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Avatar_17f889c2a71a_64 Distrify and The D-Word announce strategic partnership

Members of The D-Word documentary community can now "sell movies socially" with Distrify. The Distrify player can easily be embedded in film profiles and postings on The D-Word.

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Ben Kempas
Wed 16 Nov 2011Link

Well, the whole idea is to "sell movies socially" on the web. Being social involves some 'going out' on the web, my friend... :-)

Ethan Isenberg
Wed 16 Nov 2011Link

Hey, all. I just finally took a look at Distrify since I have yet to upload a trailer of my film to my own site – although I only finished my trailer a couple months ago.

One issue I see is that customers need to sign up with Distrify or use their FB login in order to buy. That's why I chose Paypal over Google or Amazon checkout on my site when I sell DVDs: Customers don't have to be Paypal members if they don't want to. It's my guess that a number of people would rather not go through with the transaction rather than have to go through this hassle and risk spam, ID theft, etc. And offering FB login helps, but not if they aren't FB members – which I assume is the case for many of my customers.

A second issue is the inability to configure sales tax. I'd be using this for DVD sales, and this means that while anyone in my home state (CA) who buys from my site would pay tax, if they buy from the widget, they wouldn't (technically, the tax would be included). This is another reason why I had decided to go with Paypal over the other checkout options. They allow you to configure sales tax by zipcode range, rather than just state.

(I should add that if you sell products on Amazon via their Sell On Amazon service, i.e. Amazon Marketplace, they also expect you to include sales tax in your sales price. Of course, that's easier said than done, since only some of your customers will be paying tax, and of those, there may be different rates depending on their location!)

Peter Gerard
Wed 16 Nov 2011Link

Hi Ethan,

You don't have to sign up for Distrify specifically. You only need to enter your email address. We will then automatically create your account and send you a password to resume viewing later. All of this information is transmitted securely as well. We currently use PayPal in North America but will soon have other options, since many people don't like PayPal, and PayPal's payment screen deliberately makes the option to pay without an account very, very small...

Regarding sales tax, we can operate that in several different ways. We support transactions all over the world, which of course raises additional issues with sales tax and VAT.

The reason we want you to include postage and tax in your prices is because we want to eliminate any disappointment or surprise that a customer might see when they click to buy at one price and see another price on the checkout screen. Our sales reporting gives you enough information to know which transactions you need to pay tax on, and we are currently enhancing this reporting. Of course, if you have specific needs regarding tax, get in touch and we can discuss further.

Ethan Isenberg
Thu 17 Nov 2011Link

I didn't notice that your offer Paypal as a purchase option. Could it be that the examples I looked at were by non-US filmmakers?

Your solution of automatically signing people up without them formally going through the process sounds like a good one. Is this the same if someone is buying a physical item?

Certainly, implementing tax and VAT for every customer is going to be a challenge. But, I think if you make it customizable enough for each filmmaker, then it can be done right. For US based sellers, following the way it's done in Paypal, where you can configure both a state and zipcode range, will prob cover the bases (although determining the exact zipcode range you need can be a challenge, as I learned here in LA). For sellers from other countries, you'd need to see how comparable services handle those details, but I'd guess it would be a matter of determining similar factors: country, state/territory, city, postal code. Obviously, it would be great if the software automatically figured all this out. But realistically, if you let each client configure the rules the way they need to be, that could be good enough... (although it might be nice to have some recommendations for major areas.)

The thing I'm unclear on is the digital end. Is tax ever charged for streaming & downloading? I took a look at Journeyman Pictures, after Nigel mentioned it, and I noticed that they charge VAT in Euros (and the one download I looked at cost even more than a typical DVD!).

Peter Gerard
Thu 17 Nov 2011Link

We could talk about VAT all day... We have long conversations about it with the accountants regularly!
Most countries apply it on a national level rather than on a state/local level. I will discuss with my team what options we can look at, but we can allow you to sell in Europe without VAT as long as we disclose you as the seller in the receipt. I would guess Journeyman can't do this because they are a distributor rather than a service provider.

For physical items, we only need an email address if the user is paying with PayPal because we can collect shipping details from their PayPal account. If they are paying by card, we take their address before card details.

Payment options are based on what currency you are paying in as a customer, not where the filmmaker is. So if you try to purchase anything from us while in the US you will currently be directed to PayPal no matter what option you choose at checkout. Try it below, and you'll see what I mean.

Ethan Isenberg
Fri 18 Nov 2011Link

I see what you're saying when I try to buy a DVD. However, I could swear that the first time, when I chose "streaming rental", it asked me for my name and city in addition to my email, and only then did it present me with payment options. Does that make sense?

Otherwise, I'm impressed with how much thought has been put into this. I'm considering embedding a YouTube trailer on my frontpage, but then having a link to embed the film, and using Distrify code for that. And of course, I'd use the Distrify version one on other sites.

Could you clarify how money transfers to the filmmaker typically works? Somewhere it indicated that there might be fees involved. Is that always the case with Paypal or bank accounts?

Another question: Where in the app do you link to the filmmaker's site? I don't see it in your example, but I think I saw it in some others.

Edited Fri 18 Nov 2011 by Ethan Isenberg

Peter Gerard
Sun 20 Nov 2011Link

Firstly, there's no point in using YouTube on your site. You can use Distrify and start engaging your audience straight away. YouTube videos can only link users back to YouTube, so they fail to convert viewers into customers or subscribers.

Name and City are optional for digital purchases, you can continue with only your email address.

Typically, PayPal charges a 1% fee for you to receive money from us if you're outside of the EU. We can also use ZashPay, which is a wire transfer that only costs $1, so if you wait until your income is sufficient, that can be a better option.

If you click "Share" the short-URL used there links to where the player is embedded on your site. Also, if someone has bought from you and they click the link in their email to resume viewing, it sends them back to your site.

Ben Kempas
Mon 21 Nov 2011Link

In case you missed it in the IDFA craziness:

"Films Transit International has announced it is set to start making its documentaries available for public viewing on the web through a new strategic partnership with Scottish VOD specialist Distrify."

David Herman
Mon 21 Nov 2011Link

way to go Peter! You had traces of cream round your non moustache at Mezrab – didn't guess.

Peter Gerard
Tue 22 Nov 2011Link

Maybe I was too lost in the fog to say anything...

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