On March 5th, 2019, LemonStand customers awoke to some sad news. LemonStand had released a statement explaining that it would discontinue its service on June 5th, 2019.
But what does the LemonStand shutting down announcement means for you?
In this Lemonstand article, we'll talk about the service, explain why it's been terminated and recommend some alternative options you can use.
What Was LemonStand?
Founded in 2010, LemonStand is an eCommerce web hosting and site building service. That means it provided all the tools you needed to create a digital storefront, as well as a server to host it on.
In my LemonStand review, I praised it for its extensive feature set and user-friendly What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) page builder. The LemonStand analytics page impressed me, too, as it allowed me to view my store's financial performance at a glance. However, I also noted that to fully customize a LemonStand store, you need a certain degree of coding knowledge.
Why Is LemonStand Shutting Down?
As I also noted in my LemonStand review, despite nine years of service, LemonStand only has about 2,000 active users. That's far short of competitors such as WooCommerce,Shopify or Magento, all of whom power many, many times more users.
Given that LemonStand's cheapest monthly subscription rate is $19, by my calculations, it might be making as little as $456,000/year in pre-tax revenue. Assuming that around 30% of the users were using the more advanced plans, the pre-tax revenue would increase to around $1,000,000 every year.
That might seem like a lot, but it's unlikely to be enough to cover server maintenance costs, let alone employ developers, sales representatives, and further invest in the product.
The LemonStand shut down notice doesn't go into details about why the service is closing. Nevertheless, it seems obvious that the low number of customers prevented this from becoming a financially viable platform.
Failure to Generate Enough Interest
Checking out the Google Trends page for the 'LemonStand' search term also reveals some interesting insights into why the service was forced to close. Despite generating a fairly high number of searches in 2011–12, consumer interest in LemonStand dropped off around 2013, never to recover.
This lackluster performance can be compared to search results for competitor services such as Shopify. Shopify was founded around the same time as LemonStand, but interest in it grew steadily over time.
Compare the two together, and you'll see - one service had kicked it off big time, while the other one didn't even make a mark.
This tells us all we need to know about why the LemonStand admins made the difficult decision to pull the plug on the service. It was probably failing to turn a profit and had little prospect of gaining more market share in an increasingly crowded industry.
What Does LemonStand Shutting Down Mean for You?
In the short term, LemonStand subscribers don't need to panic. The service will continue to run as normal until June 5th, 2019. It's vital you move to an alternative service before then, but you have a few months to decide exactly what to do.
If you had an existing annual payment plan with LemonStand, check your bank statements. Any part of your subscription extending beyond March 5th should already have been refunded. LemonStand email support is continuing for 90 days after the release of the shutdown notice. That means it will end on June 3rd, two days before LemonStand fully terminates.
Nobody can accuse LemonStand of not taking care of its customers. The LemonStand team has taken the time to write an extremely detailed guide about how to move your LemonStand site to another provider.
I highly recommend you give it a read.
How to Export Your LemonStand Data?
Because LemonStand is a standalone platform, moving your entire store to another eCommerce provider was never going to be completely straightforward. Fortunately, although things aren't as simple as downloading a single file and re-uploading it to your new server, it is possible to extract almost all of your vital info.
Using your LemonStand account manager, you can export information like order histories, customer details, and product catalogs as CSV files.
This is a standard format and can easily be read by spreadsheet applications like MS Excel or Google Sheets. Your new eCommerce service might also allow you to import some of this information directly.
However, at the very least, you'll be able to preserve your records locally. I can't stress enough how important it is that you store this information securely as you may need it for tax purposes or to tell customers when your new storefront is opening.
Get Help with Your LemonStand Data Transfer
Note that if you want to extract advanced information, such as product catalog attributes, you'll need to use LemonStand's Application Program Interface (API). This tool isn't really suitable for beginners. However, if you have experience writing code, you may be able to figure it out.
If you're a non-techy LemonStand customer who desperately needs to preserve special data from your LemonStand store, I highly recommend that you check its list of partner migration services.
These are bespoke companies, such as Pelican Commerce, that have experience working with LemonStand and can handle the entire migration process for you, for a fee.
Of course, before you can migrate to a new platform, you need to pick one to use. Fortunately, there are some excellent eCommerce services which provide the same great features found on LemonStand.
Here are the three best LemonStand alternatives you should consider:
Because they're so comparable, I've already discussed the differences between LemonStand and Shopify in my LemonStand review. In short, Shopify is a more user-friendly platform than LemonStand. To customize your Shopify store, you don't need to have any prior coding knowledge.
The flipside is that Shopify is also a more limiting eCommerce tool. For example, with Shopify, you don't get the freedom to edit the base code. This means it isn't as good an option for developers. That's not to say that Shopify doesn't come with any advanced features, though. Developers will still like the Shopify ProCodes API function, which can be used to create user-input scripts.
LemonStand and Magento started life as software-only platforms. But while LemonStand grew into an all-inclusive service, Magento remained a standalone software kit. To use it, you'll need a Magento-compatible hosting service.
As discussed in my Magento review, it's an excellent alternative to consider if you liked the advanced features included with LemonStand. It's an open source platform, which means you can customize it any way you like. There's also a very active Magento development community, letting you add anything from map widgets to in-person payment support to your store
The big difference between WooCommerce and LemonStand is that WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, not a standalone application.
WordPress is a powerful platform and a great choice for hosting an eCommerce site thanks to its customizability. However, if you aren't interested in transitioning to a WordPress environment, WooCommerce won't be the best choice for you.
The LemonStand Down Conclusion: A Predictable Farewell
LemonStand is a powerful and fully-featured piece of eCommerce software that takes an unusual approach to online store creation. For that reason, it's sad to see its termination. However, as we've discussed, limited consumer interest and the platform's small user base probably made its closure an inevitability.
If you're a LemonStand user, you have a few months to work out your next steps. However, I advise that you begin the migration process as soon as possible. It's essential that you finish extracting any data from your LemonStand account before June 2019.
Still, it's not all doom and gloom. There are several excellent LemonStand competitors that you can move to. Thanks to the level of customization that many of these alternative eCommerce platforms allow, you shouldn't struggle to recreate the look and feel of your LemonStand store.
Have you been impacted by LemonStand shutting down? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this departure in the comments below!