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Poll: would you buy a service that bills only in €?
11 points by thibaut_barrere on July 7, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 32 comments
I'm building a SAAS product targeting small companies (monthly subscription). Given we're a french company but the product is not location-dependent, we're going to launch internationally.

The easiest choice given we're a french company is to bill in €.

I have no idea if billing in € is a blocking point for most of you, hence this poll.

Thanks for your input (and comments)!

€ is OK
73 points
€ is OK but I would really prefer $ if possible
65 points
€ is not OK at all
19 points
I would not buy in $, but only in €
6 points

0. If it's a recurring purchase, I like predictability. Unfortunately, the exchange rates change, and so what I get billed each month will change. This isn't a huge deal, but I like to glance at my statements, immediately ignore things I know about, and look for anomalies.

1. Despite traveling around Europe several times, I've never really known how the behind the scenes conversion played out: is my bank the best deal? does it take a cut? There's an uncertainty here that I don't like.

2. I found out several years ago that my (household name) bank was screwing me with the rates on my international purchases, and that there was a class action lawsuit about it. That lowered my trust significantly.

Edit: I'm American.

Very good points, thanks for these! I think I will have to keep a somewhat variable income (on my side) for predictability for my customers.

I work for a SAAS that started in the UK. They used to bill in £'s, then in €'s and finally in $'s. Found that changing to $'s only significantly increased conversions.

Also, interesting - got another large uptick when we started accepting Amex - we're B2B and many US folks have company cards.

"Found that changing to $'s only significantly increased conversions" how much did it change it by? 3% (as a percent of a percent) or 15%? I would prefer not being at exchange mercy, but at a certain point you can just buy futures options to partially mitigate the damage.

Sales jumped around 25%, so pretty significant

Yep, if you are a company focusing on business buyers, always make sure Amex is an acceptable form of payment. It sucks for fees, but you get a lot of business that way.

Interesting - thanks for sharing! I wouldn't have guessed about the Amex part in particular...

We went through a similar discussion, we're based in England so the easiest for us would be to charge £ but we went with $ because we figured that:

* £ would likely put off Europeans & Americans

* € would likely put off Americans but UK would be more used to it

* $ doesn't put off UK or Europeans as while they may prefer their own currency, they are used to paying in $ for subscription based web services.

Ideally we'd let the user pick their own currency, but having to handle fluctuations & keep constant pricing wasn't something we fancied figuring out for launch. Also more currencies cost more to support.

Thanks - I think it pretty sums it up, together with the result of the poll.

Sidenote but: how did you handle the VAT? I found this documentation: http://docs.recurly.com/advanced/value-added-tax/

We haven't sorted out the VAT situation yet, we've not launched the payment process & that's one of the things on my list to sort out before we do!

Thanks for the recurly link, we're using Spreedly but I don't think they handle that yet so will probably have to sort that ourselves by having VAT and non-VAT plans & set the customer up with the right one.

I've seen some places just absorbing the difference to keep it simpler, so that's an option too.

I have a Spreedly starter kit too :) I'm still hesitating a bit on this.

I get screwed on currency conversion, and then get screwed on being screwed on currency conversion.

If you can convert the price, I'll be more likely to purchase; don't charge me €10, charge me $15. You'll get more money (so you can afford slightly higher conversion rates), and I'll be less likely to make the purchase.

One point of note: I'm Canadian, not American, and so even if I'm paying in USD (and our dollar has been roughly at par with the US dollar for quite a while), I'll look at the Euro symbol and pause to consider the purchase, because I'll have to do the math in my head. If it's in USD, I still get screwed on conversion, but because it's the same currency symbol I see every day, there's no mental adjustment and so I impulse buy much more often.

I suspect this might also be true for people in other (non-Euro, non-dollar) countries, who are used to the conversion rates when paying for US goods and services; being used to the conversion rate to the point where you can do it automatically means less of a barrier between seeing the price and making the decision, leading (I would assume) to higher conversion rates.

For the future, have you considered adding code that would recognize your location (via IP, for example), and display an approximate price in that nation's primary currency?

e.g. if you read a US ip address, display dollars, or a Japanese IP, yen?

I thought about it; I could use the same amount but once in €, once in $.

I would like to avoid the extra-complexity if possible though!

Both Paypal and the banks when using credit card do the currency conversion transparently (at a cost, of course). So for individuals it's pretty much the same, aside from patriotic issues...

For businesses, if you are targeting them, make sure you sort the VAT issue up front.

I'm €uropean too and it has never stopped me from buying products and services from the US, the perfidious a£bion or even china.

Depends it's useful to know exactly how much it will be, sometimes it's not a big deal but it can make a big difference when there are large swings in exchange rates.

I personally much prefer knowing exactly what I will pay.

I would definitely prefer to know what I will pay too, especially for a recurring payment.

I am probably the only American here that would only buy in EUR. I travel internationally quite a bit so I have a bank account and debit card (through First Republic) that gives me end-to-end conversion with no fees (no bank fees, no exchange fees, and refunded atm fees). In fact I usually get better than the going rate because my bank doesn't try to make money off the currency float.

Your USD option, on the other hand, almost certainly comes with exchange fees, and a slightly higher price to start with in order to cover your margins if the currency fluctuates. In real life I've found that I'd pay 5-10% more if I bought in USD vs the native currency. That may be counting pennies, but pennies add up.

That said, I'm guessing my story is unique, and that most people outside the Euro-zone will prefer a USD option. But I would recommend that you also price in EUR.

I think I will end up pricing in both $ and €, but will only start with $ to keep thing simple. Thanks for sharing your story!

Just had a discussion with some coworkers, and we settled on a conclusion, which may be beneficial or not.

Impulse buys are feelings, not thoughts (see Simon Sinek's TED talk), so it really depends on your market and why they're buying your product. If it's the sort of thing that they'll do a ton of research on, compare other products, and then settle on a conclusion, then you should be fine either way.

If it's the sort of thing people will either impulse buy or forget about, then you may want to consider the issues involved with making a currency conversion.

1. When a user encounters a currency they're not familiar with (for many Americans, this is any non-USD currency), there's an immediate break in their purchase flow as they suddenly have to try to figure out what it's going to cost them. This requires math or research (most people don't know Google will do currency conversion), which gets in the way of their quick-purchase-then-off-to-facebook workflow.

2. When a user sees your product at (for example) €20, they see the number, they see that it's twenty, and they decide in a split second whether twenty is a reasonable price. When they realize that it's twenty Euro* and the price is actually thirty of their local currency, then, despite their conscious awareness of how currency works, the price has effectively increased by 50%. This can hurt purchasing depending on how devoted they are to the service. Even if '30 of something' is a fair price, their brain got used to the idea of 'twenty of something' and now they stop and reconsider.

This disjoint is especially noticeable at higher values; at €90, you're below the 'one hundred' threshold; at $135, you're suddenly above it.

One recommendation I can make is to provide an approximation of local currency. Figure out the user's most likely local currency, do an automatic conversion (e.g. to USD) and then round up. Give them a ballpark that's higher than their original purchase, but make it clear* that it's an approximation, and the actual cost will depend on exchange rates and their bank's conversion fees (which will help hide any discrepancies). e.g. for €10, offer $15, even though the exchange is $14.348. Rounding up means that you never overcharge, but also that the user doesn't suddenly have to switch between currencies mentally.

* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4 There's a name for this, I forget what it is. * …enough. Maybe a note like 'You are currently browsing in USD, but you will be charged in Euro. Currency conversion fees may apply.'

Thanks - again tons of useful informations.

My guess is that the lean version will be $ only (almost everyone agrees to buy in $, and € users can just divide the price a bit :-)).

Thanks for taking the time to write and share all this, really appreciated.

I wouldn't buy in €. I live in Mexico and my brain is wired to do monetary conversion from Mexican Peso to USD (since it's what most sites where I buy use).

I buy stuff from e-shops and rent web services like Heroku, Github and so on.

Thanks for your feedback - appreciated.

You should A/B test this, but you'll probably realized very quickly that people like to spend in their local currency. Conversion rate will always be higher among the group presented with their local currency.

Would you fix the price in both currencies, just to a different amount?

Large companies tend to do that, and it pisses off people who end up paying more in Europe than the States. But assuming fair pricing it has the benefit of a more predictable outcome for everyone involved, particularly when dealing with recurring billing.

If they took paypal, yes.

If there are data lockin/lockout concerns, you should discount the rate to USD if Euro/USD diverges beyond a certain distance.

I'd buy a service that only billed in jelly beans, if it billed enough jelly beans.

I live in the UK and pay for tons of services in USD or EUR. I don't really care

I'm in Europe, € are totally OK

I myself have never bought anything with Euros online in my life. It seems from other people's comments that my bank would simple convert via the exchange rate, but I didn't know that before and would have left the site if dollar was not an option.

I would recommend both EUR and USD. I live in Poland. For example, Portal 2 costs EUR 49.99 on GameStop Germany and USD 49.99 on GameStop US. But! USD 50 is around PLN 150. EUR 50 is around PLN 200. Guess what is better for me.

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