It's been one of my aims this year to try and be more business minded about my, erm, business. I run things pretty organically, and I don't want that to change, but I have had to think about ways of branching out and making more of what I already have.
I came to realise some time ago that charging in the local currency of wherever my patterns are sold makes complete sense. There are print distributors for my patterns in the US, Canada and the UK, and each charges in the native currency. The number of websites where my PDFs are sold is also growing, and again, each charges in the local currency. Except Ravelry.
Ravelry has users all over the world, yet it's still mostly a US-centric site (at least in terms of the English speaking members), and I started to wonder if continuing to sell in £GB was a hindrance rather than a convenience. So, I started to dig around, ask designer friends, and eventually started a fresh thread asking users what they thought. You can find the thread here. After discussing things further with fellow Ravelry pattern sellers, Casey went on to introduce the little widget that displays the price in your native currency, which was a real bonus.
Casey then suggested a possibility that might work: my original thought, to keep pattern sales here in £GB, can be done with a 2nd Ravelry account, and the patterns currently listed on Ravelry would change to $US. It would be as close to a win/win as I could get with the whole thing - my British and European identity would remain, here, in my little part of the interwebs, and customers purchasing from my site would still be able to add their patterns to their Rav libraries, just as they do now. Folks who would feel more comfortable shopping in $US will be able to do just that, and avoid any hefty credit card fees. Essentially, both sites would be linked and knitters could choose which currency they want to purchase in.
It'd be much more work for me initially, setting everything up. and additional ongoing work with two Ravelry accounts to maintain, dealing with different currencies etc. Just as I go to a lot of effort to put out a pattern that makes life easier for the end user, it makes good business sense to do the same with buying options. Sure, selling in my own currency is easier for me, but it probably isn't for the knitter. A whole bunch of my patterns are sold to lovely folks from the US (thank you!) so it doesn't put everyone off, but I think this could be a good compromise.
The down sides?
Prices would have to be fixed. They are already, as I've been wholesaling for a while and had to offer a RRP, so each of my books and patterns has an equivalent price in $US. Right now, the current exchange rate means that at face value, my patterns are cheaper in £GB. But given that fees are often charged on top of that, it doesn't always work out that way. Conversely, the $US price may appear more expensive at face value, but will often work out cheaper as no additional fee is charged (the conversion fee would then be my responsibility).
Such is the joy of a multi-national, multi-currency world led by banks ;)
Another potential problem would be changing between websites for shopping, which I would understand. I don't want to alienate my UK friends, yet it makes more sense to keep this site as the UK site, no? (feedback on this, please! You would still be able to add your purchases here to your Rav account!)
The other issue would be at my end - especially for tax returns - dealing with 2 currencies. But I already do that anyway, as the majority of my wholesalers & distributors pay me in $US, so the admin side of things poses no problem to me. However, digital sales are my bread and butter, and relying on a fluctuating exchange rate could be worrying. I think though, that unless something drastic happens, it will mostly balance out.
Casey has already set up the additional account for me. He tells me no-one has done this sort of thing before, so there's a possibility it might not work. I'm all set to start on the 2nd account next week but I wouldn't mind a final bit of feedback about the whole thing, especially if it would be a problem for you. Would it bother you to have to come here to buy patterns in £GB? Do you think it would be more convenient having the patterns available on Ravelry in $US? I know I've previously asked Ravelry users, but readers here may see things differently.
I don't have to do this, and nothing is set in stone. But it is a big thing to do, so I need to be sure it's the right thing to do.
The Hat I started in my last post is all finished, and once I've shaken off the last of this lurgy, we'll be out to get some photos of Aran wearing it! I love it, it's a good fun Hat.
Have a great weekend, folks!
ETA/ thank you for all your feedback so far! What I'm worried about most with this proposed set up is my UK customers purchasing through Ravelry where they'll likely end up paying more, esp. with the additional fees, and then, quite rightly, getting peeved about it.
My $US prices were set a couple of years ago, and a £2.50 pattern sells for $5 and a £3 sells for $6. The exchange rate has changed since then but restructuring my prices to reflect that would be an impossible task. So a UK customer purchasing a £2.50/$5 pattern through Ravelry *will* end up paying more.
A further idea - stating the £GB in the ($US) pattern listing, with a link to where it can be purchased at that price, would give customers the choice and highlight that it is available in either currency. Extra work, yes, but then it's all out in the open, right?
It is a strange conundrum... it hasn't been an issue with any other outlets because they all set the currency. Ravelry is simply another outlet, except it's the largest one, allows a choice of currency and provides the cart software for this website! It's very important to me not to alienate my British & European customers, and to maintain my British identity, but at the same time, I gotta make the most of my business. It ain't easy, I tell ya!