Kiwis gain access to 100,000 titles via US Net storefront

Auckland software distributor Soft Solutions has set up an Internet storefront to the giant US electronic distributor Digital River, providing access to more than 100,000 software titles - with New Zealand prices. Digital River is one of several electronic software distributors (ESDs) in the US, offering software publishers and developers the opportunity to sell products over the Internet without having to create their own online shop.

Auckland software distributor Soft Solutions has set up an Internet storefront to the giant US electronic distributor Digital River, providing access to more than 100,000 software titles — with New Zealand prices.

Although bandwidth restrictions are a barrier to software distribution over the Internet, there are now several electronic software distributors (ESDs) in the US including Digital River, Bit-Source, GlobeTrotter and NetSales. They offer software publishers and developers the opportunity to sell products over the Internet without having to create their own online shop. Resellers around the world are invited to set up storefronts, selling the software for a small commission.

In the case of Digital River, the customer cannot buy direct from the Web site, but has to go through a reseller, says Soft Solutions managing director Chris Fitzgerald. The Soft Solutions store front (www.softsolutions.co.nz) displays more than 120,000 Digital River products with New Zealand prices. Digital River supplies a US dollar exchange rate schedule every day to ensure prices are current. The customer’s credit card is still charged in US dollars and converted to New Zealand dollars by the credit card company, but it lets the Kiwi customer know exactly what they are spending, says Fitzgerald.

For its part Soft Solutions gets a small rebate for sales made through its site, but the driving reason for setting up the store front is to remain competitive. “I’m not out there marketing the shop actively because I know some people would have an unhappy experience downloading the files. I use it to counter objections from customers about price points in New Zealand. For some products, by the time we’ve paid freight to bring a small quantity down here, and we’ve loaded for resellers margins, it turns out they’re $20 or $30 cheaper through Digital River,” says Fitzgerald.

“It’s something I needed to do to stay competitive. If someone rings up and says it’s too expensive, I say you can buy it through my Web site. I can’t afford to simply watch people walk away across the Net and buy elsewhere just because they don’t like the price.”

One of the difficulties for the average user, especially in New Zealand, is the lack of bandwidth for downloading across the Internet.

“Some software doesn’t lend itself to digital delivery because it’s too big so it’s not a one-stop emporium of every product people want.

“Also some people prefer to get a box and a manual, while some products are better sold with advice from a consultant or reseller.”

Fitzgerald says while Digital River supports the Soft Solutions Web site, he would not set up a site solely to become an ESD store front.

“It wouldn’t work because there are too many products missing. If someone wants Mavis Beacon’s typing tutor or the game Civilisation, they’re just not there.”

Another Auckland distributor, The Zone (www.pczone.co.nz), also offers access to Digital River but shows all prices in US dollars.

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