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Monday, July 19, 2010

Bonanzle.com launches two new games today!

Always the innovative alternative, Bonanzle.com announced two new games on it's social ecommerce site today. The first one, "Merch Match" is designed for sellers (and maybe gamershoppers from "out there") to play with each other, earning points for the correct response as they go. According to Bonanzle founder Bill Harding, "It has two purposes: (1) to entertain (2) to provide useful data about our 3.5m items."

Presumably "someday" that data will translate into sales for the 33,280 storefronts (called booths), and the merchants of Bonanzle who are hoping that  the "someday" comes prior to this holiday shopping season.

And, presumably "someday" those points will be worth something on the site. ( The game within the game... what are the points for?) There already exists a Roundtable Question and Answer Forum where you can ask questions about merchandise, and have the best answer voted on by the community, earning "Reputation Points."

I don't have any points from either the Roundtable or the MerchMatch game.

If I have time to play a game it's going to be golf, OK? Hopefully my reputation speaks for itself from the quality services and products I provide to my customer-friends.  But if I really need extraneous points to be a successful ecommerce merchant, I'll add up my scores from every round of golf I play this season. We can use those. I play a lot of golf for charity. So it's a good circle.

So,  speaking of customer-friends... the second game is for you! Actually it is a scientific experiment that sure feels like a game. Its an A/B split test. On 50% of my Bonanzle listings the buttons have been redesigned so ‘add to cart’ is super-easy to see. Of course Bonanzle's international shipping scripting is still full of glitches so you may not actually be able to check out without several rounds of emails with me. But, if you DO navigate the process yourself you may be lucky enough not to be charged any shipping. It's not that I'm super generous to my international customers, it's just that the platform is unstable. But if it goes thru FREE, that's not your problem. Don't worry. It's part of the game: you MIGHT get free shipping without me knowing it. How's that for fun?

Also, on 50% of my listings the Bonanzle designers made a sad empty shopping cart for more fun.  The cart wants you to shop. (Assuming you want the cart to be happy, my sales will increase.) The object of this game is to control your spending habits via the sad face. Are you having fun yet?

I'm so sorry. And somewhat embarrassed.

I have put all of my listings at my Bonanzle storefront on hold until the shipping, offer, and checkout  issues are fixed. The Bonanzle Christmas in July coupon code SAVE15 which takes 15% off  will be honored at our website, http://www.oshunspirit.net.  Our JourneyBeads storefront on Bonanzle has not been affected by the errors and remains open, fully stocked, and the coupon code is in fine working order.
I appreciate you all and I know that your time is precious and that you don't have time to play games. I know that you want to see a good picture, read an accurate description of the product or service, and make your purchase securely and easily. Online shopping is all about convenience. Please accept my sincere apologies for your inconvenience. 

image credit: http://www.psfk.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/video-game.jpg


  1. Bravo, well said as always. Oh that correct and functioning back end work was done - imagine the possibilites....

  2. I did and do imagine the possibilities. That's why it's so unfortunate that the marketplace-selling components have taken a back seat to the "games". When did providing the tools sellers need become irrelevant? There are not many of us "early adapters" left who shared the marketplace vision and worked our butts of AKA Action Club... perhaps we missed the memo about changing the USP.

  3. So well stated, thank you Oshun. How the developers of this site can justify Beta testing an entire site is incomprehensible This site is not being advertised as in development, and in Beta. People are investing their funds for memberships, not to have so many obstacles, and only to hear their is not enough staff .If staff are spending their time creating games rather then addressing: the functionality of the site, their members concerns, the technical problems that need to be addressed., advertising concerns, and the list can go on.

  4. Secret Garden Gems, you have been an unwavering positive force at Bonanzle, and I feel your frustration. We can only hope the new hires realize the Gems in their pockets before they are scattered to the wind.

  5. Frustration...I think many of us are now well beyond that. We have support personnel that make a great living at our expense. I will not pay a membership for a site that does not function. The lure that a membership will garner you sales is pathetic. The lure of playing games to hand over final value fees is idiotic at this point.

    Many of us came with the belief that this would be the best sales site ever... instead it is now becoming one step ahead of an x-box.

    Promise after promise to fix the check out, shipping calculators, etc etc etc has been met with excuses or deletions of your post. What the sellers need is not addressed, only the newest cutesy gimmick that will get press is worked on. If a fix is boring it will not get addressed.

    To develop a game to see how tagging can be improved upon for browsers is mind-boggling at the very least. You need a GAME to figure that out?

    I am very saddened that we gave up the last 2 years of our business life to help support a site that cannot, no make that will not support its sellers. Those very sellers that gave LIFE to this site.

    Yes, we feel like we just been kicked in the stomach. To see all the "glitches" of the past week or two only to realize that is was game development and beta testing.

    Thank you Susan for writing such a clear summation of how many of us feel this way and allowing us to vent in a safe site without repercussions.

  6. Hey Susan,

    On one hand, I am happy to hear that it sounds like you will be pursuing other marketplaces that more closely match your needs. I know that, as we have grown, it has become increasingly difficult to be able to address the concerns of each of our individual sellers in a timely fashion, as we have to balance hundreds of user requests alongside business objectives that can help Bonanzle continue to grow at the rapid pace it has enjoyed to date. It pains me to see our sellers unhappy, so even when they're leaving the site, I take solace in the hope that they'll be headed somewhere else that more closely aligns with their goals, objectives and selling style.

    That said, for others that may read this post and be confused about our objectives, I would like to clarify a couple points from your post.

    Firstly, Why oh Why, with all of our many development possibilities, bother building a game? Yes, I would subjectively assert it's pretty damn fun, and that's a reason in itself, but I'm probably a wee bit biased. The (cough) "official business reason" is that we need to be able to programatically determine items that could be showcased in different areas of the site, and getting the metadata to make that determination has been a challenge that's vexed us since we hit 1m items and began having this problem. Merch Match is the answer. Using the results from the game, we will have a much better idea than we currently do about what merchandise would be good to feature in a category showcase, or in a targeted email to buyers. Randomly picking non-moderated items from our inventory of 3.5m items...notsomuch.

    Secondly, though an A/B test may sound like a bizarre game to a casual onlooker not in the biz, it is actually the most commonly used tool by web sites large and small to empirically determine whether a potential change has the desired effect. And it makes sense if you think about it. If option #1 is "change a page and cross your fingers that it's better" or option #2 is "change a page and scientifically test whether it's better," (where better = more effectively accomplishes your goals, in this case, conversion) I'm picking option #2. That's what an A/B test does. And Google backs me up on the science here -- check it out sometime if you have the chance.

    The final point I'd want to make clear to others is that, with an actual development team now working on the site, we *are* able to concurrently take on projects. Many of the projects that you, sofy, and others would like to see us work on are in fact concurrently underway. That is not to say that I think you should hold your breath until we make the specific updates you're after (especially given your specific history of regularly being at odds with our prioritization) but it is to say that for others, if we didn't release your specific feature today, there is a good chance it is in our roadmap and being worked on.

    Hope this helps to clarify some of our rationale. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Bill Harding

  7. @Sofy I too felt like I was kicked in the stomach until I realized I was willingly blinded by my imagining and hoping that I had discovered a better platform than ebay offered for myself and my customers, Bonanzle offered no clear plan, ever.

    I hope that the new Bonanzle team might embrace the original vision so that the seeds we planted have at least a shot at a harvest and the green members coming in have at least a shot at success this selling season.

    Its tricky business to admit you've been bamboozled and emerge with good will and a smile. I'm working on that tonight.

  8. Hey Bill, thanx for your post and your farewell wishes but I will patiently wait til my booth is functional. I did not work 2 years for zero returns.

  9. Well said Oshun... Having seen a new game being introduced today felt like a slap in the face. Knowing that there have been site issues that should have been addressed first. Many of these issues have been an on going problem for a while now. What will it take for them to get fixed?

    These are issues with the basic tools we need to operate our business. Without the basic tools one cannot run a business. I would think the site would find this important enough that it would take precedence. We're not asking for much only for the tools we need to run our business to function properly without glitches. We're trying to run a business and to some of us this is our livelihood.

    I think we have been very patient considering, yet still no results.

  10. On a happy note I did wake up to an email from Mark. It reads in part:

    "...We were able to reproduce this on our side and it is being addressed as I type. Within the next 48 hours we should have a fix in place to address the application of a shipping profile removing International rates and setting them at zero. With the new update, all previously set International rates will remain unless you change that specific value on your shipping profile..."

    That is great news for all of us who have professional goals, objectives and selling styles.

    A/B testing itself does not look like a bizarre game (even to this casual onlooker who is in the business), and I agree that it is an effective tool to scientifically determine whether a potential change has the desired effect. What is bizarre is testing a big vs. small buy button when clicking either only brings the customer to a checkout process full of glitches.

    I think its great that within 48 hours the testing will be able to provide valuable data.

  11. Today, July 28 I got the word that my booth was functional, after 21 days on hold. I've listed a few things to test it. Let's all hope its the fix that sticks! Thanx all, you are the best!

  12. To follow up: Today I remarked in a forum in which there was a discussion of problems with intenational shipping. I replied that it was still "broken." (changes don't stick) Management replied:

    @oshunspirit1, have you sent an email to support? Shipping has been working just fine and we have had no trouble. Provided shipping is being set up properly then you should be fine.

    There are a few ways you can set up shipping. You can do it in the listing form one by one or in the Batch editor.

    You can set up fixed price or calculated http://tinyurl.com/CalculatedShipping for both US and international rates and you can set up shipping discounts for multiple purchases on your Sell>Advanced Options page.

    You can also set up Shipping Profiles http://tinyurl.com/ShippingProfiles if you want to apply the same rules to many listings.

    If after reviewing our help pages you find that your shipping is not working as we have designed then please do bring to our attention which part of the process is not working for you.

    Then they locked the thread so I could not reply publicly. I will do so here:

    Yes, I have sent an email to support. You set it up for me. Thanx.

  13. From Recent Changes at Bonanzle 9/6/10
    * Fixed full page new item form zeroing out international shipping that was set as "see description" or "calculated".
    * Fixed shipping profiles not being applied to new items on full page new item form.

  14. One year later, still broken. 'Nuff said.