When Skype began working with hardware vendor partners a few years ago, it also realized there was an opportunity for revenue generation by hosting a store where a Skype user could purchase Skype Certified headsets, phones and webcams. However, it also quickly became apparent that operating a multi-national retail web-based store came with the logistics challenges of delivering atoms (as opposed to bits), collecting revenue in multiple currencies and as well as inventory management, warehousing, shipping and “local” customs agencies and their rules. Not to mention that every political jurisdiction likes to collect its taxes.
Over the past year Skype has been quietly overhauling its Skype Stores on a country-by-country basis. Skype came up with a strategy that involved working with country-based shopping comparison sites who would, in turn, introduce shoppers to products as well as with In Store Solutions who have been developing their own “In Store Solutions” stores that now supports 40 currencies across 67 countries. The Skype Store for 21 countries (U.S., U.K., Australia, several western European countries and several Latin American countries) comprises both a shopping comparison site shop and an In Store Solutions shop whereas In Store Solutions is the sole Skype Store shop in 47 additional countries including Japan.
The shopping comparison sites facilitate purchase of products from vendors such as Logitech, Plantronics, Netgear, Belkin and Polycom while In Store Solutions sells their FREETALK line of headsets (FREETALK Everyman and FREETALK Wireless Stereo Headset) and the FREETALK Buddy Cam.
Prior to April this year, if, from a Canadian IP address, a Canadian visited the Skype Store at shop.skype.com, s/he would simply get a web page with a message to the effect that there was no Skype store for Canada. Since April but until last week the same situation would lead the visitor to a Skype store but with a U.S.-based shopping comparison vendor in addition to In Store Solutions. And pricing was in U.S. dollars. Neither a terribly relevant nor successful store in terms of sales generated.
As of last Thursday this situation changed completely. Canadians will now find a “Real Canadian Skype Store”1 involving a Canadian shopping comparison site as well as In Store Solutions. And all pricing is in Canadian dollars.
Bottom line: Canadians can now order Skype Certified Hardware, including the FREETALK Everyman Headset and other FREETALK hardware, knowing what their final C$ price will be at the time of purchase. If, for some reason, you do not find C$ pricing check that you are in the Canadian store by looking for the “Canada (English)” selection in the footer of the store page. A “Canada (French)” version is under development.
Full transparency: A real Canadian Skype store has been under development long before it was announced last week that Canadians will have a “shareholder” interest in Skype.
Full disclosure: In Store Solutions has become a client of Denali InterConneXions, publisher of Voice On The Web, building on the author’s previous business development experience with establishing partnerships that can assist with the promotion of a primary vendor’s offerings. A more complete statement will follow shortly.
1“Real Canadian Skype Store” is a parody on a Canadian grocery and housewares retailer who had a chain of stores called “Real Canadian Superstore”.
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