For any PRB members reading this - it needs reviewers, so get involved and get this (and other) submissions approved.
I would guess at least a few months yet.
In the meantime, Snipcart is an excellent option if you need basic e-commerce tools and can't wait for the official concrete5 e-commerce for 5.7.
Here is a demo video for Snipcart for concrete5:
Franz, what should we do here, tell people to use wordpress or joomla? What the f? Please address this with a time frame for a release.
We sat down and did a review of what was great and what wasn't out of ecom for 5.6.
There's a couple of deep things we want to change:
1) The idea of making a page for every product in the tree is cumbersome. Be it a set of blocks or a single page, you should be able to create and manage a catalog without having to dink around in the sitemap. The product block is fine for calling out a product you'd like to sell on a blog post or something, but the store should work like a store more easily out of the box with a catalog search and product detail setup that's simpler to manage and wrap your head around.
2) Inventory != product. Right now we blend inventory & sku info with product summary marketing info in the data structure. This is a bad call and limits what we can do on things like configured pricing, multiple currencies, different inventory centers, etc.
3) Single page check out, not in an overlay. It's tedious and very old feeling today.
4) Everything to be responsive. Product list block to go more or less away (certainly its wonky formatting).
5) Try to keep support for gateways, shipping, and discounts as similar to 5.6 as we can so we don't create unneeded marketplace work for everyone.
That's where we got on technical strategy.
Additionally per Kovin's influence there's a strong desire to somehow have a free core ecommerce offering with more revenue coming off of the extensions. Looking at WooCommerce and being able to say there's a free open source framework for commerce transactions is compelling. We've always struggled with ecommerce's pricing model in the past.
$125 seems pricey in the world of open source. The very sane argument of "yo, yer setting up a commercial venture, riiiight?" is still just an argument. People feel like it's on the pricey end compared to any number of straight up free solutions out there. Conversely, I just as often hear from enterprise clients who are bewildered at that price. "Surely you mean per user per month or something with that, right? We're expecting to pay 5-6 figures..." This leaves us in the unenviable position of everyone in here thinking we're getting rich off of selling these one time $125 licenses, and the larger enterprise clients thinking its a joke and can't be for them.
In reality the costs of maintaining a good ecommerce solution continue endlessly. New tax laws come out, we need to update stuff. New design paradigms become standard and a tiny cart overlay window looks ridiculous. Paypal flips a switch, we all have to rebuild stuff. It's never ending but the $125/license pricing model is a one time fee and people seem to expect lifetime upgrades. While it's likely also true that we're spreading the revenue from ecommerce too thin by effectively hoping it to cover the cost of maintaining a great ecommerce system AND a great free CMS - but none the less, you can tell from the infrequency of updates released to ecommerce for 5.6 that we're not 100% comfortable with how things are from a licensing/revenue model on it.
Shopify feels cheaper than our add-on at the $20-45/mo they charge. Of course in reality if your site lasts 5 years that quickly balloons into the better part of $2,000 per customer.
We're thinking about having a free ecommerce core, more expensive add-ons for it (shipping gateways for woocommerce average around $75, not the $30 they are here). We also are looking at the new SimpleSite hosting we've started to offer and wondering if we can create an ongoing revenue stream if you want us to just make your ecommerce site work, vs self serve self help for free on your own. On top of that, we're exploring if making technical change #2 would open us up to integrate with some of the bigger inventory management systems out there so we could have enterprise offerings on top of a free ecommerce framework that brought us the 5-6 figure checks we should really be getting to effectively compete in this market.
So to try to speak to the outrage that we haven't dropped everything and just focused on getting ecom for 5.7 out, there's some of the reasons why. Looking at the technical todo list we're talking weeks not days of effort. Looking at the revenue models, we want to change things so we've got a better monetization plan that enables us to do more product work on the thing. With the number of people depending on this, there should be more time to make it great. Of course all that is tempered by the fact that theres just as much (frankly very justified) outrage that we still haven't finished all of the 5.7 developer docs - so I've had Andy deep on that for the last couple of weeks and he's been making great progress in there:
In the meantime we're considering updating our Shopify for concrete5 add-on to work with 5.7. That would only take us a couple of days, and while yes it means you have a store section of your site that looks different from the content section of your site, we've been surprised to find that makes a fair amount of sense to a lot of people. Additionally shopify just works and keeps us from taking on too much too quickly to do very well at any of it.
Thoughts on any of that?
I agree with the points you made about the needed improvements. A smoother "workflow" within ecommerce will be a big seller for using C5.
What default payment gateways will be included? Paypal, Authorize.net, Stripe, Amazon, and Google Checkout should be included.
I look forward to this.
Yes, tax models should be pluggable and where possible things should be uninstallable.
- Make as much as possible pluggable/extendable. For example, if tax was a pluggable module, then developers could create tax modules to satisfy specific national, regional or market sector requirements.
- Make anything pluggable also unpluggable, so it can be cleanly uninstalled without needing to hack the database directly.
But maybe you're onto something as the core (community edition) is free.
I think your main struggle is and has been over the past year: Who are you targeting? It sounds like your pricing and marketing strategy is hinging on figuring out that still. Shoot, me personally, knowing the price I charge for eCom solutions, you could charge $1250 and I'd buy it. But I also know that there's a lot of low-medium level priced developers out there who can use C5 as an ecom platform because it's only $125. It's low enough they can justify it and profit from it. On top of that, they can host it and create a recurring revenue model for themselves, which is valuable. You can't as easily do that with Shopify.
In terms of SimpleSites, why not add ecom as additional feature at a monthly rate for $15/month more or something - at least rather than just free.
I also agree that we have a bad habit of wanting to be a universal solution which tends to make marketing and making money needlessly painful.
I don't know much about the word "fair" but I agree that $125 isn't a lot to ask if you're running off and building a store to sell stuff and get rich. Sucks if you're just trying to accept donations on your non-profit site tho..
Anyone have any views on shopify vs. build it in?
Enter SimpleSites with eCom at $30/month (or whatever price makes sense). It's much more digestible. And to those types of clientele, is what I think SimpleSites will be great for. The people who go "I just want to pick a theme, have some features available, and get a site online". I feel like SimpleSites is your answer for C5 to client, and the marketplace in all its glory is the answer for C5 to everyone else (Developers, tinkerers, part time web guys, large clients with marketing departments).
You've mentioned it before I think comparing it to Wordpress, and having the .com for direct to consumers (clients? customers? whatev) and the .org for everyone else. I think that's the closest business strategy to follow - but you almost have to treat it as two separate babies with different strategies. Which, for a small shop, is akin to juggling chainsaws. If you don't pay attention to both at all times, you lose.
I'm just thinking out loud.
I never played with your Shopify add-on to weigh in on it. Personally, I hate dealing with two different systems like that, but that's me. I also know Shopify has some killer features that are just time consuming to replicate. They have the benefit of a team dedicated to one product. So there's obvious advantage of using Shopify + C5. Maybe I'm just too hard headed to take advantage of that advantage.
I have no idea what percentage of C5 users I represent. Do you have an inkling of an idea of who really IS the majority of the C5 users here? Or better yet, what kind of people are the majority of the marketplace purchasers?
I've typed too much, and I don't know if I've actually said anything valuable.
Many user of eCommerce are first time eShops. They don't want to spend a lot up front because they don't know how much business they will actually be doing. They have dreams, but not certainties.
Once someone has a well established and profitable shop, and they are on a second or third generation site, they have a better idea and are prepared to invest more because they have a few years of accounts that show when they will get it back.
That points towards a system that is affordable for first timers, either a flat $125 of $something small per month. Limited functionality, but still enough to get an eShop off the ground and start making profit. Then an upgrade path when they want to grow or build a second generation eShop.
The tricky part is deciding on where the functional split lies. If the intro package is not good enough, they will go elsewhere rather than upgrade. If its too good, there will be no reason to upgrade and no revenue stream to fund the basic shop.
I agree with @MichaelG that splitting the shop within a site out to a third party just feels wrong. For a business, its a hassle to manage. As a customer, an obviously split site looks unprofessional. It says "we have a business, but we've done it on the cheap", even if a subscription does add up to a lot over a year or two. Any such split needs a lot of work to make it seamless, and that is if the third party supports such a seamless integration. If it doesn't, a business would be better off just selling through eBay or Amazon and forgetting their own eShop unless it provides a decent customer experience.
I think several levels of E-commerse might make sense, E-Commerce Lite, E-Commerce, E-commerce Enterprise, with different features and price levels might be a very competitive approach.
We defiantly need a pay for subscriptions feature in E-commerce.
Shopify… Why give them the money? If you want to provide a shopping service that would be awesome, especially if we can apply our themes to it.
I think the biggest problem right now is we don’t have many options for E-commerce for 5.7 and we need something from the core team. It makes 5.7 look to immature to consider for serious projects. I’ve already lost a job to another platform because we did not have a solid E-commerce solution for 5.7.
However, as time goes by and this isn't an option, it does impact my ability to sell C5. And, WooCommerce (and Wordpress in general) continues to get better and combined with some key plugins is starting to catch up to some of the strengths of C5.
So if you guys don't do it and do it well and if someone else doesn't fill in the gap, it hurts my ability to sell the core and overall ecosystem, and that's not good.
In terms of monetization, could you change the terms of the revenue share in the marketplace be 50/50 for add-ons that are compatible with ecommerce? As it is, add-on developers share based on compatibility with the core. It stands to reason that they are even further reliant on ecommerce code being available and should expect some recompense for that.
For the core ecommerce, could you offer a subscription basis where you offer feature parity with Shopify for $20/mo (or something) or $200/year understanding that you are not necessarily hosting the store, but still providing updates? And perhaps offer it free for the first month or three to allow for development to happen before the pricing kicks in?
There is something simple and clean about the one-time fee, and it seems to be low enough for people to take on who are serious about trying out their ecommerce dreams while not dirt cheap, especially for those who are open to systems other than Wordpress.
It seems like those these two changes could change your revenue model enough to increase cash-flow and encourage development. Just some thoughts...
It is not a question of if the core eCommerce is worth the cost, it is a question of is the C5 platform going to be the platform we can continue to build out business on. We truly appreciate what a great platform C5 is, and for non commercial projects it continues to be great. But without maintenance on the eCommerce side of the "equation" we are left to questioning how to best proceed forward. Can the core team please release a 5.7 version of eCommerce that lets the original adopters move forward with C5!