E-commerce platform recommendations?

There're plenty e-commerce platforms out there, but which to use for selling fonts?

It's get a bit tricky with a variable product (single weights/families, licences for print/web/etc and the amount of usage like cpu/pageviews/etc). Which platform offers the best experience for the customer and meet the requirements for more or less general pricing models (e.g. calculating quantity discount for every added font or number of users/pageviews)?

Comments

  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    I'm also curious if anyone is using generic platforms :) From what I have seen, the small amount of products and huge amount of product variations ("SKU"s) involved in font selling means most foundries write their own shop code, because generic e-commerce platforms are optimised for many products and low variations (like ebooks or music files.) 
  • We use WordPress with Easy Digital Downloads (EDD).
  • Exactly. If you want a good shop, go custom.

    If you just want to at least be able to do some of those kind of things, semi-complex e-commerce platforms like Drupal Commerce can work, but you’re not going to be very happy with any of those in the long term, and it takes a lot of hacking them to get there.
  • Exactly. If you want a good shop, go custom.
    If you have $20,000+ budget and a 12month+ development window.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    We use WordPress with Easy Digital Downloads (EDD).
    How many products and SKUs are you offering? :)
  • We use WordPress with Easy Digital Downloads (EDD).
    How many products and SKUs are you offering? :)

    Gradually adding the whole library (200 plus fonts) in Desktop, Web, mApp and ePub each with price variations for user/pageview nubers.

    The main things I have learnt since starting our own e-shop, besides how much time and effort it takes to get it up and running, is just how much time is required on maintenance, updates, marketing and customer communications. If you are considering your own e-shop it will make a big dent in your font productivity time without additional resources (people) to help you.
  • Experiencing this custom shop barrier to entry right now getting things ready (been working 12month+) for an early 2017 launch. I'll reiterate that the custom solution seems necessary to do it right for the long-term.
  • Exactly. If you want a good shop, go custom.
    If you have $20,000+ budget and a 12month+ development window.
    I never said anything else.

    I hacked our own shop together (with no PHP knowledge) with random Drupal / Drupal Commerce plugins back in 2011, often designing the site to adapt to whatever plugins I could find, instead of actually designing a good user experience.

    Then we relaunched with another Drupal-based site in 2013, a bit less cobbled together but still pretty badly done.

    Currently, we’re working on our own custom shop, and I’m very much looking forward to spending more time on making the experience better versus trying to keep the ship afloat in the future.
  • Gerben DollenGerben Dollen Posts: 7
    edited August 2016
    Thanks everyone for their thoughts and experiences, much appreciated.
    We use WordPress with Easy Digital Downloads (EDD).
    Hmm, this excludes the possibility of selling additional physical goods I'm afraid.
  • Shoppify can do anything needed in the retailing of font licenses, I'm advised.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,688
    Shopify does multi-user discounting now? That’s cool.
  • Shopify has a very difficult time using a type testdriver since all external stuff must be run through its proxy server. Also, @Miles Newlyn can you send a link to the multi-user methods available?
  • @Stuart Sandler
    unfortunately I don't have a link, the advice I had on this was from Jake Giltsoff at Adobe.
  • Gerben DollenGerben Dollen Posts: 7
    edited November 2016
    Someone suggested me https://www.opencart.com I haven't looked into this properly yet though.
  • I think Typofonderie uses (or used) Lemonstand, which is one I've been looking into.

  • AbrahamLeeAbrahamLee Posts: 251
    I use Woocommerce for my e-shop. It has lots of plugins, many free, some paid. It also has the benefit of supporting as many product variation types as you want, both digital and physical products.
  • Filip ZajacFilip Zajac Posts: 29

    A year ago, we started working on e-shop for our friends. Since they had same requirements and wanted to split the costs, we made an e-commerce platform.

    Check out the website https://www.lttrshop.com/ 

  • In my experience (working on 4 foundry e-commerce sites and at one time planning a foundry focused e-commerce platform), the return on e-commerce platforms (Shopify, WooCommerce, even Squarespace) diminishes quickly once you start selling superfamilies/variable fonts/family associated physical products. This is why I focus on having flexible font → family → pair/collection models and a reliable payment platform‎ (Stripe).

    I think traditional e-commerce platforms are great if you don't intend to grow what your platform offers and want to focus on reselling. This can be a longterm solution for many foundries. Of course, if you change your mind later you can always just eat the cost for that technical debt and take a more specific approach when you can afford a 20k+ platform. Even expensive custom sites eventually decide to do complete redesigns, so that technical debt is mostly unavoidable.

    I think the work that @Filip Zajac and his contemporaries have done has really helped fill the gap between those two points. Fontdue is another example of this. That being said, at some point you are still going to be forced to abide by the constraints of those platforms, but for many foundries that might never become an issue. The other great thing about foundry specific platforms is the hope that they will age better, pushing fixes that are more specific to foundry needs and ultimately reducing maintenance costs.

    Once you start spending 20k+ on a foundry site I think there should be an expectation that the foundry side maintenance should be optimized (optimize the font upload process, simplify CMS changes, etc) so that it doesn't get in the way of your design/build process. With platforms that are designed specifically for foundries (like the two above), I think you will also find this true.

    That being said, I still think a custom build is the best solution for the foundries that can afford it. The greatest thing about a custom build is that you open yourself up to use any software stack — giving you more flexibility finding a developer that fits your needs. You won't have to be limited by the platform when you want to create features that are specific to your foundry, whether that is serverside font processing (subsetting, css file generation, licensee specific metadata editing, licensing web crawlers, webhosting, etc) or complicated frontend work.

    I don't post here often, so I hope this is more helpful than overwhelming. 
  • I think Typofonderie uses (or used) Lemonstand, which is one I've been looking into.

    LemonStand was shut down on June 5th, 2019. Mailchimp bought them.
  • FWIW, Guido Ferreyra is starting FoundryCore, “a specific web development service for type foundries. It aims to help them to take their work online by building tailored websites by using digital fonts specific knowledge and tools developed after years of working with type on the web.” After getting in touch with him, he sent me some videos. Looks very promising.
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