Upcoming FoxyCart Pricing Changes

brettbrett FoxyCart Team
in Important News edited December 2009
Hello all.
Over two years after launching (even if our launch was the most "soft launch" ever), FoxyCart has gone through a dozen versioned improvements, thousands of forum posts, even more emails, and even more blood sweat and tears. One thing we haven't done up to this point, however, is increase our prices. We wanted to keep our monthly price low both to encourage adoption and to make it an easier sell to our users' clients.

We're finally at the point where we'll be changing things up a bit in order to better serve our customers while giving ourselves a bit more room to grow and improve our offerings as a whole. We take all feedback very seriously, and we've had many (many) of you tell us that we're not charging enough. That said, we're sure that some of our community will hate us for this, so we're trying to approach it with as much discussion as possible in order to ensure everybody knows what's going on and feels good about it.

A few points, first and foremost:
* Any FoxyCart store with an existing subscription will _not_ see their subscription increased.

So with that out of the way:
FoxyCart price increase from $15 to $19/mo:
Effective Jan 01 2010 we'll be raising the price for the "normal" FoxyCart subscription to $19/mo.

FoxyCart Affiliate Program:
At the same time that we roll out the new pricing we'll also turn on our affiliate program, which will provide a $3/mo/store affiliate payment for approved affiliates. More details on the affiliate program will be coming, but if you're interested please signup here and we'll send more info as it becomes available. You can actually start using all the banners and links from the affiliate system currently, and they will be tracked. We just won't be doing payouts until 2010, and payouts will only be generated from stores at the new $19/mo price point.

FoxyCart "Pro" and "Enterprise":
This will happen _after_ the above two items, but it's part of the same discussion. As we're able (likely by Q2 of 2010) we'll be implementing some changes to FoxyCart's plans, tiering off to have more expensive monthly plans. While the details are still being worked out (and we'd love feedback), some the changes and options are:
- Additional "Pro" and "Enterprise" plans at under $100/mo and under $1000/mo respectively.
- Per-transaction flat fees (NOT percentage fees). We expect this to be somewhat controversial but hopefully it'll make sense in context. All plans will have a monthly allotment of transactions well in excess of what the average FoxyCart merchant processes at this point. Additional transaction fees will likely only be a few cents, but will depend on a few things, including the additional services mentioned below).
- Additional functionality available or included in the "advanced" plans. For example, a Pro plan will include a custom SSL cert and the Enterprise plan will include an EV cert (if desired).
- Email (non-forum) support for certain plans. Shorter response times depending on the plan.
- 3rd party services such as:
--- Industry leading automatic tax rate calculations
--- Identity verification
--- Pre-charge authentication to reduce (and possibly guarantee against) chargebacks
--- Certified email to improve our already solid deliverability
--- * (These services have a per-transaction _cost_, but the cost is easily justifiable in almost all circumstances.)

Additionally, as we continue to improve our features there may be certain functionality that is only available to certain plans, such as:
- Ability to implement a custom gateway
- Ability to include cardholder info in the XML datafeed
- Ability to sell "high risk" merchandise
- Gift certificates / vouchers
- Saved carts and longer lasting sessions
- Multi-currency support

So... all that said:
We're always big on feedback, so please let us know your thoughts. We don't want this to come as a surprise to anybody, nor do we want to be opaque in our decisions. If you're angry about a price increase at this point I'd ask that you quickly look at any other hosted service you know of and check their prices. In almost _all_ cases FoxyCart is cheaper, even when compared to non-mission-critical pieces. FoxyCart is a far more complex system than the average webapp, has far greater security and compliance requirements, and is inherently higher maintenance due to the reliance on 3rd party systems in order to complete transactions.

Also, a note about per-transaction fees:
We feel that per-transaction fees (in excess of the included amounts) are the most equitable way to keep our prices as low as possible for you all (and your clients). If your client is doing 100 transactions a month it's not a big deal and isn't increasing the load on our servers much. If you're doing 10,000 transactions a month (or day) then we're noticing. In order to maintain a high level of service across the board we need to scale _everything_: web servers, database servers, backups, etc. A small per-transaction fee allows us to provide this service for all, without passing the costs along to everybody regardless of usage.

Thanks for helping us make FoxyCart everything you need it to be. Please let us know your thoughts.
Comments
  • tookingstookings Member
    edited December 2009
    Keep up the good work. :)
    >> Any FoxyCart store with an existing subscription will _not_ see their subscription increased.

    Awesome. (Are you planning to run an "activation campaign" on your existing demo base in December? Might be a good way to end the year's sales strong.)
    >> At the same time that we roll out the new pricing we'll also turn on our affiliate program, which will provide a $3/mo/store affiliate payment for approved affiliates.

    Awesome.
    >> FoxyCart "Pro" and "Enterprise" [truncated]

    Makes sense... especially with:
    --- Industry leading automatic tax rate calculations
    --- Ability to implement a custom gateway
    --- Ability to include cardholder info in the XML datafeed
    --- Gift certificates / vouchers
    --- Saved carts

    ...which is also very foxy...and considering how little I imagine it will cost compared to the base merchant account fee's we're charged, still seems like quite a deal...since it sounds like it will be tiered (or a la carte) for those that actually need the advanced features. While you still provide the dirt cheap <$20/mo services to a large number of clients that don't need any more. (And all of your clients have a vested interest in your continued strong success!)

    Cheers!
  • Adding per-transaction fees, or some equivalent structure, seems like a necessary step towards full scalability. Makes sense.

    At the same time, it's hard for me to judge what "average" is for foxycart users, and my antennae certainly go up when you start discussing plans at $100 and $1k per month. For example, we use a custom SSL (subdomain) for our store. It's possible to read what you're saying to mean that we should expect an increase from $22.50/mo to $100/mo. And 400% is not an insignificant change. We definitely can't do $1k per month, but I can't imagine anyone calling us "enterprise" either. ;)

    A natural hazard of tiered service is that it can be hard for someone to judge which tier they should use. It's somewhat antithetical to the idea of natural price scaling. Would it just be better to scrap these in favor of per-transaction fees, where those prices depend both on volume and level of service? Probably *not* because you need to budget physical servers... but you probably see what I'm saying.

    Also: I don't think that gift certificates should be lumped in with the other pro features that you're listing. The rest of those really are "pro" high-volume/customization oriented features that appeal to web developers. By contrast, gift certificates are just as important to someone selling knit hats as someone doing a full-on mega e-commerce site. (Even paypal merchants get gift certificates....)
  • I think FoxyCart is worth $19, and I love the fact that you'll keep current subs at the current rate. The affiliate plan sounds cool too.

    I'm hesitant of the things that oskay mentioned as well. Instead of the tiered pricing that gives access to products based on the tier, have you considered a pricing structure like Heroku? For the addons that impact more on your system, you can charge an additional fee for those that use it. So for the majority of people who just need FoxyCart, its $19, and they can turn on the free features that they need (datafeed etc). But if someone needs to have something more like the custom gateway, 'high risk' merch or whatever, you can have a fee that covers that usage too. Basically build the FoxyCart plans to suit.

    Tiered pricing makes it easier to provide higher level support, but you could still achieve it with addons, for those paying over x amounts in total. Basically unspoken tiers i guess. That said though, your support is already pretty top notch!

    This could be one of those times where "Theres a graph for that!" would help explain it all better :)
  • >> This could be one of those times where "Theres a graph for that!" would help explain it all better :)

    :)
  • lukeluke FoxyCart Team
    Also: I don't think that gift certificates should be lumped in with the other pro features that you're listing. The rest of those really are "pro" high-volume/customization oriented features that appeal to web developers. By contrast, gift certificates are just as important to someone selling knit hats as someone doing a full-on mega e-commerce site. (Even paypal merchants get gift certificates....)
    That's a good point, oskay. We're still working out the details so take everything with a grain of salt. Depending on the time and effort to implement, gift certificates might be standard but vouchers can be much more complicated depending on how the integration works.

    As for a graph, we've got some internal documents for explaining this that we're obviously still working on and we'll make it all perty before we officially announce or discuss details of the tiered pricing stuff. Please keep in mind, that's for down the road in 2010, not something we'll be doing right away.

    Also, if we had pricing just based on features that wouldn't handle the difference in resources for the store that's doing 1,000 transactions a day compared to a store that's doing 10 a day. If both of those stores have the same features but the first one is using as many resources as 100 smaller stores and not paying anywhere near 100 times as much... well, you get the idea. We end up having to do more work for just a couple stores or we have to raise the prices for all the stores to cover the resources needed.

    Either way, as Brett said, this stuff is all a good ways off in the distance. We believe in good communication so we'll be talking things through before we make any real changes.
  • luke wrote:
    Also, if we had pricing just based on features that wouldn't handle the difference in resources for the store that's doing 1,000 transactions a day compared to a store that's doing 10 a day. If both of those stores have the same features but the first one is using as many resources as 100 smaller stores and not paying anywhere near 100 times as much... well, you get the idea. We end up having to do more work for just a couple stores or we have to raise the prices for all the stores to cover the resources needed.

    That makes perfect sense, and perhaps you could have tiers for usage, but personally I'd hate to see features tied into tiers that ultimately a client may not be able to afford, but does require one of them. The Heroku pricing system does both, I think pretty well, in that they have the different tiers of pricing for the amount of space you need, but all addons are available to everyone (free or priced).

    As an example, I signed up for a form service to be able to host a survey. They had a tiered system for pricing. I could have gotten away with using their basic plan, but instead had to sign up for there medium plan because I required more questions per form than the basic plan allowed. The medium plan also gave allowances for a stack of other features I didnt need, and I'm sure I was paying for those features too. Maybe not a great example, but kinda shows the downside of tiered pricing.
  • We are using Foxycart for our own business but are also planning to use it as the shopping cart for some stores for our clients. For Foxycart to continue to look attractive in that market a low cost option is very important.

    $19 is probably OK but it would only make sense if it continued to have similar functionality to the current cart - things like coupon codes, custom SSL domain @ $90/year, XML feed, support for downloadable products, sales tax and shipping rate calculations (a la current Foxycart), and PayPal standard checkout option would all be very important at that pricepoint. Otherwise it's simply not economic for our market - even though we love FoxyCart!

    Daniel.
  • brettbrett FoxyCart Team
    @taffyc: I hear you there. I don't think we'll be removing any functionality we currently offer for the basic plan, so hopefully that won't be an issue.

    @bjbk: I think you're right, but it goes slightly beyond just the features and the price point. First off, I've always felt like a la carte pricing was kind of gimmicky. That's just opinion, but it's also backed to an extent by studies on usage and psychology. If you're ordering a la carte you'll order less. If you have to pay for a buffet, for example, you don't care about getting the lobster because you've already paid for it, where as you'd (likely) not order lobster if it was a la carte.

    Additionally, we have a growing number of users that are using FoxyCart with a 3rd party integrations. It'd be a bit more difficult for creators of those integrations to build contingencies for all sorts of different functionality. It'd be much easier to just base it on a plan, as certain pieces will be contingent on other pieces of functionality.

    Finally, there's the very real impact of being too cheap. This is kind of an awkward thing to bring up to our "customers", but we respect you enough to discuss it. At $15/mo we know for a fact that many larger organizations are walking away from FoxyCart simply because they're not looking for a $15/mo product. You get what you pay for, right? 99% of the time, that's true. And with a single low priced plan we're still losing that type of user from even giving FoxyCart a second look.

    What we're after is to make it clear that FoxyCart _can_ serve enterprise needs (or, rather, we can currently but we'll be even better suited to as we add more enterprise-specific functionality). Doing that requires an enterprise level price point in many ways, both to cover our increased costs of providing service, but also in order to be taken seriously. When somebody's comparing systems and they're looking at Elastic Path, Magento Enterprise, maybe something from left field like IBM WebSphere, etc., you (most people) can't throw a $15/mo service into the mix.

    What we'll definitely try to do, however, is to make is very clear and distinct. If you have a client that really truly needs to process 10,000 transactions a day, needs an SLA with guaranteed support and a direct line to us, then they are (by definition) an enterprise level client.

    What we _won't_ be doing is baiting our users with more expensive plans just to get one feature. I hate that too. I'm a big fan of Mojo Helpdesk, for example, but they keep their attachment storage limit just silly low on their basic plan. So even if you don't need the extra features, you likely _must_ have more than 5MB of storage, seeing as people regularly email more than 5MB attachments. They have a great service and great pricing, but 5MB is just silly. I've brought it up with them, and it is what it is: their prerogative. (Again, I recommend Mojo. It's a nice service and way more cost effective than their competition. Just pointing out what we'll try to avoid.)

    So all that said, we'll definitely discuss the tiering down the road. For the time being though the price increase is important for everybody to know about. And it seems like that's not quite as controversial as we'd feared.
  • Great move guys and keep up the good work. It's hard to find anything remotely as affordable for fully PCI-compliant ecommerce any way you slice it.
  • I think an extra $4/mo is not a bad cost raise, if it means roll outs of new features and updates come sooner or more frequently - is it just Luke and Brett who do active development on the foxycart codebase, or are there more people? Perhaps the new revenue can mean better servers and an extra helping hand on deck to plow through some of the feature requests that have been tagged as "Planned" for the longest time.

    Still can't beat Foxycart's price for all it does, though! Good luck finding a JSON cart, fully customizable checkout pages, an XML feed, and the ability to use your own merchant account for less than $20
  • brettbrett FoxyCart Team
    Thanks @TwoVectors. There are few others on our team but they're not really publicly facing. Fred, for example, has been _awesome_ for our infrastructure. You may have noticed a full 0.5s page load improvement when we had the scheduled downtime a few months back to switch servers. That was all him. He's currently working on some improvements to session handling and caching that preliminary testing is showing to be an even more significant speed bump.

    We're also going to try to do much smaller releases to add functionality more consistently, but sometimes it's tricky because one piece affects another.

    But yes, the price increase will allow us to continue to serve our users (you) as best we can, while improving things and making things even more flexible. Thanks again for your support. Without our awesome community giving us encouragement and criticism it'd be impossible to provide the level of service we strive for.
  • I just wanted to chime in as Ive been using foxycart for a while now and have created 2 rather succesful online presences with the product (not 10,000 per day) but more than what I had with my old vendor. I think that although, previously mentioned, $15/month may not make you look like a contender to others, I think the true builders and users of this , really appreciate the low price point. The proof is really in the putting when you see how much you can do for $15 a month. For upper management who do not fully understand e-commerece, they welcome the low price point and are willing to "give it a shot" because our loss can only result in time and $15/month. After that its my ability to build a functional UI for our customers. I do see a lot of limitations or perhaps my lack of knowledge when it comes to foxycart and the lack of a real turn key system could warrant a low price point. Its not like you can buy foxycart and just start adding items in the backend and they appear.

    Honestly, this is the service that I recommend to anyone now who wants to start a simple e-commerce site. The support is great on the forum and I get help within a day or sometimes less. They are able to answer all of my questions with clear help, not just "oh look here" or "use search". Which I really appreciate. I'd be interested in seeing how the new tier pricing works and what is included, I hope that they continue to keep the low pricing as it helps small businesses aford such a great service. I personally dont mind implementation of a cap, which could allow small time stores to fly under a small pricing structure and making others who make much more money/transactions pay more. Its a pretty strait forward and obivious move.

    I would like to see more documention, I dont mind reading documents to find my answer. Along with the documents real - life examples that I could take a modify just slightly to suit my needs. Right now the wiki is a little disoraganized for people who are not real familiar with whats going on. I would also recommend putting in things like analytics and better sales analysis on the backend and even possibly e-mail alerts and statistics.

    Overall, its a great product for the everyday blogger or shop owner.
  • brettbrett FoxyCart Team
    I do see a lot of limitations or perhaps my lack of knowledge when it comes to foxycart and the lack of a real turn key system could warrant a low price point. Its not like you can buy foxycart and just start adding items in the backend and they appear.

    That's actually one of the things I've always kept in mind and brought up in our internal discussions. FoxyCart is a piece of the puzzle, but not the whole solution. It's a mixed blessing, as it allows for crazy integration and flexibility beyond what's possible with almost any other approach, but it's not the sort of turn-key solution some people are after. Luckily for them there are plenty of other options ;)

    We definitely hear you on the docs though. We have some ideas for those that should hopefully help significantly. And Luke is kind of a reporting junkie, but we've just been so busy doing other things that sales stats and such hasn't been a priority. Honestly, it'd probably help us get more people excited about FoxyCart, because everybody loves a pretty dashboard, but we try to prioritize according to the biggest pains our users are facing.

    Thanks though, Arthur, for your comments. We appreciate your perspective and feedback.
  • The increase in the basic monthly plan is definitely understandable, no issues with that at all.

    My store does fewer than 10 transactions per day, and I don't rely on Foxycart's webspace to host my downloadable products because you don't currently support files that are larger than 100 MB. This required me to spend money on having a web developer integrate Foxycart and the self-hosted download script into my site. The self-hosting script is great but not without problems, requiring some heavy tweaking by a programmer that was brought in on the project. This overall implementation lasted a little more than a month.

    Once all that was said and done, FC has been working really well with its fantastic cart interface and back-end. However, you can see why I might be a little wary of potentially having to pay more for any services down the line considering that I don't use any storage on your site and I had to jump through some significant hoops to get FC implemented. Something tells me I'm way too small of a fish to really be affected by these pricing changes, but I wanted to sound off while it was still early days :)

    I hope this post didn't come off as negative because I feel very happy with FC so far, and would choose it again if given the chance and a similar monthly fee.

    Thanks for being honest with your customers,

    - Nick
  • PRice change effective from 01 Jan 2010. SO if I sign up before 31 Dece I get it at $15 right? Not what is being advertised on the homepage though!
  • It's still $15 on the checkout in the admin. I'm guessing the guys just jumped the gun on the homepage to save having to update it over the holidays (they're probably having a break).
  • lukeluke FoxyCart Team
    We have the price change listed here: http://www.foxycart.com/pricing-and-signup-for-foxycart.html Hopefully the holiday season won't make it difficult for companies to make a decision about activating a subscription before next year's increased price. Ultimately, we feel the increase is not significant considering how many improvements we've made over the last two and a half years and how many more we have planned.
  • brettbrett FoxyCart Team
    edited January 2010
    Hello all.
    Due to the holidays and such, we've pushed this back to the 16th of January. Yes, we did just change it on the homepage to $19 because it was easier, and because by the time somebody signs up and is actually ready to turn a store on (pay for it) it'll be at $19, so the worst case is that the homepage is accurate. Best case is that somebody gets a pleasant surprise if they're super fast from signup to going live.

    Sorry for the date change, but when we didn't have the time we'd wanted to ensure the price change was communicated (and re-communicated) to all our users. And we figured that extending a lower price wouldn't adversely affect anybody. We'll keep you updated via this thread though. Thanks all, and happy new year.
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