Kwakkelflap: tools for the IT pro

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Currency rounding

I've talked about automatic currency conversion a while ago. Right now I'm using a home made script that uses the Plimus system to display the price in the users currency if this is different than the default currency.

The automatic conversion is nice, but it's even better if the converted number is rounded to a sensible amount. Right now, I use a rounding to 50 cents. And this is where I have a problem.

I sell my software in euros in nice round numbers. But now and then the rounding and the currency script combination act in strange ways:

As you can see, 55 euros was rounded to 55.50 euros. There is no need for rounding but Plimus does it anyway. And of course 55 euros is not equal to 55.50 euros so the conversion is displayed on my webpage. The amount is 55 euros when ordering though, so there is no error in the conversion there.

I suspect that there is a conversion from euro to dollars and then back to euros when using the script. This might result in a conversion error depending on the (daily adjusted) conversion rate.

Plimus is having problems in locating this bug so I've disabled price rounding again for the time being.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Automatic currency conversion, part 2

I wrote about the automatic currency conversion system I wrote for the website some time ago. The system works, but there are some issues with it. The biggest problem for me is that the converted price is not always the price at Plimus. Obviously due to a slightly different exchange rate. So I could only display an estimate of the converted price and potential customers could be confused by the difference.

Then Plimus announced that users could use calls to their conversion script. A simple URL with your product ID and the visitor's IP address and you get the converted currency back. I did some tests with their system, and after some PHP tricks it seems to be working. Too bad they do a straight conversion and don't use their own rounding system. But these are both new features, so I expect they will implement this later on.

The system is used on a few web pages for evaluation. It's looking good so far. I'll probably remove the old system this weekend.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Currency issues

I previously talked about my switch from selling in US$ to Euros. I also asked some people on 'Joel on Software' what they think about the currencies. I was rather startled by the response. It seems that especially US residents want the price in their currency displayed directly on the website. I'm so used to working in other currencies that I personally don't care what currency is displayed, as long as I can switch to my own when ordering.

So I thought it would be a good idea to put a US$ amount on my website. Of course, it would be a little hard to display a changing amount. So the best thing to do was to set the US$ price fixed and use that amount. I'm not that fond of using a fixed US$ amount. Exchange rates can really mess things up. But it's always nice to get extra sales, so I finally decided to do it.

Plimus changed my idea however. Apparently, when you use a different base currency, you can set all currencies to a fixed amount, except US$. US$ just isn't available for setting a fixed currency. Plimus figures you use US$ as a base currency anyway, so it's always fixed right? I contacted Plimus tech support and they said they will implement this 'feature' (I'd call it a bug). I'm curious how long it will take so that I can finally put a US$ amount on my website.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

First problems with Plimus?

I've been using Plimus for 3 days now. Orders are coming in, and everything seems fine. But yesterday, I received a mail from a customer who told me that Plimus tried to contact him by phone because his order was flagged as fraudulent:
"While reviewing your order for Service - O - Matic we noticed that the phone number you entered is either incorrect/incomplete or we were unable to reach you at that number, please send us a phone number where we can reach you at so that we can process your order."

At first, I didn't know what to think about it. It never happened to me using RegNow. Yes, I had fraudulent orders, but they never contacted the customer by phone for all I know. In response, I send the customer an email with download instructions right away. I always try to give a customer the benefit of the doubt. If the order wasn't fraudulent, then the customer had to wait for the full version. If the order was fraudulent, then that person didn't want to pay for it anyway, and might resort to other means of getting the software for free.

The biggest problem for me is the phone call itself. I don't know about you, but personally I hate phone calls. I think it's highly intrusive. Not only that, but Plimus is in a different time zone. They made the call more than 6 hours after the order, and it was 22 o'clock local time! I sell to business most of the time, and I know that I won't be answering business calls at 22 in the evening. No wonder the customer didn't answer the phone.

Anyway, I contacted Plimus about this, and they advised me to use a different order processing company if I didn't want them to phone my customers. They have to make a ton of money if they don't want a vendor that earned $1500+ in the first 3 days (hey, I told you January would be a good month).

I'm not sure how frequent these calls are. I'll be checking this in the future.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Plimus switch

I just made the switch from RegNow to Plimus. It was more work than anticipated. Changing the urls in the programs was no big deal. But you can’t imagine how much buy links I have on the website. And, I had to update all program information.

The affiliate system has also been changed. New affiliates will be using Plimus. I still support RegNow for older affiliates, so there is no need to change anything for them. The only problem is that I’ll have to update my prices now and then at RegNow. I’m selling in Euros on the website, and RegNow only supports US$. I’ll probably check them once a month to keep them inline with my Plimus account.

Now, all I have to do is wait for the first Plimus order to roll in.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Plimus test

Some time ago, I talked about my payment processor RegNow, and how they work. I also talked about the Dollar-Euro conversion rate. All of this made me believe it is time for me to switch. I heard a lot of good stuff about Plimus, which is not part of the Digital River network. All payment processors bought by Digital River seem to use the same way of earning money: an x% + y$ plan which I’m not that fond of. Plimus has no setup fee, so I can basically try them out for free. And their % on sales seems alluring. They even had a conversion offer, which means that they would create all my products using the information from RegNow and my website.

I wasn’t that impressed with Plimus at first to tell you the truth. The interface seemed clunky and it was hard to find everything I needed. So I didn’t check them out after signing up. Today, I went back and I was impressed with the way they converted all my products. This is a great incentive to switch, because a lot of work was already done for me. So I spend some time fine-tuning everything. I still hate the interface, but I’m getting used to it. And then I discovered the real reason I want to switch: I can sell in any currency I want. Want to sell in Bahamas Dollars, or Iceland Kronur? No problem. So I can sell all my products in Euros if I want to. There are still a few minor issues like product bundles. But there are workarounds.

So I will probably switch to Plimus in a few days. I’m still thinking of using affiliates for RegNow. I’m not sure at this point. I updated Sniff – O – Matic and changed all the buy links to Plimus instead of RegNow. I’ll use it as a test before I make the big conversion. I think I’ll need a day changing all the buy links in the software and on the website, so I want to know if it’s worth getting into.

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