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Pre-orders, vouchers, & redemptions! Oh Why?

Posted by Smith Micro Blogger on Aug 18, 2011 8:27:06 AM

We know that this pre-order voucher program we've unveiled for the Poser release is a little out of the ordinary. It also probably seems complicated, or maybe just strange to some of you, but there are a few reasons behind it that we wanted to share openly in hopes that it explains the "why". So here's the honest scoop.

SMSI, as a public company, is required to report our revenue performance to the public every quarter and hitting the number we say we're going to make is extremely important. Our company runs on a calendar year, so the end of the 3rd quarter is September 30, 2011. Our graphics division set a revenue goal for Q3 that was dependent on a very strong Poser release that we had originally planned for early September. In July we made the decision to move out the release date so that we could focus on stability and polish features like rigging and rendering improvements.

It was definitely the right decision to make and now that we are nearing the end of development we are extremely pleased with the results. The extra time has given us very solid high quality releases and there is no question that we'll make our ship date. However, we went from having 25 days of selling the new versions down to just 10 before the end of the quarter which put us in danger of not meeting our quarterly goal. We felt strongly that the products would sell well, but unfortunately WHEN the sales come in matters to a public company.

So we decided on a pre-order campaign which is a common way to extend the buying period ahead of a release. We really wanted to announce at Siggraph and then give our user base plenty of time to learn about the new features before making a buying decision so we started early. We also set some of the lowest pricing we've ever offered as a bonus for the pre-order buyers.

But why the voucher and redemption process and not just a standard pre-order where we hold the card information and charge it when the product is delivered? The simple answer is that our custom-built online stores - contentparadise.com and store.smithmicro.com - don't have that exact capability yet. So because the majority of the early buyers for the new Poser products are upgraders, and we do all upgrade sales in our own online stores, we had to find a creative way to take pre-orders.

We thought about our options and then decided to borrow a page from Groupon where you pay up front for a coupon and then redeem it later for the goods or services. But we still needed to limit the redemption period to within the quarter in order for us to formally book the sales. The rules are a pain. Having to deal with hard quarter-end deadlines is a pain. But we trudge on.

So that's the back story, but here's the front story. We are going to do everything we can to make sure that all of your vouchers are redeemed on time. We will send out plenty of email reminders with all of your redemption information and our customer service team will be on hand to redeem your voucher FOR you if you can't or haven't by the last day. We'll take care of it so that your software will be waiting for you in your store account. We won't let you miss out, we promise.

Once your voucher is redeemed and you have access to the software, our 30-day money back guarantee kicks in so that if you're not happy with the product you can return it for a refund. We're also working very hard to address the huge download volume that we know is coming by adding multiple file locations across the country to handle the bandwidth demands.

All in all we're confident that the process, though a little unorthodox, will work out for everyone.

Topics: Poser

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