November Ecommerce Digest

This month, we covered the basics of online payment processing, the value of professional networking, and how to optimize your site for customer trust. We feasted on Ecommerce Eye Candy of all flavors, from the world’s largest trade expo to atomic-proof data centers. Now that we’ve gobbled turkey and stuffing, let’s take a look at what made the news this month in our November Ecommerce Digest.

To learn more about increasing revenue and reducing risk in the global marketplace, download our Six Guides on Ecommerce Essentials today.

EMV Chip Card Implementation

Feud Heats Up Over Chip Cards, FBI Warning | Computerworld

As we noted earlier in the month, new EMV Chip Cards are now in consumers hands, with implications for brick-and-mortar and online merchants alike. The security feature devised in Europe is meant to reduce the risk of fraudulent card transactions. The EMV cards generate a unique code associated with each transaction and are designed to work with a PIN. Whether or not to require consumers to use a PIN with their new cards has been causing some friction between banks and retailers, as detailed in this article from Computerworld.

The crux of the disagreement centers on how retailers and card issuers balance security and convenience. “The banks and card companies have come out against PINs in the U.S., saying that other technologies, such as encryption and tokenization, along with using a microchip-embedded card with signatures, would be more effective in fighting fraud than PINs. Retailers favor PINs, arguing that PINs will reduce fraud not only for lost and stolen chip cards, but also for online and telephone transactions.”

The difference between the two industries came to the fore over their disagreement with an FBI advisory statement about how to use the cards. Their original message contained several references to PINs, angering card issuers. The FBI quickly revised their statement.

Singles Day

What It’s Like To Watch Alibaba’s Singles Day Spectacle | Fortune Magazine

As American and other Western retailers dive headlong into the Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff to the holiday shopping season, we are weeks behind China and their instant holiday, Singles Day. The big player behind making Singles Day into an ecommerce phenomenon is Alibaba, headed by their eccentric and intriguing chairman, Jack Ma. While not every CEO may wish to emulate his style, Ma’s uncanny ability to raise revenue makes him a global role model.

When he wasn’t being interviewed by the President of the United States of America at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila, Ma could be found at Alibaba’s extravagant Singles Day Gala. Fortune Magazine sent reporter Scott Cendrowski to experience the day, which he describes as feeling, “similar to China’s campy Spring festival program, which commands higher ratings than the Super Bowl, but with a more commercial feel.”  The night included performances by none other than Adam Lambert, game show style contests between Chinese celebrities dressed in red or black, and a New Years Eve style countdown to midnight: the start of Singles Day.

Over the next few hours, it became clear that Alibaba won too, smashing previous sales and analyst predictions. As Cendrowski notes, “A communications person from Alibaba’s Alipay affiliate explains that in the first minute of selling, the payment system handled 85,900 transactions per second. Alipay was hoping to break Mastercard’s previous record of 60,000 transactions a second. Singles Day is shaping up to be the record day Alibaba hoped.”

By the end of Singles Day, Alibaba boasted $14.32 billion in sales in one day. The scale of business is a bit mind numbing. Econsultancy shares these 10 eye-watering stats, including the fact that “71% of Alibaba’s Singles Day sales came from mobile devices.”

If done right, there is no reason why Singles Day need remain solely a Chinese affair. eMarketer interviewed  Melissa O’Malley, director of global merchant and cross-border trade initiatives at PayPal, to explore opportunities and best practices for cross-border ecommerce with China. She admits that, “When I started at PayPal 18 months ago, nobody had heard of Singles’ Day.” The rapid rise of the holiday and its ecommerce trappings may inspire companies to try to get into the game, but O’Malley cautions reminds retailers how peculiar online marketing is in China. “Understanding the dynamics of the Chinese social media landscape is very important. It is so different from what Western retailers are used to doing. It’s just night and day. There’s no YouTube. You can’t just buy everything on Pinterest.”

Global Compliance

Life After Death (of Safe Harbor) – EU Data Protection in the Wake of Schrems | Cyber Law Monitor

Any business with operations, customers or data within the European Union or European Economic Area is grappling with the fallout from the European Court of Justice’s recent ruling that effectively ended the US-EU Safe Harbor agreement. In short, Safe Harbor was a framework agreement that allowed US companies to comply with customer data protection laws in the EU. Owing to recent government surveillance scandals in the US, the ECJ ruled in the Schrems case that Safe Harbor was not sufficient to protect EU citizens’ data. This change may expose companies to major compliance risks with hefty penalties.

The post above from Cyber Law Monitor examines temporary recommendations from the European Commission, which “offers alternative methods for compliance with EU data protection laws, while also highlighting the efforts the Commission is taking to develop a renewed and sound framework for personal data transfer to the U.S.”

Moving froward, no business has a clear idea yet of how the future of trans-border data will work. BNA shares this interview with expert James H. Koenig, who was a panelist on a recent Bloomberg Law webinar on the demise of the Safe Harbor Program. He recommended a keep calm and carry on approach.

“Despite the uncertainty, all companies are doing something on a risk basis in light of the ECJ’s decision. Some are moving ahead to devise a global solution without awaiting or depending on the promised Safe Harbor 2.0. Others are taking interim measures. The appropriate approach varies, depending on the type of company and the sensitivity of the data at issue.”

Keeping up with constantly changing rules and regulations can be a drain on a company’s resources, but the risks of non-compliance are high. UK authorities recently slapped publisher Trinity Mirror with a fine totaling over £70,000 for a VAT payment that was sent only one day late.

This decision could be a sign that regulators are taking a closer look at businesses, and expert Meera Rajah says, “It is really important that businesses recognize and understand the potential impact of either late submission or late payment…To avoid such a mishap, it is imperative that you understand the solutions available and keep on top of your VAT returns.”

To learn more about increasing revenue and reducing risk in the global marketplace, download our Six Guides on Ecommerce Essentials today.