlace.

STRIPE - is a payment gateway the is integrated directly into the MarketPlace and Custom store allowing your shopper to make a purchase directly on your store without being redirected to another website which is previous implementations of PayPal do.  However, unlike PayPal, Stripe while having the same processing fees of 2.9% of the sale plus 30 cents similar to PayPal, does not offer the same level of seller or shopper support, protections and has a high level of chargebacks and fraud.  It also at the time of this writing, has a poor rating for resolving issues with the BBB.

Watch this new video - Stripe and Storenvy Credit Card Fraud


Initially, there is a two week delay and hold on the first sales processed by Stripe, after that you can set it to deposit up to every two days or longer.  Stripe works directly with a bank account, which has also drawn numerous concerns within Storenvy's community for those who do not have nor want a bank account.  In all honestly, it is very possible that these sellers were unable to open a bank account within the USA or other European countries where Stripe is accessible.

Because no sales have actually been completed through Stripe on the example store, its difficult to offer anything other than opinion based on the experiences posted by Storenvy sellers and businesses in its Facebook support group.  Having reviewed Stripe before its implementation and afterwards, it appeared that Stripe has a very solid platform, though I have to acknowledge its lack of phone support.   All support is e-mail based, and Storenvy sellers who have experience difficulties with Stripe suggested they had difficulties as a result in the group conversation between Stripe, Storenvy and himself for issues that required Storenvy's involvement.  This is because Storenvy has dropped its direct e-mail support and now handles all of its support via a custom contact form.  This custom contact form works in association with a third party service which allows tracking of contacts on Storenvy and its social media pages.  Unfortunately, this third party service has failed with its severs going offline throughout 2015.

Coupons and Discounts
At the bottom of the example page http://gameitworks.storenvy.com/ is Storenvy's Coupon feature that is available to all stores for free.  You will notice a percentage based discount and coupon code appears for a 5% discount for any purchases made on the store.  You can also create hidden coupons that you can offer to friends, VIP's or whoever.

One technique some sellers have implemented is to create hidden coupon codes and then using them for marketing purposes to former customers or on their social media pages.   In the operation of this example store during 2015, coupon codes were offered on Twitter and Facebook, sent in e-mails to past customers among any marketplace where a sale was made in the past including etsy, ebay, bonanaza, etc. and a coupon based flyer with a link to the Storenvy custom store was dropped in every product shipped out.

You can also offer create a Storewide Coupon that is available only to your custom store visitors as shown on the bottom of this example store.  

Best Places To Sell in 2016
That said, you should know that Store Wide Coupons get picked up by several websites automatically which create a page with your store name, store web address and details about the coupon. This is advantageous since it provides an additional source of free advertising for your store as well as a back link.

For the example store, coupons were picked up by Coupon Follow, DealSpotr which redirects directly to the custom store, and several others. 

The free coupons are based solely on a (Percentage) so if you want advanced featured coupons, you can upgrade for a modest fee for a month or longer.

Best Places To Sell in 2016
Web Traffic from Storenvy's Marketplace do not have access to your custom store, so unless they came across you storewide coupon somewhere else or ended up following a link from your custom store to the market place, they will not have access to your coupons.  Even if you were to remove all links and associations on your custom store to Storenvy, there are still links to Storenvy Marketplace during customer checkout.

You will need to market and advertise your custom store in order to attract customers since there are billions of websites on the internet including stores trying to sell exactly what you are selling.  The sales go to those stores online who can find a niche advertising scheme with plenty of interested customers and creating an image online that create a sense of trust visually, but also with clear store policies.

Store Ratings - Storenvy recently added the ability for customers to leave you feedback ratings and testimonials, this should help with building your reputation once you have a few sales. If you already sell on eBay or Bonanza.com, you can imbed customer feedback from those marketplaces in a custom html page until you have some sales on Storenvy.  Use Auction Nudge for ebay. For feedback and store rating on Bonanza.com use their Widget.

Traffic analytics are available as shown in the photo above for both the Marketplace visits and Custom Store visits. Storenvy also has a marketplace system allowing visitors to "envy" your individual products for sale which increases their placement in search results.  Registered Storenvy users are able to create collections and include your products in their collections similar to on eBay.

There are several of these kind of features available to registered shoppers or sellers on Storenvy, each affect product search and placement results, and also bump a store into special lists that appear on the main search page for sellers who reach an unknown level of envies and follows.

If you want better search placement or want to eliminate a direct association with the Storenvy marketplace for your custom store - you can pay a minimal monthly fee to park your own custom domain web address. You will need to purchase a domain name.- I use and recommend NameCheap.

Namecheap is the domain register that everyone moves to whenever GoDaddy does something that affects domain owners in a negative manner.  Unlike GoDaddy, which set at least in the past has locked domains using their privacy features to a different website also owned by them, on NameCheap your privacy settings remain within your account and there is no risk of losing access to the third party privacy registration. In the past, many domain owners have lost and had their high value domain names stolen by GoDaddys privacy business also owned by them but operated as a separate business with neither of the two cooperating in order to resolve issues when you forget your passcodes.

GoDaddy has a history of creating a mountain of obstacles requiring you to prove your identity to recover your domain that get transfer and locked to their separate privacy business, such as requiring a notarized document proving your a business, giving them copies of your drivers license, proof of registration as a fictional business if you use any name other than your own for your business.  Again, you won't encounter this kind of issue on Namecheap.  

If you can't register a .com web address, many are suggesting the new .XYZ domain name will eventually replace or become the second most popular. This prediction is in part because Google Incorporated changed their name to ABC and instead of using a .com web address, they registered the company with an .XYZ domain web address.

Best Places To Sell in 2016

Pricing - So how much does it cost to sell on Storenvy's MarketPlace and set-up a free custom store, that is really the question you want to know.

There is no initial cost at this time to register as either a shopper or seller on Storenvy.  The Storenvy Custom stores, unlike Shopify, Highwire or BigCommerce, all of which charge a month fee between $15 to $40 USD for a basic custom store, Storenvy is Free.

To participate in Storenvy's MarketPlace you will pay the same final value fees as eBay which is 10% commission.  This fee occurs on the total sale price including shipping.  So if you offer free shipping or if you have a separate shipping cost, you will still pay 10% on the total combined cost, similar to eBay, except on Storenvy, you also get your own Free Custom Store in addition to a representative product page on the MarketPlace.

There are no listing fees.  Custom Stores have a few "extra features" you can implement such as parking your domain name that you purchased from NameCheap or elsewhere; advanced coupon features, etc.  There are also a considerable amount of third part applications available to your store that provide various kinds of features, priced by those services.   I recommend ShopSeen.com which I have I use to cross-sell between Storenvy, several ebay stores, etsy and Shopseens Instagram stores.  I also experimented using Shopseen to cross sell directly to a Word Press website using WooCommerce.

Storenvy's Reputation As A MarketPlace - As a former product reviewer for Epinions.com for 14 years and a current MarketPlace reviewer, I want to comment on the recent targeted attacks against Storenvy's reputation on SiteJabber and several other review sites.

During 2015, Storenvy's reputation took a massive hit for several different reasons, but primarily as a result of fallout from several decisions it implemented at the end of 2014.  These decisions devastated holiday sales traffic, created an international seller exodus, had horrible timing since its sellers were still reeling from a breakdown in its notification system that prevented sellers and customers from receiving e-mails, several bugs in its integration with PayPal, and its implementation of MarketPlace fees and the Stripe Payment Gateway.

Just prior to Storenvy's 2014 Armageddon, Storenvy had contacted me and asked me to provide Storenvy some recommendations regarding a wide range of changes it was contemplating making right before the holiday sellers season.  I was really sick that week, but stayed up all night making a private feedback video after reading through countless pages of information and notes I had made about what they were intending to do. I had a whole tablet of notes, I wanted to be very clear, specific and detailed with my input and council. This was very important to me as a reviewer.  In fact, I didn't even get started on the video until dawn.

The video, was a private video specifically for Storenvy's team, however, after filming the video and while the video was uploading to YouTube, I just had to get some sleep.  That evening, I learned that Storenvy had already made a decision to implement everything, to my bewilderment.  I, nor others who had been consulted for input, had a chance to respond, and this made the video no longer relevant, I went ahead and made it public on my YouTube channel here. It's worth watching if your interested in knowing why 2015 turned out to be a rough year on Storenvy.

These changes created a backlash at multiple levels.  For one, the 2014 Holiday sales were dead since Storenvy's team was directed to focus all of its energies on implementing Strip into its MarketPlace.  The timing was horrible and I could hear the faint cry of its Angellist investors weeping in the cold stark night air.

This was shortly followed by the implementation of final value fee for any sales that occurred via its MarketPlace.  It wasn't a small fee either, it was the 10% commission on all MarketPlace sales mentioned above.
Best free custom stores

To keep this short, the result was the majority of Storenvy's international based sellers and stores lost access to the MarketPlace due to Stripes limited reach internationally.  PayPal was dropped from the MarketPlace which angered its non-international USA/Canada sellers, and it will be easiest to simply say that Stripes integration was a rough ride for both Storenvy, its stores and their customers.

Some Stores selling higher valued products who were selling on their custom stores and the Marketplace experienced a wave of scams and charge backs on Stripe, some losing a lot of money. This wasn't entirely Storenvy's fault since it was occurring via Stripe and not PayPal, but the blame fell on Storenvy since everyone was already mad anyway.  Things could have possibly gone smoother if Storenvy hadn't shut down its massive 6,000 plus membered Facebook group when they became to inundated with customer support questions.  I honestly couldn't believe it, right when Storenvy needed to address their sellers concerns, they locked posting to their Facebook group and disappeared for a few weeks. 

Similar to those times past that eBay made stupid decisions that created mass exodus, Storenvy has experienced similar, and of course, those who are angry, feel betrayed or whatever motivates such individuals, many have made it their new life goal to attempt to ruin Storenvy.

I see the same occur for eBay and Bonanza all the time.  Disgruntled past eBay sellers or Bonanza sellers will leave insanely crazy comments for me on YouTube or where ever I have posted a marketplace review.  These unhappy individuals comments are like something out of a past time-warp.  Storenvy has seen this in 2015, especially on the review site SiteJabber.

Should You Sell on Storenvy in 2016? Watch my 2016 Best Places To Sell Online video on YouTube video to help you decide.  This video contains the recommendations I have about Storenvy in 2016.