Thursday, February 26, 2009

Zumbox Offers Virtual Postal Service

In a virtual challenge to the USPS monopoly on mail delivery, newcomer Zumbox in Westlake Village, California, is offering a Web-based electronic mailbox for every physical street address in the United States.

Individuals, companies, organizations -- any mailer -- can sign up with Zumbox and send any digitally rendered document (postcards, letters, invoices, statements, brochures, catalogs, even video clips, games, and movie trailers) in any format (PDF, Word, Illustrator, InDesign, QuarkXPress, Photoshop, GIF, JPG, TIFF, PostScript, HTML, Flash, video, audio and other media), for five cents per address (volume discounts are available, and mailers may send postcards, letters, and other mailings to 50 street addresses each month at no cost). The Zumbox API also provides an extensive set of tools to integrate your proprietary and internal software directly with Zumbox.

The mailing list can be in database format, CSV, or selected by geography for blanket mailings (within a given radius of a store, for instance, or in specified ZIP Codes). For your nickel, you can track the performance of your mailings with statistics from to see how many pieces were opened, discarded, or printed. You can also integrate your Zumbox account with Omniture, Coremetrics, Google Analytics and other reporting packages, or have Zumbox Reporting Specialists develop custom reports on your key mailing performance metrics.

Recipients can request that their senders stop sending them paper/hardcopy versions of their mailings, and they have the option to "block" any sender to eliminate that mailer's access to the recipient's virtual mailbox. This is currently a simple Yes/No, with no granularity (such as "send me invoices, statements, etc., but not promotional mail"). There is currently no "opt-in" option to request promotions on specified subjects, topics, products, etc. -- which would add a powerful dimension to this service.

When customers view bills at and click the "Pay Now" button, they can be directed to pay the bill using any payment system that you choose. For example, you may direct your customer to your web site. Alternatively, you may direct your customer to or any other popular consumer payment system.

The key to Zumbox’s success, of course, is getting a critical mass of mailers and consumers to adopt it. So Zumbox is initially offering its virtual mailing service free to billers, government organizations and non-profits. The company is in talks with various municipalities and non-profits whose representatives see the service as a way to trim paper, printing and mailing costs at a time when they most need the savings. The service also allows address holders to request that marketers or businesses stop sending them paper mail.

Consumers and businesses receive their mail by registering with Zumbox (free of charge), and logging on with a PIN number sent by USPS physical mail, to confirm that they belong to that address. Security is handled via SSL with 128 bit encryption. The SSL security certificate is issued by Verisign, with sensitive information in their databases, including usernames and passwords, stored in a 256-bit encrypted format at all times. Zumbox conducts a series of daily, weekly, and quarterly security scans and penetration tests.

It will be interesting to see which mailers sign up for this service, and how many recipients choose to take advantage of it. There is also some chance that the Postal Service will see this virtual service as a violation of its physical monopoly...but they certainly can't be thrilled by it, that's for sure. If it becomes successful, it will be a major "green" initiative, saving millions of trees each year.

Zumbox has announced its first all-digital newspaper distribution partnership with 22nd Century Media. In parallel with the print editions currently delivered, the digital editions of 22nd Century Media’s six local newspapers will be sent directly to each of the 10,000 street address they mail to now.

An unresolved problem with Zumbox in general: there could be a potential for conflicts with the timing of changes of address. That issue has not been addressed yet (pun intended), as far as I know.

Webinar on PCI Compliance

Check out this Webinar: "PCI Validated, But Not Secure: Real-life Stories of a QSA"

FEATURED SPEAKERS: Branden Williams, Director, PCI Practice – VeriSign, 2008 Payment Security Professional of the Year

Brian Contos, Chief Security Strategist – Imperva

DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 11:00 AM (PST)

Many organizations, spurred by the steady drumbeat of approaching PCI compliance deadlines, have devoted significant budget, resources, and time to develop and implement a PCI data security strategy. However, the inherent "squishiness" of the PCI DSS has led to a number of organizations with PCI-validated strategies that still fall short of PCI compliance. These sizable gaps have been repeatedly exploited by hackers with the resulting breaches often showing up in news headlines.

Join Branden Williams, Director of PCI Practice for VeriSign, certified PCI Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), and the Society of Payment Security Professionals' 2008 Payment Security Professional of the Year as he provides real-world case studies highlighting the specific flaws in many organizations’ PCI and data security strategies. Mr. Williams will be joined by Brian Contos, Chief Security Strategist at Imperva, for additional insight into the technologies and solutions that can be used to mitigate the potential holes in these PCI compliance programs. Specific topics that will be covered during the webinar include:

* QSA Confessions: first-hand insight into real-life PCI security breaches
* PCI Solutions and Best Practices: detailed instructions on the products and services needed to avoid becoming a cautionary tale
* Stretching Your PCI Investment: expert analysis of PCI compliance and how it fits into your Data Security strategy
* Ask a QSA: unique opportunity to have your questions answered by a veteran, certified Qualified Security Assessor (QSA)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OrderMotion Introduces OMX

OrderMotion, Inc., one of the original providers of hosted order management solutions for mid-market online merchants, today announced the immediate availability of its new order management service, OMX.

The company solicited input from users on its online IdeaExchange site in producing OMX.

"OMX represents a major step forward in order management technology, combining a robust SaaS-based order processing engine with easy access to real-time visual metrics," said Marty Fahey, Chief Executive Officer of OrderMotion. "OMX enables merchants to make operational decisions that are often the difference between profit and loss in their businesses."

OMX highlights critical information and trends in item, order and customer data within a merchant's database and presents it in visual dashboard displays. Customizable widgets are housed in the dashboards, enabling merchants to better manage role-based workflow, from marketing and merchandising tasks to accounting, customer service and warehousing, according to the company.

We are told that the pricing basis for OMX is based on a percentage of revenues, instead of the per-transaction fees charged for the original OrderMotion product.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shipwire, Doba Form Drop Ship Network

Shipwire, Inc. has joined with Doba in offering a new service to suppliers and manufacturers by relying on Doba's network of drop-ship retailers, then fulfilling orders with Shipwire's electronic-commerce tools.

In the past, customers have had to develop internal capabilities or work through systems integrators to connect their fulfillment operations to Doba. The new partnership, with a real-time connection, allows any supplier instantly to participate in the Doba drop-ship marketplace, providing complete automation of order fulfillment for direct drop-ship sales.

The service is aimed at manufacturers, large distributors, liquidators, wholesale suppliers and multi-channel sellers looking to help online retailers to sell their drop-ship inventories. The arrangement creates an integrated sales channel for product distribution, which promises increased order visibility, access to more Web listings and efficient automated delivery.

Doba will provide suppliers entry to its network from the Shipwire Store-Sell-Ship platform for no fee. Merchants will have access to Doba's "virtual warehouses" of 1.2 million products from hundreds of wholesale suppliers, along with Shipwire order fulfillment, based on a pay-for-usage fee structure. Suppliers deposit inventory with Shipwire and synch their inventories to Doba via a wizard in their Shipwire accounts.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

UPS Teams With USPS on Package Returns

UPS is piloting a new returns service with a few pre-selected retailers that allows consumers to return items shipped via UPS by placing them in their own mailboxes for pickup by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

Known as UPS Returns Flexible Access, the offering uses the USPS Parcel Return Service combined with UPS's own delivery network to allow retailers to provide their customers with increased convenience in returning items.

Consumers in the pilot program receive special package labels that allow them to leave a UPS Returns package in their own mailbox or other location for their postal carrier to pick up. They also can drop the package off at their local Post Office or in postal collection boxes.

Once a returns package arrives at the local post office, a UPS driver picks it up and transports the package back to the retailer via the UPS ground network.

The combination of USPS options with the traditional UPS access channels - The UPS Store, UPS drop boxes, UPS customer centers, third-party retailers (Office Depot, Staples, Authorized Shipping Outlets) and UPS drivers - creates an extensive network of package pickup options available to the consumer.

The pilot is expected to last about five months. UPS will work closely with the pilot customers and the USPS to determine when and if the service will be made available to other retailers on a more widespread basis.

Postal Rate Hike Whacks <1 lb Shippers

Reports Multichannel Merchant magazine: While catalogers got off relatively lightly with the 2009 postal rates increases announced last week, small parcel shippers got hit hard.

Postal rates for catalogs, or standard mail flats, will go up 2.3% effective May 11. But standard rate parcels are increasing an average of 16%.

The average 16% increase for standard rate parcels will mostly affect mailers that send items weighing less than 1 lb., such as apparel, toiletries or CDs/DVDs.

PRIAM Adds Blogging Tool

PRIAM, a multichannel solution provider in Rugby, UK, has added blogging functions to its eCommerce platform from "appease." The "appease Blog," built on MYSQL, allows for the entry of large amounts of information of any sort to be displayed on PRIAM web sites.

In addition to a merchant's own postings, customers are able to post reviews about specific products and give them a star rating using the blogging tool.

Libey Launches DM "Hub"

Don Libey, one of the world's top direct commerce practitioners, consultants, prognosticators, and soothsayers, is launching "The Daily DM," a new concept in direct marketing media called a "Hub." It can be a very useful home page and is chock full of content for all direct marketers, B2B and B2C, catalog and online.

The Daily DM brings together "everything DM" and is designed to be "The First Stop for Direct Marketers Worldwide." Plus, it has all your regular "must-read" general newspapers, industry blogs, d.m. magazines, and social sites. There will also be a load of reference materials and interactive opportunities (polls/surveys, etc.). Be sure to take a look: Daily DM. There is something here for everybody -- and it's a great way to stay on top of literally everything!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Global Revamps Web Site With PCS

ProfitCenter Software Inc. (PCS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Systemax Inc. and a provider of Web-based, on-demand software for multi-channel commerce and direct marketing merchants, announced that Global Equipment Company (Global), also a wholly-owned subsidiary of Systemax Inc., has launched a revamped eCommerce Web Site ( offering a wider variety of industrial supply products and an enhanced shopping experience for customers.

Working closely with Global associates, PCS addressed the technical and design needs of the new Global eCommerce initiative.

Global’s customers benefit from an enhanced eCommerce shopping method with:
- Easy to use category and product group navigation, including advanced search and faceted navigation
- Enhanced product displays featuring detail-driven photo galleries, videos and image zoom feature
- Simple one-page checkout, quick order and grid display ordering with product images
- Live chat, product reviews and customer specific extranets containing their contractual pricing

“A major focus at PCS is to help our clients navigate and manage the complexities involved in running their eCommerce operations,” said John Marrah, President and CEO of PCS. “Leading multi-channel retailers like Global continue to rely on our eCommerce expertise and comprehensive solution to create seamless, easy to navigate online shopping experiences for their customers and help grow their businesses.”

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Heartland Footnote: Stupid Criminals Dept.

StorefrontBacktalk (SFBT) reports that three Florida men were arrested in the Tallahassee area using data stolen from credit card processor Heartland Payment Systems.

However, Timothy Julsaint Johns, 21, Jeremy A. Frazier, 20, and Tony Acreus, 20, the three who were arrested, are at the very end of the criminal food chain -- not the original perpetrators -- and were caught because of their own negligence.

According to SFBT, authorities said the three were arrested after being caught on Wal-Mart surveillance video using homemade Visa gift cards. A Florida law enforcement statement didn’t say the dollar value of the thefts associated with the three suspects, but indicated that "the total actual and declined fraudulent transaction in Leon County is currently in excess of $100,000. This amount is expected to be much higher as this investigation continues."

The thieves themselves, or perhaps co-conspirators, simply used an electronic coding device to overwrite the data on the magnetic strip of existing gift cards, rather than going to the trouble of embossing phony plastic credit cards. Notes Evan Schuman of SFBT, "If a thief grabs a credit card, it’s only a matter of hours -- and sometimes minutes —- before the theft is discovered and the bank invalidates that card worldwide. But if the thief uses that card to immediately purchase gift cards, it significantly extends their safety timeframe. Even once that credit card is deactivated, the gift cards are still valid. That continues until law enforcement tracks down the purchases and then identifies the specific gift card numbers. Different retailers have different levels of sophistication regarding gift card tracking.

"In this case, though, the suspects took such a long time to use all of the stolen credit card numbers that some had already been deactivated and the Wal-Mart gift card system flagged them as unacceptable."

In a related story, StorefrontBacktalk reports that "The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service issued an unusually specific joint statement on Thursday (Feb. 12) warning E-tailers of 'a considerable spike in cyber attacks' against them and detailing the cyber thieves’ modus operandi and some suggested preventative tactics." Click HERE for more information.

Friday, February 13, 2009

PRIAM Announces Three New Hires

PRIAM, a multichannel solution provider in Rugby, UK, announces three new employees:

Nick Tombs joins the company as a Senior Software Engineer. He was previously employed in senior roles running development teams for large ISO/CMMI certified software houses.

Jaques Oosthuysen has come aboard as a Delphi developer.

David Gibbons has joined the staff as a Web programmer and developer.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sigma Micro Offers Suite of Services

Sigma Micro, LLC, a provider of end-to-end technology and services for multichannel merchants, has announced an expanded suite of new business services, in conjunction with its sister company, Stark Bro’s Fulfillment.

The comprehensive services will include creative web design and construction, SEO/SEM consulting, web analytics consulting, advanced reporting and data management services, full-service eCommerce operations outsourcing, pick/pack/ship services, and outsourced call center services.

For more information, see Sigma Micro.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Postal Rates to Rise May 11

The USPS announced Feb. 10 that price increases for Standard Mail Flats, the category affecting most catalogers, would stay below the Consumer Price Index (CPI), reports Multichannel Merchant magazine.

According to USPS spokesman David Partenheimer, the average increase for the Standard Mail Flats will be 2.3%, while the average increase for carrier route flats is 4.3%.

The price of a First Class stamp will go up 2 cents to 44 cents.

All postal rate increases announced take effect May 11.

Cybersource Online Fraud Report: 2008

According to the 10th Annual Cybersource Online Fraud Report, online fraud totalled $4 billion in 2008, or 1.4 percent of revenues. Only 13% of online merchants expect to increase manual review staff in 2009. At the same time, merchants reported increased interest in implementing more automated fraud detection tools, in some cases two or three times higher than last year’s reporting.

Overall 96% of merchants use one or more validation tools. These tools are often provided by the card associations to help authenticate cards and card holders. The tool most often mentioned by merchants is the Address Verification Service (AVS) which compares numeric address data with information on file from the cardholder’s card issuing bank.

Card Verification Number (CVN; also known as CVV2 for Visa, CVC2 for MasterCard, CID for American Express and Discover) is the second most commonly used detection tool.

Automated order decisioning/screening systems are now used by 56% of merchants (up from 25% in 2005). Eight out of ten larger online merchants (>$25M in sales) use such systems. These tools help companies automate order screening by applying a merchant’s business rules in the real-time evaluation of incoming orders.

Company-specific fraud screens received the highest rating as being an effective tool by merchants who use it. Half of the 42% of large merchants who use custom fraud models rated them as one of their three most effective tools.

Device Fingerprinting (used by only 7% of large merchants) was rated by 43% of these merchants as being one of their three most effective tools.

Four tools had 15% or more of merchants planning to adopt them in 2009; and, for three of these four tools the plans to implement them have more than doubled over last year. These tools are Device Fingerprinting, IP Geolocation, and Order Velocity Monitoring.

Device Fingerprinting examines andrecords details about the configuration of the device from which the order is being placed. This can aid in flagging fraud attacks where a variety of fraudulent orders are launched from a common device or set of devices. Nearly 50% of large online merchants indicated they were planning to add Device Fingerprinting in the next twelve months.

IP geolocation tools attempt to identify the geographic location of the device from which an online order was placed.

As in several years past, card association payer authentication services (e.g. Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode) figure prominently in many merchants’ future plans. 2008 survey results show that one out of four merchants currently use one or more of the available payer authentication services. 18% of respondents say they are interested in deploying these systems in the next twelve months as a new tool to manage fraud, although similar data from earlier surveys did not show implementation rates meeting well-intentioned plans.

Click HERE for a copy of the White Paper.

eCommerce Customer Service Slips

According to the E-tailing Group’s 11th annual Mystery Shopping Study of the top 100 online retailers, customer service levels slipped in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to the quarter in 2007, reports Multichannel Merchant.

Only nine e-tailers -- compared to last year’s 11 -- passed the study’s nine main criteria requiring that:

--The e-tailer’s Website must have an 800- or toll-free telephone number present
--The site must have accurate keyword search
--It must take four or fewer days to receive a package
--Customer service must adequately and correctly answer an e-mail question within 24 hours; providing a specific answer
--Customer service rep product knowledge when calling toll free must be 2.0 or higher on a scale of 3.0
--Six or fewer clicks to checkout
--E-mail shipping confirmation sent
--E-mail order confirmation sent with order number included
--Real time inventory in shopping cart or product page

Specific areas where e-tailers’ customer service slipped include:

--Customer service hours were more limited; the number of e-tailers offering 24/7 access down fell to 27% in the fourth quarter of 2008 vs. 39% in 2007.
--The average number of business days to receive an item was up slightly to 4.76 days vs. 4.18 days in 2007.
--Fewer merchants sent e-mail shipping confirmations (84% vs. 95% in 2007).

But according to E-tailing Group president Lauren Freedman, the number-one area in which e-tailers have slipped the most is CSR product knowledge.

“There’s more outsourcing of the call centers, people aren’t as vigilant about training, and it seems like there’s less product knowledge,” she says. It appears some merchants are cutting back on agent training to cut costs. “Sure, there’s CSRs who are really confident and they’re really good – but there’s also a lot of CSRs who are only able to take an order, and that results in a lot of frustration,” says Freedman.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

HomeDirectUSA Offers White Glove Service

HomeDirectUSA, a nationwide provider of home delivery services for large consumer goods in the U.S. and Canada, has launched HomeDirect Express.

The new offering is a "white-glove" service with transit times as fast as seven business days, and a money-back guarantee if a specified delivery time is missed. The bundle of services includes delivery within seven business days to 91 percent of U.S. destinations, and 12 business days to remote areas.

The "white-glove" approach includes inside-the-home delivery, debris removal, unpacking and assembly. HomeDirect introduced the service based on market research and feedback from key customers, according to chief executive officer Brian Gallagher. HomeDirectUSA is owned by Transportation Resource Partners, a private equity firm and affiliate of Penske Corp.

Cost of Data Breaches

The Washington Post reports that organizations that experienced a data breach in 2008 paid an average of $6.6 million last year to rebuild their brand image and retain customers, according to a new study.

Ponemon Institute, a Tucson-based research firm, looked at 43 organizations that reported a data breach last year and found that roughly $202 was spent on each consumer record compromised. The average number of consumer records exposed in each breach was about 33,000, although the number of records affected in each incident ranged from fewer than 4,200 to more than 113,000.

Eighty-four percent of the companies surveyed had at least one data breach or loss prior to 2008, said Larry Ponemon, the institute's founder. The cost of a breach in 2007 was $6.3 million, and roughly $4.7 million in 2006.

The fourth annual study measured the direct costs of a data breach, such as hiring forensic experts; notifying consumers; setting up telephone hotlines to field queries from concerned or affected customers; offering free credit monitoring subscriptions; and discounts for future products and services.

E-Mail Marketing Alert Service

According to Ken Magill, Direct Magazine's e-mail marketing guru and resident curmudgeon, "Email Data Source has unveiled a new service that allows its clients to set alerts that will tell them, among other things, when competitors and others send commercial e-mail containing words and phrases they choose to monitor.

"Modeled after Google Alerts, the service allows Email Data Source’s clients, for example, to be alerted when commercial e-mail containing references to their brands or, say, free shipping offers, going out from other senders.

"According to Bill McCloskey, chief executive of Email Data Source, the new alert service also allows commercial e-mailers to see who is sending e-mail from single and ranges of IP addresses.

"McCloskey said marketers should find IP address alerts particularly useful. Criminal spammers often move from IP address to IP address. In order to combat this tactic, anti-spam blacklists will list entire ranges of IP addresses to be blocked.

"As a result, marketers who have unwittingly found themselves with an IP address in the same range as a spammer have found their mail servers blacklisted.

"Email Data Source’s new alert service allows marketers to monitor the activity of the range of IP addresses they share with other mailers, according to McCloskey.

'You can now monitor an entire block of IP addresses and see everybody who’s e-mailing around you,' said McCloskey.

"The service also allows marketers to monitor e-mail containing specific keywords and phrases sent from specific domains.

"The company is offering one alert free for prospects to try the service out and five alerts for $100 a month, said McCloskey."
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