2017 was a big year for CrystalCommerce and our members! We started with big goals, scored some wins, and had setbacks along the way. Collaborating with our members in shaping our business to better serve the Game and Hobby community is our top priority. Each year has its own unique challenges and opportunities. We are wiser looking back and excited to move forward.
2017: Year in Review
Last year, we focused on 6 areas of our business operations to create more business opportunities, improve platform experience, and facilitate better communication with our members.
1. A virtual delivery system of Products and Services
In April, CrystalCommerce launched a member-only e-commerce store in order to facilitate a more scalable fulfillment process for the growing number of “design requests” from our members. The store also provides a platform to inform our members of the value-added products and services that target areas of improvement for their business.
In the same quarter, we also launched CrystalCredits, which allows our members to purchase products and services at a discounted rate, and have awarded $400,000 worth of free credits to members affected by lapses in service in the previous year.
2. Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding
Last April, in an effort to better understand our members’ needs, we launched the Members’ Ideas Portal. Its purpose is to give our members a way to suggest improvements to our platform that will help them run their stores, make more money, and improve their business operations. It became a place for the community to tell us their ideas, give feedback, and comment on proposals that they support.
In early December, we introduced the CrystalCommerce Launchpad, the next phase after the Members’ Ideas Portal, allowing members to invest in the development of upcoming features and applications for our platform. Not only does Launchpad allow members to influence the development roadmap, but it also allows them to expedite the development of projects they feel are most important to their business. This doesn’t necessarily mean we will not develop these features if not backed – supporting the project will just speed up the process of bringing your ideas to life. With your help, we can deliver much faster results to maintain and improve our platform.
CrystalAPI will allow third party developers to consume and work with CrystalCommerce data, and members to create new tools and experiences that will enhance the profitability and day-to-day operations of their business.
While the CrystalAPI Endpoints are at its final optimization stages, the developer center MVP was launched in the last quarter of 2017. This will allow developers to sign up and register applications that will consume CrystalCommerce data.
4. Platform Updates
Our platform underwent many exciting changes in 2017, and among these changes, we’d like to mention a few key updates.
The checkout has been redesigned with a mobile-first user flow that is not only responsive but also faster and more optimized than ever. It is also now equipped with Google Analytics and integrated with PayPal Express and PayPal Credit.
One of the things we wanted to prioritize last year was giving our members more control of their e-commerce website. We’ve made big strides toward this goal by updating the Locations panel (Account > Locations) and the Appearance tab (Design > Appearance), where members now have options to customize their site, such as their uploading their logo and updating their social media widgets.
Another important update is the Beta version of our new Market Price feature. While the old Market Price was an average of all the sales data we had across all integrations, the new Market Price not only breaks down sales data by channel but also separates speculative pricing and historical pricing from previously sold products. This benefits our members by providing a more accurate representation of the market each member wants to focus on, whether it be Amazon, TCGPlayer, eBay, or a local network.
The last platform update we’d like to mention is the addition of new product categories:
(1) Games Workshop – In the past, Games Workshop prohibited Retailers to sell their products online, but as of May of last year, their policies have changed, allowing the online sale of their products. Since then, Games Workshop products were added to our catalog, ready for import and ready for our Retailers to sell online.
(2) Video Games – While we already had an existing Video Games category, we created a new Video Games category that uses the same product names as PriceCharting.com. This allows members to export .csv files from PriceCharting.com and import them into the admin with little to no adjustments to the file.
By now, our members are familiar with the current admin – cluttered, outdated, and in severe need of a renovation. In 2017, our goal for redesigning the Admin is to make it smarter, simpler, and more efficient. We wanted to improve user experience by simplifying many UI elements so that users can focus on tools they use the most.
Over the course of last year, we revamped two major areas of the Admin:
(1) “The Frame” – The first of our Admin2.0 updates was revamping the main layout, or what we call “the frame.” Besides the more modern look, the navigation has been moved and is now collapsible with a nested, accordion-style sub navigation, making the Admin more tablet and mobile-friendly. With this new layout, it is also easier for users to access support, our entire Knowledgebase, and our other resources.
(2) Orders Page – The Orders Page has been updated with a simplified, intuitive design to give users easier access to the controls and information so they can load, review, and process orders more quickly.
6. Google Tag Manager
In 2017, we made it our objective to offer Google Tag Manager implementation so that our members can take advantage of this invaluable tool to manage their business’ analytics and therefore increase their sales. In the last year, we updated around 60 e-commerce sites with Google Tag Manager, and we’re looking forward to continue doing so in 2018.
Moving Forward in 2018
With the new year comes endless possibilities, and we are thrilled to share what’s coming up next. Our priority is still putting our members first, so expect many more platform updates to be rolled out incrementally to improve your overall experience running your business. That being said, we are also eager to announce the much-anticipated release of our upcoming products for 2018!
POSv4 was a development project started in 2015. Unlike the previous releases of our Point-of-Sale systems, POSv4 comes with new features including “Always In Stock” and “Ally Network Agreements” just to name a few. A closed beta was launched in Q4 of 2017, resulting in further QA testing. Plans to move forward with the second phase of testing is currently in the works and will be announced in the second quarter of 2018.
Originally slated for a summer 2017 release, the Marketplaces MVP was at the forefront of new innovations at CrystalCommerce. The intent of launching Marketplaces was to help the Game and Hobby industry by providing healthy revenues for members, increasing the fans’ customer lifetime value by fostering relationships with local game stores, and facilitating better access to game and hobby products through direct manufacturer referrals.
An internal alpha version of the was launched in Q3. However, upon further review with the development team and stakeholders, it was ultimately decided that expanding the scope of the project and pushing for a later release is a must in order deliver a product that is more polished and relevant to our members and the community.
Brick is an application designed to give our members the ability to customize and launch their own Marketplaces. It will also allow them to incorporate catalog and inventory data in their Marketplaces by providing a user-friendly interface that integrates directly with CrystalAPI. In the future, all our websites will be editable with Brick as well, and members will be able to easily change and update their site on their own to keep their sites fresh and interesting for fans!
4. Product Locator
We’re excited to announce the Product Locator, the revolution of a store locator. This new tool will allow fans of products to not only discover who is selling the products they want to buy, but also allow them to see product availability and make a purchase directly with participating Retailers. It’s designed to help Manufacturers help Retailers by driving sales directly to Retailers, creating traffic online and in brick and mortar stores. We are working with Manufacturers to help Retailers generate more sales by helping funnel their traffic directly to Retailers. Look forward to the official release of the Product Locator by the end of the first quarter of 2018!
To all our members, thank you for making 2017 an exciting year! Words can’t describe how much we appreciate your business and your continued support as we grow together in the Game and Hobby industry. We hope you are as excited as we are for what’s in store this 2018!