Tag Archives: e-commerce

E-Commerce Delivers

E-commerce war is raging! E-commerce players are going all out to get your money doing whatever it takes to get you shopping on their website. The war has changed they we shop, probably forever.

Electronic or e-commerce, the act of shopping online and having the goods delivered directly to your home, is exploding. More and more online stores and regular brick and mortar stores are offering to deliver your purchases to you anywhere.

Amazon Prime customers can get their purchases delivered on the same day with Amazon Prime NowCustomers need only check the item description to see if it is available for same day delivery in their zip code. Amazon claims it has over 1 million items available for same day delivery in 8,000 cites.

Now Amazon has stepped up its game by announcing a new service that gives its couriers access to your vehicle for the purpose of placing your purchases inside.  Amazon is planning to use the Internet connected capabilities in many modern vehicles.  In cooperation with GM and Volvo Amazon will be launching the new service in 37 cities in the U.S.

In order to use the service the car owner must add their car to the Amazon Key app with a description of the vehicle allowing Amazon’s couriers to locate it. The vehicle must be parked within a certain radius of an address used for Amazon deliveries, mostly likely home or work. Driveways, parking lots, parking garages, and street parking are all eligible locations.

Amazon has also asked its customers for permission to enter their home when they are not home to drop off packages. The program, known as Amazon Key, relies on Amazon’s new Cloud Cam and compatible smart lock connected to the Internet using your home Wi-Fi. The camera talks to the lock over Zigbee, a wireless protocol used by many smart home devices.

When a delivery person arrives with a package for in-home delivery, they scan the package barcode that sends a request to Amazon’s cloud. If everything checks out, the cloud then triggers the camera to start recording the entry and delivery. The courier then swipes the screen unlocking the door. They enter, drop off the package and re-lock the door with another swipe. The customer is then notified of the delivery accompanied by a short video showing the drop-off to confirm everything was done properly. Amazon also owns Whole Foods which also offers grocery deliveries in an hour.

Amazon is deadly serious about perfecting the art of delivery. The company is planning to create its own delivery service that will go into direct competition with FedEx and UPS. Its also planning to use drones for delivery a program it has already launched in the U.K.

But brick and mortar retailers are not standing still while Amazon perfects the art of delivery. Walmart, America’s largest retail chain store, is teaming up with with DoorDash for its online grocery delivery service. The program is set to kick off in Atlanta and eventually expand across the United States.

The service builds upon a previous Walmart delivery program. If the customer is within one of the new delivery areas they will be able to request delivery and set up a time for the delivery.  A Walmart employee will pull all your items together and handoff the groceries to DoorDash for delivery. In a challenge to Amazon Walmart is also offering two day delivery for selected online purchases but, unlike Amazon, no membership is required.

Target stores are also getting into the delivery game as well. Target is planning delivery  to nearly 60 locations across five major cities, Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. As part of the checkout process the retailer will offer customers the choice of having their purchases delivered to their homes. The key factor to the city selection for the delivery program is that these cities have a high concentration of car-less consumers who routinely use public transportation.  The delivery service will cost the $7.

Groceries delivery is slowly becoming the most in demand service for e-commerce shoppers. More and and more retail grocers, in addition to Whole Foods, are fighting for your dollars with on demand grocery deliveries. Walmart expects to be delivering groceries in over 100 markets by the end of the year. This includes a new meal kit service from Walmart’s Culinary and Innovation Center. If you are Sam’s Club customer you can also take advantage of its delivery service.

But keep in mind that its not just groceries that can be purchased online and delivered to your home. Used car buyers can use Carvana to shop, select, finance and have the car of their choice delivered right to heir driveway.

Breaking It Down

Customer convenience is the new standard. E-commerce, like retail, must compete. And we live in a service based economy. So delivery is the new frontier of customer service. Fast and when and where the customer demands it. This is the evolution of service and customer satisfaction. I am not surprised. The Internet is changing everything.

But is all this online shopping and on demand delivery hurting retail businesses?  Not exactly. Many consumers, and experts, believe that retail stores are dying but that is not true. What has actually happened is that brick and mortar retailers have modified their operations to actually become part of the e-commerce experience. Many retailers, like Walmart, are offering customer the option to buy the product online and pick it up in the store. In addition, retailers will encourage shoppers to go online if they can’t find the item they are looking for in the store and will sweeten the deal with free delivery. Some stores will even go online for you to locate your product and you can complete the purchase in the store. The brick and mortar retailer seems to be safe for now. Of course e-commerce explodes during the holiday season and that can be attributed to the crowds and ugliness of Black Friday sales.

According to Forbes there are five signs that retail is still king of the shopping hill.

  1. All but one of the top ten U.S. retailers are brick and mortar chains.
  2. Brick and mortar stores are more profitable that e-commerce.
  3. Amazon purchased Whole Foods.
  4. Millennials And generation Z prefer real-life stores.
  5. Online retailers are being eaten by legacy retailers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

App of the Week – Earny

earny_LEverybody shops online. Black people especially enjoy the power and convenience of e-commerce. But shopping online has one big drawback and that is buying something only to discover it at a cheaper price later or at another website. That is why Earny is the App of the Week.

Earny allows online shoppers to get a better price by finding the item you purchased at a cheaper price and then getting you a refund for the difference. Yeah, you read that right! Earny will get some money back for you. Not only that but you pretty much don’t have to do a thing.

The app tracks your online purchases and finds your e-receipts by connecting with your email and Amazon accounts to see if you got the best deal. If Earny finds a lower price it will request a refund for you and take a 25 percent cut of the action. The balance will be credited back to your payment card. Yeah, you read that right! Earny automatically tracks your purchases and files for refunds or credits when it beats the price you paid.

Earny is programmed to understand the price match policy of online stores and knows how to file claims without any help from you. Think of it as a robot refund machine.

Earny can track purchases from over 50 stores including such giant retailers as Amazon, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Nordstrom, and many others. Is this the bomb or what?

Earny is about to get a lot better according to co-founder Oded Vakrat.  Vakrat plans to provide consumers with the same protections across a variety of services.

“For example, flight tickets, hotels, car insurance, health insurance, phone plans – all those things we will focus on in the future,” he says. “We want Earny to watch your back for every payment you make,” adds Vakrat.

Earny is free and available at Apple and the company is developing an Android version.

Reacting to Online Fraud

You want to see a black person mad? Have them pay for something and not get what they paid for. Fraud is a reality whenever you shop online. And nothing is more frustrating than not knowing who to call when you discover you have been ripped off.

According to the  FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3 there were 262,813 complaints of Internet crime filed with the agency last year alone. Of that number 119, 457 or 45% reported actual financial losses. So how much money was lost to online fraud in 2013? How about $781,841,611! Yeah; I used an exact number because you need to see exactly how much money the criminals are raking in. The average victim lost $2,975  to online fraud. Again, exact numbers. You can see all the stats in the IC3 2013 Internet Crime Report.

Imagine how much larger those numbers would be if all the crime was actually reported. It is believed that as much as 15% of online fraud is never reported because the victims are just too embarrassed. 

Shopping or conducting business online is fairly secure if you take the right precautions. But what if you lose money to a fraud or scam? Who do you report it to? First let me say this; if you call your local police they may be woefully untrained on how to handle a cyber crime. Its not their fault. Investigating cyber crime is a specialized task that is beyond their pay grade. If you got ripped off by a fake charity that comes to your door they may be able to help. But a cyber crime that may originate half a world away is just out of their league.

One of the most common scams that strike people online is the phishing attack.  A phishing scam is when a cyber criminal tries to trick you into revealing potentially valuable information. The same information that was stolen from JP Morgan.

The criminal will create an email that is a near perfect duplicate of an email from your bank or other trusted source. The email may warn you about a potential security incident then provide you a link to click on for further information,  or to go to the website or a security patch or something like that.

If you click on the link one of two things are going to happen. You may be taken to a duplicate website and asked for your user name and password. Or you may download some form of malware that could steal valuable information. Most banks and other financial institutions do not communicate this way. My advice is never, ever click on a link you are not absolutely certain of what it is.  But if you do…

1) Forward the phishing email and link along to the company being imitated. If they impersonated your bank or other financial service provider make sure you let the bank know and forward the email to them as well.

2) Contact your local law enforcement and at least complete a police report. Also report the incident to the Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3.

3) Remember that a paper trail is your best friend. Your bank or credit card company keeps excellent records. You should too. Keep a record of all the calls  you make and to whom you spoke with, your statements with the suspicious transactions and any other correspondence or documentation required.  If enough people report this scam it could trigger a community alert. Inform a government consumer protection agency or relevant tech firm.    

4) Delete the message once you’ve done all this and add the email address to your spam folder so you never have to see it again.

Most legitimate online shopping sites will offer a way for customers to dispute a sale or charge or report fraud of any kind.

For example if you get caught up in PayPal themed phishing campaign you will need to contact PayPal’s fraud department.  Do a simple web search for PayPal Phishing or PayPal Fraud. Remember that these cyber criminals can craft an absolutely flawless copy of a PayPal site or email so don’t click on or respond to anything suspicious. Once you are in touch with the real PayPal they will tell you exactly what to do. Nearly every bank and online merchant will have a procedure to report phishing and fraud. Use it. And the next question is; if they don’t why are you doing business with them?

I shop online regularly. And I worry about what happens if I don’t receive what I ordered. This rarely happens. But what if it did?

Disputing charges or an order is a skill you have to master if you shop online. You have to learn who and how to report it. How to return it and if necessary how to get your money back? Or what if you are overcharged? You need to learn how to dispute and get the correct product or money back.  Here are some effective steps for dealing with disputed or fraudulent transactions.

1) Contact the organization where the charges are coming from. Most legitimate organizations  have a fast and efficient system to help the customer. They want to correct the situation as soon as possible. And they will. These merchants will provide return shipping and refunds if the order or the price is not right. I have even returned items and got a coupon for the next time I shop on their site. They want your business.

2) But if that’s not the case or doesn’t solve your problem, contact your bank or credit card provider. You may be able to block the charges or even get your money back. Some credit card issuers and banks have fraud protections for their card holders. Merchants take notice when the bank or a credit card company calls. They don’t want that kind of trouble.

3) You may need to contact law enforcement or the Better Business Bureau or the IC3. Don’t hesitate if you think you’ve been ripped off. And don’t be afraid to take to social media and let them have it! You’ll be surprised what happens if you send out a Tweet.

Sites like eBay and Amazon are market providers. They simply create the online site where people sell directly to each other. There are many sites that specialize in providing a marketplace for buyer and sellers. Some online marketplaces carry very specific or unique products and others carry just about everything like Craigslist. A very dangerous place if you don’t know what you’re doing and how to protect yourself.  Now eBay and Amazon and many other online marketplaces are very diligent at protecting their customers and their reputations. But using these sites means you have to protect yourself.  Learn how they fight fraud before you get involved with them. eBay has an excellent system in place to judge the sellers on their site and are very responsive to complaints. Same for Amazon. Learn how to use their systems. But if something does happen you’ll need to follow their specific instructions for handling fraudulent sellers. Amazon and eBay are definitely ready to fight fraud with you and for you. 

Remember there are ways to fight online fraud. You have to educate yourself to spot it before it happens and how to react when it does happen. There is no software that is going to do the job for you.

Now you know

 

Shopping Online? Think Credibility and Security

canstockphoto18667912Buying online. Its called e-commerce. African-Americans have gone from Black Friday sales to Cyber Mondays online. Online shopping is perfectly natural. You probably never even think about it, you just do it. Even with all the hacking and and identity theft going on millions of black people, like myself, will go online to find the best price on the product we need or want.

But before you shop you need to trust the website you’re dealing with. Website credibility means money for the merchant. But no credibility means you could get taken. Happens everyday. So I’m gonna say it again even though I’ve said it a thousands times already; Black people don’t play when it comes to our money.

Before I get into e-commerce credibility I want to talk about our credibility. African-Americans are a powerful consumer segment. According to research done by the Neilsen Company. Black buying power will reach $1.1 trillion by 2015. Yes, I said TRILLON! And that number will only grow. Neilsen says our buying power will reach $1.3 trillion by 2017. Clearly we are growing and gaining power as consumers.

Neilsen Study: African-Americans Are More Relevant Than Ever

But if you want to see a black person mad have them buy something and not get what they paid for! That’s why e-commerce credibility is so important when black people shop online. A funny thing about the African-American online shopper; we will do more research than other groups before we purchase. According to TheMinorityeye.com website 45% of black shoppers utilize the Internet early in their purchase process before we decide on a product or service. It takes black people longer to make a purchase. It means we are careful with our money. Do you need me to say it again?

Now we can talk about e-commerce credibility. Black people know the big names like Amazon, eBay, Macy’s, Walmart. But when you shop you will sometimes find a unique item or a special price for something. But is that website trustworthy? That’s the big question here. Here are ten steps you can take to protect yourself when shopping online

1) Know who you are dealing with –  The birth of the Internet and e-commerce resulted in a truly global market place. There is no where in the world you can’t shop. So your retailer may be in another country. Consider these things, is the name recognizable like Amazon.com or Walmart.com? These companies have solid reputations.  But sometimes you have to establish the identity of the smaller less known online retailers. So make sure to investigate the name and company registration details here in the U.S. Make sure you have a way to contact the company. Look for an an e-mail, postal address and telephone number and know definitely where the company’s headquarters is based. If you can’t find this information something is wrong. And test the companies response by sending them an email asking questions about their products or services. Did they respond quickly? Was the response acceptable and professional? And here is something else to look for, how is their English? Is it acceptable or poorly written with spelling and grammar errors. That’s a tip off that you need to investigate further. And finally check their online reputation by using the Better Business Bureau website. You can also visit websites like Scamadviser.com. This website allows you to enter the website address and get a fast review of the sites credibility.

2) Check their reputation –An online retailer may have a legitimate business but that doesn’t mean he has satisfied customers. Lets be real, some places will tell you all sales are final. And customer satisfaction is not a priority. So make sure you investigate the companies reputation thoroughly. Again the BBB is a good place to start. What is their return policy? Check online for customer feedback and issues. Are they rated highly by customers?

3) Understand billing, guarantees and delivery before you buy anything –  Be wary of hidden costs and payment details before sending credit card details. Keep an eye out for and calculate these costs into your purchase.

  • Packaging costs
  • Delivery costs
  • Know if you will be billed before or after the product or service is delivered.
  • Can you track the item from purchase to delivery to your door? This is crucial for more expensive items. The ability to electronically track your purchase adds to the companies reputation and credibility.
  • Does the product come with a guarantee against defects, functioning, appearance and quality?
  • What is the return policy? Throughly read the information on the site about cancellations, returns and refunds. Print a copy.
  • Who pays if the item is returned? Postage, fees etc.
  • If there is a cooling off  or grace period for expensive items. Some retailers will actually give you a ‘regret’ period, usually 48 hours, where you can cancel or return a really expensive purchase.

 4) Thoroughly review the site’s privacy and security policy. Reputable retailers are open about their data collection. Somewhere on the website they will outline exactly what data they collect from you and what they do with it. Many will display a web-seal of  approval or trust mark such as Trust-e that sets standards for the treatment of your information. Research this privacy policy to understand how the company will use your information after your purchase. Some companies will use your information to email you with updates, to inquire about your level of satisfaction, or offer you other products or deals. Some retailers also sell your information to third parties. That’s where your email spam comes from.  Ultimately you must decide what much information you are prepared to give. But the problem with that is that you do not always get that information upfront. Or you may have no choice in the matter. Except to shop elsewhere and that is definitely a powerful message. If you really want to make an impact simply email the company and tell the you didn’t buy from them because of their privacy policy.

5) Use only secure websites – Ok, your investigation is complete and you’re satisfied that the company you are purchasing from is legit. Now for the transaction.  You need to make double sure that your credit card data is processed using a secure connection. Commonly known as Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) this is the most commonly used form of encryption used online.  Your credit card data is encrypted by SSL and broken into small pieces so it cannot be read by a cyber criminal. To ensure that you are using SSL technology you need to check your browser for the following:

  • Your browser may be set to alert you that you are entering a secure area. Unless you are required to log in before shopping the secure area is the first page where you enter your personal information.
  • Look for the ‘https:’ on your browser URL address window. 

google-ssl-1319029457

That final “s” is telling you that the site is secure. But unless you were required to sign in from the beginning you won’t see the “s” until you are ready to complete your transaction. 

https-padlock-icon

  • Look for the little green padlock in the URL window. It should be locked or closed. If it is open then assume the site is not secure and don’t enter any data no matter how bad your want the product. Transmitting data over an un-secure connection is asking for trouble. Its called “being out in the open.”
  • Another symbol to look out for is the unbroken key. It also indicates a secure website. 

6) Attention to detail – Be sure to enter the correct information when submitting your order. An incorrect address, number of items or the wrong item code can cause some serious headaches. And that is not the way you want to test their customer service!  And make sure their math is correct. Check for hidden fees like re-stocking if you return the item. Look for convenience fees, unusual shipping fees and other sneaky charges some retailers attach to your purchase.  Double check this information before you click ‘buy’.  After you have completed the purchase start keeping records. Record your purchase details to include a receipt of the final price, email and credit card confirmations shipping details dates and times. If you can’t print them then do a screenshot of the information and save it or print that out. Remember, a paper trail is powerful tool. 

7) Use a credit card with online fraud protection. When all else fails its nice to know your credit card has a policy that protects your from online fraud. You can find the best credit cards for fighting fraud here. Make sure you read that policy and stick to it. It can save you from losing a lot of money. Many credit card companies offer protection against fraudulent purchases and includes coverage that includes online purchases. Check with your bank or credit card provider to see what protection you have. It may be time to switch to a safer card.

8) Use a good Phishing Filter –There are various phishing filters and some good ones are actually free. For Windows users there is Microsoft SmartScreen Filter for Internet Explorer. This software will alert you when it detects a suspicious website.

9) Be alert to email scams – Email scams are designed to gather personal information such as passwords and credit card details. These are known as phishing emails. And remember there is no software that can protect your from or detect a scam. Scammers send out millions of emails day after day hoping to snag unsuspecting or gullible victims. When they find one they immediately go after their confidential information often. These emails may mimic known retailers and look quite convincing. But keep in mind that legitimate companies, including all banks, never, ever send you an email requesting  login, password, or credit card details.  Don’t ever click on that link! Delete it and report it to your bank. If you have any doubts,  go to the website on your own by typing in the web address of the company. Again; do not click on that link. It may be malware or some other virus.

Being black and online requires you to be alert and knowledgeable. Don’t be somebody’s sucker when you shop online. Learn what you need to know to protect yourself because AACR rule #1 is; The only laws on the Internet are the ones you impose and enforce.

Now you know.