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.
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% and 9% 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.”