Fiverr's New "Request to Order" Feature: Test Results!
In late summer, Fiverr introduced a new BETA feature to its Seller Plus subscribers, called, "Request to Order." I ran a one-month test of the feature, and I'm here with the results and my conclusions.
Fiverr Seller Plus subscribers have been given first shot at a new feature called, "Request to Order," which has a lot to recommend it. When it's turned on for a gig, anyone wanting to place an order will see a green "Request to Order" button rather than the traditional "Continue" button. They aren't allowed to immediately place an order, but first have to contact the seller, explain their project, and receive a quote. There are some clear benefits to this, for the seller.
It avoids a lot of potential conflict with the buyer. They can't just rush through the placement of an order without having really read or understood what you offer or how you charge for it. They can't ignore important extras, setting up a showdown over whether they should have to pay for the extra stuff (and before you argue that you bake extras into your price and are thus spared this problem, let's acknowledge that EVERYBO
DY offers extras that aren't included in the basic price, so we're all susceptible to the problem to a certain degree). Situations like that can create bad feelings on both sides, and ultimately result in one side or the other having to grudgingly give in. And, sometimes, it results in a disgruntled buyer asking to cancel, followed by seller attempts to avoid the damaging cancellation (which affects our order completion rate), maybe messages to Customer Service to try and get the order cancelled without it affecting our statistics, and so on. It's something anyone who's been on Fiverr for any length of time has encountered, and it can be all but eliminated by simply requiring the buyer to communicate with us first. So from that standpoint, it has real merit.
Custom offers earn more. This can be proven by looking a the Analytics page of your Fiverr account, where "Average Selling Price" is expressed with two figures: "Gigs," meaning orders placed directly through your gig, and "Custom Offers," where we as sellers lay out what the buyer will have to pay. The average difference is SIGNIFICANT, in some cases 30% or more higher for custom offers.
The "Request to Order" feature gives us some nice options:
We can choose which gigs we do or don't turn on the feature for. So it's not an all-or-nothing proposition.
We can opt to apply it to all buyers, or only to first-time buyers. I love that, because the odds are, once we've worked with a buyer initially, they know what to expect, and they can be trusted to place their own orders with less of a chance of trouble.
We can turn it on only for certain days of the week.
For each day we turn it on, we can choose which hours of the day it's active.
So that's a lot of nice flexibility, isn't it? It strikes me that Fiverr has put a lot of thought into the feature, and incorporated it nicely into our gig settings, under a new "Advanced Settings" tab. I'm impressed with how they've handled it. In fact, I was impressed enough that I decided to do a full-on test of it with my own account.
Fiverr benefits too, in at least one way: If there are fewer clashes over extras and the like in orders, Customer Service won't have to be asked to intervene and cancel orders for sellers without it affecting their order completion statistics.
Let me start this out by saying I don't necessarily suggest you do as extreme a test of any new feature as I did. I happen to do well enough on Fiverr that, if a test causes my earnings to fall off for a month, it's not too serious of a problem. But you don't generally want to test an experimental new parachute from 10,000 feet like I did in this case.
Here's how I set things up:
- I started out my test by going to every one of my twelve voiceover gigs and activating the feature. I chose to apply it to new customers only. I didn't turn it on for everybody. I'm confident enough in my repeat customers not to worry much that they're going to mess up on the extras they request...or if they do, I have the precedent of their previous orders that I can point out to them, so I have good leverage to get them to go ahead and accept the extras this time, like they did last time.
- I didn't apply it to my voiceover coaching gig. That one has never had the "missed the extras" problem, because people pretty much always order after contacting me first, and there isn't much to mess up in that gig.
- I set the voiceover gigs so the "Request to Offer" feature was in force seven days a week.
- I set it to apply to 23 hours a day, which is the most the current dropdown options allow. It's not possible to tell it to apply from 12 AM to 12 AM, for example. So I made it apply from 12 AM to 11 PM.
In short, I created an aggressive test that would demonstrate, as well as possible, what the full effect of the feature would be if it was used consistently across all applicable gigs.
What I Experienced
Shortly before I turned the new "Request to Order" feature on, I had one particularly unpleasant exchange with an unreasonable buyer that wound up requiring me to get with Customer Service to resolve it, so it was with a big sigh of relief that I turned on the new feature. I was ready for the peace this feature was going to give me.
Peace is what I got, too. The orders that came in were all really pleasant, friendly experiences. As I expected, my average selling price was also higher than it would have been without the new feature. I felt more relaxed and at ease, knowing I had more control of the situation, and any differences of opinion about price were handled in negotiation before the order, rather than afterwards, when it's harder to get them to agree to what you need to charge. Peace is wonderful.
Too much peace, though, isn't always a good thing. As my month-long test went on, I could see that my sales figures were off. I wasn't getting as many orders. I wasn't making as much money.
Why? I think it's obvious. "Request to Order" is a barrier to ordering. It sets up extra hoops the buyer has to jump through. Nobody likes complication, especially if the complication wasn't their own idea. If they prefer to contact us first, all is well. But if they don't, that green "Request to Order" button probably looks more to them like a red stop sign. Because of that simple fact, in my opinion, there is no way this feature can do otherwise than to reduce sales numbers. In my own case, over the course of a month, from the middle of September to the middle of October, I think I was probably off by at least 25%, maybe more.
As you can tell from the way I set this subject up, I'm not at all against the idea of this new feature. While using it wholesale like I did in my test is potentially pretty damaging to sales, I can still see how it could be extremely useful, depending on the seller's situation and how it's used.
It can be turned on in only some gigs. I tend to have one gig in particular where I encounter more conflict with buyers than the others, because it's easier for them to misunderstand about the extras I require. While I've done what I can to make everything as plain as possible, I still have to deal with people more than I care to on issues of extras. So I've left the feature on in that gig, and feel a lot more comfortable knowing it's in place.
It can be turned on only at certain times of the day and days of the week. That gives people the flexibility to only require it during times when they're awake and available to respond fast when there are inquiries. Otherwise, buyers may give up and choose someone else, if "Request to Order" inquiries sit unanswered for the eight hours we're snoozing.
It can be turned on and off at-will, so if you need some temporary rest and relaxation, you can use it to take the pressure off for awhile.
It can also be a lifestyle consideration. What if you're at a stage in your life where what you're doing on Fiverr is as much for fun, or to earn some pocket change to supplement your retirement income. You may be more than willing to sacrifice a few sales each month to just keep life easier and more peaceful. All the more power to ya, if that's the case. This feature will help.
The test period has been a rest period for me. It gave me time away from the battlefield to rest my jangled nerves a little and gain a new perspective. My perspective? For now, I'd rather suffer the slings and arrows a little from time to time if need be, in order to receive as many orders as I can. There are plenty of other things that inhibit our ability to get orders without our adding barriers of our own!
Am I abandoning the feature completely? Nope! I ready and willing to use it on the more troublesome gigs, to spare myself a little grief. But as for wholesale use, I feel it's too damaging to sales, at least based on my own circumstantial test, to apply to all my offerings on Fiverr.
For those of you who do voiceovers, or who are interested in entering that fun profession, I can help there too. Check out my voiceover coaching services.