We receive questions from prospects each week asking why we don’t provide our Facebook Shop software for free. Seth Godin’s blog about free software reminded us of our decision over five years ago to charge for our software after the initial trial period. We hope this explanation helps potential users to understand that the decision to charge a subscription is the foundation for our serious commitment to their success.
Why it made sense for ShopTab to charge for using our software:
- Focus on product value. We wanted to be clear with our clients we would validate how a social store would prove value for their organization by justifying it against a financial payment. We didn’t want to sell our user’s information, blast them with advertising or act as a lead front for some other sale. We believed that if a user can’t sell more than $10 a month against the subscription rate, our application doesn’t work or you and it isn’t a good fit. Seth articulates the concept that either you buy the product or “you” are the product. We picked the first.
- Be responsive. We wanted to set a standard for providing great support. This meant being available to help at any time during the set-up of the store or support after it was in operation. It takes good people to provide great support – this wasn’t an area worth cutting corners or pretending like technology or great FAQ’s would solve it.
- Continual improvement. Seth’s post nails this concept – we didn’t want mediocre software that might work adequately, we wanted software that can make a big difference for our clients and provide us the resources that would allow us to continually improve it.
- Allow you a real evaluation. Many software companies allow you to try a version for free with a very limited set of features. This drives you to pay to upgrade to get what you really need. We felt like that isn’t a great way to start a relationship – personally or in business. We present the value we can deliver and allow you to make the right decision for you and your opportunity – no future surprises.
Within our first couple of years of operation two large venture capital funded competitors that were attempting to scale with free software offerings went out of business. This left thousands of clients in a desperate situation needing to change platforms quickly. This was a significant blemish for those companies and for the overall market. I guess it is a fast way to figure out if you have a product or business but leaves the users in a really tough predicament.
ShopTab has been delivering our Facebook Shop app since November of 2009. We’re honored that our clients allow us to continue to improve the software to assist them in bridging the e-commerce market with their social networks. We believe the decision to charge for our software is the key behind our ability to be in business and server our clients for over six years. We look forward to doing this for many more years to come.