What are your thoughts on the Shopify Collective platform?

Dascalargo
Shopify Partner
72 6 35

This isn't a question, per se, though I'm sure I'll have some. Rather, I wanted to offer my unsolicited (and likely unwanted) feedback on Shopify Collective, both in the hopes that it'll help improve the product and may answer questions for some of you who are contemplating signing-up.

 

First—and this isn't criticism of Collective, but rather on how the Shopify Community sees Collective—it's nearly impossible to find anything about Collective here because when you search COLLECTIVE, you get every thread that has questions about COLLECTIONs.

 

OK, onto Collective, starting with what I really like:

  • The initial setup works well. I found it easy to use (having gone through both the retailer and supplier setups). It's also pretty painless for the retailer to import the supplier's products.
  • I'm glad they thought to let a supplier have multiple price lists for their products.
  • It was smart that the programmers created Collective (Supplier) as a sales channel, so a supplier could, if they wanted, setup a product that is used only for Collective, and doesn't appear online.
  • I am thrilled that when a supplier fulfills an order, the corresponding order on the retailer side is also marked and the customer gets an automated email from the retailer.

The stuff I like less:

  • If the price and SKU must remain the same between the supplier and retailer, those fields should not be editable on the retailer side. (I figure that'll get corrected when too many retailers who haven't read the documentation annoy support asking why they can't change the price.)
  • Both a supplier and I (as a retailer) have automatic payments turned on, but our relationship has automatic payments off. Not sure why that's the case (and don't have time to look into it right now).
  • I think it sucks that Collective reports are not available to Shopify Basic subscribers. Perhaps they shouldn't have the same depth of reports, but none?! I don't need them, but that missing is going to make it nearly impossible for some smaller stores to track their sales.
    • Side note: "Collective reports are available to Standard and Advanced plan users." Please make up your mind about what that middle plan is called. There is nothing listed as "Standard" in plans.
  • Here's my big issue, a true hate: The packing slip generated is the supplier's. Um, no. Unacceptable. When I kept getting nags that I had to update my packing slip, I had hopes that it was because they were laying the groundwork for suppliers to be able to print retailers' packing slips, but that is not the case.
    • The customer is the retailer's customer. My payments to the supplier do not cover customer service, nor should they. So why is the supplier's address, phone number, email address, and website printing on the packing list?
    • Future business from that customer should continue to go through the retailer, not the supplier. Again, the info provided to the customer is counterproductive in that regard.
    • Yes, I could send my own packing slip manually (and will henceforth) but then why am I using an app? The data is there. Use it.
    • Either print a barebones packing slip using whatever basic store info is imported with the order or, the better option, use the retailer's template.
  • As a retailer, I'd also prefer to see my name on the return address for Shopify-generated labels, or no name and just an address—as most dropshippers will do—but I'm willing to let this one go as there may be reasons why the label must have the supplier's info on it.

Features I'd add I could:

  • Better notifications between supplier and retailer:
    • A supplier added new products after I imported what I thought was their entire catalog. I only noticed because I happened to look.
    • A supplier changed retail prices after I had imported their products and I received no notification.
    • I haven't had it happen yet, but what happens if a supplier changes their cost and/or shipping? Is there a notification?
  • Sync timeline comments between the corresponding retailer and supplier orders, either by default or by using @ tags, so we can share notes about an order.
  • Why must the retailer use the supplier's price? That's certainly not how it works in the real world, nor with dropshipping, so I'm wondering if that can be changed or if it's a technical limitation.

I know some folks have been using Collective longer than I have, so if you have answers to the questions I posed above I welcome your input. Likewise if you're new to, or are thinking about using Collective, and want to know about how it works in certain situations, I'm happy to share what I've learned. I found the help docs wanting.

 

One final question: Anyone know if there are liquid objects for Collective orders published somewhere?

 

Replies 14 (14)

BOTORI
Visitor
3 0 0

I have seen that you can change the price, however it doesn't change the agreed supplier margin (if you make price higher or lower). 

Dascalargo
Shopify Partner
72 6 35

Can you, @BOTORI? I tried and while I can change it on the product card, it remains the same on the customer-facing product page. My change is totally ignored.

 

 

jro13
Tourist
5 1 0

How do returns work as a retailer?

Dascalargo
Shopify Partner
72 6 35

The help files suggest to both the retailer and the supplier that they discuss how to handle returns ahead of time. As a retailer, I want returns to come to me. For all intents and purposes, I have already paid for the product. But I also have a brick-and-mortar and can add returned items back to inventory, whereas some retailers probably don't want that.

 

Regardless of where the return is going, the customer return needs to be handled by the retailer. That transaction is always between the customer and the retailer, so if there is a refund to be issued, that's the retailer's responsibility.

 

In my case, the return would come back to me, I would refund the customer, and that'd be the end of it. I don't usually pay for return shipping for regular returns, but if it was damaged or wrong item, I would generate a label as I would for any other return.

 

If the return is to go to the supplier, the retailer would request a return on the order, but that is totally independent of the retailer's refund to the customer. If the item is going back to the supplier, the supplier would generate the label. (Edit: The supplier would have to send the label to the retailer, who would, in turn, snd it to the customer.) Once that happens, if the supplier and retailer have automatic payments setup, the refund is also automatic. Otherwise, the supplier would handle a refund or credit manually.

 

Return shipping is not handled by Collective. If the supplier is supposed to be reimbursed by the retailer, that has to happen separately. I am unsure what happens to the original shipping charge if you have automatic payments setup, whether that gets refunded to the retailer when the supplier authorizes the return. The help docs don't say, as far as I can tell, but I'm assuming it looks to the supplier just as the return to the customer looks to the retailer (i.e. you can choose to refund less than the full amount).

 

The retailer can request a cancelation before the supplier has fulfilled the order. If the supplier agrees, then the retailer's order is updated by the system to reflect that. In that case, there is no refund necessary from supplier to retailer because the supplier doesn't get paid until the order if fulfilled.

Beacon
Shopify Partner
6 0 3

@Dascalargo wrote:

First—and this isn't criticism of Collective, but rather on how the Shopify Community sees Collective—it's nearly impossible to find anything about Collective here because when you search COLLECTIVE, you get every thread that has questions about COLLECTIONs.

 


THIS. I even tried adding quotes when searching "Collective" since some other search environments use that format to exclude similar results. No luck. 

As for the OP assessment of collective, I have yet to gein access personally, but agree with all these points. They are important. Big +1 from me.

RoofTopOverland
Visitor
3 0 0

Totally agree. Been surprised at how little info I can find on how it works, much less if. Even the interweb has limited worthwhile content I can find on the processes. Great post overall. Thanks for sharing

denimdaisystore
Visitor
1 0 1

I agree with everything said - I wish that the packing slip and shipping label were shown as coming from the Retailer, and not the supplier

RandomActsofArt
Tourist
4 0 5

Thanks for this post. I was looking for more information before I moved forward with adding the app. The information from Shopify is lacking. The packing slip is a major issue for me and will stop me from moving forward at this time. I guess I'll check back eventually to see if they get that resolved.

Dascalargo
Shopify Partner
72 6 35

Yeah... I'm not worrying too much about the mailing label, but the packing slip is definitely a major issue. My volume is low enough that I just email the supplier one of my packing lists, and they've all been great about using it instead of their own.

TransportParts
Visitor
2 0 0

Does anyone know how the inventory and SKU's are tracked from the supplier side? We use Quickbooks to track inventory. When someone places an order from our Shopify store, it auto feeds the SKU to quickbooks to update our inventory. From what I'm reading, retailers don't use our SKU so how would my systems know what is sold. Does the SKU feed through on my end but not show on theirs? Any help is appreciated! 

Dascalargo
Shopify Partner
72 6 35

I use QBO for my inventory, as well. When you import products from the supplier, it gives them SKUs that start "sku-" follower by a number. That product will sync into QBO, but it’s inventory will not sync back to Shopify.

TransportParts
Visitor
2 0 0
I don't need Shopify to sync inventory as we set everything to 0. I just
want to make sure that if I'm a supplier, it feeds to QB correctly and
doesn't mess up my inventory by not feeding through from Shopify
Collective.

Thomas_Mains
Tourist
8 0 1

I can't believe this is still an issue with the shipping label and packing slips. We're fairly new to the Shopify Collective, and are only receiving a couple of orders a week from the Collective retailers, which we're currently manually changing the addresses to reflect the retailers address. Yet if we start receiving more orders from Shopify Collective, we'll need to make a decision as to how much time is being taken away from fulfilling our customer orders.  

mtelebishop
Visitor
1 0 0

I'm a supplier selling skis and ski bindings. At the end of our winter season, it is typical to mark down our inventory with big discounts. I am trying to figure out how my retailers can also mark down my products to match my discounts. Right now it looks like they'll simply pay it out of their margin, or even go "negative" for discounts greater than their margin.

 

Has anyone figured out how to manage discounts with retailers?