We Made a New Thing: 3M Virtual SamplesAugust 25, 2020
When you create technology products, you have to iterate, iterate and iterate some more to get them right. eBlox built the first “virtual sample” product in the promotional products industry about twenty years ago for Norwood Promotional Products. Many things have changed since then; Norwood is now part of Bic, and the kind of technology that was once popular for virtual samples—Adobe’s Flash—has been relegated to the dustbin.
But people still need to present ideas to their clients, so the need for virtual samples is as big as ever. Our longtime client 3M Promotional Markets decided a few years ago that they wanted a virtual sample tool where users could very quickly and seamlessly create sample Post-It® custom printed note pad designs, so we took to pen and paper —ok, not really; we used a bunch of cool programs and prototyping tools. But we made something cool, and you should check it out.
Our primary goal with the 3M Virtual Sample tool was simple: Instant gratification. Most industry virtual sample tools force you to load up popups and deal with a completely different user interface. We wanted something that was built into the existing structure, using the same look and feel as the web site:
Secondarily, we wanted it to be reasonably bomb-proof. Virtual sample and online design tools often turn into miniature versions of desktop graphic design tools—they’re loaded up with options, transformations, clip art and all sorts of other things that distract from getting the job done quickly. So, we stripped out everything we possibly could to simplify the process. Everything you see is what you can do. No hidden menus, buried features or tricky operations. No funky technology that has problems with different browsers or touch devices. Simple and effective.
We added some cool orientation controls as well, since you can take a Post-It® note and turn the adhesive side however you’d like for printing. You can also quickly swap pad sizes to see different layouts:
Finally, we wanted to make sharing easy throughout the process. Most virtual samples let you share them; ours has a one-click PDF spec sheet, with your full sample and all related product information. Each product has a unique ID that can be shared with anyone who needs to see or provide feedback on the sample. And an instant, drop-down Project listing makes it easy to copy and share new projects.
Please go check it out when you get a chance and let us know what you think!
How will California’s new privacy law affect you?September 6, 2019
California’s new Consumer Privacy Act, a law very similar to Europe’s GDPR, is coming next year, and if you sell anything in California, it may affect you. Before we go into the details, please note that we are not attorneys or accountants and nothing here should be construed as legal or financial advice. That said, we can glean a few things from the law that might affect your online business. The law is based on four essential principles:
- Informing visitors of the data you collect
- Giving visitors the ability to be “forgotten”, e.g. removed from your records
- Allowing visitors to opt out of having their personal data sold to third parties
- Ensuring that customers who opt out of data collection get the same price for good and services as customers who opt in
Of the four, the first two will be the most common requirement for distributors in this industry. You may have already seen the overlays and popups informing you of data collection policies on sites you visit; this has become a common practice since many US businesses sell to E.U. customers. This can be added easily to any storeBlox CS company store or site.
The second requirement is twofold: First, you have to give a user a contact email or other method to communicate with you that they want any personal data you have about them deleted and forgotten. Second, you have to actually do the deletion, which might sound easier than it is. Most companies keep customer information on multiple systems, e.g. not just the website but also internal order processing, accounting or CRM systems. You have to get rid of the personal data everywhere.
The right to be forgotten also stipulates that you quickly “quarantine” a customer’s personal information as soon as they request removal, presumably to protect the data while you work to delete it, which might take longer. This may be tricky for those companies that have customer data on disparate systems, so we suggest you do a full technology audit so you understand which systems need to be touched when a customer requests that they be forgotten.
Like GDPR, CCPA compliance can be interpreted in a variety of ways as there are very few specific technological rules or requirements. We don’t feel that most companies in this industry will need to worry about selling personal data to third parties or charging a different price for opt-in vs opt-out, so those shouldn’t be a problem for you.
While CCPA doesn’t have a lot of specifics about technological requirements, it’s worth noting that if your online store takes credit cards and you have passed a PCI compliance test, then you are likely most of the way to making “best efforts” to secure user information. The payment card industry has been ahead of the curve on securing personal data for many years, because breaches of cardholder data can mean thousands of fraudulent transactions.
Also like GDPR, we think CCPA compliance will be a malleable thing as the law goes into effect. That doesn’t mean you should slack on getting your data policies in order, but you should be prepared for some of this to change over time. We’ll keep you up to date as the law approaches at the beginning of 2020. And as always, if you have any questions or need to implement any of the above, just give us a shout and we’ll get you taken care of.
Embeds GaloreApril 30, 2019
storeBlox CS has always lead the way in flexibility with third-party tools like analytics and advertising networks. Through custom code injection – or embedded code – you can plug just about anything into your store for tracking, slicing, dicing or whatever you desire.
Until now, there were only one or two places that you couldn’t drop a code snippet into your store, but we’ve fixed that. For those of you who need to drop in things like chat software that require special positioning in the code, storeBlox now has you covered with every possible insertion point.
If you’re looking for live chat options, there are quite a few of them out there, from Olark to Intercom to Freshchat. Any of them can easily be enabled on your store with these new embed options. Don’t want to mess with it yourself? Just give us a shout and we’ll be happy to take care of it for you!
The latest release of storeBlox includes numerous bug fixes and improvements, including:
- Color and size are now available in the Transaction Detail Report
- Numerous improvements to order display and listing
- To help with thorny freight calculation issues that sometimes occur with third-party shipping quotes, we’ve added additional logging to quickly triangulate the source of the problem.