Shopseen Final Review
Shopseen.com and PostCart.co
At the end of 2016 and going into 2017, How To Sell Online will no longer conduct marketplace or service reviews about Shopseen or its newer PostCart.co.
WHAT IS SHOPSEEN?
Shopseen is a seller hub that allows various marketplaces to cross-sell the same products and inventory. When a sale occurs on one marketplace, it is automatically removed from the other marketplaces. It also allows the ability to collect e-mail addresses and send out a newsletter to customers on any marketplace. It does this by importing all sales data and customer e-mails addresses directly into a sorted email list. This can be a great benefit to sellers and small businesses using Shopseen, considering some marketplaces do not make customer e-mail addresses easily accessible.
At the time of this final review, the Shopseen.com website suggests having 9663 businesses using its services:
"Join 9663+ businesses today. No credit card required."
WHAT MARKETPLACES DOES SHOPSEEN WORK WITH
In the 2014-2016 version of Shopseen, the following marketplaces were available, including Ebay, Storenvy, Etsy, Shopify, Big Commerce, Square, Instagram, Twitter, Woo Commerce.
PROBLEMS WITH SHOPSEEN
In 2016 ShopSeen users began reporting issues with its inventory management and cross-sharing import and export of products between different platforms, including Ebay, Etsy, Storenvy and others. We monitored the support response time and began noticing users returning with the same requests for support over several months.
Mid-2016, after several of its platforms had become unusable due to lack of API upkeep and maintenance, Shopseen's founder confirmed that it's team had been fully engaged in developing its independent Instagram platform PostCart.co and therefore its support for Shopseen customers had suffered.
Instead of indicating to its current customers that updates were underway, it was announced that a new version of ShopSeen built from the ground up would be launched in 2017 to replace its currently failing platform.
Shopseen was supposed to have been out of beta-testing mid 2015 and in alpha version throughout 2016, but was obviously rushed into the public in order to attempt to generate a profit.
HOW MUCH DOES SHOPSEEN COST TO USE
Shopseen originally launched as a free service in 2014 and in 2015 attempted several different kinds of profit methods, including a per item transaction fee and its current monthly transaction fee. Neither fee structure seemed to hit the right balance, in part because it was having difficulty in targeting its higher volume store and seller objective and instead attracting lower volume eBay and Etsy customers who wanted to grow.
Instead of adjusting to meet the needs of its original core users with a pricing structure that would be competitive against other similar marketplace hubs, Shopseen opted to retarget itself to higher volume retailers.
Like many Silicon upstarts, it lacked the foresight of seeing things in a long term growth projection and instead focused on the short term higher profit objective.
While Shopseen did allow its original beta testers and first to market adopters to continue to use the platform for free as it was originally introduced, it lacked success in attracting paying end-user customers.
Those it may have acquired were eventually began leaving as lack of maintenance and support caused this platform to fail.
Why did Shopseen abandon its original platform in 2016? To create an independent marketplace built around Instagram called PostCart.co that had been previously built specifically for and into Shopseen.
Shopseen had the potential of becoming the next eBay or Amazon in the area of Marketplace Cross-Inventory Hubs, given it had started to make in-roads with the millions of eBay, Etsy and other marketplaces. The potential would of existed within its financial goals for longer term profit growth by taking a smaller fee per transaction with a growing community of customers. Instead it opted for trying to obtain faster financial growth by charging high priced memberships targeted at larger profit entities, which if failed to attract.
Based on calculations we made while researching and originally reviewing Shopseen, an online seller utilizing this service would pay approximately Sixty-Cents per transaction for the ability to have a product removed automatically from a shared inventory on one marketplace plus Shopseens Instagram store. This fee out priced itself with its founding core customer base who were already being gouged with fees on shipping and product commissions on eBay and Storenvy at 10% and Etsy at 3.5% plus 20 cents per listing..
Shopseen could of established a per item transaction fee of ten to twenty-cents per item to use its service and grown its product value by based on quantity of transactions per users. It also could of taken the approach of having a lower monthly fee with full access to all of its API features. A longer term vision based on quantity of sellers using the services at a lower rate, verses fewer sellers using its services at a higher rate, would have been a better vision, assuming it had been able to maintain the Shopseen cross-market api integrations.
MARKETPLACE IMPLEMENATION PROBLEMS
As for the supported platforms, its Woo Commerce support for those wanting to host their own independent stores via Word Press was severely lacking. Customers attempting to set-up Shopseen with Woo Commerce experienced grave difficulties.
Amazon was originally promised as a marketplace that was on the list to be implemented, but was never implemented. Instead Square, Instagram, Twitter and Woo Commerce were implemented.
Instagram and Twitter have a 10% sale commission fee on the final value of the sale, in addition to the monthly Shopseen membership fees.
Ebay implementation was buggy, forcing customers to come up with their own work arounds to get inventory cross posted to Ebay. Generally speaking, Shopseen's implementation of Ebay auctions worked relatively straight forward, however it's implementation of Fixed Price listings had multiple issues. Fixed list exports required a shipping option to be selected from a drop down menu of hundreds of possible variations, these options are vaguely described and many are redundant. Vaguely worded error messages often occurred when attempting to export a product description to eBay, and blocked export until corrected.
Errors often resulted from choosing a shopping method that had a shipping price caps based on a particular dollar value or weight. The most effective way to address this particular error was to use its "Custom Shipping" option at the very bottom of the drop down menu. This method worked to get the product to by-pass the shipping errors resulting from the drop down menu options, but by mid-2016 has also broken. Even if a fixed price product were able to be exported and synced to eBay, additional details would have to be manually inputted on the products eBay listing. Shipping weight, dimensions, Zip Code, making sure Free Shipping wasn't selected when it was imported, etc. wasted considerable amount of time, considering it only takes a few minutes to manually de-list a sold product from another marketplace in comparison. These issues defeated the ultimate goal of using Shopseen to decrease interaction with multiple marketplace descriptions.
Etsy users were encountering import and posting issues to and from Etsy mid-2016.
Storenvy's implementation worked very well due to its simple structure up until other areas of Shopseen began developing issues. Mid-2016 Shopseens inventory sync with Storenvy began suffering random import and exporting issues.
The ability to send out marketing e-mails to those e-mail addresses collected within the Shopseen account broke mid-2016, preventing newsletters from being able to be processed via Shopseen.
Photos of products in a users Shopseen inventory began randomly cross transposing between marketplace imported items. For instance, a photo of a computer could end up on a product description of a shoe, forcing the seller to have to go into the marketplace and manually replace the photos. This odd problem frequently caused other photo sync issues between marketplaces also.
FINAL THOUGHTS GOING INTO 2017
How To Sell Online, contacted several small businesses using Shopseen who had been attempting to obtain customer support and learned that their was a general consensus that though Shopseen was considered valuable based on its ability to remove sold products being sold cross-marketplace, it was also viewed as labor intensive compared to simply manually managing the product on different marketplaces directly.
How To Sell Online hopes Shopseen will develop a new, better quality product, with better integrated marketplaces and with a consistent higher standard of product maintenance.
Implementing a better pricing structure based on longer term financially growth in order to tap into a larger community and population of sellers via the different marketplaces is also recommended.
Until Shopseen is able to commit itself to developing a stable platform with consistent maintenance and a competitive value, How To Sell Online recommends small businesses and retailers look at other similar services. We also recommend that smaller sellers and sole proprietors with a lower volume of sales on Ebay and Etsy consider managing their cross-selling inventory manually.