VP-ASP :: Shopping Cart Software

Shopping Cart Software Solutions for anywhere in the World

US/Canada(Toll Free): +1 888 587 2278
Europe/UK: +44 (020) 7193 9408
Australia/New Zealand: +61 3 9016 4497

VP-ASP Shopping Cart Customer Forum

Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Members | Search | FAQ
Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?

 All Forums
 VPCart Forum
 VP-ASP 7.0 Questions
 RE: The 12 month cycle and versioning
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

jhoiland
Starting Member

36 Posts

Posted - July 22 2010 :  23:46:03  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello all,

I have developed a number of sites on VPASP 6.5 and 7 for various clients and i had a few thoughts on some feedback I have been getting.

From the development perspective, I love VPASP...it's quick, clean, customizable and extremely flexible to work with. I try to steer people toward it when possible, but the free attraction of the many mature php cart solutions out there is a constant temptation for customers. I always tell them that (usually shortly) down the road they will run into a feature that they just "must have" that isn't yet implemented and then they will end up paying double the cost of VPASP to have it built.

I recently had a conversation with a customer about integrating twitter into their site. I said sure, we can do that. Then as I laid out what would be entailed and what it would cost I hear...well the video on the website didn't seem so complicated. They then proceeded to show me the new training video recently posted (which is where they got the idea in the first place). What they really were trying to figure out is why their version of VPASP didn't look like the tutorial.

This is where the train goes off the tracks. I can't show them anywhere on the VPASP site or in the documentation anything related to a change control log or a versioning system that would explain why their site lacks these wonderful new features. We have actually taken a step backwards as we sort of had this for version 6.5 even.

To further exacerbate the situation..this particular customer was lured into the early promises of what become the marketing debacle of the V7 release. They bought 6.5 early under the idea that they would upgrade to 7 for free. While that happened successfully (barely under the 12 mos!!!). They are now 6mos beyond the download window for their "free" updates.

While explaining my way out of this situation it dawned on me how obtuse this entire system is...and some of your own marketing is even working against you-

From the technical details section of the VPASP website:
# Free add-ons for gateways, languages and real-time shipping
# No ongoing fees
# Free upgrades for a year

What does the above mean if you break it down from the customer perspective. This wording would indicate to me that versioning upgrades are available for a year from purchase, but that add-ons are always available for free and that there are no recurring maintenance fees to use the software. This sounds logical and is congruent with how other software companies handle such things...IE Microsoft...Adobe etc.

Where their policies differ from yours is this 12 month nonsense. They don't charge for updates to software that has already been purchased during the entire window that the software is supported. Don't try to sell somebody something that they have already bought! Upgrades to the next major version are expected before the checkbook comes out again (even major updates like service packs are free).

The other model is the subscription model...I deal with lots of software like this too...its a valid model. I pay XX dollars per year to continue using this and receiving the latest updates and support.

What I can't figure out is your model. You don't offer a maintenance subscription to my knowledge. You offer free full upgrades for 12 months (which is great). But then you don't allow a customer to download something as simple as a credit card gateway after 12 months??? What is the mentality here?

BTW, support has been great at bailing me out of this situation a time or two in the past by just sending me what I needed. My point here is that they shouldn't have to in the first place.

What does VPASP recommend to the customer in these situations? Say a customer changes their merchant account or switches to a new hosting provider that offers a feature they previously didn't have like ASP JPEG etc. Keep in mind that this is a happy customer that has been using and promoting your software for a year and a half. What is your solution to this?

I hope that it isn't telling them to buy another license? Surely you can see how ludicrous that would sound to a customer. I call that the captive upgrade and I can tell you from experience that this is the quickest way to encourage migration away from a product. If that is your solution...how many of these captive hostage style upgrades do you see...and would you call the average customer in this situation happy? Depending on your upgrade road-map you end up potentially losing a customer who would have otherwise shelled out for the next real upgrade just down the road. So you can lose the customer and get nothing...lose the customer and make a quick buck...or keep the customer by offering them something that costs you nothing and reap the rewards of their continued business on down the road.

It seems simple to me...but I welcome your thoughts on the matter.

The other issue weighing on my mind ties back into versioning. I'm on the mailing list. How is it that a customer stumbled across these new features and training videos before i found out about them? If you sent me something already I apologize in advance, but I certainly don't recall seeing it. Perhaps adding a version check into the main admin home screen similar to the feed that pulls in security alerts etc would be a better solution. I can see why there isn't an automatic update module...customers would be overwriting customizations left and right...but I don't see the harm in mentioning the current rev compared to the installed rev. Of course that would beg the question of whats different and there would need to be a changelog somewhere!

Thats my 2 cents for today.

support
Administrator

4266 Posts

Posted - July 23 2010 :  00:10:01  Show Profile  Visit support's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi there

Interesting post and it actually touches on some points we here have discussed over time as well internally.

The Twitter feature is being included in the new Service Pac 1 (SP1) which is shortly, at long last, about to be released. Good point about this not being included in the current release though. I must admit I have been playing with these features for a little while now and got a bit ahead of myself and created a video before it was made live. I will update the tutorial to say it is only available with SP1.

SP1 is actually going to be available for free to all who have downloaded version 7.0.

We don't have any on-going maintenance fees because we are an open source solution. Instead we charge support points. So it is really a user pays model. For those who don't need support and can achieve what they need without help it does not cost anything. For those who need more help it is a very affordable way of accessing a dedicated team of support professionals to assist them.

For downloads most gateways tweak their systems quite often and we are continually having to update our 150 plus gateways and modules to stay current.

For this reason we offer them free for download for 12 months. After 12 months you do not need to upgrade your license, you can use the gateways you have already downloaded for as long as you like. But if something does change and you need an update after 12 months you just need to extend your license a you can download from our site again.

We also offer modules individually for $50 USD if you do not want to extend your license so this option is also available.

We are now posting updates on Twitter which you can follow us on at http://twitter.com/vpasp

Hope this covers some of your concerns and thanks for airing them. If you do not let us know there is a problem we cannot do our best to find a solution for you.

Thanks!

Cam Flanigan
VP-ASP Cart Support

Follow us on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/vpasp
Go to Top of Page

jhoiland
Starting Member

36 Posts

Posted - July 29 2010 :  17:16:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey Cam,

Not to roast you on a spit here lol, but when you say "extend your license" you are saying that to maintain the current rev of the software a customer would have to re-up for $295 $495 $795 yearly. This is not a minor detail and it really has nothing to do with support (available separately as you mentioned) or open source(not sure why you threw that in). It also still has some pretty serious potential conflicts with your marketing materials:

# Free add-ons for gateways, languages and real-time shipping
# No ongoing fees
# Free upgrades for a year

As to the gateway thing I agree and disagree. Yes, I think its fair to charge an old customer something for downloading a gateway they didn't have or a for new version of one (especially if they haven't yet upgraded to the latest version of the software). The question is...what is a fair price? Yes, development costs are involved in the creation and maintenance of this software, but you would have to do that anyhow to continue selling the product to new customers, so you can't shoulder that burden entirely on the existing customer base.

I think you have already proposed your own solution to the problem in how you sell the modules...why don't you just offer access to the gateways and updates the same way? $40 or $50 is something that most clients can shoulder without crying...you have to remember that they are also by and large having to pay developer costs on top of these things too. Right now a gateway upgrade could potentially cost a client $1000 by the time they re-up for VPASP deluxe and pay to have it installed. For half of that they can just pay the developer to update the gateway themselves and you guys don't get any of the pie.

I suspect you would also see a brand spanking new revenue stream for clients that are willing to fork over here and there to buy new features released as downloads. These are customers that are just letting those go by the wayside now (or buying them elsewhere) due to their prohibitive cost. I really think you are missing out on something here...I would be very curious to run the numbers on how many of these "yearly" subscribers you have and then run that against the potential revenue stream of selling reasonably priced feature packages a la BYZ.
Go to Top of Page

devshb
Senior Member

United Kingdom
1898 Posts

Posted - July 29 2010 :  18:03:07  Show Profile  Visit devshb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
As we were mentioned in the last paragraph of the last posting, I thought I'd explain what we do (the more ideas the better I reckon; put it all into a melting pot and see what happens).....

Here's the options that we use:
1) Subscription
That's where we charge a one-off initial fixed fee (which also includes the first month's payment), and then a recurring payment is automatically debited every month until you cancel the subscription:
BYZ147 - BYZ Member Plan Subscription:
http://www.bigyellowkey.com/mysoftware_product_details.asp?prdid=344&opu=n
The initial fee element of that is automatically discounted on the final confirm-order page by however much you've spent on addons in the last 12 months.
ie we had an issue where people would buy a couple of addons, then realise they wanted some more, and so wanted the subscription to get the rest, but then they'd think "darn; if only I'd bought the subscription in the first place I could have saved myself some cash", that's why we added the discount-subscription-by-last-12month's-addon-costs aspect of it. That way, people can buy a couple of individual addons, and when they find they want some more, they can get the subscription and they don't lose any money.
While subscribed, all our addons and upgrades are free (in the same way that the vpasp modules are free when you have an active vpasp license).

2. Buy individual modules/upgrades
ie if you don't want to subscribe, or you cancelled your subscription a while ago and now just want a module/upgrade, then you can buy it individually just like a new customer would.

3. upgrade protection
This isn't relevant if you're using subscription. If buying individual addons, then you can optionally choose upgrade-protection when you buy the addon which means that you're protected against upgrades on that module forever, no matter how much time passes or how many versions come out. If you don't want upgrade protection, and don't have a subscription, then you can still get the upgrade, it's just that you'd have to pay for it. Every time you upgrade, you have the option to add upgrade-protection if you don't already have it.

4. free upgrade time
This isn't relevant if you're using subscription or have got upgrade protection. If you've paid for an individual addon (or paid for an upgrade to it), then subsequent upgrades on that module will be free for the next 6 months.

All that relates to a given domain. When people have test subdomains, mirrors, aliases, or other domains which are essentially for the same overall business, then they let us know and we take it on a case-by-case basis, usually treating the relevant extra domain/subdomain as a free mirror/test-domain.

The system/site (www.bigyellowkey.com) we created/use to do this is automated, but has room for manual-intervention/tweaking; people just contact us when they have issues; we can easily add modules/upgrades to someone's account or add a test/subdomain to a subscription record etc.

Also, as per vpasp, once you've got a given addon/upgrade via a valid/legal way for a given domain, it's yours to use for a lifetime on that domain regardless of subscription status (sometimes people change their domain years later, then they just come back to us and we transfer their key over to the new domain for no cost).

People can visit their "my software" screen to see what they've got, and it shows whether or not any of their modules have upgrades available since the one they last grabbed, with a link to get that upgrade. It's a traffic-light system; green/ticked=up-to-date, red/cross=upgrade-available. You can click on the moduleid to see the full version history so you can work out whether you actually want/need the upgrade.

All of these kinds of options have been added in bits and pieces over the years, because different people need different kinds of approaches when it comes to buying/upgrading the addons. We added all those options, not just because we think they're good things to have, but because if we didn't then our customer-base would most likely halve, because not everybody wants/needs subscription, and not everybody wants to pay for every individual module.

The bigyellowkey.com system/site itself is also actually capable of dealing with other "vendors" too, it's just that at the moment we're only using it to sell our own stuff; in theory it could also be used to sell other company's stuff too if they wanted to use it.

Simon Barnaby
Developer
[email protected]
www.BigYellowZone.com
www.BigYellowKey.com
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bigyellowzone
Web Design, Online Marketing and VPASP addons

Edited by - devshb on July 29 2010 18:05:39
Go to Top of Page

williamj
VP-ASP New User

Canada
77 Posts

Posted - July 29 2010 :  21:00:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I think John has some good points here. I bought the extended one year license because VPASP were advertising that Version 7 was coming soon. I was using 4.5 so I figured that if 7 was coming soon I would upgrade to 6.5 and go to 7 when it was released. Well it took much longer for 7 to come than anticipated so I just got in under the wire with my extended license. Now I got 7 up and running but when I tried to download a new gateway I got the message that I had already used up my quota of gateways and I would have to renew my license. Yes, I did use my quota of downloads but that was for my version 6.5. I wanted a new gateway for 7 since my old gateway wasn't supported. I'm willing to pay extra for the new gateway but I think its unreasonable to pay for a license extension when all I need is the gateway. I don't think this is deliberate. I think the VPASP guys are a pretty good bunch and are trying their best but I agree with John they have to look at their upgrade policies and make some changes.
Go to Top of Page

support
Administrator

4266 Posts

Posted - July 29 2010 :  21:33:52  Show Profile  Visit support's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi William,

We are pretty flexible with our policies as we want to be as user friendly as possible as our customer is small business and do not generally have the deep pockets big business does.

This is why we also offer gateways and modules for $50 USD on request so you can just purchase what you need rather than extending your license.

You just need to post a request in the helpdesk for a payment link at:

https://helpdesk.vpasp.com

John, we actually offer license extensions for nearly 50% off the full price. So once you are an existing customer you are not paying the full price anymore. Instead you are able to obtain the very latest version plus have access to all of our add-ons for a further 12 months.

I will have a chat with marketing and see if we can make it more obvious you can purchase add-ons individually instead of extending your license.

Thanks!

Cam Flanigan
VP-ASP Cart Support

Follow us on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/vpasp
Go to Top of Page

jhoiland
Starting Member

36 Posts

Posted - July 29 2010 :  21:55:33  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
@Simon...Thanks for that...I've been trying hard not to drag you in ;) You have a great set of add-ons available and your licensing system, albeit complex, is beautiful for matching what the customer needs and can afford in any given situation.

@Cam...I knew you were easy to work with...I just had to remind you first! Seriously though, this is the kind of information that you should have out there. Ongoing customer support should be worn like a badge or courage, not buried deep in the customer forums.

Gotta say though...the helpdesk thing...a bit hoakie. Perhaps I could turn you on to a flexible, open-source, classic asp based shopping cart solution that offers flexible selling options
Go to Top of Page

support
Administrator

4266 Posts

Posted - July 29 2010 :  22:05:12  Show Profile  Visit support's Homepage  Reply with Quote


Fair point about helpdesk. Problem is we have about 100 projects on the go at the moment and working on our own site is sadly far down the list.

Similar scenario where a mechanic has a run down old banger that keeps breaking down.

Let me badger marketing and see what i can get them to do.

Cheers!

Cam Flanigan
VP-ASP Cart Support

Follow us on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/vpasp
Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Snitz Forums 2000