Thanks for agreeing to talk to us about running an UltraCart business outside the US, Ian. Unfortunately we're not recording this, so our readers won't get to hear your cool british accent. (note to reader: continue reading this with the understanding that Ian sounds like James Bond.)
Since you're overseas you have a unique perspective on doing business which will be interesting to other international UltraCart users, but also for users in the US that want to expand their business overseas.
1. To begin with, can you tell us why you decided to use UltraCart?
I use Office Autopilot for my email marketing, controlling membership sites etc. It's a great system - very powerful. But it's shopping cart isn't the best. It can't handle multi-currencies, for example. And critically for me it can't handle non US sales tax (VAT).
So I knew I needed to use a separate cart. Office Autopilot is integrated with Ultracart and one of your competitors. I trialled both, and yours was way smoother. It's a real integration via API - whereas the other system just sent emails to Office Autopilot whenever a purchase was made so there was a time delay and those emails didn't always get through.
2. Your account is setup in British Pounds as a base currency, how is that working for you?
Very smoothly. I started off with it in USD but realised that what was happening was that since the majority of my purchases are made in GBP, they were being converted to USD, then when the payment was made into my merchant account it had to be converted back to GBP. Having a GBP account just simplified things.
Once you flicked the switch I just had to check the pricing of a few products to make sure they were in the right denomination. But it all went without a hiccup.
3. You are using some Beta and some Alpha features in UltraCart's multi-currency area, are you running into any issues, bugs, etc?
Absolutely none. I'm not even sure what Alpha or Beta features I'm using - it just works. I have my main products priced in GBP. But when I do a promotion sometimes to a primarily US audience it's easier to price and let them buy in USD. So I just set up a USD version of the product and create a buy button for that. Ultracart then just converts the payment to GBP for paying into my merchant account.
The only thing I remember is that when we first set it up I was obviously an early adopter and the one thing you hadn't done was that the refund options assumed the payment had been made in USD. But when I told you about it, you fixed it within a day.
4. I'm sure that minutes after this newsletter goes out Ian Brody will be a household name, but how do you currently leverage UltraCart to help you market your brand?
I'm not sure about famous, but it just makes me easier to do business with. So rather than having my UK clients wondering why they have to pay in dollars to buy a product from a fellow Brit, or US customers having to do a calculation to figure out how much the thing they're buying actually costs; I can offer it to them in their own currency.
And for any other currency Ultracart also allows people to select which one they want even if the button is in pounds or dollars. So I've had people pay in Euros, Swiss Francs and Australian dollars.
5. Speaking of using Office Auto Pilot (now OntraPort), any pointers for using it with UltraCart?
For most things, integration with Office Autopilot is easy. You just configure the API and purchases on UltraCart get piped in to Office Autopilot and matched to the contact who bought them.
If you are delving into some of the more complex or obscure areas of Office Autopilot integration, then I'd say the key thing if you're having problems is to speak to the UltraCart Support team. They're very responsive (completely unlike your competitor when I was trialling them and trying to get integration working with Office Autopilot within their system).
As an example, when Office Autopilot introduced a better way of doing affiliate tracking through external systems like Ultracart it was quite complex to implement. They had instructions in their help files but it was beyond my technical capabilities. You had to construct a pixel with a URL including a whole bunch of variables that had to be set on the thank you page and I just couldn't figure out how to program it.
I emailed the Ultracart help desk for ideas on how to do it and they basically said "don't worry - we'll put an option on the checkout configuration that will create the pixel for you". And bang, a couple of days later it was done. All I had to do was put my Office Autopilot details into Ultracart and it created the right pixel for me in the right format automatically without me needing to do any programming.
That was way above the call of duty.
6. What can you tell other international UltraCart merchants that we haven't discussed?
I guess the key point is that some people will be more comfortable buying things in their own currency. So price in the currency of the majority of people likely to see your buy buttons. In my case most of the time that's in GBP, but when I do exclusive promotions with US partners I price in dollars. The flexibility in UltraCart lets you do this while still having payments made to your merchant account in your home currency.
7. Now for a completely ridiculous question: You're stranded on a deserted island and you can only take 3 UltraCart features with you, which are they and why?
Does UltraCart do a speedboat?
Apart from, of course, the multi currency we've talked about, the 3 things I like the most about Ultracart are the huge range of merchants supported, the ability to change the look and feel of the cart easily, and I guess #1 is the responsiveness of the support and development team.