Poor Features for Self-Fulfilled Products

I'm just wondering who else out there is fed up with Zenfolio's attitude towards self-fulfilled products.

Zenfolio doesn't allow any custom options for self-fulfilled products.  So, if I want the customer to have the option between a black frame or a wood-finish frame, I need to create two separate products.  Then, if I offer 5 different size prints, I need to create 10 custom products (5 sizes * 2 frame colors).  If I want to offer two mat colors, I'm now up to 20 different self-fulfilled products (5 sizes * 2 mat colors * 2 frame colors).  But, what if I want to offer the ability to buy prints that are matted but not framed?  Now I'm up to 30 different self-fulfilled products just to offer 5 different size prints with options for matting and framing.  You've got to be kidding me... talk about a confusing experience for customers!

Even worse is that Zenfolio refuses to collect payments for me.  At that point, why would I even use Zenfolio's service?  I mean, seriously.  I can buy a dedicated IP and an SSL certificate and build my own website on my domain where I can accept payments on my own website... no getting tossed over to PayPal.

Zenfolio is useful in that it provides a nice way to manage my photos online and provides decent options for creating a customized interface.  But, let's face it, if you sell self-fulfilled products on your website, then you're practically a second-class customer to Zenfolio.  They have no interest in helping you accept payments, no interest in helping you keep a practical and uniform buying experience on your website and they have no interest in helping you with custom options.

When I originally signed up with Zenfolio, I used MPix as a partnered vendor and things were great.  Once my needs changed and I started implementing self-fulfilled products, I was astonished at the degree to which Zenfolio basically tells you to go scratch.  "You don't wanna use our partnered vendors?  Fine... figure it out yourself, then!"  I mean, seriously, that's pretty much their attitude towards Zenfolio clients that want to sell self-fulfilled products.

I truly don't see this changing anytime soon, because Zenfolio seems very comfortable basically forcing people to use their partnered vendors or else subjecting them to half-baked selling capabilities that are terribly unprofessional.

You can bet that once this years time is up for my Zen subscription, I will be cancelling and setting off my own to build a worthwhile website on my domain where I'm not penalized for wanting to sell self-fulfilled products.  For a mere $75 more, I can buy a dedicated IP address and SSL certificate on my domain and integrate my own merchant account.  Hell... I'll be SAVING money.  Zenfolio just isn't worth the money if they can't offer the same powerful selling functionality for self-fulfilled products that they offer for partnered-vendor products.

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Comments

  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    First, let me thank you for your feedback.
    We do have some improvements to self-fulfilled products, but I don't think they will achieve the level of flexibility you desire. It is true, that selling products from our partner vendors provides a better experience for photographers and for their clients. Part of the reason is that our partners provide us with well-structured product catalog, with all possible options, their combinations, and restrictions clearly defined. As you may imagine, it is very prohibitive to create a system that accommodates all possible products from labs that photographers use for self-fulfillment.
    If you believe that Zenfolio does not provide you with the value for your money, it may be a better option for you to invest into building your own website and either find an existing solution, or pay a developer to implement the self-fulfillment and checkout flow that you require. 
    We are making continuing improvements to all our features, and hopefully, some day, we will be able to meet and exceed your expectations again.
  • JG_ColemanJG_Coleman Member Posts: 173
    Well Vitas, I appreciate you taking the time to respond and for your honest thoughts.
    In truth, I don't really believe that the level of flexibility I am looking for is really all that difficult.
    Take custom options for self-fulfilled products.  It isn't necessary for Zenfolio to know all possible combinations offered by all possible vendors.  It would be entirely sufficient to provide Zenfolio customers a dialog where they could create a number of custom-defined drop-down menus with custom-defined options.  Then, just allow those custom-defined options to be listed at some point in the product selection dialog.  It could work very similarly to the existing functionality provided for setting up a price list for self-fulfilled products.  The custom options could simply be handled as "sub-lists"... that is, "children" price lists to the top-level price list.  I'm not saying it could be put together overnight, but I hardly think that it's "prohibitive" as you say.  It's an entirely reasonable addition that would make self-fulfilled products MUCH MORE useful.

    As for Zenfolio accepting payment for self-fulfilled products, I can understand if there are too many considerations involved.  But what is very bothersome about this, is that Zenfolio takes a cut from my self-fulfilled product purchases (4% on my premium account), even though I am essentially offered nothing but the most primitive tools for selling self-fulfilled products.  How can Zenfolio possibly justify this, Vitas?  You guys don't offer custom options, you don't even accept payments for me, yet you charge me a 4% "service charge" for the self-fulfilled products I sell?  For what extra "service" am I being charged, Vitas?  I shouldn't have to buy the "Premium Business" account to avoid a bogus 4% service fee on self-fulfilled products.  I mean, seriously.
    I understand that Zenfolio can't be everything to everyone.  I get that.  But at the same time, you guys really need to look at your service from the standpoint of somebody that isn't using your partnered vendors.  The Zenfolio experience is truly much less impressive from the perspective of somebody that is selling self-fulfilled products.  You've built an enormous bias into Zenfolio that clearly favors using partnered vendors and which puts very little emphasis on improving and balancing the Zenfolio experience to be equally useful for those who, because of the products they offer, cannot make good use of your vendors.
    We get no ability to functionally customize our self-fulfilled products.
    We get no ability to have Zenfolio accept payment for us.
    We STILL get hit with a 4% service charge, even though Zenfolio is NOT providing us with ANY extra "service" that warrants this.
    You guys have really stacked the cards against those that sell self-fulfilled products.  It's surprising, Vitas, that you'd advise your customers that use self-fulfilled products to go elsewhere... I guess that Zenfolio is very uninterested in improving the self-fulfilled product tools for it's customers.  It's a shame really...
  • andreasweberandreasweber Stuttgart, GermanyMember Posts: 1,001
    [quote user="Vitas [Zenfolio]"]Part of the reason is that our partners provide us with well-structured product catalog, with all possible options, their combinations, ...[/quote]
    So what? For self-fulfilled products with options it would be our responsibility to provide that catalog for our site - it's not your problem even if we botched it, or is it?
    [quote user="Vitas [Zenfolio]"]it is very prohibitive to create a system that accommodates all possible products from labs[/quote]
    We can already sell "all possible [and impossible ...] products" self-fulfilled! What we want to get rid of is the need to spell every single combination of options out as a separate product. Mr. Coleman's suggestion how an options system could work appears sound to me.
    [quote user="Vitas [Zenfolio]"]it may be a better option for you to invest into building your own website[/quote]
    Are you really telling your customers to go elsewhere if they don't want to restrict themselves to the products from your partners?
  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    As I said, we do have features planned that will improve the selling of self-fulfillment products. No system is perfect, so as we grow and learn we add more and more features to make our service more useful to our customers.
    Typically, in addition to simple "lists" of options and sub-options, there are business rules. If these rules are not enforced properly, there's still a lot of manual work involved in processing orders. For example, some frames may not be compatible with some finishing options. Some options may not apply to all paper types and sizes, and so on. 
    We have tens of thousands of photographers who as very successful selling self-fulfilled products using our solution. We believe that we do provide enough value to justify our service fee. It includes the ability to configure products (with limitations, of course), the ability to sell self-fulfilled products along with products from partner labs and digital downloads in one smooth checkout experience, customer support, and more.
    We are very grateful to have every single customer. My point is that it will be hard to create a system flexible enough that will accommodate all photographers and the products they offer. If a photographer has a particularly complicated set of products and configurations, going with a custom-coded solution may be the answer. 
    Let's keep the discussion going in a positive and productive fashion. Give us examples of your product offerings with all the options. Tell us how you expect a perfect system to work. We are always listening and are open for feedback.
  • yanahoyanaho Member Posts: 1
    OK here is an example of product offering.
    Standout Mounted Prints requires:
    Different Sizes
    Edge Color
    Metallic Edge Paint (Optional)
    Lamination Type
     
    I am in aggreance with the previous posters. I am not able to use your lab partners in Canada as every time I make an order either my company or my client is dinged with unheard of duty charges.
    I suggest either adding customizable options for self fullfilled products, or make lab partners available to countries outside the US. At this point I as well am having to decide whether I can continue to make use of the services provided by zenfolio for these reasons.
     
     
  • iMaciMac Member Posts: 1,461
    [quote user="yanaho"]
    I suggest either adding customizable options for self fullfilled products, or make lab partners available to countries outside the US. At this point I as well am having to decide whether I can continue to make use of the services provided by zenfolio for these reasons.
    [/quote]
    I have been trying for nearly two years to convince Zenfolio to partner with a Canadian Lab (you to can place your vote here) but for whatever reason they (Zenfolio) don't want to help photographers north of the border.
     
  • SportshotsSportshots Member Posts: 6
     Your labs can not print what I do.
    You should be able to take payment for self fulfilled products. That you do not is not clear before signing up and asking questions about that before signing were not clear either. A bit deceptive, or slipshod in that respect.
     
  • andysinghandysingh Member Posts: 39
    Yes I am totally agree with the vitas as he is saying that they will achieve the flexibility that they want so if Zenfolio fails to provide the value of your money than it is better to invest on new domain or to develop a new website of own.
  • JG_ColemanJG_Coleman Member Posts: 173
    Well, it's been quite a while since you posted your response, Vitas.  But I revisited this thread and figured I'd respond, since nothing much has changed since April 2012 when you last posted to this thread.
    You finished your previous response (back in April 2012) with this:
    [quote user="Vitas [Zenfolio]"]Let's keep the discussion going in a positive and productive fashion. Give us examples of your product offerings with all the options. Tell us how you expect a perfect system to work. We are always listening and are open for feedback.[/quote]
    Well, here's the problem with your approach.  The number possible options for self-fulfilled products is virtually limitless.  To achieve a truly useful solution that will last over time, Zenfolio would need to abandon the idea of a hard-coded list of options for self-fulfilled products.  It just won't work.
    Sure, you could hypothetically add a hard-coded, boolean drop-down for "Framed or Matted"... a drop-down list for "Mat Color"... a drop-down list for "Frame Color"... etc...etc.  But ultimately, there are too many wildcards for Zenfolio to be trying to hard-code every option.  That type of solution simply won't work.  You'll end up providing just enough options for people to be annoyed with your lack of comprehensive options.  What would happen when somebody wanted a boolean option for "Double Mat?"... and then what would happen when they needed a "Mat Color #2" drop-down box?
    You see what I mean?  Hard-coding a list of options is the wrong way to approach this.  It's the easiest way... for sure.  But it's the wrong way.
    What ZF would have to do to make this work is allow each individual Zenfolio user to create specify their own, customized list of options.  I already pointed this out in a previous post, as follows:
    [quote user="JG_Coleman"]It isn't necessary for Zenfolio to know all possible combinations
    offered by all possible vendors.  It would be entirely sufficient to
    provide Zenfolio customers a dialog where they could create a number of
    custom-defined drop-down menus with custom-defined options.  Then, just
    allow those custom-defined options to be listed at some point in the
    product selection dialog.  It could work very similarly to the existing
    functionality provided for setting up a price list for self-fulfilled
    products.  The custom options could simply be handled as "sub-lists"...
    that is, "children" price lists to the top-level price list.  I'm not
    saying it could be put together overnight, but I hardly think that it's "prohibitive" as you say.  It's an entirely reasonable addition that would make self-fulfilled products MUCH MORE useful.[/quote]
    Allow me to describe this system in another way.  Envision the self-fulfilled products working in the same way as Zenfolio's groups and galleries.  We aren't limited to a certain number of groups, right?  Of course not... we can create as few or as many groups as we please, with any names that we please.  Likewise, in each of these groups, we can place as few or as many sub-groups or galleries as we please, with any names that we please.  This is EXACTLY how the options for self-fulfilled products needs to work.  It needs to be totally dynamic... allowing the user to make as many different drop-down option lists as they require, allowing them to add as many options to each drop-down list as they need... and then letting them set a price on each possible resulting combination.
    Now, I see that you responded to my suggestion by mentioning that it's more complicated than that:
    [quote user="Vitas [Zenfolio]"]Typically, in addition to simple "lists" of options and sub-options, there are business rules. If these rules are not enforced properly, there's still a lot of manual work involved in processing orders. For example, some frames may not be compatible with some finishing options. Some options may not apply to all paper types and sizes, and so on.[/quote]
    You're right, Zenfolio would need to provide some way of letting the creators of self-fulfilled products "attach" certain specific options to a product.  However, I'm not sure that this added complication is really a reason to sort of side-step the whole issue on the grounds that "it's too hard".  All Zenfolio would have to do is let ZF users go through each self-fulfilled product that they create and choose which option lists (and which options from those option lists) will be allowed for that product.
    The fact is that this is just not as tough as you'd like us to believe... not for the enormous benefit it will provide.  Listen, I know it's not a simple, overnight feature update.  I know enough about implementing web databases to know that -by the time the ability to create custom options for self-fulfilled products is thoroughly examined, planned, designed, tested and implemented- it could take months.  And that's fine... but it's already been nearly 11 months since I first posted this plea for better self-fulfilled product options.  Let's face it... it could've been done already. 
    Realistically, it could've been done a few months ago.  And once a system like this is in place, ZF is covered as far as custom options for self-fulfilled products.  By not hard-coding ANYTHING, instead letting users create their own custom option lists for self-fulfilled products, you create a system that can be as simple or as complex as any user pleases for the purpose of their own product line.  It will never run short of options, because users can always create their own.  That's a lasting pay-off for ZF and it's also a big step in the right direction for those that sell self-fulfilled products.
    So, while this thread can pretty much be seen as dead since early 2012, maybe these extra comments will be something for ZF to refer to in the future if they ever decide to improve self-fulfilled products in a truly impressive way.
  • CCGStudiosCCGStudios Member Posts: 105
    I believe that this is a great discussion. But I also believe that this belongs in the feature request site, not the support forums. I, too, am interested in more flexible and robust and dynamic and scalable self-fulfillment options. But the whole thread seems to belong in the user voice enhancement request area... not here.
    Sorry... just my opinion.
  • JG_ColemanJG_Coleman Member Posts: 173
    Undoubtedly, any thread here that discusses a feature upgrade would seem to be more suited to the UserVoice Feature Request forum.  From the standpoint of topic alone, you're correct.
    However, anyone that's used the ZF Feature Request site knows that it is sorely lacking as a tool for dialogue or in-depth discussion.  You basically get to create a topic, then other users can leave their
    comment below the topic; it's just not geared towards interactive discussion so much as accumulating a list of somewhat disjointed comments.  It doesn't offer the ability to "Reply", nor does it offer the ability to quote text from previous comments.  Furthermore, the overall formatting is simply not set up to show lengthy, detailed posts efficiently (the text display area is rather narrow).
    So, although the ZF Feature Request website works very well for creating and prioritizing a list of feature requests, it is very poorly suited to discussing the details and specifics of certain feature requests and it's incapable of supporting an open dialogue because of its lack of "reply" and "quote" tools.
  • JG_ColemanJG_Coleman Member Posts: 173
    I should also briefly point out that these are not "support forums".  This seems to a be a major misconception about these forums, as so many posters seem to interpret this site as "Zenfolio Help Forums".
    In fact, Zenfolio employees that occasionally chime in on these forums repeatedly ask posters to contact them via the proper Zenfolio Support email address, rather than posting support requests in what is actually just the "User Forum" for Zenfolio users.  These are forums for user discussion... whatever users might see fit to discuss.  Strictly speaking, this is not a forum designated for user support, even though users can certainly get help here when they need it.
  • RyanEstesRyanEstes Member Posts: 2
    I, too, was hoping for a way my clients could preview in b/w or sepia.  Only to find that it's not offered for self-fulfilled products.  And when ZF was approached about that, this was (part of) the response:
    "If you believe that Zenfolio does not provide you with the value for your money, it may be a better option for you to invest into building your own website and either find an existing solution, or pay a developer to implement the self-fulfillment and checkout flow that you require."
    Wow.
    I don't think it's an unreasonable request to include this option, or even just one or two custom options for self-fulfilled products.  My old shopping cart (PickPic) that I purchased in 2007 had this ability, surely it's not because it's too difficult or the technology isn't there that ZF isn't offering it.
    The entire reason I signed up for ZF was the ability to offer self-fulfilled products without paying a commission.  Withholding features like this smacks of one thing: ensuring that photographers get frustrated with lack of options so that we'll go through partner labs and give ZF a cut of every sale.
    This is frustrating.
  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    First, please allow me to point out that you are taking my words out of context. I said that if you want a system that perfectly matches your workflow, with all the bells and whistles that your specific business requires, there will be no perfect solution short of hiring your own development team. Since Zenfolio is used by a very wide variety of photographers, it will be very hard for us to satisfy everyone's requirements.
    The specific feature you are requesting, which is showing sepia and black & white preview, is very reasonable. It is not trivial, as it required some settings at the product level, specifying whether these previews are applicable to the given product. At the same time, it is a good, reasonable request that I'm putting on our list. 
    Adding custom option sets is more involved, but also nothing we cannot do. It is just the matter of prioritizing over other features.
    While fulfillment through our partner labs does make sense as a more streamlined solution, it is not our goal to steer people one way or another. We believe that you should do what works best for your business. We know that we do need to ramp up features related to self-fulfillment, and we will be making progress in this direction. 
    Thank you for your feedback.
  • bradcookphotobradcookphoto Member Posts: 1
    I just became a premier member.  I am switching from Smugmug.  I went ahead and joined kind of quickly after I started my trial because the coupon that Zen sent me was about to expire but now that I see the horrible setup of self-fulfillment ordering I am considering canceling.  It's really mind-boggling to me how it could be this bad and I have no desire to use Mpix for fulfillment.  Why even offer self-fulfillment if you're going to put such little effort into it?  When I switched from Smug it came down to Zenfolio vs. Instaproofs.  When I look at the setup for instaproofs.com they have things that you can just click on to add like 8x10, 16x20, etc.. to make setup easy and more importantly they have an "add-ons" section so that if you want you can set up an add-on once that could be added to any product instead of having to make a bazillion different products for each size, type, color, etc.. this seems like a no-brainer and it's really puzzling to me that Zenfolio has nothing like it.  I'm going to look at it some more though.  Still undecided.  Perhaps some of you could weigh in with your overall self-fulfillment experience.
     
    [quote user="Vitas [Zenfolio]"]
     We know that we do need to ramp up features related to self-fulfillment, and we will be making progress in this direction.

    [/quote]
     
    Looking back in this thread it seems the same thing was said a year ago.  When do you expect this to happen?
    brad
     
  • ZenBrianZenBrian Administrator Posts: 1,689
    We do realize that the limitations of the Self Fulfilled system
    are still an issue.  We are definitely working this, figuring out the best
    way to integrate new features, ideas, and formatting.  While we do not
    have a set ETA on when it will be completed at this time, we are aiming for
    sooner rather than later.
     
    It was mentioned previously in this thread, but I'd like to reiterate that we are open to ideas as to how you think this could be best implemented, so any specific ideas are welcome!
    Thanks!

    Brian
    Zenfolio Support
    image


    Check out my site! www.bussierephoto.com
  • DamianYDamianY Member Posts: 1
    The solution seems quite straight forward: use your vendors as a template and allow us to choose which items we offer as normal, with the difference that it is self-fulfilled. That would require almost no additional coding or hassle, but would save us hours of work and make things less clumsy for the customers. Any thing more specific we would want to offer could be added through the regular self-fulfillment menu.
     
    I joined Zenfolio explicitly because I was looking for a service that would make self-fulfillment streamlined and easy and I will certainly consider cancelling within my 30 days if I have to go through this hassle. I understand and appreciate that Zenfolio tries its best to resolve the issues of its customers, so I hope this can be done as quickly as possible.
  • goodwinphotographygoodwinphotography Member Posts: 11
     
    Having just recently attended a Zoom Tour seminar and raised a few of these points (plus ones about download sale options and expanding the category for weddings) the robotic rehearsed response that I got was "That's a great suggestion, I'll put it on the list" which after a while got annoying in itself and felt like being fobbed off.
     
    The Zenfolio reps Vitas and Brian both asked for examples of product offerings so here is mine.
    Basically, my product list is short and simple. All I offer in my store are 5 different print sizes and the choice of two finishing options, matt or gloss, but at the moment that means having to show 10 products which I would like to clean up and make 5 with a finishing option for each.
    I would envisage that the customer be made aware of the finishing option at either the 'select product' stage in a drop down menu next to the quantity selector, also during the 'preview and configure this product' stage and in the 'view the cart' stage with a small drop down box next to each item in the cart.
    Basically wherever the customer sees the quantity box then I think simple options (i.e. ones that do not need large images and live previews) could also be included. I think framing options would need something more involved but as it is not something I currently offer I have not given it as much thought.
     
    So, I'm with the OP on this one.
     
    All the promises of progress in the self fulfilment area seem to be taking a mighty long time!
     
    That said every time Zenfolio does update it's services I am generally impressed by just how much they do offer. Sadly it feels that self fulfilment is only a tiny part of that but creating and controlling my business brand is very important to me and so I am not willing to offer anything but self fulfilment. That way I can tailor and personalise every order to exactly how I want it.
     
  • goodwinphotographygoodwinphotography Member Posts: 11
    In response to ZenBrian.
    Here's how I think the gloss or lustre finishing options could be implemented. I appreciate this is specific to my particular situation but I'm sure it could be easily scaled to fit other options too.
    I'm linking to a few test images I have mocked up... 


    And lastly,

     
    Just an idea of how I think it could work.
  • ZenBrianZenBrian Administrator Posts: 1,689
    Ok great!  Thanks for all the work on the mockups.
     
    I will pass these up the ladder!
    Thanks!

    Brian
    Zenfolio Support
    image


    Check out my site! www.bussierephoto.com
  • goodwinphotographygoodwinphotography Member Posts: 11
    In the example pictures I have uploaded I am only thinking of options that do not affect the price of the product.
    In my case both gloss and lustre paper finishes are the same price, however being able to offer a different paper type all together that alters the price (e.g. fine art paper) all within the same drop down menu would also be very useful.
  • ZenBrian - please can you feedback on the response you received as you "passed these up the ladder"

    Self fullfillment customization is a huge gap in Zenfolio's offering - please plug asap
  • ... call me a little cynical but is there some reluctance at Zenfolio to fasttrack this request for enhanced customizable self fullfillment of orders linked in any way to a reduction in the Zenfolio % sales commission? >:)
  • Federer PhotographyFederer Photography Member Posts: 5
    vitas said:


    Typically, in addition to simple "lists" of options and sub-options, there are business rules. If these rules are not enforced properly, there's still a lot of manual work involved in processing orders. For example, some frames may not be compatible with some finishing options. Some options may not apply to all paper types and sizes, and so on. 

    If we are self-fulfilling, those business issues are for US to figure out.

    Nothing we are asking for is dependent on a knowledge of our products... we are NOT asking you to go "okay, they picked option 2 in category 1 so we can only offer option categories B and C now for the next screen".
    vitas said:

    Tell us how you expect a perfect system to work. We are always listening and are open for feedback.

    Something as simple as adding a list of "category"s (which we could put in any text we want) that is linked to a drop-down menu of options (again, any text we want) would be HUGE.

    So I'd be able to say "Retouched 8x10" as my product name...
    and have a category (that I enter) of "Paper Type" with options of "glossy, matte, velvet" (again, options which I enter). That alone would be huge, but then allow me to add multiple categories...
    So I could add another option of "Coloring" (I enter the category name as text) with options of "B&W, Color, Sepia" (again, that I enter as text... you don't even need to know what they mean)



    That'd be huge and, as a programmer in a different life, not that hard to handle. You've already got the base fundamentals of that code for your partner labs... just change some of it to user-enterable variables. It'd make self-fullfillment a viable option with Zenfolio. Currently, it appears it's not really a good option unless you want extremely limited product sets.
  • I have to admit, I am a little disappointed in the self-fulfillment options on Zenfolio. I use Mpix for my printing, but I still want the orders to be self-fulfilled because I offer many sublimated products that are not offered by Mpix. And it sounds like having to collect separately for the self-fulfilled products would be a total hassle.

    Creating drop-down boxes where we can edit the text should be a no-brainer for any programmer worth his or her salt. If we edit the text, then WE should be responsible for whether the options offered make sense or not.
  • McCartyMcCarty Member Posts: 28
    I will first say that the self fulfilled product feature is very hard to use. However, reading the various posts across the forum I can quickly see just how difficult this will be to please everyone. I myself am interested in self fulfill to avoid paying Millers 12% extra for an order that I can very easily submit myself. They are my lab of choice and I would love to just drop their entire offering into my self fulfilled price list. But not everyone uses Millers do they? So while it might be easy to just recreate the Millers catalog for me to use, that wont help some of you who might be fulfilling orders with in house printers or using some "Other" lab. Not every lab has the same offerings. Yes, most offer 8x10, textured and luster coated. But do they offer fine linen texture, or just heavy 10# canvas texture. Will you be ok if Zen just uses general terms or will the next thing be to ask them to allow us to customize the drop downs. Do you see where I am going with this? I can come up with 50 different ways to offer an 8x10. Which ones should Zen put in the list?

    Just to be clear, I want Millers/Mpix offerings for use in my self fulfilled price list. But even there, the same company (how many know that?) offer different products.
  • RyanEstesRyanEstes Member Posts: 2

    I will first say that the self fulfilled product feature is very hard to use. However, reading the various posts across the forum I can quickly see just how difficult this will be to please everyone. I myself am interested in self fulfill to avoid paying Millers 12% extra for an order that I can very easily submit myself. They are my lab of choice and I would love to just drop their entire offering into my self fulfilled price list. But not everyone uses Millers do they? So while it might be easy to just recreate the Millers catalog for me to use, that wont help some of you who might be fulfilling orders with in house printers or using some "Other" lab. Not every lab has the same offerings. Yes, most offer 8x10, textured and luster coated. But do they offer fine linen texture, or just heavy 10# canvas texture. Will you be ok if Zen just uses general terms or will the next thing be to ask them to allow us to customize the drop downs. Do you see where I am going with this? I can come up with 50 different ways to offer an 8x10. Which ones should Zen put in the list?

    Zenfolio doesn't need to pre-fill every possible option. They simply need to make a way for us to add our OWN options to self-fulfilled products, as well as a way to modify the price for each option. For instance, when adding an 8x10 to the cart, I'd love to have the option for people to select either regular paper or metallic paper for the print, and have the cart add $5 to the cost of the print if they choose metallic paper.

    Zenfolio doesn't need to make a "Paper" option. They just need to make a customizable "Option #1" that allows me to put in my own choices and price changes.

    Additionally it would be great for people to be able to preview what a picture looks like in b/w and order accordingly, but that's not as critical IMO.

    It's hard to not view the limited self-fulfill options as a money grab on Zen's part.

  • JG_ColemanJG_Coleman Member Posts: 173

    I will first say that the self fulfilled product feature is very hard to use. However, reading the various posts across the forum I can quickly see just how difficult this will be to please everyone. I myself am interested in self fulfill to avoid paying Millers 12% extra for an order that I can very easily submit myself. They are my lab of choice and I would love to just drop their entire offering into my self fulfilled price list. But not everyone uses Millers do they? So while it might be easy to just recreate the Millers catalog for me to use, that wont help some of you who might be fulfilling orders with in house printers or using some "Other" lab. Not every lab has the same offerings. Yes, most offer 8x10, textured and luster coated. But do they offer fine linen texture, or just heavy 10# canvas texture. Will you be ok if Zen just uses general terms or will the next thing be to ask them to allow us to customize the drop downs. Do you see where I am going with this? I can come up with 50 different ways to offer an 8x10. Which ones should Zen put in the list?

    Just to be clear, I want Millers/Mpix offerings for use in my self fulfilled price list. But even there, the same company (how many know that?) offer different products.

    I thought I might chime in for a moment. You'll notice that I'm the one that originally posted this thread back in February 2012. Well, it's now July 2013. A year and a half has passed and what has changed? Nothing... absolutely nothing. That's why I left Zenfolio two or three months ago! The only reason I'm replying to this post is because my ZF user forum membership is still active, so I've continued to get notifications every time somebody posts to this thread even though my actual ZF membership expired.

    Long story short, I noticed earlier this year that my renewal date was coming up. Normally I would've just paid for another year, but I guess that this time around I had finally hit my breaking point. I thought of how much it would cost to renew my membership again, and all of the sudden it just didn't feel like ZF was doing enough to EARN that money. They were going to take my membership fee and what new, useful features would I see in the next year? Probably none. So, I bailed. I built my own website and, to be honest, I've never looked back until now.

    Poor features for self-fulfilled products was probably one of the biggest reasons I bailed. If ZF couldn't offer top-notch self-fulfilled product features, then why would I pay them $100+ for use of their service? Just to have galleries online? Ha, anybody can make an online gallery for FREE with Wordpress. If ZF wanted to keep me as a customer, they needed to show some real, tangible changes to the self-fulfilled products features. Bottom line: they've given this thread a whole lot of lip service for a year and a half, with no actual progress being made at all. Not very reassuring, is it?

    Anyhow, McCarty please read my earlier posts from April 2012 and January 2013, which explain at length how ZF could implement totally dynamic custom options for self-fulfilled products. It's not nearly as difficult as you seem to think... and ZF's developers could definitely have pulled it off a while ago if they even cared to make this a priority.

    At the end of the day, this thread is 1.5 years old right now. Think about that. ZF had no genuine interest in this 1.5 years ago.... it had no genuine interest a year ago... it has no genuine interest today... and, sorry to say, it probably has no actual plans to start caring about this issue any time soon. I would wager that you'll see this thread turn 2 years old, maybe even 3 years old, before ZF even thinks about lifting a finger to make these changes.

    That's why I left.
  • McCartyMcCarty Member Posts: 28
    I don't really mean to come off at defending Zen. I completely agree with the slow (no) pace at making changes to self fulfilled orders. While I agree that a general and very simplistic dynamic custom option system could be implemented. I would not be satisfied with that. I bet very few would be satisfied with that. I also don't think that should have stopped Zen from implementing something along those lines either. At least it would show some movement. I think its 70% they don't want to see their sales% drop and 30% its very difficult to implement.

    Part of why I think many are being to hard on Zen is that I am coming from Pictage. Talk about being reamed. I'm saving hundreds using Zen and getting the same amount of sales. I would like to be saving the 12% too, but for now I'm content. For $250yr, I could not come up with anything close to what Zen provides. Every site has its limitations. Even Pictage had severe limitations. And I was paying 3x what I am with Zen, plus commission.

    To be honest, I'm more upset that I can't easily bundle Lab fulfilled offerings into one product. For example, we sell all our portraits with fine linen texture and luster spray. I have no way to automatically include that on every portrait print sold. Yes I can make a package, and that is what I have done. But that is a sloppy work around. It would be much better to be able to check off services that are included with prints. I have listened to Zen's reasoning for why this can't be done and it sort of makes sense. But it also made me realize that making the self fulfilled price list I want would be almost impossible. Unless they work with only one labs offerings, its just too difficult to satisfy all. Again, not unless they are very general. Which is only about half of what would make me happy.

    My final point. And I will be real blunt. After reading the forums for a couple days, it becomes very apparent that Zen needs to be extremely simple. Not speaking to this particular thread. The posts in this thread seem to be from users who know a thing or two. But several of the other thread posts make me wonder if most of the Zen users are less then knowledgeable. Allowing the type of control that we are asking for might create a real slew of problems for Zen. I think it also might answer why they are slow to add custom templates for the web pages.

    It reminds me of the days when I would be sitting in a Monte Zucker seminar on posing and someone would ask "What f-stop do you use"? (face-palm)

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