Rakuten Switches Platforms
Affiliates using PopShops for their sites have been fighting what turns out to be a losing battle over the ShopBuilder platform. For months now, there have been complaints about display issues and the response has been minimal. The word was that ShopBuilder depended on an old “platform” and something new and better was in the works.
In the meantime, existing shops were missing products, images, and feed updates. The dashboard was getting more and more frustrating as affiliates tried cleaning up their pages. And the complaints were mounting.
Curate Introduced As The Cure
Curate has been on the scene for months and a network or two have signed up and promoted it as a great new shop building tool. But when Rakuten added it to PopShops, in beta, and asked affiliates to start using it, there was a problem. The new platform wasn’t ready for Prime Time either, much less a sparkly holiday shopping season.
So for some time now, Rakuten has continued to recommend Curate. Several affiliates have struggled to make it work, and relayed their feedback to no avail. The frustration mounted until a Facebook group was formed by affiliates to share ShopBuilder and Curate problems as the rush to Q4 began. The posts in the Facebook group indicate a total lack of support for ShopBuilder problems and a blind spot about problems with Curate. The tension builds.
Rakuten Announces End Date for ShopBuilder
About a week ago, PopShop users received notice that ShopBuilder was going to be shut down at the end of Q1. The replacement named was Curate, and a webinar was scheduled to show affiliates how to build Holiday showcases. Now there’s a bigger problem. It’s obvious that ShopBuilder support is no more and page issues that are about to ruin Christmas will not be fixed.
Curate is still in beta.
Affiliates Rally To Share Info and Questions for Rakuten
In the Facebook group, affiliates started sharing questions they wanted to ask during the webinar so that everyone could try and salvage their Holiday pages. The long-term goal of course was to figure out how to change hundreds, if not thousands, of pages over before the end of Q1 when the replacement tool wasn’t ready yet.
Other tool options were suggested. ShareASale Make-a-page, GoldenCan, Datafeedr, and others were mentioned so the group could discuss pros and cons.
The scheduled date for the Webinar came. And went. After a half dozen reminders in my email, I got one cancelling the session and another saying it was postponed. The reason? They wanted to demo setting up a shop and they couldn’t get it to work.
What’s The Solution?
Affiliates: will you switch your pages to a different tool? Have you found the right one yet? Will you change the page structure to something else entirely? Have you worked with datafeeds on your own without going through a 3rd party vendor like PopShops? All these questions have no business being needed in October! Everyone in the industry knows that Q4 is when you make your year if your site is consumer oriented. This is no time to have to rebuild pages, especially if you have to seek out and buy a new tool. Feel free to share your ideas or your needs in the comments; maybe we can figure this out together.
All the affiliates using popshops do not want curate
We want shopbuilder. Simple as that!
I’m starting to wonder if they just decided that buying Curate would be an easier fix than rebuilding ShopBuilder and didn’t really think through how it would affect all the pages already built.
It’s been MUCH worse than just display issues. We have not been able to work on Shopbuilder stores since spring 2016… unable to replace inactive products with new ones, displays and reporting of clicks and inactives has been wrong plus much more. The new tool, Curate, is lacking in so many features that Shopbuilder had. Products don’t even have titles and we have no way of knowing when products go inactive (they just disappear and you may be left with a blank page). Today Popshops was down 4 hours and 42 minutes right before the Webinar – how ironic. And our shops have been down a lot.
I didn’t realize it had been that long. From the merchant side, I remember seeing some complaints about feeds not being updated quickly and an explanation about ShopBuilder being on one platform and the API being on another, but it didn’t really stick. The feeds in question got updated and I got sidetracked and didn’t start seeing complaints until the Facebook group was created.
Thank you for hearing us and posting this excellent article! I am in the process of replacing my ShopBuilder shop sites into sites that run directly off the feeds.
I have been a full-time affiliate marketer since 1999, and have used PopShops’ ShopBuilder tool for about 10 years. I have numerous websites and blogs which, combined, use over 700 ShopBuilder shops. Curate is a cumbersome tool lacking many basic features, including product titles, an essential bit of imformation for shoppers and Google. They have not been able to fix that ONE problem in SEVEN months.
Furthermore, after months of saying they would fix it (but without a timeline for that) and saying the ShopBuilder product would continue, they announce they are in the “final stages” of depricating it. What??
The Curate tool, as you mention, is in Beta and in no way ready for use. PopsShops’ website, and the shops made through it, have gone down so many times lately I’ve lost count… not to mention the loss of income! How can I possibly have faith in such a company?
It is so sad that they took an excellent product and broke it in a way they cannot, or will not, fix. And that their replacement product, Curate, is such a pitiful “replacement.”
Deep down I feel like that’s the answer. I’ve always been afraid to dive into feeds for my own sites because it would be like starting over and not knowing the first thing about what to do. But I’ve read a few tutorials now and I am beginning to think that not relying on any third party tool is the answer. What I really want is a WP plugin that makes pulling in feeds and then displaying them easy to understand. I don’t mind the work. I hate the learning curve when I’m in a hurry.
What Beverly and Joyce said are both absolutely true. Whatever they need to do, whoever they need to hire, they need to go back and figure out how to get the ShopBuilder back on it’s feet or there’s no possible way I can stay with Popshops.
I was more than happy to give the new Curate tool a fair try. It’s not a matter of liking it, or not, it’s a matter of it not having the functions necessary to do what affiliates need it to do.
We are all between a rock and a hard place not of our creation. Having your business fail because of something like this is heartbreaking, but it’s what we are all facing at this time.
I was among the first users of PopShops oh so long ago. Part of the beta testing group that was grandfathered into the top package for a very low price forever. A few years ago I tried Datafeedr and was really pleased with everything but the price. GoldenCan has some nice features too, but because of the 4th click or merchant pay set-up, it doesn’t have the same quantity of merchants.
Now that I manage a merchant that performs best when displayed from feeds, it will make a difference in my life if I don’t get this figured out. 🙂
Judi, thank you. You captured the essence of the problem we’re facing, and relayed it so well.
Many of us have grown our businesses aggressively around ShopBuilder, from as far back as ShopBuilder BETA. We’ve had a decade of development and progress with ShopBuilder. To lose this as we barrel toward Black Friday and Q4 shopping is a body blow of lethal magnitude.
Thank you again for shining the affiliate management klieg light on our community’s plight.
Thanks, Casey. We both know that this is what can easily happen when you build your business with a platform or tool that you don’t control. I hate that this is happening, and the timing especially sucks. The biggest problem I see is that the displays built with ShopBuilder have so much more flexibility.
For this shopping season I think I would have my nose in the reports, trying to figure out the top 50 pages that pull traffic and then put the coffee on like we did a decade ago. I just don’t want to.
Is there not 1 tech person out there that can build a competitor to PopShops? You had SellFire which was the closest to it, I think run by a husband and wife team. They had issues and that was the end of that. But there is a market for something like this, hopefully built by somebody who also understands customer service.
You’re right. At minimum, build a wordpress plugin that handles datafeeds for multiple merchants. There was a tool years ago that took datafeeds after you downloaded them and made templates and pages for you. It was pretty cumbersome in that you had to work around the merchants inability to categorize a feed, but once you did that, it worked like a script that built the pages and then you uploaded them. Can’t remember the name of it, but SAS had a discounted price at one time if you attended the training webinar. I probably still have it buried on a flash drive full of files somewhere.
I’m with Joyce. I just ended my Popshops subscription today, as it was getting ready to renew. It is more trouble than it is worth. I can use widgets in Commission Junction, Native Ads in amazon, and I’m checking out tools with other affiliate services. But Popshops — don’t waste your money on it.
You’re right. I hate to see what used to be a very valuable tool go down the drain, but there doesn’t seem to be any real fix for the situation. For myself, I am depending more and more on ShareASale make-a-page tools and Golden Can. I can create a page that combines unique content with 3rd party tools. If the only auto-update possible is with a script, I double up on the content surrounding it on the page. Seems to work.
I have also been using SAS “Make a Page” but it has several major problems:
1- It seems that most merchants are not providing optimized images & therefore you need to download the image, resize it, optimize it, upload it to your site, and then change the Make a Page code to reflect the new image. Your SEO, page speed, will suffer if you don’t !
2- After building a page and generating the code, there is no way to save it
3- Adding custom text, is extremely clunky – I have found the only dependable way to add/edit custom text/image is to create it in a text editor & then copy & paste into make a make a page.
In light of the above, I am now changing over to Azon Store Creator — https://jvz1.com/c/17985/168601 NOTE: Will do most all
networks, NOt Just Amazon !
your last post was almost a month ago-
Any noteworthy PopShops news ?
Most of the current info about updates, bug fixes and continuing problems seems to be in this Facebook group. I’m a member of the group, but haven’t paid too much attention. For the most part, I have removed them from the pages I valued most. And re: your other comment, I agree about the bugs in merchant datafeeds that can make any 3rd party tool hard to use. Good luck!
OMG, I could go into complaining about this stupid Curate thing for days…
I’m one of the earliest users they collect information on before the beta being push out. They even scheduled a couple of phone calls with me for my opinions on Curate. For numerous times, I’ve told them the Curate tool they are so proud of will be a huge failure and they are destroying a great Shopbuilder tool. Of cause, all seems to fall on deaf ears.
I have tried Curate many many times, and like others have said, it is lacking so many vital features that make me believe the team who build Curate have no clue about affiliate marketing. I’m beyond mad after countless emails back and forth trying to explain to them many major flaws Curate has and beg them not to get rid of the Shopbuilder.
Now I’m stuck in the middle of rebuilding all the shops I’ve build in the past 10 years, in the meantime, seeking for substitution for Curate. I don’t know how long I will be stay with Popshops, the affiliate tool I’ve loved since day one. It really really stinks!
Thank you Judi for sharing your thoughts on this and give us a place to rant.
It pains me to say, but I think that’s all we have left of Popshops – the rants and the rebuilds. Sad.