Recent Forum Feedback...

Discussion in 'Official Announcements' started by gregorykress, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. gregorykress
    gregorykress Shapeways Employee CEO
    Thank you for your feedback and your patience. We’ve been waiting to gain insights, data, and performance from the latest site changes so that we could provide a thoughtful, comprehensive, and data driven response. I do want to express how sorry we are when members of the community are frustrated, we are changing things at Shapeways, and we know that impacts you.

    We are moving quickly to roll out new features, while understanding the discomfort of change. Change is hard, but it will create a strong company that is mutually beneficial to customers, our community, and Shapeways.

    The Shapeways team is working hard to do the right things for the community and continue to make Shapeways a healthy, sustainable business. Our biggest challenge right now is that we can’t do everything at once with limited resources. The most feedback and questions we’ve received from the community are here on the Forum and specifically about the marketplace. So here we go….

    1. Why did we move it down on the homepage? Will that hurt my sales?

    Marketplace traffic has not gone down since we relaunched the homepage. We are measuring it… daily, hourly. We want your products to sell as much as you do. We aren’t trying to handicap the marketplace. We redesigned the homepage based on users’ behaviors. The majority of customers who go to the marketplace do not reach it from the homepage. We know that, because our marketing leads people directly to the marketplace category and directory pages (for browsing and discovery) and product pages. Our traffic reports for your stores and product pages show this, too. We specifically did not make changes to the marketplace… customer flow, SEO ranking, categories, etc.-- it is all the same. The only changes you see are the logo and the color of the buttons.

    The biggest change that impacted your sales over the past 12 months is when we stopped discount promotions, especially in the summer months. We have not run a marketplace promotion since November of 2017. Shapeways regularly ran high discounts that we paid for rather than funding it from the shop owner mark ups. Funding those discounts on top of our already low or unprofitable margins on many products was not sustainable, especially if you add on paid advertising to bring in traffic. Our marketplace platform in its current state is free to use without fees, unlike Amazon, Etsy, Shopify and others.

    2. Are you committed to the future of the marketplace?

    Yes... But we can do better. The marketplace will need to evolve and how we support our shop owners has to change. As tough as you all have been on us the past week, we are tougher. Shapeways infrastructure for 3D modeling and printing fulfillment is excellent. But while we focused and invested there, our marketplace technology is behind. Our search functionality, product merchandising, and more are not as robust as Shopify, Amazon, Etsy and others. Our biggest conundrum is this: many Shapeways shop owners sell on those platforms. For example, the biggest request we have been getting from all customers is ecommerce integration into third-party marketplaces. In a world where we can’t do everything at once, we prioritized fixing and building those integrations.

    We are 100% committed to the customers on our marketplace. We are listening and working to prioritize the things that impact the most customers, their sales on or off our platform. It is going to take us some time.

    3. What is going to happen next?

    The most important thing on our mind right now is making sure we are all prepared for the holidays. It is 79 days until November. We want to have a great end of the year for the marketplace, especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday window. We are doing preparations now. Our marketing team is going to jump into the Forum the next few weeks kicking off holiday readiness, including most importantly, asking you all for your advice, tips, best practices, and needs so that we get well ahead of them. We are going to send a survey and then we will package it and share it back with the community.

    I want to manage expectations. We won’t be able to rebuild search or change any core functionality on the marketplace by then. We would never risk disrupting the whole marketplace or SEO history. We will be establishing a vision of the marketplace moving into 2019.

    We will continue to look for ways to effectively boost marketplace traffic and shop owner sales. Stay tuned for more information from our marketing team.

    Greg
     
  2. FerretDesigns
    FerretDesigns Well-Known Member
    Thank you for taking the time to reply to the forum concerns, but there are large areas of complaint missing and not addressed above.
    Will you or someone else be addressing the many many usability based complaints?
    - Removing the drop down menus from our own 3D models pages
    - Moving the links around making it hard to find things, not just the market place but the forums, the tools for uploading etc
    - The recent changes to layouts of materials, meaning we have to click into each material grouping to see prices and can no longer see them side by side
    - Half the time when adding something to cart it fails, this has been happening for weeks
    There are more, but I'll let others add those.
     
  3. ldemrys
    ldemrys Well-Known Member
    Okay, I'm gonna have a real hard time NOT using profanity here.....WHY do you keep changing the user interface?? I have been using Shapeways for some time now and there have been too many changes for me to keep up with. Today I tried to upload a new model twice and only succeed a little while ago (third time is the charm). Now, when I want to try and list it for sale, ALL I can find is the option to order it and add it to my cart!
    The user interface for this site has NEVER been user friendly ( in my opinion ) but now it's TOTALLY ****** up!
    If your gonna make these radical changes, the LEAST you could do is post a change log or something. If it weren't for the fact that I have several models with a good print record, I would be uploading everything I have to competitive service where they prepare a "3D Print Dossier" in PDF format to let you see what you've created. So far I have not explored to option of setting up my store there, (but it's looking better and better all the time) but these "improvements" are causing me to re-think my choice in using Shapeways.

    PLEASE FIX THIS SHIT !
     
  4. woody64
    woody64 Well-Known Member
    Thanks for pointing out some thoughts but the above statement I personally find really strange:
    - When you are doing promotions you mainly drive your own business, which is printing 3d items. That leads to utilization of your production facilities and should generate additional revenue packed in the printing costs.
    - The examples given (Amazon, Etsy, Shopify, ....) have as main business providing a marketplace and don't have a production line which is their main business
    - With the marketplace platform shop owners bring in their brand, their products, their creativity and their advertisement, ... and get the possibility to add some revenue to the base printing costs. I'm sure that for most of us we can also speak of low margins.
    In the forums there is a long running request that there is a promotion option for shop owners which is then paid out of the shop owners markups. That would be one of the long awaited options to drive on more business instead of the numerous changes at customer's/shop owners user interface.
    - If we are doing our own creations, we invest in prototypes and test and introduce new materials ...
    For that we are never paid of from SW side but had in the last years several short announced changes with heavy influences on our business.
    Maybe you should think over some revenue flow for your most valuable shop owners (whoever they are) in terms of vouchers for test orders or lower base prices.

    As shop owner I really want to concentrate more on creations, customer requests and advertisement instead of lagging behind changes on the SW interface.
    Fortunately for me that's a beloved hobby but for the others which have built their business and income on SW it must be a mess.

    Hopefully this integration will be possible because that can really boost SW's and our business.

    Woody64
     
  5. barkingdigger
    barkingdigger Well-Known Member
    Given that NONE of the many, many recent complaints and suggestions regarding the new UI were mentioned, I seriously doubt Greg is taking any notice of what we post in this thread either. (Go on Greg, prove me wrong! I dare ya!)

    The frank truth is that SW really needs TWO different web interfaces - one designed for easy shopping by customers, and another for us designers based around the old pages that put all the upload and product-edit tools in one sensible place to make it easier for us to create all of SW's sales stock. Then we could just switch between the two UIs depending on what we were doing (shopping or creating) at the time. This "one size fits nobody" new UI is simply crap even when compared to the previous UI - I seriously hope SW hasn't paid any money for it.
     
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  6. ComradeWave
    ComradeWave Active Member
    What an empty, cardboard, robotic corporate response.

    I think the others here have already voiced plenty of their complaints with the new layout and site design, the fact that preview renders are STILL not working/updating after an entire year of people stating it isn't working, the fact that the prices of some materials skyrocket by over 300% on random models, the fact that adding models to your cart fails (which is really unacceptable), and the fact the website looks worse than ever before, and you still choose not to address any of these issues.
     
  7. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    I kind of doubt they have the resources to support different web interfaces although it would make sense. At least one workstation centric interface that designers can utilize with all the nice bells and whistles and another one that caters to finger pointing ipadders and mobile device users that are more apt to purchase than upload high intensity designs.

    One of my ever-present complaints about Shapeways is hardly ever having backwards compatibility or being able to opt into changes after they are introduced. Every year there's some major kick in the gut that makes you scurry around and repair shop pages in one manner or another. I'm not even sure what the new Spring and Wonder template really means. It seems to me at best it will be an opportunity to strip out the 4 or 5 best selling items in an existing shop and port them over to a new formatted shop with the branded boxes and whatnot.
     
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  8. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    The fundamental problem as I see it is that shapeways keeps playing the "trust us, we know what is good for you" card while at the same time sending the message (through the rebranding) that they are not the same business partner who they used to be, and removing key materials and pricing information. With all the half-broken redesigned tools and pages, it is almost impossible to know what is a genuine bug and what is an intentional change, including the weird price changes that some have seen. I am just glad that I had not yet started advertising my shop when the trouble started, or I would have got caught in what looks like an ugly downward spiral...
     
  9. Model_Monkey
    Model_Monkey Well-Known Member
    I appreciate the need for appropriate and timely change. In principle, that's a healthy thing. I want to support a well-timed, healthy evolution effort.

    Three concerns:

    1. We have experienced too many times that Shapeways appears to spend too much time and effort making website appearance changes rather than fixing known, chronic problems that have persisted for years. The website changes appear to benefit only those that run the website but those changes do not necessarily help designers sell designs to customers. For example, I am encouraged to see that you and Shapeways recognize that customers have a terrible time finding products on the website. But that problem has existed for years. The existing logo was not causing customers to have difficulty making a purchase. Please prioritize fixing real problems that directly harm sales.

    2. Evolution is necessary. From a simple sales perspective, experience indicates that we do not have the power to force evolution on the market, to force customers to adopt new behaviors in order to make a purchase. The tail cannot wag the dog. The market evolves at its own pace and we designers must interact with existing customer behavior and demand. When using the website, all my customers want is to be able to find the product quickly and buy it with as few clicks as possible. Like 3 clicks. They want to easily edit their cart.

    Here's what one my (our) customers had to say in a message to me about the new UI after the recent roll out:

    "I love your products but your website is awful...Can t even edit my cart or check out....its probably me, but I don t find it very user friendly.

    Sincerely
    Jim
    [redacted]"​

    The customer only wanted to simply make a purchase. The website failed in its most critical function right at the point of sale, which didn't happen.

    3. Regarding timing, and knowing you want to move "quickly to roll out new features", for the love of God please don't roll anything out during the Christmas shopping season.

    Two or three years ago, Shapeways made a huge change in the functionality of product descriptions on product webpages during the Christmas shopping season. It was a needed change to be sure, but very poorly timed and executed. A bug in the new coding adversely affected the formatting of existing product descriptions. All of the formatting was lost leaving products' descriptions nothing more than a continuous stream of letters with foreign language symbols interspersed within the text stream. Product descriptions for hundreds of products in my shop instantly became an unintelligible, sales-crippling mess. When we designers complained, we were first told, paraphrasing, "there is no problem", followed several days later with, "there is a problem and it's complicated", then after two weeks, "we found the problem and fixed it but the fix is not retroactive".

    I (and many other designers, too) had to manually reformat hundreds of product descriptions in my shop, one at a time, during the Christmas shopping season, and sales and customers too were lost just when they were willing to spend money.

    That bug experience took weeks to correct. So please, if you are going to roll stuff out as you should, do it with at least a couple weeks to work through bugs before the Christmas shopping season begins or wait until January.

    As you know, in business, timing is everything.

    Please help Shapeways become a more predictable business partner. As a former US Army lieutenant colonel, please consider a principle that served me well leading people in three wars on two continents: "The essence of good leadership is making life predictable for the people who rely on you."
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
  10. adbinc
    adbinc Well-Known Member
    Well, I was very worried that the change would negatively impact sales. However, I got the word out to our fanbase that the look had changed and I am not seeing a loss in sales. Nor have I seen a huge increase in sales beyond what I would expect in a "mad month" (over 100 items added). As long as our sales are not dropping, I am good. I'll figure out how to do stuff while fussing under my breath that it takes more clicks to do so.

    However, I think one of the things to take away from this rollout is that by not telling us in advance "We are changing these specific things," you (Shapeways highest management, not CS) created a negative climate. We couldn't prepare ourselves (the "you're going to love it" message was so vague as to be useless) or our customers. Anything that went wrong hit the forums with the undertone of "Shapeways broke this on purpose."

    I totally understand some things needed to change to help you increase your profit. After all, we get a free shop with the brand recognition of Shapeways. We refer customers who get the wrong item shipped, a broken item, or something misprinted to Shapeways's excellent customer service reps. But what Shapeways may not realize is we contribute to your bottom line. Our customers help you turn a profit. I have over 4,000 likes on our corporate page on Facebook. Our fanpage focused on minis has nearly 700 people (https://www.facebook.com/groups/568564029852004/). Our shared customers paint their ships, show them off, and folks get to see the wonderful minis we design and you print. We feel like partners. And when we are treated as mere customers instead, we tend to react with a less-than-positive attitude.
     
  11. railNscale
    railNscale Well-Known Member
    Hello Greg,

    Thank you for giving some information about the changes. That is appreciated. I am a bit puzzled why you kept silent for over a week. It does not really fit the concept of informing your partners and customers. Keeping the shop owners in the dark is not the way to strengthen a bond.

    I hoped that SW would change their attitude towards shop owners. In the past we were all to often confronted with happy-changes-messages from SW's PR team that turned out as underwhelming website changes or simple price increases wrapped in a little lying package. That explains that you have received so many comments from the shop owners that made SW what it is.

    Changes are not necessarily bad, but the history proved that SW changes were at least not properly executed and very disruptive. And I think I'm being mild on this one.

    Going back to your statement that not many customers visited the market place at SW and that it therefore would not harm if it is hidden somewhere below on the screen, doesn't sound promissing either. Based on responses of train hobbyists on the many rail road modellers forums do suggest that quite a number actually compare kits offered by the various shop owners by SW. That suggests that there are potential customers who do search via the marketplace.

    Traffic figures on a certain page may indicate potential sales. But there is no link. Did you investigate what type of customers buy items? I'm quite certain that hobbyists looking for specific models search kits in a very different way than customers looking for accessories or jewelry.

    Not many clicks is not equal to zero. Therefore the Marketplace should be immediately visible on the SW's home page. And not hidden. Improvements in the Marketplace are ofcourse always welcome.

    Quite some shop owners have discovered some sudden (drastic) price changes (increases). I have noticed a similar problem. I was not informed in any way. I think that this is a very awkward way of providing services to small businesses and designers. If you are 100% commited to customers you inform your customers. Now the pricing system is hidden.
    If the sudden price increase is an error, than I urge you to solve and correct this quickly.

    Best regards,
    Maurice
    RAILNSCALE | https://railnscale.com/
     
  12. kewlbrew
    kewlbrew Member
    I'm not sure that the new look is the right look. I have to totally agree with the comment that your shop holding partners should have a direct landing page for what matters as a shop holder - shop management (inclusive of marketing tools shop sales, etc), access to shapeway's catalog of material options including transparent pricing, and new product development. And, I don't mean to lessen the Maker community's support needs where they may be developing just for personal use or open sourcing their efforts. For all intents, I see them as shop holders too but perhaps less focused on personal revenue.

    Shoppers - shop. Allowing them to find what they want is incredibly important for everyone. However, the seller side and shopper side are distinct and they need separate views.
     
    Andrusi likes this.
  13. ... but you didn't. There is no integration. What does this even mean? Why are you excusing terrible updates and even worse communication and abnegation of what should be your responsibilities with a story about needing integration that was not included in the updates? (I know, I know - the answer is because you have no answers and are trying to save face.)

    This was already difficult enough. You have heard from tons of your makers that many, many necessary functions (e.g., rendering, very slow load speeds, the fact that my shop direct link from other sections on your site is still broken), have been faulty for quite some time; many for over a year. I myself have tried working with customer service/tech support on these issues and been given the excuse of "we don't know" or basically told to suck it up because you just aren't going to fix it.

    Your makers, I assume, are mostly not idiots. Plenty of us have dealt with both terrible management/leadership and good management/leadership, as well as the gamut of communication quality, infrastructure, supply chain, logistics, UX/UI, dev, sales, marketing, etc. etc. etc. If you want to keep your makers, you absolutely MUST be honest and transparent, communicate clearly and in a timely manner, and understand very clearly that functionality, UX, and intuitiveness will always be more important than spending time and money on a new, awful logo, and playing musical chairs with site links. As much as you might be tempted to think that redesigning things is the fix you just need so badly, the truth is that it often isn't, and when it is, functionality MUST go hand-in-hand. I'm not opposed to change, I'm opposed to feckless faffing about with type face (this logo seriously looks so unprofessional now that I'm glad most of my sales come from elsewhere).

    I don't know why you think your makers would stick around with so little functionality and communication. Most of us would probably rather not have to source other manufacturers, because it is time spent that we don't have. But you are forcing our hands. And the likelihood is you will not have fixed these issues by the time we do find someone else.
     
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  14. Narada_Dan_Vantari
    Narada_Dan_Vantari Well-Known Member
    As I understand it springandwonder is a test of Shopify integration ?
    Are we likely to get access to a Shopify plugin before Christmas 2019 ?

    (Yes Im assuming no miracle is going to happen and give us this simple functionality this year.
    Like so many others I have given up on SW communicating in a timely and considerate manner, or making changes that benefit most of the designers here).
     
  15. bluelinegecko
    bluelinegecko Well-Known Member
    As an owner of an unrelated e-commerce store on Shopify, I really have to wonder if the reason Shapeways gets so many request for 3rd party integration is because of the regular disappointments that shop owners complain about every time Shapeways has implemented one of it's poorly thought out redesigns. Perhaps it is a sign of a lot of the user base WANTING to jump ship and looking for an alternative.

    Up until Shapeways killed off the "co-creator" templates I liked and still prefer selling through the Shapeways marketplace. The lack of user fees and payment processing fees, as well as not having to handle the shipping/customer service makes it very appealing. If the Shapeways marketplace was/is managed well I don't see much reason to pay $30+ a month for domain name/webhosting fees, as well as give up 2-3% in payment processing fees on top of that. With the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding sales tax collection, how many U.S. based sellers are going to want to deal with the potential headaches of collecting/reporting sales tax for every jurisdiction in the US as well, when this could potentially all be taken care of by Shapeways for items sold through them? That court decision may greatly determine whether my small business stays open or not depending on the eventual outcome and how much work it will be to comply with the new laws.

    If Shapeways' new course is to steer away from being a unique marketplace and being a big supporter of the hobbyist community, and instead to become just a 3D printing bureau and designer "dating service" they are making a huge mistake. There are already big players in the designer/hub space and as 3d printing continues to advance, decline in price, and be adopted by more companies, less and less will likely farm out development/production to outside services. If they do there will be more and more local players and no need for a global network. If this is the direction they are going the market is already crowded and likely dying. Not a great business move.

    Shapeways has next to no competition in the integrated 3d printing on demand/marketplace arrangement they currently occupy. The few others out there haven't competed well on price/value. If Shapeways were to spend their resources/time on actually listening to what their shop owners/customers are asking for and improving the marketplace experience they would be so much better off.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  16. Daphne
    Daphne Well-Known Member
    I honestly don't think that 3D printing is going to get cheaper anytime soon. First you improve on product/quality, then speed/output, reliability, next usability followed by service and finally cost that you charge your customers. As long as you need lots of R&D to improve on the first 4, you can't drive you margins down to optimize for cost. The 3D printing market is still a world behind on output, reliability & usability compared to the 2D printing market.

    Honestly, there aren't that many 3D printing services available with the material portfolio that Shapeways has. For consumers, there are 2-3 competitors. For companies a bit more, but only a handful with the easy of ordering (automated quotes, fast delivery time) as SW, and certainly not for this price. The only thing Shapeways is missing is the engineering service. But certainly not a dying market, in contrary. In the last 7 years I have spend quite some money on Shapeways with my 4 webshops. Yet I know that the engineering company I work at now has spend at least 10 times a much in the last half year in the same market just because they needed prototypes and products, not because it was 3D printed. Companies are not going to spend millions on machinesm license fees and learning how to operate them, but are willing to spend a couple of thousands here and there on products.

    I love the consumers 3D printing world and community and I'm not saying I'm happy with the direction it's going, but I can understand it.
     
  17. Shockbolt
    Shockbolt Member
    I'm very sorry to see that the discount codes have almost vanished, this was a great way to order one off prints of your own models, to check the quality of them etc.
     
  18. Ngineer
    Ngineer Well-Known Member
    Yeah, but let's be honest, there were so many discounts that people were holding off ordering while waiting for the discounts. It was becoming ridiculous to many outsiders.
    I'd rather have some way to use the markup fee to buy new prototypes with an added discount. I'd think that might even be good for Shapeways' cash flow, even if it's only in a small way. SW does not have to pay out cash, and gets more stuff in the marketplace. And for us: we don't have to pay cash and we get our prototypes. This is oldskool win-win!
     
  19. railNscale
    railNscale Well-Known Member
    So far this new Website didn't bring any improvements in sales. On the contrary. We are seeing less sales compared to previous years.
    In the summer period we usually have a dip in our sales. Many rail road hobbyist are less active with their hobby in this time, and we had a very warm summer, which may not be very helpful to our sales.
    This may explain the extra dip. Shapeways stopped their actions, which may not help either. Usually you want to start the new season with some sort of action to boost sales. We happen to celebrate our shop anniversary in mid August: https://railnscale.com/2018/08/17/5-years-anniversary-sets/

    Shapeways mentions it sort of does not make money at all with the market place. That's what the CEO tried to tell us in so many words. That's why they have stopped their action. That's understandable.

    What isn't understandable is the flip-flop nature of Shapeways. Just one year ago SW started to reorganize the Marketplace using categories. This was quite a lot of work to get all 1000+ items in the proper category, but at least it was for a good reason. The market place looked a lot better. And now? SW thinks their market place is worth anything and decided to hide it from the main page (shoveling it down = hiding). The excuse is something about traffic.

    So what happened to this big market place? SW claims it has 45,000+ stores. These stores are ran by shop-owners who have to rearrange their shops yearly because of material repricing, stopping of materials, website reorganizations and, etc. Shopowners who have been experimenting new materials at their own costs.
    Quality improvements are little. Rejections still survive. The user interface get worse per update. Clearly SW never asks the designers what is best.

    SW is right that their market place isn't wonderful and that other websites offer better functionalities. Arranging shops is not easy given the archaic tools like csv. SW failes to introduce multiple languages. All things that were addressed many years by shop owners. SW still doesn't offer the possibility for shop owners to introduce smart discount offers. It was all mentioned by SW, but never materialised.

    Now the CEO talks about API integration with Shopify etc. But again, no words HOW this can be arranged.

    maybe best is to just put the SELL/marketplace butten very dominantly on TOP of Shapeways' website. I assume SW is still getting way more visitors on their website than any of the individual shop-owners.
     
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  20. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    I have come to the personal conclusion that the problem with shapeways is that it was built around a dream of cheap and
    efficient production, a dream that Weijmarshausen tried to pursue by subsidizing actual printing costs with investor money. Now that those investors appear to have lost patience and brought in an outsider on a mission to do everything differently (which seems to include those things that worked, at least from a customer viewpoint), I expect prices to match those of the major competitors in the near future (simply on the assumption that these reflect the real costs). It remains to be seen what advantages shapeways will still be able to offer over them, but the current state of the site fails to impress.
     
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