Gumroad review: things they need to fix in 2019
For those who haven’t heart of it yet, Gumroad is basically a great platform that allows creators to sell their products / creations online in a super easy way.
It is as easy as:
- You create your product.
- You upload it.
- You can start selling it through a link they provide.
It admits payments through Paypal and credit card, which is great! It creates invoices for your clients, host the digital products, allows you to deal with refunds, provides basic stats, purchase confirmation emails etc.
My background using Gumroad
I’ve been using Gumroad for more than 2 years in order to sell some extensions for one of my open source libraries and I got more than 6,500 sells during this time period. Now, thanks to it, I was able to quit my job and dedicate full time to my own products, which is awesome!
In general I’m quite happy with the platform and the way it simplifies dealing with taxes, as your customers are buying the product from Gumroad and not directly from you, but… there are a few things which I think they need to really work on.
In this article I’ll only talk about what I personally think that needs to be improved. And please do not take it wrong! I’m not saying Gumroad is not a good platform or that I do not recommend using it, far from it. I believe the founder, Sahil Lavingia, is a great guy, and did a great job creating the Gumroad platform. All I want is to show there’s yet plenty of room for improvement in Gumroad. This is a constructive feedback from a Gumroad’s user like me, who would like to see it improving over time.
“Download All” button just doesn’t work
You would say this is a pretty basic feature for a service in which you trust to sell your digital products to the world right? Well, apparently it is not relevant enough for Gumroad… but hey! The button is there in case someone wants to find out it doesn’t work! :)
You’ll get a lovely empty .txt file instead of the product. Makes total sense uh?
I reported this error around 12months ago and the only answer I got was:
Sending it on to the engineers now, thanks!
That was it. And guess what happened? Absolutely nothing. Engineers must be very busy dealing with other important stuff. This doesn’t seem to be a priority for them. The bug stills there.
Meanwhile this is what I have to keep telling my customers:
This is Gumroad bug, apologies for that. Just download each individual file separately…
Gumroad emails won’t always get to the customer
I had a few customers complaining about the Gumroad mail notifications:
- They get them in the SPAM folder (quite common)
- They get them with hours of delay (a bit more rare)
- They just don’t get them (rarely, but happens)
To the point that some of them were not able to download the product they just purchased. Yeah, a bit weird for an online selling platform isn’t it?
I contacted Gumroad support and they basically said they can not do anything about it. The customer email server was blocking them. Information that wasn’t at any moment provided to me, the seller. Wouldn’t it be nice to at least know that our customer didn’t (and won’t at any point) receive any emails from Gumroad? (Such as workflows, invoices etc)
In any case, I’m pretty sure there are technical ways of dealing with these issues, such as using another service if the primary one gets blocked. I doubt companies like Amazon ignore these issues.
Lack of testing from Gumroad’s side?
I have a product for which I offer multiple versions of it. Basically, you have to choose which of the versions you want to purchase of if you want to purchase them all. The price is different for each case.
Whenever a user selected one of those versions to purchase they were getting all of the possible versions of the product for the price of one!
This is a major bug. Luckily for me, this didn’t bother me that much as I only had a very low price product using this kind of setting. But clearly shows a lack of rigorous testing from Gumroad. Something that makes us, sellers, lose confidence in Gumroad.
This bug no longer exists, but it was there for some time. It took them 4 days to reply my email, (in fact, I had send them a second email asking them about the progress) and it took them 8 whole days to fix it. Remember we are talking about a major bug.
What kind of image are we suppose to have of Gumroad after these kind of bugs?
Gumroad’s panel is extremely slow
You know what they say about visitors getting an idea of your website without even having to think about it? Whenever I think about Gumroad’s website the word “slow” comes automatically to my mind. I can’t help it.
Sometimes to the point of almost taking 20 endless seconds to load the customers admin panel. I even have time to write a whole email while it loads…
And it is not only the load of the page itself, but also things like searching for a customer by email address. Things that should be quite quick and that take quite a long time resulting in a lose of time for us when providing maintenance.
Oh, and if we are in the happy hour it won’t even load after 1 minute of wait, making it impossible to provide support to certain customers during that time period:
Gumroad workflows are unreliable
Gumroad provides a way to send automatic emails to customers after the purchase. Basically they describe it this way:
With the workflows feature, you can create automatically scheduled updates that your customers will receive at designated intervals after their purchase.
Guess what. They won’t always be received at the designated intervals as they claim.
I created a few of them when I started using Gumroad. I wanted to send emails 0 hours after the purchase. How big was my surprise when I noticed they got delayed 3, 4, 5 or even 12 hours resulting in tens of complains from my customers.
I finally had to convince myself that workflows were not reliable and therefore send those emails myself by making use of the PING feature.
Date pickers guys!
For some reason they forgot to provide a date picker in the filtering panel in our customer’s section as well as the email updates panel and the workflows panel. (And probably any other section using date inputs)
I’m pretty sure they know what a date picker is and they know how to implement it as they have one in the dashboard panel. But for some bizarre reason they though it wouldn’t be useful for us in other sections of panel.
This is a bit annoying, specially taking into account their date format is not consistent, as you’ll see in the next point. But come on guys, we even have to type the slashes to separate day/month/year! What is this! We are in 2018 not in 1997!
Inconsistent use of date formats
After filtering by something like the following using the format dd/mm/yyyy:
I get purchases containing dates in the following format m/d/yyyy:
Consistency is important, specially with dates, as the USA format is different from others and can potentially mislead us.
Inconsistent use of currencies
Internally Gumroad uses USD. I understand that, they are at the end of the day a company in the USA. No problem with that.
The problem comes when they allow us to use another currency and then things get crazy. When taking a look at the earnings in different parts of the platform it difficult to understand where the final number comes from.
Balance section — Uses a mixture of currencies. We are not given the option to see the total USD for some reason.
The dashboard uses USD
The mobile application uses a mixture. USD + GBP
Poor and basic support
In relation with the last point, support is usually not very helpful. I’ve reported a few issues and I get answers like the following:
I’m sorry, but I have no way of troubleshooting or fixing your dashboard to make it more atomically accurate. We do not have the engineering staff to fix these dashboard errors at the moment.
It is usually slow, taking days to respond, (if they even do) and with very poor responses.
And apparently this affects not only sellers like me, but also my own customers, who are getting the same luck. Check this email I got from one of them when I told them to ask Gumroad’s support about their invoice:
They should really consider having more people on support. It is quite obvious they are overloaded in this area, an area that is key to provide confidence in their customers (us sellers) and ours.
Lack of transparency
Emails that don’t get received by customers, workflows delayed by hours, Gumroad site getting down for hours… nothing is notified to us sellers, usually resulting in:
- A flood of customers emailing us about those issues. (And probably also a flood for Gumroad, as we sellers will ask them about it too)
- An increase of our maintenance work.
- A reduction of our income.
- A lack of trust of our customers in us as serious sellers.
We all remember that Amazon S3 was down for a few hours around the end of February 2017. Well, this affected Gumroad’s sending of automated emails (“workflows”) and they got delayed for hours or days. This was a feature I was relying on, and I got plenty of customers complaining about it.
First thing I did was to check their twitter accounts: @GumroadStatus @GumroadHelp and @gumroad.
None of them reported any malfunction in the system.
Later on I tried their blog. Nothing.
So my last resource was to ask them about it and complain about why we were not notified about it.
Later on they decided to use the @GumroadStatus account to announce their action on the issue. Few days after the issue took place…
The exact same thing happened when Gumroad went down for almost a whole day. Nobody told us anything, nothing in their Twitter, nothing in their website, not a single email from them telling us about the issue. Our official notification were the 0 sells we got that day.
Definitely not good!
Gumroad doesn’t detail in which countries it doesn’t operate
On the same line as the previous point regarding transparency, beware, your products won’t be able to be purchased from some countries.
You might be thinking “Sure they have those countries listed somewhere in their site like Stripe or Themeforest do right?” Unfortunately the answer is no. So you’ll never know in which countries you can or can not sell. Mysteries of Gumroad.
Gumroad doesn’t allow to be payed on a bank account in certain countries
This kinda shocked me. I’ve always been using a bank account in the UK to get payed by Gumroad. Recently I tried to move it to a Spanish one, country in which I’m now currently living and reporting taxes, and surprise surprise! Gumroad doesn’t allow it.
They do provide payments by Paypal, which is acceptable, but I am not allowed to change from one type of payment to another. The only solution they offer me is to open a another account for Spain and transfer all my products and customers to the new one. Not ideal!
Don’t make me buy my own product!
Let’s say I’ve created a digital product and I’m now selling it. Guess what, I have no way to inspect or download it and figure out what am I selling. The only thing I have is a list of items and their names.
What if I upload the wrong file with the right name? What if I want to double check it? Easy right? You would assume you can just download your uploaded files or even inspect it if is a text file like Google does right? Wrong!
The only way I can do it is by buying my own product as a test after logging in my seller session. Getting 2 o 3 confirmation emails, triggering the Gumroad Ping callback etc. Not ideal!
Unreliable and pretty basic stats
Gumroad provides very basic stats. I understand this is not the strong point of the platform, we clearly can not ask them to provide a service like Google Analyticis does, but we would expect stats to be somehow reliable right?
Well, they are clearly not! Some time ago I downloaded the CSV file with all the information they provide regarding sales, I could count a total of 252 sales from the USA.
Guess what I get when hovering USA in the map for the whole period? 206. Why? We’ll never know! Their support team doesn’t help with those questions.
I’ve check refunded sales, sales with duplicate emails… no matter which criteria I follow, none seem to match the stats in the map.
Also, assuming we had reliable information… why not make a better use of it?
I love the fact they provide some basic geographic information but seriously guys, the map is so tiny that moving my mouse to get information of a country in Europe is almost physically impossible. My mouse covers probably 5 countries…
I would expect a bigger map (or at least a link to display it bigger) and a table with the number of sells and the amount obtained from them with an option to sort them by different criteria. And why not, also ways to filter the income/sells by country.
Google Analytics integration is totally useless
At first I though using Google Analytics integration would put an end to the lack of useful stats from Gumroad’s side. What can I say… I guess I was asking for too much?
Gumroad’s integration with Analytics is as useful as using sunglasses in England in a rainy day!
Take a look at these events from Google Analytics generated by Gumroad:
You might think “Oh well, the Event Category is probably the name you use internally for your products, right?” Wrong! That is only what they mistakenly say in their barely reliable documentation.
The custom URL product name we sellers generate is not relevant at all for Gumroad. They think using their own internal ID is the one that should be reported in the Google stats. An ID we sellers don’t care about, that we never use and that we are not allowed to modify. “But… why Álvaro such a terrible thing”? Because according to Gumroad’s support:
It is using the internally defined link, as that does not change over time and will lead to less data discrepancy.
Of course, all we sellers care about is internal discrepancy in Gumroad. The stats are useless, but may all be for a greater good: prevent discrepancy between unique primary keys at Gumroad’s database!
Lacking stats for independent products
How well a product is doing over time? Should I invest more time on this product or this another one? Which product did my marketing campaign benefit the most? Those are some of the very basic questions any business should be asking, or at least, that I ask myself…
With Gumroad we won’t have an easy answer for any of those. You are completely in the dark. There’s no way right now to compare the earnings of different products within a period of time. At the moment you can filter by product on the dashboard, but that will only show the data for the selected product or products all together. No way to compare without filtering product by product and then creating your own table in something like Excel.
This would add a huge value to the platform in terms of providing useful information for product management.
Documentation might be out of date
It is not difficult to find outdated documentation all over their site. Images in it and instructions are barely of any help as the system nowadays doesn’t look as per the images or it is organised in a completely different way.
Additionally, sometimes the provided information is quite basic. An example of this are the docs for the PING feature. Where an example of the returned JSON would be expected. (or a way to test the calls for our products)
Customers have a hard time trying to purchase a product twice
I keep getting emails saying they can not purchase one of my products more than once or a different variant of the same product because they get a message saying
You already bought the product
Then it won’t let them purchase it again. I reported it to Gumroad, and I got the following response:
They need to do it in a different browser or in Incognito mode in their browser. They are being cookied by us, because we have to prevent people buying the same product twice due to chargeback risk.
So… since then I keep replying annoyed customers telling them to try an incognito window because it is a Gumroad design decision. Apparently having to do pretty weird stuff to purchase a product more than once is a good design.
I wonder why I haven’t seen this technique anywhere else in the web…
Gumroad doesn’t provide price localization
They only accept payment in USD, which is not ideal either, but worse than that is the fact that they don’t even provide cosmetic price localization, which is as simple as showing the price in the visitors currency, even though they’ll charge them in USD.
Why is this important? Because it is a key factor to obtain more sales in other countries. I’m right now selling in GBP (British Pounds) and I’m pretty sure some people from China, Mexico or Egypt have no idea what’s the value of a Pound. It is an easy to implement solution that can help to increase growth.
Additionally, it would be great to be able to offer different prices for different countries. The living cost of China, Egypt and Brasil is not the same as the one of the USA, Britain or Germany. Therefore, it makes sense to lower the price in certain countries to be fair and keep obtaining benefits from them.
There’s a well known technique for this called “The Big Mac index”, which uses the price of a Big Mac to set the price of products in different countries.
I had to manually implement discount codes to get this feature, but it is far from perfect, as whenever they click on the product they still seeing the original price, until they enter the discount code.
Ideally this would be a feature Gumroad could implemente in their side.
Mobile app doesn’t provide seller panel
When I’m travelling or without access to a computer I still have customers that need some kind of support.
Sometimes it might be something urgent that I want to solve as quick as possible for them. Unfortunately the Gumroad’s phone app (for the iOS at least) doesn’t provide a seller panel.
The iOS application is a pretty basic one, basically a read only app, that won’t allow us to perform any action at all. It only shows the sells per day / month and year. It doesn’t provide push notifications of any kind either, which I personally think would be nice to have.
Mobile website lacks mobile first approach
Whenever I feel forced to use the Gumroad’s website from my phone, due to the lack of an app with seller panel, I notice a few things:
- It doesn’t follow the mobile first approach, making working with it slow and tedious.
- Logging screen looks buggy. I always have troubles trying to log in from the portrait view, and whenever I try to click on “I’m not a bot”, I get redirected to Twitter login for some mysterious reason.
A few more things
I’m sure I only scratched the surface of all Gumroad’s issues. Other sellers like Nathan Johnson though I should also be naming a few more errors he detailed in his comment.
- Customers can not pay with existing PayPal funds. (When they go through PayPal they still have to pay through credit card).
- Their VAT tax implementation is broken. Customers see VAT tax added when they pay, but often they are not actually charged VAT (and when they export an invoice, VAT always shows as $0)
- There’s no way to ping or set up automations for customers who are refunded.
With that said, I really hope Gumroad keeps improving with the time. It is a platform I like a lot and that, like any software product, should always be under construction. Let’s remember that software is never completely finished. There’s always room for improvement.
I’m Alvaro Trigo, a Gumroad user who really desires to be 100% happy with Gumroad, and who hopes one day will be.