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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Recommendation for Box  Software

Up to now, we haven’t bothered with pseudo box images for our software, but we’re leaning in that direction now, simply because it makes displaying a catalogue of products a little more uniform. And our catalogue is getting bigger.

Can anyone recommend some good software to produce boxes, or is this something that should be farmed out to a professional?

And while on the subject, do images of fake boxes actually lead to any sort of sales increase? Has anyone tested this?
Marlee Ammon Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013
You might find this useful:

I suggest getting someone like http://www.3d-box-shot.com to do it for you.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013
We have a photo of the actual box we ship in for people buying the full version with the DVDs.

I consider it unethical to show a box if there is no box.

Whether it increases sales to show a box that doesn't exist isn't the issue, unless you consider ethics irrelevant in the pursuit of profit.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013

I do consider ethics to relevant to our pursuit of profit. However, I don't consider *your* ethics to be relevant to how we run our business or pursue profit. Thanks for weighing in.
Marlee Ammon Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Not surprising, yours is a typical smart ass answer serving to justify whatever dishonesty you wish to foist upon your victims, er customers.

If you don't sell a product in a box, you have no business representing it as such. It's a misrepresentation, and it's fraud. That you are considering this at all shows that your company is devoid of ethics.

Enjoy your profit.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013

>Almost every time the subject of box shots is raised in any sort of software marketing forum, opinion seems to split diametrically in two opposing camps. The first group don’t see any ethical problem with displaying a box shot for a “download only” product. The typical argument used in favour of box shots is that it makes a product appear more tangible to consumers. They can see what you’re selling without having to read about it. It removes any doubt that the site they are looking at has software to sell and, when used effectively, can add an air of professionalism to a site. Finally, there’s a widely held belief that because of this, displaying a box shot can improve conversion rates.

>In contrast, the opposing group believe that displaying a box shot for a “download only” product is ethically wrong and fundamentally dishonest.

Fantastic blog post -- and so obviously true, as evidenced by... well, you know.

However, I didn't come here today to discuss religion, or the morality of using cheap Martian labor. Thanks for the interesting blog post.
Marlee Ammon Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Marlee, do you offer full refunds for customers who you misled into thinking they were getting a physical product? Or are you planning on relying on chargebacks for this function?
Scott Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Just to follow this thread - do you think it is unethical to display a basket when the customer is buying things - because there is no real basket?
exim Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013

Don't feed the troll. Go to Amazon, search for an mp3 download -- all you see are CD covers. The guy's off his meds, and not worth engaging with.
Marlee Ammon Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013
exim, customers aren't purchasing a basket. The issue is whether what is being sold is being represented truthfully, or deceitfully.

Of course you can make more money in the short term misrepresenting what is being sold to people, that's the art of the con man. It's a deceptive business practice though.

Rants about "off your meds" and "space aliens" merely show that the OP is desperate not to address the dishonesty of the practice he or she is about to embark upon. Profit at any cost, and shout down those who call for ethics. That's the way a lot of businesses are run these days. "Me me me me me!" the narcissistic business shouts. All that matters is their profit, and those that stand in the way of that are painted as bad people using whatever sort of namecalling campaigns they want. It's all about the entitlement mentality and you see it here in spades.

There is another way though.

Provide the best product you can, with the best customer service you can. Trust the customer. And never lie to them.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013
I agree with Scott. I always considered it misleading. Especially as someone who buys software. I used to be annoyed that what is made to look like a tangible product is actually just a download. I could name a few.
Hey, why stop there? why not go full ahead and create a spread of 20 CDs, manuals, a person with a mic on her head (suggesting a live support) and throw in a mystery basket. It's not like nothing is ever promised other than a sad little download. :)
Koziolek Matolek Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Every spammy info-product seems to have a box shot as part of its marketing. That would indicate a certain pattern.
Profit and Loss Send private email
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Just show the box shot with a small disclaimer underneath like "For illustrative purposes only".  Problem about ethics solved.
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, August 30, 2013
I don't doubt that people transfer their impressions of images to their impressions of your products.  So, in this day and age of ultranotebooks, ARMed mobile devices, and subscription based software, why do you want to associate your 2013 products with technology from the early nineties?  Maybe it's time to bring back AOL envelopes with a floppy disk inside.

Frankly, we are inundated with false advertising every minute of every day.  Forget the ethics argument, why not try to stand out from the horde by telling your story without embellishment?  Unless someone can reliably determine that their income is largely dependent on 3-D box shots, why bother.  Mind you, I tried the linked software, and it's good, but I don't see the need for it.
Howard Ness Send private email
Friday, August 30, 2013
Teams of horses draw budweiser, santa loves coca cola, anchor butter comes from dancing cows, eggs are laid by hens free to roam, sticking cream on your face reverses the aging process, 1001 products will get you laid.
It's called advertising and is allowed.

That's fine, even though  hens are suffering in battery cages, people are dying of cirrhosis, coke is rotting little kiddies teeth and women are forking out fortunes on snake oil to look young again.

But what thou shalt not do is imply that a cardboard box is in existence with your software's name on it.

That crosses the line buddy.
Drummer Send private email
Friday, August 30, 2013
I agree that showing a box for software that you can only download is kind of useless.

Also, a lot of these "box shots" are of such poor quality that it'd put me off buying anything from the vendor.
Scorpio Send private email
Friday, August 30, 2013
I have a theory: Box shots have become a metaphor for ownership. When I see a CG software box I know I'm probably never going to get a box in the mail, but I also intuitively understand that this is software I can download, install and own. In that case the emotional response they elicit is accurate; I've never seen a box shot attached to SaaS.

For me the issue is whether a sound minded customer will be mislead. Personally I doubt they will be. That said I deal with savvy customers - results may vary.

Has anyone here seen or got evidence for a vendor showing a box shot and their customers complaining / asking for a refund because they felt mislead? It would be interesting to know of cases like that, say in the last 5 years, since download has become the default way to buy software.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Friday, August 30, 2013
Box shots DO increase conversions for consumer products, providing it's a good quality image.

Regarding "but there isn't one", if concerned just offer the boxed gift set at $99 extra or something - and be forever out of stock.

The main point, from a sales point of view, is that it's shorthand for "software on sale".

Right now I have a client with quite the opposite, he sells a set of 6 MP3s, and you can also order them as 6 CDs - but he has no images of CDs anywhere. I've had other clients with similar products who HAVE had people complaining that their "ebook" turned out to be  audio files!

There wasn't even a faux book cover, just an expectation that information downloaded MUST be an ebook, because...

Because that's what they expected.

Slightly off topic but many of you will have seen this:

"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteers be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

A book cover or CD case image is the same kind of thing, instantly recognizable, even if it's "wrong". Likewise when you put a Windows logo next to a download button, they know they're not downloading Windows; it's just shorthand for "Windows compatible".

In short it's just a communication tool, not some dastardly, unethical way of ripping off people who actually expected $5 worth of plastic and cardboard.

And yes, if you're selling multiple products from the same website then boxshots are a great way of differentiating them and giving the visitor confidence that they're ordering the right one.

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Friday, August 30, 2013
"...just a download..."

Seriously? The value is the functionality of the software, not the packaging. If anything, the packaging and physical CD provides a negative value (Delivery is slow, you can lose that thing and then what? With a permanent download, you can download the software again, nothing's lost).

A download is just as valuable as a CD if not more, considering it causes less problems to the customer.

As long as the order page says something like "Buy and Download" (possibly with an option "contact us for a physical copy"), I don't see how adding an illustration would be dishonest.

If enough people ask for a physical copy,  you can always make it an upsale option on the order form, there are plenty of companies happy to do the legwork for you anyway. However unless your software is a gift item, what's the added value of a CD?

As for a refund if the customer thought he was buying a box, don't most of us offer 30 days, no questions asked refunds anyway? If not, that's a far bigger issue than whether or not there is a cd picture on the description page.
Sylvain Galibert Send private email
Friday, August 30, 2013
Sylvain, if you think physical purchases are bullshit, that is fine. But if you are showing a physical product that doesn't exist, you are a liar and a thief. Why would you show a picture of physical product when you think physical product is a bad as you just said?
Scott Send private email
Saturday, September 14, 2013

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