Archive for E-commerce

Personal data – What is it?

Personal data is information and assessments that can be linked directly or indirectly to an individual, i.e. the data subject.

 

Personal data includes name, gender, age, address, phone number (for personal or work use), credit card transactions, social security number etc. But we must also remember that, for example, IP addresses and encryption keys in many cases can be linked to individuals, and thus may be considered as personal data. Personal data also includes behavioral information such as where you shop, what you watch etc (often referred to as profiling).

 

Sensitive personal data is information on race or ethnicity, political, philosophical and religious beliefs, health conditions, sexuality, membership in unions, criminal matters. In addition, it includes genetic and biometric information when General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on May 25, 2018.

Electronic data interchange

Electronic data interchange (EDI) is an electronic communication method that provides standards for exchanging data via any electronic means. By adhering to the same standard, two different companies or organizations, even in two different countries, can electronically exchange documents (such as purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, and many others). EDI has existed for more than 30 years, and there are many EDI standards (including X12, EDIFACT, ODETTE, etc.), some of which address the needs of specific industries or regions. It also refers specifically to a family of standards. In 1996, the National Institute of Standards and Technology defined electronic data interchange as “the computer-to-computer interchange of strictly formatted messages that represent documents other than monetary instruments. EDI implies a sequence of messages between two parties, either of whom may serve as originator or recipient. The formatted data representing the documents may be transmitted from originator to recipient via telecommunications or physically transported on electronic storage media.” It distinguishes mere electronic communication or data exchange, specifying that “in EDI, the usual processing of received messages is by computer only. Human intervention in the processing of a received message is typically intended only for error conditions, for quality review, and for special situations. For example, the transmission of binary or textual data is not EDI as defined here unless the data are treated as one or more data elements of an EDI message and are not normally intended for human interpretation as part of online data processing. EDI can be formally defined as the transfer of structured data, by agreed message standards, from one computer system to another without human intervention.

What is personal data?

Personal data can be observed, inferred and/or derived.

Personal data is a piece of information or assessment of it that can be linked to you as an individual. It includes name, personal identity number, address, telephone number, E-mail, iris pattern, credit card information etc.

Sensitive personal data includes information on race or ethnicity, political, philosophical and religious beliefs, health conditions, sexuality, membership in associations or criminal matters.

Observed personal data about your behavior like “What and how do you shop?” – “What do you watch on TV?” – “Where are you going?” – “What are you searching for on the Internet?”

What’s wrong with eBay?

Background

I recently had what I would call a bad experience with eBay which made me think about this. My partner bought an item from an eBay seller, and the item turned out to be a huge disappointment. We even suspected it wasn’t genuine for several reasons. The item was a mineral makeup, but it didn’t behave the way you would expect and the shade of colour is not to be found on the producers website. It was advertised on eBay with a picture of the product in its box, but it didn’t come in a box. The seller had a whole bunch of explanations for this. All in all, the product looked very shoddy when it arrived with dust and fluff covering the accompanying applicator brush. Naturally my partner gave a negative feedback stating her thoughts.

This started off an array of messages from the seller, where she among other things threatened to sue for libel as well as have us barred from eBay unless we withdrew our negative feedback.

After a number of emails back and forth, hers quite abusive and ours based on facts (I have learned over the years that it’s best staying to facts and not give in and play the opponents game), the whole thing went to eBay.

Taking the side of sellers

Shortly after we recieved a message from eBay that suggested that if we return the item we would get a full refund and in return the negative feedback be removed. We did not agree to this as returning the item in a registered letter would cost almost as much as the refund would be. We stand by the negative feedback, and we told eBay this as well as gave them the background.

However, two days later we get an extremely smug message from the seller stating that eBay has removed our negative feedback, and lo and behold it was gone. This is quite outrageous as it’s stated on eBay’s website that a removal of negative feedback must be mutual, i.e. I have to give my consent to have it removed. I never did, so what happened? Why does eBay remove a negative feedback without the consent of the person who gave it, i.e. the buyer?

Money rules

Money is of course the core of the matter. eBay is in the business of making money. I as a buyer am not generating money for eBay, but sellers (no matter how corrupt, unreliable, tricky, slippery, dodgy they are) do generate money.

“Its not what you know… its who you know.” This was the comment we got from the seller after eBay gave in to her. What a smug bastard!

So this seller got what she wanted. eBay removed the negative feedback we gave her. It was a well deserved negative feedback, I might add. This seller’s got some 85000+ positive feedback, but she also has a few negatives. Looking at the negatives, which we should have done before we bought anything from her, she is not to be trusted and we are not the only ones to have recieved nasty and threatening messages.

Anyway, the point is she is making money for eBay, and that is more important to eBay than making sure that buyers are protected from dishonest sellers. I suppose it’s not surpricing the way eBay acts, after all they want to make money, but for once it would have been nice to see a major company get in touch with their inner human.

What’s also sad to see is how eBay in its quest for money seems to completely disregard its own rules and regulations. Buyers have no or very little protection, while sellers (especially so called power sellers) always get the benefit of a doubt. eBay can afford to loose a buyer, but loosing sellers means a loss of income.

In conclusion

Big business don’t care about the little person, that’s not really news. It’s been that way for ages. However, it would be nice if it wasn’t, don’t you agree?

eBay needs to realise that they can’t treat buyers this way, or the buyers will leave. Only sellers and no buyers makes for bad business. Where will eBay get its cash?

I have a few questions for you, and would appreciate your input:

  • Have you had a similar experience?
  • Would it be ok, or even legal, to name this eBay seller in order to warn others?
  • What can we do to break this monopoly that eBay has pretty much all over the World?
  • Four Offline Steps to Improve Your E-Commerce Business

    Contrary to popular belief, e-commerce empires aren’t built on the internet alone. There are real world steps that need taken to ensure success. This brief guide will share four steps that any web entrepreneur can take to step their game up to the next level.

    Naturally, most of the tips you read about improving your web ventures cover stuff that you do online. There are tips on web design, creating good content, engaging users, targeting your niche, and everything in between. And all of this stuff is important.

    Equally important, however, are the steps you take offline to bolster your reputation and improve the legitimacy of your operation. Despite often being associated with traditional brick and mortar operations, these offline actions are actually basic steps that every serious business should take. Without them, it’s difficult to differentiate serious, established organizations from those that merely exist on the internet.

    Why does this matter, you ask? Well, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because anyone can get set up online and claim to run a business but not everyone takes what they do seriously enough to go the extra mile and establish themselves. And as consumers deciding who we’re going to do business with, wouldn’t we rather work with organizations that are established and care about their reputations? Of course we would. When it comes to buying goods, making investments, developing partnerships, etc. legitimacy matters.

    By following the four steps outlined below, you’ll be able to take your venture from obscure blog to budding enterprise, instantly bypassing the millions of people who aim simply to exist on the World Wide Web. While some of these steps do require some capital, none are too expensive or out of reach for the average site owner.

    1. Officially register your business

    It’s easy to accept payments as an individual on PayPal or add your would-be company name to the footer of your blog, but actually registering a legal business entity is the legitimate way to go about these things. For a few hundred dollars you can register an LLC with your state and begin doing business in the name of that organization. From your domain registration to the name of the company that appears on your site, having a legal company behind your venture can be used a lot of different ways. If you need help, check out Legal Zoom, who will walk you through the entire process for a fee.

    2. Establish a mailing address

    You don’t have to rent office space or expose your home address to establish a mailing address. All you need to do is register a P.O. Box. If you have already registered your company as described in step one, you can register a P.O. Box in your business name and use it to accept snail mail. Once this is done, you can share this information on your website, business cards, directory listings, etc. and help show the world that you exist beyond your website.

    3. Set up a business telephone number

    Similar to establishing a mailing address, setting up a business telephone number shows that your venture is real and that there are real people who stand behind it. Businesses that don’t have a telephone number listed instantly raise red flags in the minds of consumers. The question is inevitably, “what are they hiding from?”

    A service like Google Voice can be used to obtain a free telephone number, and a small business answering service or call center can be used if you want to maintain a professional image when people call your line. If you want to keep this free, though, you can simply record a professional voicemail greeting and ask that callers leave a message.

    Technically all of this can be done online, but picking up a telephone and calling someone is still viewed as an offline activity, which is why I have included it in this list.

    4. Enhance your real world experience and credibility

    How you spend your time offline can have a serious impact on your business, and rightfully so. By joining organizations like the Chamber of Commerce or a local rotary, you can put a face to your business and network with other professionals in your community. Invariably, these offline relationships translate into increased online exposure, as the connections you make share your information with their networks and help enhance your reputation.

    As I said, all of these steps are pretty basic, and they are things that business people have been doing forever. However, with the current focus on web-based businesses and online enterprise, many of the basic steps for establishing a business have been forgotten. By taking the time to focus on the structure of your business and your offline profile, you’ll catapult yourself ahead of the competition and be on your way to creating a real organization, not just another e-commerce website.

    Are there other steps you have taken offline to enhance your online business? Please share and help improve this list.