Shop Rollback

The new shop has not gone to plan, and we’re rolling back to the previous shop interface; this is likely to be a temporary measure. I will be spending the afternoon manually recreating recent paid orders in the older system, so that these purchases survive the erstwhile store. Affected customers should be receiving new receipts with order numbers and download links; keep this information on record, as you may need it later to re-download or update your purchases.

And that’s the story’s lead. You can walk away now if you’re pressed for time, or stay a bit longer while I draw back the curtain on matters of shop.

By redesigning our shop, I had hoped to simplify my personal involvement in pre and post sales support, while simultaneously providing a better user experience for customers. Initial testing had yielded positive results, but the shop has sadly had the opposite effect in deployment. It’s been a hassle for me, and I’ve had to ask too many customers to jump through various hoops while we tried to get their purchases properly through the system.

The new shop has been running on EasyDigitalDownloads, a generally well-reviewed e-commerce plugin for WordPress. The EDD team very recently released their major 2.5 update, and I suspect many of our problems can likely to attributed to the sort of growing pains that typically come along with a big, new release. We are no strangers to this at The Turning Gate, much as we endeavor otherwise.

I fully expect these problems will be smoothed out over time. I’ve been in daily contact with EDD support, and they’ve been impressively responsive; they reply to messages in a timely manner, and in the span of a week have updated from version 2.5.0 to 2.5.6, stomping bugs with each incremental patch.

Were I not operating a live, consumer-facing shop, I might have the patience to wait these issues out. EasyDigitalDownloads offers a compelling set of features, and I think it stomps the popular WooCommerce flat for selling digital goods from WordPress. But it’s adding complication to my days at a time when I’m actively seeking simplicity, and that’s no good for me.

So for now, I’m rolling back to the old Shopify storefront, with files served via FetchApp. This is the same shop the vast majority of you are already familiar with. I remain keen to find an alternative, though.

Shopify offers a good product for e-commerce, but it’s not ideal for digital-only sellers, and overly complicated for our focused needs. Plus it’s expensive. Really expensive.

FetchApp ties in nicely with Shopify for delivering digital goods, but it’s a bit wonky with file and product management, and I absolutely hate that customers need to pair email and order number to lookup existing purchases. The time I spend each week retrieving lost order numbers for customers, so they can in turn run individual lookups for all of their downloads … it’s absurd. You should be able to plug in your email address and have it all sent to you; that’s what I think.

It’s also an extra expense. While relatively small, it feels wrong; with what I’m already paying Shopify, shouldn’t they be able to handle this?

I will be traveling from tomorrow, for most of next week. When I come back, the search continues. I had taken a look at Gumroad previously, but they didn’t have quite the features I wanted at the time, and I now wouldn’t look at them with a 300mm telephoto. I’ve presently got my eye on SendOwl. They seem promising; I like that they’re independent, and the way they handle purchase retrieval and sending out software updates. They also seem to have the reporting features I require.

Well, that’s what’s up. Do feel free to voice any concerns or thoughts you may have. My full intention is to make The Turning Gate more user-friendly for everyone involved, so that we can all focus on what we do best, and not have to waste undue time and effort fumbling with silly things. I just need to find the right systems to make that happen.

For now, I’m off to do exactly the thing I had hoped not to have to do. If you’ve paid for anything after January 6, be sure to watch your email for a new order receipt.