What do you think of these changes Envato has made?


(Jeff C) #1

So Envato has finally implemented changes making support a requirement to authors on CodeCanyon and ThemeForest. A mandatory 6 month support package. However, doesn’t seem like a lot of authors are happy with the 30% cut Envato will take from the support packages. What do you think?

Maybe this will sway people’s opinions on whether or not to sell on ThemeForest - http://www.wpchat.com/t/youre-starting-a-theme-business-should-you-sell-on-themeforest/94


(Olaf Lederer) #2

Yep, I’ve read the article this morning and I think it males sense for a number of products. The most sellers I know providing more support than 6 month. On the other site most themes I bought are modified so much by myself that I would never update. Sometimes it’s much faster to fix stuff by yourself than discussing the problem first with the author… lol


(Stephen Cronin) #3

Another link for you to read - Collis (Envato CEO) replied to the early feedback given by authors on the ThemeForest forums.

Overall, I think this is a great move, but of course, there are complicated issues that need to be worked through.


(Leland Fiegel) #4

Definitely a step in the right direction, but will be interesting to see how it plays out. I think the biggest implication is a huge market of buyers will no longer take “free support” for granted.

Which means standalone theme shops or other marketplaces might see less demanding buyers over time once they understand what is really covered by theme support (i.e. not customization, which I’d imagine many support requests are for).


(Mike Schinkel) #5

Envato ought to offer first-level support ahead of the developers. There are so many reasons this would be a good idea for all involved, and also it would be a lot more fair to the developers and require Envato to share the burden of support.

I do not sell anything through Envato and rarely buy from there so I do nOt have a dog in this hunt. I just think Envato probably abuses it’s effective monopoly position which likely results in the long tail oF vendors working like a dog for low pay, and now they want to require support? What circle of hell do they want to put these people through, really?

BTW, what triggered my negative feeling most was the part about response times and vacations here:

A single person shop will basically be tied to support most of the time and have to limit vacations and never be able to be spontaneous whereas Envato has the scale to have a large staff of first-level support people to ease the burden on these small shops they are making so much money from.

JMTCW.


(Leland Fiegel) #6

I’m pretty sure this is the last thing Envato would ever want to do and would never happen. Although it’s an interesting thought. What percentage would be worth it if somebody handled all your support for you?

Might spin off another thread from this.


But back on topic, what ever came of this? This was almost a year ago, and I haven’t heard any news of being able to buy “support packs” on ThemeForest themes yet…am I missing something or have they not rolled it out yet?


(Mike Schinkel) #7

I’m pretty sure this is the last thing Envato would ever want to do and would never happen.

Why would it be the last thing Envato would want to do? I suggested first-level support, not all support. If Envato actually care about their end-customer’s experience, they really should do it.

80% of support calls are for 20% of potential issues, many of which are for the same issues across different products so Envato could use the experience to build an self-support knowledge base their support people could use and add to but end-users could use as well.

Having first-line support could also help identify problematic products. And if the first-line support has issues with it then the developer doesn’t have to first validate if the end-user has a single clue.

And Envato could use it to track quality; the products and developers with the higher support rates would be required to provide a higher cut for support and those who have optimize their products for low support can pay lower support rate.

Like I said, I would be good for all involved. It just remained to be seen if Envato is enlightened on this issue or not.


(Leland Fiegel) #8

Judging from some the complaints that surfaced in the ThemeForest discussion on this, it sounds like Envato is struggling to run “first-level support” on its own site operations. Tack on “first-level support” for every single theme in the marketplace, well, I’m just very doubtful they’d willingly take on that burden.

And what exactly is a “first-level support” question anyway? “My theme doesn’t look like the demo?”? “Help me change a color here?”? “I can’t upload a theme to my host?”?

How do you define what’s in the scope of a first-level support question? And when do you pass it off to the developer?

These are all things the theme developer should be prepared to answer anyway. They should build their own knowledge-base and canned response database which can be scaled to other themes, and other marketplaces.

Or they could just be like eBay/Etsy/Amazon, and just focus on being a marketplace, collect their cut, and keep selling. I find the idea of a marketplace scalably intervening in product support, even “first-level” product support, to be absurd.

Their job is to sell. That’s it.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t welcome it as a theme author selling on ThemeForest, but it’s something they just don’t have to do to continue being a wildly successful marketplace. That’s why I said it would never happen.

Generally, I don’t think they have to worry about customers being unhappy, thanks to the structure of the marketplace.

Isn’t this what the submission process is for?

Isn’t this what the review and rating system is for?


(Mike Schinkel) #9

Judging from some the complaints that surfaced in the ThemeForest discussion on this, it sounds like Envato is struggling to run “first-level support” on its own site operations. Tack on “first-level support” for every single theme in the marketplace, well, I’m just very doubtful they’d willingly take on that burden.

Whether or not Envato could handle it or would want to is not the same as whether it would be a good business decision to provide 1st-level support. Maybe Envato is not well-managed enough to provide support, but that would be a different question.

And what exactly is a “first-level support” question anyway? “My theme doesn’t look like the demo?”? “Help me change a color here?”? “I can’t upload a theme to my host?”? How do you define what’s in the scope of a first-level support question? And when do you pass it off to the developer?

1st-level support is easy to define. It’s what a proposed Envato support team can easily handle without talking to the developer. Initially it would not be much, but over time it could be much more as they develop expertise to handle more things.

The real value IMO for 1st-level support is having someone to respond to custom requests and to do triage instead of requiring every developer to be “at ready” all the time.

And Envato could crowd-source support too. There a lot of WordPress users across the world who would probably be happy to do support and be paid a small amount per hour but also get lots of free software in exchange.

These are all things the theme developer should be prepared to answer anyway. They should build their own knowledge-base and canned response database which can be scaled to other themes, and other marketplaces.

But why require thousands of developers, most of whom have very limited income, to duplicate all the same infrastructure? If there is only one (1) phrase relevant here it is “Economies of Scale.”

Or they could just be like eBay/Etsy/Amazon, and just focus on being a marketplace, collect their cut, and keep selling. I find the idea of a marketplace scalably intervening in product support, even “first-level” product support, to be absurd.

If you look at eBay/Etsy/Amazon you will find that they all are offering 1st level support in the context that I am referring to. If I have an issue with a seller I can contact them and they will provide triage for me.

Their job is to sell. That’s it.

Who sets that rule? It is not a law of nature or the physical world. Their job is to be whatever they define it to be assuming what they define can be a viable business model.

That’s why I said it would never happen. Generally, I don’t think they have to worry about customers being unhappy, thanks to the structure of the marketplace.

You are taking this in a direction I did not take it. I did not say it would happen nor did I say they would want it to happen. I said that IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA for them to make it happen.

But do I think it’s likely? No, of course not. But that’s not the point.

Good marketplaces take care of the bigger issues for their customers. Envato recognizes support as a big issue hence their forcing the developers to provide support. I’m simply saying they would be smarter to offer 1st line support themselves. If Envato gets competition that does it and that significantly encroaches on their revenues you can bet Envato do it then.

Hell, maybe I’ll do it? I founded and ran a roughly equivalent marketplace back in the Visual Basic era from 1994 through 2006. We were #123 on the Inc 500 list in 1999. So it’s not completely unrealistic for me to say that I could – except the fact I have no interest in it today. Marketplaces selling software products are a thankless business, which I know from experience. :wink:

Having first-line support could also help identify problematic products.

Isn’t this what the submission process is for?

Are you saying that a submission review is as effective at identifying user problems as it would be having many users using a product and gaining the analytics related to all the problems and their resolutions? Really?

And Envato could use it to track quality

Isn’t this what the review and rating system is for?

Are you saying the review and rating system which is likely used by 1%[1] and 9%[1] of users, typically when they are upset with a vendor for some reason, would be as effective at identifying the spectrum of issues related to a product and related to a developer as would gaining the analytics related to the problems and their resolutions? Really?


Here’s a thought: Rather than focus all your efforts on finding reasons why Envato would not do this – reasons which are irrelevant to my hypothesis that they should do it – why not envision for a moment all the benefits that could be produced for Envato, for customers and for developers if Envato DID offer 1st level support?

Innovations occur when people ask “What if we CAN do that?”, not when they say “That will never work.”

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%_rule_(Internet_culture)


(Stephen Cronin) #10

Hey Guys,

I don’t have time to respond to all of that in detail just now, but I can tell you that there are no plans (that I’m aware of) to offer first-line support. In fact Envato see it very clearly that ‘item support’ is the responsibility of the authors. Envato has a long list of improvements we want to introduce, and this isn’t in the mix at the moment.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that the item support initiative is not just for WordPress. It covers 20,000 templates and themes (WP, Joomla, Drupal, Ghost, OpenCart, Magento, etc) and 13,000 scripts (WP plugins, PHP, ASP, JS, Drupal, Joomla, etc). So 33,000 items using just about all the web technologies out there. Certainly would have benefits, maybe not impossible, but definitely far from trivial…

In case you’re interested, the item support initiative was supposed to have been launched last year, but had to be parked due to the EU VAT initiative. It was relaunched last week:

http://marketblog.envato.com/news/item-support-picking-up-where-we-left-off/

At the bottom of that there is a link to the forum, where there is a lively discussion about about the pros and cons of the current model!


(Leland Fiegel) #11

You seem to have a problem with the “effective monopoly” of ThemeForest, yet you’re suggesting something that would make developers even more dependent on it than they already are.

So I’m confused why you seem to be in such staunch support of this pipe dream of an idea. So solo developers can have more relaxing and uninterrupted vacations? Even with ThemeForest’s “triage” services, wouldn’t support requests still slip through?

Either way, they’re going to have to be at “the ready.” That’s the price you pay for being an entrepreneur.

Since Envato doesn’t seem to have any plans to offer first-line support, and no competitors seem to be stepping up to the plate, I guess we’ll never know.

If you’d like to discuss this further, feel free to start your own, separate thread (hover over this post, click “Reply as linked topic” on the top right). This is way too off-topic for a discussion that was supposed to be focused on Envato’s specific policy changes, not your thoughts on how an ideal software marketplace should operate.


(Mike Schinkel) #12

You seem to have a problem with the “effective monopoly” of ThemeForest, yet you’re suggesting something that would make developers even more dependent on it than they already are.

You seem to have a propensity to attribute positions to me that I did not state and then attacking those positions instead of simply responding to the positions I did state.

Either way, they’re going to have to be at “the ready.” That’s the price you pay for being an entrepreneur.

That is a false binary.

Since Envato doesn’t seem to have any plans to offer first-line support, and no competitors seem to be stepping up to the plate, I guess we’ll never know.

On that we finally agree.

If you’d like to discuss this further, feel free to start your own, separate thread

I have no interest in that, especially after your response to my posting my opinion on the subject in this thread.

As an aside, If I had known I that I would have gotten the response I did I never would have posted. I expected a simple “that’s an interesting idea”, not a diatribe on how Envato would never want to do it and how it would never work. Which tells me that one should post ideas here on WPChat – that are not WordPress community group-think – at one’s own peril.


(Mike Schinkel) #13

I don’t have time to respond to all of that in detail just now, but I can tell you that there are no plans (that I’m aware of) to offer first-line support.

Thanks for posting those thoughts.

In fact Envato see it very clearly that ‘item support’ is the responsibility of the authors.

For the record, I see it as entirely in Envato’s prerogative to decide their own position on this. That said, also for the record, I find that position disappointing.

Certainly would have benefits, maybe not impossible, but definitely far from trivial…

Yes, but FWIW leading companies in an industry are leading companies because they don’t limit themselves to only doing things that are trivial.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that the item support initiative is not just for WordPress. It covers 20,000 templates and themes (WP, Joomla, Drupal, Ghost, OpenCart, Magento, etc) and 13,000 scripts (WP plugins, PHP, ASP, JS, Drupal, Joomla, etc). So 33,000 items using just about all the web technologies out there.

From another perspective, consider that for each of the products sold Envato expects a customer to be able to download and use, many without any real expertise on the software they are using. Given that, it is not unrealistic to envision having someone available for each platform that knows how to install products for that platform (or people who know multiple platforms) and they are your front line support.

Front-line support as I was proposing is really more of a triage role where often the answers would just be installation support. IOW, what I was proposing would not be that difficult to ramp up slowly.

I do understand that it’s not currently in the cards and respect that. The real reason I posted the idea here was to plant the idea as a seed for Envato in hopes that it would grow into reality over time (assuming it had not been previously discussed and dismissed.)

At the bottom of that there is a link to the forum, where there is a lively discussion about about the pros and cons of the current model!

Thanks for posting that!