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.
If you haven’t checked out our loyalty marketing email system yet, we’ve got even more reasons for you to get familiar with it. Loyalty marketing emails allow you to schedule followup emails based on a number of events, like a registration or a purchase.
We’ve detailed before how this can be used to automatically remind a customer when it’s time to re-order, or to send a new user a coupon after they’ve registered. But you can also use it to directly build your brand and reputation by soliciting followup reviews.
Avery Manko of the Manko Company did just that, to great success:
“The loyalty marketing feature is brilliant. I have several automations set up but my favorite is an automation for collecting Google reviews. It was super easy to set up: for the subject line I wrote ‘Can I ask a favor’ I then wrote a simple email that asks the customer if they’d be willing to write a review and I included the link to my Google Reviews that takes them to my reviews page. It was that simple.”
The result? Dozens of five-star reviews since he started requesting reviews. Now, soliciting reviews may not be right for every situation; you’d never use it for a private-access company store, for example. But for distributor stores and retail-oriented company stores, reviews can make a huge difference not just in exposure, but also in click-thoughs – users are much more likely to click on businesses and web sites that have good ratings.
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 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!
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:
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
One 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.