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Learn: Everything you Need to Know About Becoming a Fulfillment Vendor

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 Fulfillment Vendor Relationship Agreement: 

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Introduction

Art Storefronts sells websites directly to artists, photographers, and art galleries that occasionally have fulfillment needs.   

NOTE: This is not to be confused with our old “child website” program where our print studios were responsible for selling websites to customers.  This program was discontinued in 2015 due to its lack of success.

Before you consider becoming an Art Storefronts Fulfillment Vendor, you need to shift your thinking a little bit.  The main mindset shift is about thinking of Art Storefronts as your potential customer, and not the other way around.  This is the way our Fulfillment Vendors view the relationship, and we wanted to pass this information along to you in advance.

As a customer of yours, our Fulfillment Vendors make the effort to visit us in person at their own expense; they have made presentations to our team; they have brought on products and options we require; they have hired and provided dedicated employees to service our customers; they have adjusted their own return policies to be more generous to Art Storefronts customers; they refer artists and photographers to us on a regular basis, and they do much more that we won't take the time to list here.  

If you’re a great print studio, and you provide the most advantageous and competitive offerings and range of services to ASF customer, then ASF users will likely choose you, and as such, the likelihood of the customers' success will be dramatically higher.  If their success potential is maximized, ours is too, and so is yours.  These are the ingredients of what creates a great fulfillment program. We've learned this the hard way.

In addition, we've found that this approach does a good job minimizing complaints about print studios who partner with us. When we get complaints about a print studio we partner with, this can lead to 1) a request from a customer to move to another Fulfillment Vendor (which can be a lot of work for the artist) and 2) refund/cancelation requests specifically due to bad service one of our customers received with a Fulfillment Vendor.  Unfortunately, all of these scenarios have happened in the past, and occasionally still do. They were an epidemic in our old child website program, which is the main reason the program no longer exists. A program where nobody wins is a program that doesn't deserve to exist.

Back to the concept of ASF being your customer.  Overall, a huge benefit of being a Fulfillment Vendor means that we could have the potential to facilitate more printing business, on a monthly basis, than you will pay us for an entire year of our service - a huge value to you. Therefore, as we're sure everyone can understand, as your "customer" now, we will have high standards and expectations for how our valued customers are handled before we will be willing connect them to any one Fulfillment Vendor.

As a point of clarity, it should be noted that there is no connection between our print studio licenses and our Fulfillment Vendor Program.  Your print studio license is specifically for the software you are using to grow your print studio business, with your own customers - customers who were not connected to you by ASF.   

The Fulfillment Vendor Program is not a “feature” that anyone can add to their plan.  It is an entire program, that requires a ton of work to setup (for everyone involved), including legal paperwork, and regular ongoing communication and support between our companies.  The program has high standards that must be met.

As such, in order to protect our customers, our brand, and the quality of the program, if you don’t meet those standards, we will be unable to include you in the program. This is not just for new participants, but is something all existing partners must also follow. If an existing vendor does not follow our standards, sadly, we will be forced to terminate the vendor's connection to the program. 

Again, all of this is in the interest of having the best program we can create - one that prides itself on business relationships as well as quality delivered. 

Criteria to Become a “BETA Fulfillment Vendor”

All Art Storefronts print studios are eligible to become BETA Fulfillment Vendors, just as long as the meet the criteria specified below.  This program is currently only available to Art Storefronts print studios. If you are not an Art Storefronts print studio, you cannot join this program.

BETA Fulfillment Vendors are printing companies who do not quite meet some of the criteria to be an Approved Fulfillment Vendor, but are working towards it, and still want to be a Fulfillment Vendor.  

Here is the criteria:

  1. Referred at least one customer who signed up with Art Storefronts, who requested to be connected with your print studio (this will initiate the process).
  2. Cover all of the Setup and Ongoing Costs, outlined below.
  3. Great working relationship and history of communication with the Art Storefronts team - this is a big one. We want to make sure we can count on you, and of course, we want you to feel you can count on us. 

The BETA designation is specifically placed to be transparent to ASF Customers who may choose you as their fulfillment vendor.  ASF will list the criteria that you have not met in your listing on the fulfillment vendor page.  We are also happy to include information from you that allows you to explain why you are awesome, and also give you a chance to specify why you don't yet meet the criteria. This will allow our customers to get the full picture, and make the best decision about who they want to partner with. After all, it's 100% our customers' choice as to who they work with.

Art Storefronts is not responsible for unacceptable products, services, and/or standards that any print studios may have that may upset or create conflict with one of our customers. This, in part, is why we welcome you to share as much information as you can with us, so that we can share it with our customers. The more information you share, the better you position yourself to potentially be selected by a customer. 

Criteria to Become an “Approved Fulfillment Vendor”

Approved Fulfillment Vendors are those who provide the range of products and services, have an established success at using the ASF software to sell art and prints online. They must also meet other criteria we have in place to best serve ASF Customers AND position ASF Customers for maximum success at selling online.

If you are not an Art Storefronts print studio, you cannot join this program.

The main criteria is as follows:

  1. Cover all of the Setup and Ongoing Costs, outlined in the Setup and Ongoing Costs section below.
  2. Your Print Studio must have generated $100,000 in online sales on the Art Storefronts platform, at a minimum, within a given 12 month period.
  3. You must produce, and not outsource, the following types of products in-house and be able to offer them on your website for sale by our customers:
    1. Canvas gallery wraps
    2. Photo paper prints
    3. Smooth and Textured Fine Art Paper prints
    4. Metal Prints
  4. You must offer frames for sale, and:
    1. Provide no less than 4 frame options for canvas prints (floater frames)
    2. Provide no less than 10 frame options for paper prints
  5. You must offer the following style finishes:
    1. 1.5” gallery wraps
    2. .75” standard wraps
    3. “Just the print” option
    4. Framed
    1. “Just the print” option
    2. Framed
    1. Canvas:
    2. Papers
    3. Metal
  6. Your prices, frames, and mediums must be listed in an easy-to-find location somewhere on your site.  The pricing on your website -- for every single combination of a printed product -- for your regular website customers must be NO HIGHER than what you charge ASF customers.  If anything, the pricing you charge ASF customers should be lower as they have a higher commitment level (their entire business' print fulfillment is connected to you) and they should have an incentive to continue doing this.  This is also designed to prevent complaints and support issues from ASF customers who will complain if that they are being charged more than just buying direct from a vendor.  
  7. You must ship internationally. There are no exceptions.
  8. You must have a Stripe merchant account, and agree to Stripe’s terms and conditions, as well as fees.  Stripe is a technology requirement for us to facilitate this program.  NOTE: You do NOT need to use Stripe for your main print studio website; it is only needed to process transactions run through this fulfillment program.
  9. The business must have a physical place of business that is not a residence.
  10. The business must take direct phone calls, and have dedicated customer service employees on staff to answer phones and emails from ASF Customers.

Setup Costs, Ongoing Costs, and Long-Term Commitment Requirements

  1. There is a one-time setup fee of $5000.  It takes no less than 40 hours of work on our end that goes it to make sure you are set up and ready to be a Fulfillment Vendor.  This requires employees on all levels, including our Senior Support staff and Developers.  This is not a click of a button on your current print studio site -- you will need a completely new setup that you don’t already have, so keep this in mind.  It will take you probably 40 hours of setup as well, many phone conversations and email exchanges between our team and your team. Additionally, any major changes made to your site (ie: media types, style finishes, pricing, shipping and return policies, etc.) will need to be pre-approved by Art Storefronts. This is because every single change can cause major issues with our customers, and we cannot allow it to happen. Do not underestimate setup time and work involved on either your end or are end. It typically takes up to 90 days to get fully setup due to all the time and work involved.  You will need to devote time and resources to work with our team to get this setup.
  2. There is a monthly recurring service and support fee of $499 for Approved Fulfillment Vendors, and $199 for BETA Fulfillment Vendors.  This fee is to cover the costs of delivering and maintaining the software, and a Support Team, that makes this entire program possible.  This fee is applicable so long as you have one ASF Customer connected to you.  If you don’t have any ASF customers connected to you, you will not be charged this fee.  Keep in mind, there is no guarantee that any artist will choose you.  In the beginning, it's very possible that your customers will mainly be those who you refer.
  3. We require that you commit to this program for at least 2 years and your license must be paid for 2 years upfront. There will be a signed contract between both parties that will be facilitated through our Legal Team.  The purpose of this is to prevent ASF customers from working with riskier, or financially unstable companies that may not be committed to servicing Art Storefronts customers long-term.  It is extremely costly for both us, and the artists, to have to switch a customer to a different print studio. As we previously mentioned, it's also extremely frustrating for the artist and it negatively impacts our brand. Therefore, we will do everything we can to minimize these occurrences.  Requiring a long-term commitment from our print studios is how we are doing this.
  4. You must be on (or move to) our latest print studio plan, and cannot be on a grandfathered plan.
  5. None of the costs outlined above are refundable if you decide you no longer want to be a part of the program.

What We Do After You Complete the Sign-Up Process

  1. We quarterback the entire setup with your team to make sure you are set up according to our best practices and in the way that best serves the ASF Customer.
  2. We list your company as one of our Fulfillment Vendors, on our public page, so that our customers can see you as an option.  We will provide a link to your website, display your contact information, along with every piece of pertinent information about the products and services you provide.  We will also provide any dedicated phone numbers and/or email addresses that you are providing to ASF customers, along with any special benefits or treatment that ASF customers will receive from you.

Ongoing Service Requirements

We want to provide our customers with the best Fulfillment Vendors. As such, we also expect that our customers will get great ongoing service with whomever they choose to work with on the program. Because of this, if the following service requirements are not met, it constitutes grounds for suspension from the program, immediately.  Two or more occurrences may result in immediate termination from the program. 

  1. 1 Business Day SLA to respond to ASF customers - if you can't respond quickly to our customers, it will reflect poorly on our brand, and the customer will complain to us about our service as well as you.  We will not allow this to happen.
  2. 1 Business Day SLA to respond to ASF staff - As we mentioned earlier, it's not uncommon for us to get complaints about a Fulfillment Vendor from an artist.   It may involve service issues, but it also may involve product issues or offering issues. This requires us to contact our vendors to get the issues resolved.  Dealing with all of this is only one a part of the reason we must charge monthly fees.  In order to provide great service to our customers and deliver on our own 1 business day SLA, we require that you respond to our inquiries within this time frame.
  3.  Samples: We need you to provide, at no charge, free samples of finished prints at our request for the specific purpose of us taking pictures and producing videos that showcase the media types.
  4.  Promoting your Brand: If we choose to do so, we need you to give us access, at a time convenient for both parties, where we can send in a video/photography production crew to showcase your facilities.
  5. A clear Return Policy - You must be willing to replace damaged or defective print orders and this policy must be clearly stated somewhere accessible on your website. 
  6. Customer Experience: Fewer than 3% of the ASF customers connected to you file complaints with us, per year.  For example, if you have 100 ASF artists connected to you, we should not receive complaints from more than 3 of them in a given year.
  7. Fewer than 3% of the ASF customers request to switch to another ASF print studio, as a result of poor service or treatment of the customer by a Fulfillment Vendor.  As already mentioned, this is extremely costly for us and has a negative impact on our brand.  We cannot allow it to happen.
  8. No ASF customer should request a refund from Art Storefronts for its website license, specifically naming the print studio as the reason they no longer want to work with us.  This is a very serious matter, and we have a zero tolerance policy on it.  If ASF is losing customers because of a Fulfillment Vendor, we will immediately terminate that vendor's participation in this program.
  9. Discounts: Discounts are a great way to earn more business. 
  10. Order Statuses and Shipping Statuses must be used when fulfilling orders. 
  11. Communication With Us and our customers must be consistent. You must communicate the following: changes or delays in turnaround times, changes in shipping prices or methods and changes in prices or offerings. 
  12. You must have an FAQ page. The FAQ page should include your average turn around times from the date of order placement to the date of shipping the product. You must include information on your shipping, such as the method used, as well as the carrier and whether or not you ship internationally. You must also include your return/refund policy.  
  13. You must manage your brand. Brand management is incredibly important for any business, but it's even more important when connecting to external customers sourced by Art Storefronts. We require that you maintain a positive brand presence and, should a negative review (or the like) arise, that you promptly address it in a positive and professional manner. 

Beyond this, there are other required terms and required commitments that go along with this program that you will sign in our Terms and Conditions for Fulfillment Vendors, which is a legal document that we will send separately. 

It’s All About the Relationship

At Art Storefronts, we're all about relationships. We strive every day to provide a top-notch experience throughout the entire lifecycle of every customer, as well as our partners. 

Have you heard of the "Fundamental Attribution Error"? It says that when we, as humans, make mistakes, we believe the mistake was honest and unintentional, and that we deserve to be forgiven.  However, when others make mistakes, we tend to believe they were intentional and malicious.  Sound familiar?

If you're running a business, you’ve probably experienced this as much as we have.  There’s just nothing worse than working with a customer who treats you and your employees like a doormat, or one that disparages you to others and thinks you have malicious intent, especially when you really care and are trying to do the best job you can as your company is growing.  It can really bring down the morale of an entire office.

Let's face it: No company is perfect.  We're certainly not perfect.  None of our current Fulfillment Vendors are either. So we're going to go out on a limb, and bet that you're not either, and that's ok!  We're willing to bet you're trying your best to run a great company, which is something we all have in common.  So let's work to improve our businesses - together!

Because the Fulfillment Vendor Program is an intimate, ongoing relationship between our companies, we cannot (and will not) subject our employees to people or companies that have conducted themselves unprofessionally and/or disrespectfully with us and our team members.  And, we absolutely wont entrust these companies with our valued customers, who are expecting a professional and respectful experience as well.

To us, it’s all about the relationship.  Therefore, if you want to be a Fulfillment Vendor, the best thing you can do is be awesome and seek to have a good working relationship with us.  These are our customers. If you want us to entrust them to you, we need to feel really good about it too.

How to Make Your Pitch

If you want to become a fulfillment vendor and are ready to pay the costs outlined above, you can e-mail fulfillmentpitch@artstorefronts.com and make your pitch to us.  In this email, we recommend outlining whether you would like to be an “Approved” or a “BETA” fulfillment vendor.  

Here are some topics you may want to discuss in your email:

  1. How are you going to improve the ASF Customer service and make it better than it already is?
  2. Are you going to provide us with a dedicated phone and email lines for our customers?
  3. Do you have dedicated customer service staff ready to handle these new customers?
  4. Will you provide a generous return policy?
  5. Are you going to refer customers to us?
  6. Will you send out regular e-mail blasts to your customers about Art Storefronts?
  7. Will you post information, reviews and more about us on your website?
  8. Do you have a presence at industry trade shows and will you promote us within your booth at these shows?

Once you submit this information, one of our representatives will add this information to your file.  As soon as we are ready to include you in the program, we will reach back out to you to receive payment and start the process.    

Keep in mind, the setup process can take up to 90 days to complete.

Questions?

If you have any questions, or if this article did not contain all the information you are looking for, please e-mail cs@artstorefronts.com.

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