Building a business is difficult, giving it away for free is very easy. Many business owners when going online make quick decisions that give their hard-earned business intelligence away. Here we outline 6 mistakes business owners make and unwittingly give away their customer data.
1. Payment Processors only require a credit card number, total value, and currency to process a payment. Making it “easier for customers” by passing their shipping addresses and line items is passing all your customer’s information out of your organisation. It will now be used by the payment processor in ways that you have no control over. They will target your customer and gently lure them away from your business. Paypal is linked to Ebay. Amazon-Pay is linked to Amazon. Need we say anymore ?
2. Using Analytics Tracking where you send the details of “conversions” to Google or other analytics and traffic tracking companies, can expose your business intelligence. Scenario : You run an ad campaign and the advertiser asks you to insert a conversion script on the checkout success page. You can do conversion tracking without sending transaction details to google of the product, and the value. Google will have a good idea who the shopper is. They will be able to find them. When installing tracking ask yourself do we really need to send the value of the transaction or just that the customer converted. Sending the value is a quick win for the marketing department who are too lazy to use a long hand way to calculate the conversion and rather put your business intelligence to another org to make their life easier. If you want to run your own analytics you can use piwik stats on your own site and this will give you more information than google gives you. No loss of data as piwik is hosted on your site using your hosted databases and no information leaves your organisation. There are other standalone analytics tools you can use too.
Note : ordinary google analytics do not collection transaction or customer information, unless you install ecommerce tracking. They do place cookies on your visitors browsers.
3. Market Places like Amazon, Ebay, Etsy etc. When you sell on these marketplaces you give all your business intelligence away. The market place not only have your total customer records they also have their browsing and buying habits across the marketplace. Do you think Amazon would share all their customer information with EBay ? You should use Market Places with extreme caution. Many businesses find Marketplaces start to sell their product and price cut forcing the original seller off the platform as they can no longer make a profit. Marketplaces have their place but should be treated with extreme caution and possibly used for clearing end of line stock for customer sectors you no longer want.
4. SAAS ecommerce platforms. E.G. ( shopify , bigcommerce, volusion etc. ) These are platforms where you build support, ship and manage the store yourself on the SAAS Platforms hosting and software. If you build up a good SEO ranking you will be locked into these platforms. While you may not loose your business intelligence you will lock it up. You cannot move it for fear of loosing your SEO ranking. A lot of SAAS platforms will not allow you to export all your data out of their platform thus locking your business data in. Now imagine if Shopify or BigCommerce is purchased by Amazon or EBay then you run the risk of loosing your business intelligence too. This is a speculative statement, but not beyond a reasonable assumption.
Email Newsletter Systems
5. Email newsletter systems. Here you post all the email addresses of your customers, then send emails use the email letter services tracking codes to see what the return on investment is. So my newsletter service can see the read rate, what your customers are interested in and what customers are the best converters. Gold dust. I am not saying that newsletter systems share this information with others, but it is not crazy to assume that they may get bought out by Ebay or Amazon in the future.
6. Review management applications. You love those 5 star reviews especially when you get tweeted on them. Its such an addiction for a business owner. To do this you gave the review company your client details and what they purchased ! You what ? Did you check who the review company was owned by and funded by ?
Business Intelligence Check List :
- Is my customer information being passed?
- Are my sales values being passed?
- Are the products I am selling being passed?
- Could you derive the information from question 1, 2, 3 from the information being passed?
- Can I derive the information myself that these applications are collecting on my behalf ?
If the answer is yes, then do not engage because the information is already available from your not so smart competitors who are sharing this. Get a Terrapeak account and get all the business intelligence you need without giving yours away.
Sharing data about your customers with another party after they have shopped on your site needs to be included in your Privacy Statement. If you apply this retrospectively, then customer consent for later sharing has to be gained and recorded. If this is not done this could be the grounds for a data breach report in the future if your customers data is exported to another service of which they did not consent to. So moving your store from a standalone platform where you migrate your old customer data needs your old customers permission to do so !
Using willows consulting for your ecommerce project ensures that you have a supplier who is looking out for your business on every level. This blog was written in reaction to seeing a growing number of online retailers making rash decisions for more sales but actually sowing the seeds for their business destruction.