Mercari Abandons Sellers With First 2018 App Update

Mercari Abandons Sellers With First 2018 App Update

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On December 12, 2017 during the Holiday Rush, Mercari USA released its buggy new app update sending sellers into panic and costing many sellers financial losses.  The latest update for iPhones is 5.11.1 and requires a device capable of running iOS 10. For Android users the latest update is 4.26.0 and requires Android OS 5.   Previous versions of the Mercari app maintained a level of backwards functionality, but according to Mercari support representative ThomPaul, Mercari will no longer support previous versions of the app for non iOS 10 and non Android OS 5 devices in the immediate future.

What we have here is a failure to communicate

Users of previous versions of the app, either have no access or receive a pop up message encouraging its sellers and buyers to update to the new version. Even touching the message will immediately redirect the user to Apple Store, Itunes or Google Play to download the new version. Despite the pop-up message, similar to the unexpected fourth-quarter release of its latest update, there is no indication to the majority of sellers using a previous version of the app that they are about to be terminated from selling on the marketplace. Lack of communication and transparency is perhaps one of Mercari's bigger weakness, in addition to its dependency of being locked in to the newest versions of expenses devices.

But exactly how long sellers and shoppers on Mercari will still have access to its marketplace is a giant mystery. Mercari is silent, as usual.

Being a seller on Mercari who uses a previous version of Mercari on a suddenly unsupported device, I began to ask questions immediately after its release with little success. Instead of getting the assistance of Mercari's former representatives who have assisted me for YouTube and this Blog in the past, I instead found brand new team members attempting to answer my questions but having the lack of knowledge and inability to comprehend the question being asked.

Sellers who do not update, will no longer be able to sell

I thought I proposed the most important question clearly enough when I asked, "Will Mercari users who are unable to update to the December 12, 2017 release of the app, still be able to sell and shop on Mercari."  In response I one of these new team members replied with a question, asking me "Did you want assistance with closing your account?"

So I decided to investigate the matter through other means.  A comment posted to the Mercari For Sellers Group on Facebook included a response from Mercari's ThomPaul confirming my suspicion that I had began hearing rumors of, that indeed, Mercari's 2018 Launch will cut off users who are unable to update to the new version.

Mercari's Leadership Needs To Learn From Storenvy's Downfall

Having researched Marketplaces since 2010, I have lived to see other marketplaces live and die by making the foolish decision to roll out new features that created chaos during fourth quarter, most notably was Storenvy who implemented a 10% fee on sales and a 10% fee on Shipping after being free to use, along with a horribly broken implementation of Stripe and removing PayPal. By removing PayPal, a large majority of Storenvy sellers who operated outside of the USA were restricted from selling due to the limited locations Stripe's payment services were available.

That occured in 2014 and though Storenvy has tried every since to recover from its losses and maintain the stability of its marketplace, it dropped from being a marketplace of over 160,000 sellers to the current average of 40,000 to 50,000.  This followed its then CEO being displaced, the company being purchased by an acquisition company that in turn implemented additional fees on the shoppers just for the privilege of shopping on its marketplace, and many other unresolved issues that continue to cause Storenvy to hemorrhage both sellers and buyers.

 But you want to know what Storenvy did right initially, despite going against it?  They reached out to their most knowledgeable sellers who assisted in their Storenvy Support Group on Facebook.  Those sellers gave Storenvy's CEO and team some excellent advice, such as delay the new implementations and fees until after fourth quarter, do not get rid of PayPal, reduce the commission you are asking so your pricing is not in direct competition to eBay (because your marketplace is not anything near eBay), and instead begin with a 7% commission fee and as the marketplace grows and becomes more stable, then increase to your proposed 10% commission fee, also do not place an additional 10% fee as eBay does for shipping.

Storenvy started right by asking its community of sellers, but then its CEO went and ignored all the recommendations. It was on target by communicating and being transparent, but it went ahead and launched a buggy update and new policies similar to what Mercari has done in 2017 Fourth Quarter, and it immediately experienced a ripple effect that is still rippling four years later.

Storenvy, despite its many failures, still has a STAR higher rating on Site Jabber than Mercari Marketplace. That should be a big warning sign for any marketplace.  Site Jabber was the first review sight where Storenvy had it wakeup call.  Then CEO John Crawford had posted to his faithful supporters and sellers on their Facebook Group, asking many of us to visit Site Jabber to help defend Storenvy's reputation, but the damage had already been done.

Mercari is still recovering from past reputation damages

Because Mercari had already done much damage to its reputation in the past, it's difficult to as a Marketplace Reviewer to immediately estimate the potential damage its latest decisions will have on its future.  Obviously, anyone who has followed the SellerThink on YouTube for any length of time, realizes that I was one of its biggest fans during 2017, discussing it at length, yet, here it is the beginning of 2018 and I find myself trying to write the most objective and least biased review I can, while facing the immediate inability to sell, and for that case unable to conduct future reviews because of a decision to not maintain backwards compatibility. I still have full access to eBay, Amazon and even's apps.

2018 begins with a buggy start

One of the problems this new update is causing products listed with the buyer paying for shipping, to switch and default to "Free Shipping".  Many sellers did not realize and many still do not realize that this occurred. .

Another seller shipping tragedy emerged when sellers attempted to list new product for sale and discovered that the Mercari app was now forcing set shipping prices based on automated product title algorithms. A person listing a 12 ounce canvas shopping tote being being locked into a $7 USD Priority Shipping Label based on an estimated shipping weight of a 3 pound heavy leather purse for example.

Though Mercari's most recent app update and its immediate predecessor have dramatically changed the functionality of the app and implemented numerous new features (some still very much in Beta as far as a controlled release), the lack of transpearency, communication and timing are all very novice for a marketplace that is currently hedging its way towards eBay and Amazon.

Mercari plans to release a full pledge website in 2018

In 2017 Mercari released a limited access website version of itself that allows shoppers to purchase, conduct minimal communication via messages and browse products for sale.  According to a correspondence with Mercari's most knowledgeable social media customer service representatives, Mercari eventually intends to open its website for selling accessibility also.  That, if executed in a more professional and smoother process, has the potential of redeeming itself in the eyes of those sellers and shoppers who will shortly be cut off from the marketplace.  An estimation of when the web version of Mercari was not available at the time of this article. A web version of Mercari would also place it into direct threat against eBay and Amazon.   Many eBay sellers have already began selling on Mercari, as many have been dreaming of a competitive marketplace alternative to sell on.  Its' arrived.

In the meantime, what should happen to all those Mercari sellers who are not going to run out and spend $500 to $1000 on a new Iphone, or who do not want to replace a perfectly well functioning Android device?  Some will turn or return to eBay, others will return to Poshmark, some will stop selling altogether.  Only time will tell.  The lesson here for Mercari regardless is to start communicating in advance with buyers and more importantly sellers. Release your updates in a controlled beta test with a volunteer community of active sellers and work out all the kinks in advance.  Make sure you update your help section prior to any new release.  E-mail communications about upcoming changes a month or two prior to making them, you already have everyone's e-mail addresses, and please don't be vague. A one sentence vague message about something that will potentially affect numerous sellers and buyers is simply careless and novice in this day and age.

Mercari is an infant company living in big boy shoes, it will learn.

As for this Mercari seller, I'll simply reintegrate my products temporarily back to sell on eBay, despite the success I have experienced selling products on Mercari, i'll keep tabs on the status of the website release that eventually opens up Mercari to a whole new world of sellers, and maybe at some point I'll spend the money to update to a device compatible with the new version of Mercari. As a small business, every purchase has to fit into profit margin and cost expectations, including device upgrades. Mercari hasn't shown me enough profit so far to cause me to run out and plop down $500 or more dollars that i'll have to recover out of my projected profits through the year.

What will you do? Has Mercari updated you off their marketplace?   Have you lost any money updating to the new app and unknowingly getting a sale on an item you intended to have the customer pay for shipping on, but instead found Mercari had flipped it to Free Shipping?
What do you like best about Mercari's 2018 app features and what do you not like?
Let me know in the comments below.

About Randy Dreammaker:

Randy has been selling online since 2006 and began making money online in 1998.  He was a top rated product reviewer for 14 years for, has been teaching others how to sell online via his YouTube channel since 2010 and is known throughout multiple communities by sellers, buyers and several marketplace CEO's and founders.  For more specific details, visit his Bio on Angel List