Blog: company stores

How will California’s new privacy law affect you?

privacy

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.

“Hey, Come Back!” – Cart abandonment, product-specific coupons and more in latest release

One of the most common problems with e-commerce stores is cart abandonment – customers abandon (leave unpurchased) their shopping carts all the time, in staggering numbers. They do this for a variety of reasons; sometimes they change their mind, but often they just get distracted or move on without finishing a purchase. You’ve never gotten distracted while shopping online, have you? Look, squirrel!

That’s why we just added Cart Abandonment Emails to our suite of Loyalty Marketing tools in your storeBlox CS company store. You can now trigger an automated email to users that abandon their carts, reminding them to purchase the items in their cart.

Like all storeBlox CS emails, the template is fully customizable and can be personalized with user variables. The reminder includes the products that they have in their cart, along with a link back to the site to complete the purchase:

Abandoned cart e-commerce email

Abandoned cart reminders can be quite effective in company stores, since most abandonment falls into the “I forgot” category (rather than the “I found it cheaper somewhere else” or “I just don’t want it” categories). This feature is available in our latest release and is in your store now. If you need help setting it up or would like a walkthrough, just give us a shout!

Product-specific Coupons

Check this one off your wishlist: storeBlox CS now has product-specific coupons! Ever want to send a coupon code out that a customer could only use for a specific product? You’re not alone; this has been on our customer request list for a while. It’s now available in your store – just designate a coupon as “Product Specific” then apply the coupon to the product you’d like it to apply to:

product specific coupon screenshot

That’s it! Product-specific coupons work like any other coupon; they can be for dollar or percentage values, have expiration dates, usage restrictions and so on. Product-specific coupons are available in your store today. We recommend trying one of these out in your next email blast – they can be a great motivator for users to come back to your store.

Checking Gift Certificate Balances

Gift certificate balance check screenshotOne more oft-requested feature was also added in our latest release: quick checking of gift card balances. This does exactly what it sounds like – your customer enters a gift code and the store shows them the remaining balance. We’d like to make it sound sexier, but unfortunately it won’t shine your shoes or fold your laundry. We hope you enjoy it regardless. It’s available right now.

Sales Tax is About to get Interesting

A few months ago, we talked about the big Supreme Court case that could upend the current sales tax regime. The decision came down last week, and as we expected, the court supported a state’s ability to force retailers from other states to collect tax for them. In the decision, the court ruled that an out-of-state retailer selling items may still be required to collect tax in that state, even if they have no physical presence there.

This was going to happen sooner or later; states have been losing out on far too much money for the “nexus” requirement to last forever. We once believed that the states might actually band together to create some kind of universal online sales tax (numerous attempts have been made before) but it’s never gotten very far. In an interesting way, this might force their hand.

Though the ruling is only for the South Dakota case, it implies that any state’s tax collection regime can be forced on any retailer that sells items into that state (South Dakota had a $100,000/200 transaction minimum, but we expect that many retailers will easily exceed this). That means that likely everyone selling anything online to other states must now comply with that state’s sales tax requirements. With 45 states collecting state sales tax and 38 of those adding local sales tax on top of that, you have a potential compliance and reporting nightmare for small online retailers.

So, will every small online retailer now have to file 45 different sales tax reports, pay 45 different bills and potentially get audited by 45 different agencies with 45 different sets of rules? It’s possible, and that’s where we hope sanity will prevail. There are already some reciprocal sales tax collection practices in place, but if the states are smart, they’ll come up with some truly uniform procedures for reporting and collection. Otherwise, the cost of compliance will likely drive many small retailers out of business, and that would be even worse for state tax bases.

At eBlox, we’re cautiously optimistic that this will bring some kind of harmonization to state-level sales tax collection. Luckily, we already offer “rooftop”-accurate sales tax collection on our storeBlox CS e-commerce platform, so if you’re selling in multiple states, the only thing you have to worry about is cutting (potentially 45) checks!