Selling With Storenvy: A Review
If you're thinking of selling your homemade products online, you're probably well aware that you have several options. There are a number of web sites out there that make it simple for people to set up a store and start selling, Etsy.com and Storenvy.com being two of the largest and best-known. These kinds of sites are easy for people who don't have the knowledge, funds, or time to set up their own independent web site. They simply create a merchant account, and start listing products.
When I started my own handmade business in 2014, I weighed several options before choosing a site to sell with. I chose Storenvy mainly because other people I knew were using it, and the options for customization were far better than many of its competitors. Now that I've been using Storenvy for a couple of years, it's safe to say I'm pretty familiar with it.
I'm here to give you all the details about what you can expect if you set up your online store with Storenvy.
One of the things I like most about Storenvy is how easy it is to use. Setup is a breeze and takes almost no time at all. Within a few minutes of creating your account, you can list your products and start selling them!
Everything is basically in a "fill in the box" style, meaning that all you have to do is enter your store name, your bio, a photo if you'd like, choose your color scheme, etc. You don't have to worry about coding or formatting elements at all, it's all done for you. It's kind of like coloring in a coloring book. The design is already done for you, you just have to color in the blanks.
The downside of being so simple is that options for customization are very limited. Aside from picking the colors, fonts, and background images, you really don't have any freedom to change the way your site looks. You have only a handful of preset templates to choose from and that's it.
While this was wonderful at first, it wasn't long before I got to the point where I wanted more for my site. I began to get very frustrated that I couldn't create new pages, or add a blog, or design a homepage with a "welcome video" on it. Of course, you may not be interested in something like that. Just beware that you will not have very much freedom to be creative.
Cost Of Doing Business
The pricing was one of the main reasons I decided to go with Storenvy! It's free to set up your store, and you can list up to 500 products at a time. There are no monthly subscription fees. There used to be no transaction fee either, but it looks like Storenvy recently added one. They are currently "testing out" the addition of a "nominal fee" to transactions. Although they don't seem to specify exactly how much this fee is, it's worth looking into.
They also charge you extra if you want the following premium features that you don't have access to otherwise:
- Custom domain—$5/month. Without this, your web address will look like this: mystore.storenvy.com. However, if you purchase your own custom domain, it can look like this: mystore.com. If you want your own custom domain, you will have to go elsewhere to purchase one, like GoDaddy or BlueHost. Prices for this vary, and are separate from the $5 Storenvy charge. That's just the charge for you not using their .storenvy.com address.
- Discounts—$9/month. If you sell products, you'll probably want to offer promotions at some point. This add-on lets you create promo codes so your customers can get "X % off" or "Buy X get X free."
Another noteworthy cost is the fact that Storenvy will not handle your transactions by themselves. For that, they integrate with Stripe and Paypal, who both charge their own fees on every transaction. So not only is Storenvy taking a cut of all your sales, but Stripe and Paypal have a hand in your cash register, too. While these fees stay pretty small, they can really add up when combined, especially if you're making significant amounts of money through your Storenvy shop!
Actually selling your stuff on Storenvy is a pretty painless process. You just add your product info into their "fill in the blank" template, upload a photo, and list it for sale. You even have the ability to add variants (like different prices for different sizes), and keep track of inventory.
Once you've sold a product, Storenvy does a pretty good job of notifying you right away. I always got an email within seconds of a new sale. You can then package the product and ship it off.
Please not that Storenvy does not currently calculate shipping costs for you. This is one of the biggest struggles I had with running a Storenvy shop. You have to estimate the shipping cost of the product before you even list it for sale. I did this by creating "shipping groups" in the settings. I had one for candles, one for jewelry, etc. I estimated shipping costs based on how much the products typically weigh. I dislike this because you are never accurately charging your customers for shipping.
Other than that, the selling process runs pretty smoothly on Storenvy.
Marketplace- They Help You Sell
Storenvy has this little thing they call "The Marketplace," which is like their own virtual flea market.
If you've ever shopped on Storenvy.com, you're using their Marketplace. It helps put your stuff in the face of customers who might not have found it otherwise. You can choose whether you want to participate in the Marketplace or not.
If you do, they set you up with a profile in their Marketplace. This is totally separate from your "storefront" web site that you set up on your own. The plus is, they help direct the right traffic to your "Marketplace Store." The downside is, they take a 10% cut of anything you sell using their Marketplace, which is presumably more than the amount they charge you on purchases made from your own storefront.
Personally, I wasn't a fan of the Marketplace. Yes, it brings in customers who might not find you otherwise. However, I started to feel kind of cheated by the Marketplace after a while. I began to notice that when I typed my store name into a search engine, my listing in the Marketplace came up in the results before the listing for my own storefront did. This meant that many customers who were looking for my shop were being directed through Storenvy's Marketplace instead of directly to my shop. This meant that Storenvy got a cut of all those sales. I felt that this was very unfair, given that those customers were not gained through any help of the Storenvy Marketplace. No matter what I did, search engine results always took people to the Marketplace. The only way I could make a sale through my own Storefront was if I gave my customer the direct link. Because of this, I decided to opt out of Marketplace participation.
It'll be up to you to decide if this is worth it or not. You can open or close your "Marketplace Store" anytime you want, though, so you're not obligated to anything if you just want to try it out.
To me, integration with other services is a big deal. It wasn't until after I had invested a bunch of time into Storenvy that I realized their integration with other services is not so great.
There are a few "apps" that you can add to your store for extra functionality. Two notable examples are Kudobuzz (for collecting customer reviews) and ShippingEasy (for buying and printing shipping labels). However, if you're not satisfied with these apps, then you're S.O.L. If you want to look around for other options, they won't be compatible with your web site.
For example, I wanted to start using MailChimp to send out monthly newsletters and special offers. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to install an opt-in form on my web site.
In addition, I thought KudoBuzz was complete garbage. I found much better options for collecting customer reviews, but there was no way for me to work them into my site. I was stuck.
I reached a point where I thought it would be a good idea to use LeadPages to create a landing page where I could send a specific message to customers (aside from the very generic homepage that I got from Storenvy). Guess what? I couldn't do that either.
Of course, none of this may matter to you! I didn't even know what any of these things were when I started selling. But it wasn't long before these things made it onto my radar and I got frustrated that I couldn't play around and be creative with my sales tactics.
In my opinion, Storenvy is not very reliable. It crashed way too frequently for my liking while I was using it. The problems that frustrated me the most were:
- The web site glitched and couldn't process transactions. This happened way too frequently, and as far as I could tell it was site-wide.
- Everything worked except for the shop owner dashboard. This meant that customers can still shop and buy, but you have no access to your orders page to look at and process the orders that were coming in. This wouldn't be a huge deal if it weren't for the fact that it was down for almost 3 whole days! This seriously delayed the shipping process for the orders that came in during that time.
- There were a few times that I had to go around Storenvy and take sales from my customers through Paypal directly. It was when this started happening that I decided I needed to take my business elsewhere.
Maybe my expectations are too high, but I think that a web site that makes tons of money from the people who use it to make money should at least be functional on a regular basis. When your web site is down, it reflects badly on you as a business owner whether it's your fault or not. And when it gets in the way of your ability to bring in money, it becomes a serious problem.
To their defense, I have heard tons of stories of people who are totally satisfied and have never had a problem. Unfortunately I am not one of those people.
Compare For Yourself
When you're setting up an online store, there will be highs and lows no matter which platform you decide to use.
I highly advise comparing a few of the platforms that look most appealing to you, and considering testimonials from people who have actually used them before. I stayed with Storenvy for over two years before I began to outgrow it's limitations and began to look elsewhere. However, there are people who never leave Storenvy because their shop is so successful right where it is!
I am very glad that I picked Storenvy as a starting point. I think that they made the transition into being a new business owner extremely simple, and I was able to learn so much while I was running my Storenvy shop!
If you have any specific questions about selling on Storenvy that I didn't answer here, or if you have your own testimonial to add, please leave them in the comments!
© 2016 Kristen Haynie