European Distribution - your opinions, ideas
Hi Europe Diyers,
I am thinking about European distribution for Markaudio drivers. For the last 2 years, Blue Planet Acoustic in Frankfurt were my main Distributor. This arrangement has now finished.
For North America and Japan, the main distribution works well as they work in 1 or 2 countries within their regions and 1 main language. Europe, is more complex as each country has its own language(s), sales taxes and other regulations. So appointing a single main distributor is more complicated.
I have 2 EU businesses negotiating to take Markaudio drivers but before we go further, please tell what you'd like to happen to make Markaudio drivers available in Europe.
Please feel free to let me have your opinions and ideas.
Hi Mark, I think most europeans speak, or understand at least, english quite well, so if their website is in english i think that would work. And shipping within europe usually goes quick and hassle free in my opinion.
There is a difference in how some dealers handle vat though; i have a vat number and sometimes i get 0 tax and other times i have to pay the vat from another country, which i cannot get easily back. As far as i know they all should give a vat return within the EU if you buy things professionally.
Another thing is that none of the dealers here note which generation of your drivers they carry, would be nice if there was a supplier who states that upfront.
Hope this helps.
Many thanks for your comments. Do you think only English should be on their web site, or should other languages be included? If so, which ones?
I made a simple announcement last month on this forum saying I can supply Europe direct while I check-out new EU based distribution. To my surprise, in the last 5 weeks, I've sent drivers direct to these countries so far:
So there are possibilities for using a distributor inside Europe, or make a direct supply service. Any more thoughts?
Gerben has a valid point about English becoming a common language but for those who don't have English a link to Google Translate, which generally is pretty accurate, would be a helpful solution. This would provide native language in a semi convenient fashion.
I haven't purchased any of your drivers, but have considered doing it a few times.
Blue Planet Acoustics (Oaudio.de)'s site is not perfect, especially when it comes to their English interface. However, I was happy with their offers, as they offered rather good prices and FREE shipping in the whole European Union! for all orders over 60euro - which means any pair of MA drivers.
If you find such an option again, it will be superb! This way, people in the whole European Union can get it at the listed price, without paying for expensive shipping, which can be as much as 30-40% of the price of a pair of budget drivers (CHR/P-70), making the locally distributed Tang Bands and so on "better value".
The best European shop for drivers I know is Europe-Audio.com. They don't offer this free shipping though :|
As far as direct supplies - for me it is 9102841248014 times better when I get it from distributor inside the EU. This way the VAT is already paid, I just order them and receive them at the post office. If I get them send by you, I will have to clear customs, pay VAT, taxes, and waste much time. I believe other European countries will not face the bureaucracy I do, but will still have to pay vat/taxes making the price way higher?
Thanks for your comments. Hoping more hobby guys from the EU will post their comments and ideas. The situation with being charged VAT when buying items from outside the EU varies. Some customs departments don't charge for small items, others do. So far, the feedback from the Diyer's I've supplied is good on timing and on final cost.
Some points to think about: Distributors aren't charities. They are in business to make money. They add allot of cost to the final price of any product so while there is convenience for some buyers, this doesn't automatically mean the service offered is going to be "value for money". Most EU based distributors uplift ranges from 250% to 400% on the factory gate price, covering their shipping and running costs; And to make a profit.
So I welcome more opinions on the EU distribution issue.
Achtung: Wall of text incoming!
I don't have too much experience with European retailers, so I can't comment on that, however I can comment on the whole customs/VAT thing.
At least in Germany any import up to 150€ is exempt from customs, as far as I could gather (getting any info at the official site of the German Customs Office is just a pain) this is based on a decision of the European Commission, so that should be the same in other EU countries.
However there are some issues (at least in Germany):
The calculation of the import duty will include shipping costs as well, so most of your drivers will be over the 150€ limit anyway. If you have to pay any import duty, this should be handled by the shipping company, meaning you would have to pay when picking up your package at the post office/ getting your delivery.
This really depends on a flawless documentation of the value of the imported product, if something seems hinky to the customs office, you'll have to pick up your package at one of their "service centers" and these aren't exactly widespread. Even to me, living in Berlin, going there means something like a 2 to 3 hour round trip. This would be a real hassle for someone living in a rural area.
Then once there you'll have to prove the value of your purchase, can't really comment on how that works in general.
My experience was actually pretty good, I got a pair of warranty replacement (shipping damage) drivers from you and all I had to show was a print out of our e-mail conversation and everything was fine, didn't have to pay anything - didn't even have to get a number in the queue.
So in short: If you manage to document the value of the shipment in a way that satisfies German officials ordering directly from you would definitely be a an option for me, since I know you're shipping really fast. If I remember correctly your package arrived after 6 or 7 days - that is faster than some European Internet shops (for bicycle parts anyway).
Two more points to consider:
At least in Germany and France credit cards aren't as prevalent as in the US or the UK, I got one so that's not an issue to me, but others might choose other products just for the convenience of paying.
(I personally don't like paypal, so that wouldn't be an option for me.)
Warranty/ Consumer Protection:
When ordering something from the Internet customers in the EU have quite extensive rights.
First the right to send back your order without giving a reason within 14 days after purchase. Also there is a mandatory two year warranty period* when buying within the EU - something a European distributor would have to adhere to and customers would have relatively easy ways to enforce should something go wrong.
Now don't get me wrong I KNOW your RMA process is flawless - but others might not. If I were to order from you directly without my good experience these are aspects I'd consider before deciding on a purchase.
Hope that helps
*I know it's a bit more complex than that, but I was already rambling.
Hi Zottinger, Guys
Many thanks for your comments. Very useful and helps to focus on the various issues. In some ways, your analysis helps to explain why many EU distributors charge more. They have to work through more regulation and bureaucracy than in other regions, all costs time and money.
I'm curious about how German and French buyers pay if credit cards and Paypal aren't popular. So what payment methods are most popular in these countries (and other EU countries where similar)?
Also in many EU countries the VAT is quite high (around 20%) and included in the prices shown on web sites. From what I understand prices in US Internet stores are without any VAT so there's another difference.
Another way is to pay the DHL guy upon delivery/ when picking up your package at the post office - that's probably the safest way to order but the fees are quite high.
In stores you usually pay with a EC/Maestro card which basically is a debit card.
When I lived in the Netherlands 2003/2004 the situation was quite similar to Germany, many people used EC cards in shops and there was the option to do a direct bank transfer when buying something off the Internet as well (but I used Dutch Internet stores maybe twice).
I don't know too much about France, the last time I was there (about 4 years ago) there where still supermarkets where you could not pay with any kind of card but with a chequebook and saw quite many people paying this way. Credit cards where only accepted in stores catering to tourists.
small shops are not online retailers... I've used my credit card and paypal from the last 10years... The 500 euro note has been explicitly made for Germany! :D
Anyway credit card in France is fine same thing than the UK.
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