Thursday, October 29
Square payments is not so square after all!
Ecommerce, Retail, Security, Small Business, Technology

Square payments is not so square after all!

Square payments made us rethink our payment processing. Our company has multiple online interests and occasionally and very rarely we get a chargeback.  Much like most of the retail population out there, chargebacks do happen and its a part of doing business.  Sometimes it is the mistake of the customer who placed the order but didn't recognize the transaction, other times it is outright fraud.  In that case, the merchant has the ability to dispute the chargeback and provide evidence supporting the charge. Square fails with chargebacks! We were fairly new to the Square experience, having used their service for just under a year for our credit card transactions.  And then it happened.  We received a chargeback and then another chargeback from an eerily similar customer.  The...
Technology, Web Hosting

So what makes a GREAT web host?

So what is a web host anyway? In my opinion, there are two definitions: A BAD HOST:  A computer connected to the internet with outdated software, lax security patches and upgrades, thousands of websites without load balancing software or hardware and a service that collects hosting "rent" with slumlord qualities.  These hosts are usually staffed with technical support people who will often be unaware of the true answers to most problems and will often refer to form letters instead of trying to legitimately address a concern.  This is MANY of the hosts on the internet, including the big box companies - we have all seen their ads on tv! A GOOD HOST:  A well configured, high-end server (not cheap like the server farms used by above).  Properly organized with extra memory and several ...
eBay will fail long term.
Ecommerce, Small Business, Technology, The Future

eBay will fail long term.

eBay will fail long term, and here is why. I used to be an eBay Powerseller and now I can't stand them.  Furthermore, I think that their current business strategies are destined to fail long-term. When eBay started, they embraced everyone and anyone selling products who were trying to meet the needs in the marketplace. The starting story of eBay is pretty fascinating.  Well I thought it was pretty fascinating story about how the owner started the site based on an interest in selling PEZ dispensers.  That is, until I learned later it was a completely fabricated story to help create interest in the website. Strike one. Dishonesty. If they cannot profit from it in a big way, they have very little interest. This is clear from their indications that they wil...
Competition: Good or Bad for a Small Business?
Ecommerce, Retail, Small Business

Competition: Good or Bad for a Small Business?

Many people have talked to me about business and offered a glimpse of what they focus on when it comes to running a small business.  With regards to competition, its usually framed in a way that sounds whiny, cry-babyish, like, “seriously, how do you survive out there with all the competition“.  Thankfully, I realize that its a natural protection mechanism that we all have built in.  People want to protect themselves from bad things, from bad experiences in life.  Where it appears there is even a little risk, its easy to [level-premier-free]reason away what could be a good thing by focusing on a factor like competition. Competition doesn't define you. OBJECTIVE:    To show the reader that while competition is something to be aware of, its nothing to be afraid of.  Competition is ...
Ecommerce, Retail, Technology

Should my website have the best prices?

     The past 15 years I've been selling online, focusing on what makes ecommerce work.  I studied the eye-path of the customer, great web design, and the things that generally make a website successful in the online marketplace. One of my focuses early on was pricing.  Originally, I thought like everyone else in ecommerce that having the best prices online was required.  It became clear that the larger companies and larger competition out there constantly beat the drum of traditional retail and traditional retail pricing schemes. And I must admit, early on I did to.   I kept up with the sales of competition and make the necessary discounts in order to secure sales from customers who focus on price.   And then it dawned on me. What if I hired a [level-premier-free]programmer to write...
One single supplier is best!
Ecommerce, Retail, Small Business, Technology

One single supplier is best!

One single supplier is the chosen way to handle your distribution chain. When you have more than one suppler, things become very complicated, very quickly. The objective of this post is to provide the e-commerce store owner the considerations of having more than one supplier. This is called your distributor/strategic alliance/partner or even your "warehouse". It will touch on the various layers of middlemen in a supplier/retailer relationship and outline questions to contemplate. To maximize your profits when selling online, it is essential that you understand this. Many companies online offer products for sale to customers - that is the easy part.  Fulfillment is the trick. The author of this article has been selling online for over 12 years utilizing a single distributor. The ...

How to Pick and KEEP a GREAT Domain Name

   Choosing the right domain name is the essential step to building an online presence or eCommerce business.  While its true that you can build the content of a website without a domain name, choosing the right domain name helps start you on building the character, them and overall appearance of the website.  With a domain name, the project starts to take shape and develops.  But, that is only part of the process, getting people TO the website is essential.  Having an easy to type, easy to remember domain name is required.  In addition, there are factors that have to do with if the search engines consider the domain name credible and search engine friendly.   TIPS TO FOLLOW: Start with a .com name and then [level-premier-free]work with others as needed.  Most people use .com ...
Ecommerce, Retail

Is a Franchise a good investment?

Is a franchise the best business investment?  In the opinion of this 15 year veteran of online only sales, the answer is a resounding NO.  Here's what you must know if considering a franchise. Early on our family looked to start a business serving the local community, offering a shipping service.  Researched and reviewed all the different franchise opportunities,  the costs and weighed the benefits over the downside.  Here's what we found:   ADVANTAGES: The manual on how its done.  Most franchise opportunities will give you great deal of information on how the process works from beginning to end.  This includes start up procedures, planning, negotiating deals with vendors and landlords, etc. Network of discounted [level-premier-free]supplies or services. National or reg...
Is Drop-ship a Recipe for Failure?
Ecommerce, The Future

Is Drop-ship a Recipe for Failure?

 Is drop-ship a recipe for failure? This is a hot topic that I did not realize was so disputed until my concern was voiced in public about the drop shipping business model. Hundreds of people responded wanting to know why I felt personally that drop-ship is a recipe for failure without question.  Pretty strong statement by any standards and I struck a nerve. Here's why I know drop-ship business is a recipe for failure for the small business eCommerce owner.  That is, unless it is done a very specific way! Imagine this scenario:      The neighbor to the left of you shops at a drop-ship website, they receive the product only and are content. The right neighbor shops at a non-drop shipper and receives the same and coupons, brochures and a free surprise . You meet at the end of yo...
Ecommerce, Predictions, Retail, The Future

Is Traditional Retail dead and a rotting dinosaur?

 Can traditional retail really be a dead and rotting dinosaur, isn't that a bit harsh? The answer to this question is a resounding and unfortunate yes and yes it is.  Stores, chains and corporate executives would want to argue in the opposite direction and say that traditional retail is strong, but take a good look at history.  What reduced Circuit City, Tower Records and Linens and Things to a pile of steaming rubble?   Competition yes, but to a greater definition, online competition.   We are seeing behemoths like Blockbuster twist in the wind at the command of companies like Netflix, Hulu and online streaming presented by ATT's Uverse as well as other content providers.  The world is quickly turning digital and embracing the flexibility that that business model has at its core.  And su...
Technology, The Future

Apple Iphone 4S Sells out preorders at all carriers!

  Apple Iphone 4S sales sold out on their pre-orders at Verizon, AT&T and Sprint a day before the phone even went officially on sale!  The legacy of Steve Jobs remains and forging even greater paths and numbers on a product he developed and brought to the world. The Iphone 4S 16GB is no longer availalbe for pre-order utilizing the supply and demand urge by those who can't pre-order it to want it even more.  An easy prediction is to say that the Iphone sales for this new unit will be record numbers and shock the world as customers at Sprint migrate over to the new Iphone.   And it could not have come at better time for Sprint. Sprint has taken an enormous leap of faith, a college football gameday hail-mary if you will, to see if they can bounce back with the Iphone and the custome...
Predictions, Technology, The Future

Netflix stumbles but will it work?

   Netflix caught my eye years ago and had my wallet up until the two most recent changes to their business model.  Having run internet businesses since 1998, I am pretty familiar with the need to change and grow and change again dependent on the market and the customer base.  So I was not suprised when Netflix started changing their model to include different pricing or a change in pricing.  Having reviewed over 1200 movies using their service, I was dug in deep. It was wonderful watching a movie while working on a spreadsheet, database or organizing family photos and there in the corner of the screen played a movie from Netflix.  Not a being a  person who is too keen on wasting time watching tons of movies, this seemed to be a pretty justifiable way of getting away with it. And it ...
Constitutional Rights, Law Enforcement

Police Video-Taping upheld by First Circuit Court of Appeals

Its about time. Scenario:  You are in public and pulled over by a police officer for speeding.  Do you have a right of privacy, not to be recorded on the police dash cam? Never.  Are you able to opt-out of being recorded on street corners by traffic cams and character and mapping software, nope.  Does a police officer have a right to NOT be counter-recorded by the person being pulled over?  Amazingly, they think they do.  Not all, but most believe that it is downright wrong and somehow interfere with the duties of the law enforcement official. The country is littered with cases of citizens being arrested for exercising their rights to record the actions of police in this society. Don't get me wrong, I support what they do.  I come from a family of law enforcement officials, from M...
Linux, PCI Compliance, Security, Server

Removing DS_Store files on Linux Server

If you use an Apple machine and work on a Linux server, sooner or later, you are going to get a PCI Compliance warning that you are using hidden files in your files directory, and they consider that a PCI Compliance no no.  This will surely get you flagged on this item so its best to remove them from the server. When you navigate the Apache folders, your Mac will leave behind the .DS_STORE files in the directories.  This also happens if you upload files and directories from your Mac to the server via FTP.  What are these files?  They are used by the Mac to remember how you opened a file and to display what view should be used in the future for reopening that file or folder. The .DS_Store files that are written to the web server folders can contain the file names that are on the serve...
Exploit, Software

Kayako Fusion Exploit uncovered CRITICAL

Recently I noticed in testing the Kayako Live chat and support software labeled as Fusion (most current version) has an exploit. In lengthy chat conversations with their tech teams, they have classified this exploit as a "optional feature" missing from the current version. They sent me to this developer link. Hmm. Here's the scenario. You have a current protected knowledgebase of information, available only to paying customers. Customers that you have to whitelist or allow as registered users. You also use their mail parser mechanism for parsing emails from customers (and all others). To exploit the passworded and [level-premier-free]permissioned knowledgebase, one only needs to send an email to one of any potential parsed domains (parsed via Kayako Fusion) and you are automatically whi...
Exploit, Software

Kayako Fusion parser error Invalid Data Provided

Kayako Fusion parser error is discussed here which should help those who are having the same issue with Kayako. We have been using Kayako Fusion for several years now and are a very dedicated and participatory customer of Kayako.  Recently we noticed a bunch of emails that were being rejected in the parser as "Invalid Data Provided".  Googled for a great deal of time and could not locate the culprit.  In making changes, I would reprocess the email to see if it would reset. One thing that I did, in migrating from an earlier version of SupportSuite, the software created another Template Group.  I deleted the template group that was from the older version and tweaked the default with necessary customizations.  That broke it and caused the parser error Kayako's Fusion keeps the parser...