International prices in webshops

The World Wide Web supposed to be an international network. Hence “the”  and “world” in it.  With exception of the Great Chinese firewall anybody in the world could see any information on any website. And, theoretically, anybody could buy any product from any website.

I do understand why e-shops, selling real goods like books, clothes or food make boundaries in the Internet. They need to deliver it via standard snail post. And the goods must cross old-fashioned customs.

But in case of the pure virtual digital goods, like software, digitized media, information there should be no borders. Everybody should be able to pay for a digital product and download it.

However, often the same product or service is available and priced differently in different countries. That’s not nice if you have to pay for the same number of bytes different prices via different IP-addresses. People normally don’t like it.

They try to jailbreak their iPhones because of  the limitations different local App Stores have. They try to have different PSN accounts, because Sony bids more free video-game demos via their USA store, that via the European one. Antivirus vendors also almost always have different prices in different countries.

The main reason for those inconsistencies is that the electronic commerce is but a part of the big companies business. Often it’s not the biggest part and not very important internally. It often suffers from so called “channel conflict”.

For example in order to sell a software in UK a vendor must engage a distributor to move their boxes and to deliver them to the stores around the country. Most of the revenue comes from this distributor and the vendor agrees with it on pricing, volumes and conditions. The distributor expects from the vendor to honor the terms. And not to sell the same software online cheaper than the boxed version in the stores. The price in the UK e-store must be the same as in the UK brick-and-mortar shops.

What if the same vendor tries to sell in USA the same software but with different price (Pound is currently more that 60% more expensive than dollar). In order to honor the contracts with different distributors around the world they must have different prices in different e-stores.

Well, this doesn’t seem fair for us, customers. That’s one of the reason I’ve started

I’ve just updated today the price page with colorful bars, describing relative prices for the same digital products in EU, UK and USA stores. Sometimes the price difference is more than 100%. It’s your choice!

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