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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

Mobile Shopping is Going Viral this Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

With only 11 shopping days left until Christmas, shoppers need all the help they can get this holiday season while trying to find the best deal on the perfect gift for their loved one.  This year more shoppers than ever before are using their smartphones to find the best deals while they are in stores around the country and even at home and work.

Pricegrabber just released these survey results last week of 3,574 online consumers in the United States.  According to these results, 39% of all respondents have a shopping-related application on their smartphone.  Out of the respondents with a shopping application on their phone, 56% indicated that they have these applications on their phone because they believe they get the best prices using mobile shopping applications.

These numbers show a staggering increase from just 1 year ago when I wrote this KikScore blog post that talked about a Wall Street Journal article that indicated that only 5.6% of consumers used a mobile phone to price compare while on the go.  The WSJ article referenced in the aforementioned blog post also says that only .1% of consumers used a mobile phone in this way in 2009.  As you can see from these numbers consumers are continuing to increase their use of smartphone mobile shopping applications at an exponential rate!

So, what are merchants across the Unites States doing in response to these legions of mobile smartphone shoppers?  Unfortunately, the answer is still “not very much” at this time.  Again, like I mentioned in my blog post last year, I still cannot walk into a Best Buy, use my smartphone to find a better price on an item online and get the store to match this price.  Many bricks and mortar stores are still having a problem reacting to this new wave of technological advancement in the pocket of the U.S. consumer.

According to this article in the Chicago Tribune, some retailers like Macy’s and J.C. Penney are starting to react to these mobile shoppers by streamlining their mobile websites, creating custom shopping applications, and increasing the speed and efficiency of their sites.  In my mind, however, this is just the very basic levels of catering to the mobile shopping consumer and great strides will need to be made in the coming years in order for this new bread of consumer to be on the same page with these large retailers in the U.S.

Have you had a positive or negative experience while using a smartphone with a mobile shopping application at a retailer?

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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

6 Steps to Protecting Yourself When Shopping Online This Upcoming Holiday Season

Monday, November 14th, 2011

It’s holiday season again and I’m sure people are already starting to shop for gifts. If you’re buying online, check out these 6 tips to help you out and increase your chances of having a “safe” shopping experience:

  1. Research the company. Who are the owners? Is it a successful businesswoman from Texas or a teenager living in China? Take a few minutes and check out on the website who is actually behind the business and who operates the website.  Click to the “About Us” page or “Contact Us” page and see if there are some actual names listed on the website.  Then drop some of those names quickly into Google or Bing and search on those names.  What comes up about them?
  2. Find out where their servers are located. Are they based in France, but have a server in Ohio? (You’re probably alright with a company like this) or are they based in England and have a server in Somalia (this should send up a red flag.)  Also, make sure to check out where their website is hosted. Here is a great tool to use to look up domain owners here. It is called Domain Tools. I use it all the time when I am shopping.
  3. Check their website thoroughly. Is there anything in their wording that seems fishy? Are there typos on the website or does the footer of the website say copyright 2002? Does calling that phone number give you someone asking for your pizza order? Confirm that the business is legitimate before buying that scarf for Aunt Joan. Perhaps this post on how to make online websites look credible will help you see what to look for when you are reviewing the four corners of an online store or service business?
  4. Is the business on any Social Networks? Being on social networks like Twitter and Facebook can show that a company is willing to have some transparency when dealing with customers. What type of personality does the business have online? Does it come off as a company that you don’t want to do business with?  Check their Twitter stream or Facebook page and see do they respond to customers or is there just a username set up and just “dead air.”  If you see some level of engagement, that is a good sign.
  5. What are people saying about the businessonline? Most companies will have some type of reviews of them online.  What are people saying about them in these reviews? How about their products, customer service and delivery times?  Can you really trust those reviews? If the reviews sound fake, you might want to check into the company a bit more. Remember our post on how to spot fake reviews? It’ll help!
  6. Do they have a trust seal or an ssl certificate? When you are reviewing a website you are about to buy from check out whether they have an SSL certificate meaning that your communications of your credit card information is encrypted from your browser to the company’s browser.  Also look to see if the business has any trust seals and in particular click on those trust seals and see what they say about the business.  The sites that have trust seals that actually give you more information about the business management team, their track record of financial health and information on customer service, return and privacy policies will give you even more transparency into who you are buying from over this holiday season.

Good luck and stay safe when shopping online!  Also let us know if you have any safe shopping tips.

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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

There is no such thing as a malware free smartphone

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

It’s true.  All smartphones are vulnerable to malware.  However, some phones get targeted more than others.  Here are 5 of the most common smartphones and this is how secure they are.

  1. iPhone: This is the one that most people use. Due to the new iOS for the iPhone, malware is often in the background. It is most commonly found on jailbroken phones.  Since jailbroken phones often contain apps that are not approved by Apple, it’s much easier for malware to get onto the phones. Also since many users do not change the passwords on their jailbroken smartphones, malicious attackers can create worms and infect the operating devices.
  2. Windows Mobile: This is as bad as the computer version.  This is probably due to the fact that there are many similarities between the computer OS and the mobile OS.
  3. Blackberry: …This is actually pretty good, in that there is not much malware that targets blackberries. This is probably due to the fact that the Blackberry OS is kept under wraps. No one knows the details of how the system is programmed. However, the multitasking ability of the Blackberry makes it easy for malware to run unnoticed.
  4. Symbian: This is popular outside the United States. It is also the oldest of the smartphones. There is a lack of information on malware for this smartphone.
  5. Android: Since this is based on the Linux operating  system, there is not much information about malware for this phone either. 3rd party applications are not regulated for this phone.

Many of these phones have  common vulnerabilities. Things such as not changing your password and your settings can cause your phone to become vulnerable. When downloading apps, be careful of where you get the application from and try to download and install apps from reputable sources. Also, be very careful if you decide to jailbreak your phone.

Anyone got any other tips?

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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

#SmallBizChat Highlights – Tips on How to Make Your SmallBiz Website Look Trustworthy & Credible

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Tonight we were honored to have been the guest on the #SmallBizChat! We would like to thank everyone for participating and sharing their opinions  on the chat and would like to especially give a special thanks to Tai Goodwin and Melinda Emerson for providing us with this great opportunity. Hope you all enjoyed the chat and benefited from learning all about how to make your small business trustworthy online! To find out more information about online trust and the KikScore solution, check out our presentation regarding the topic by clicking the link below:

After reading about the importance of trust seals, we would like to offer you a 90 day free trial at KikScore. When signing up  with KikScore, use the promotional code SMALLBIZCHAT to start the free trial and publicly demonstrate your trust on your homepage!

Thanks again!

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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

A Conversation with Candice Cabe of “Day2Night Convertible Heels”: Venturing Into the World of Start-Ups

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I had the pleasure of talking to Candice Cabe, who is the CEO of an innovative startup called “Day2Night Convertible Heels.”  Her company focuses on simplifying life for women who want to be both practical and stylish.  Her business targeting women-on-the-go, and is quickly plunging into the entrepreneurial world.  We spoke briefly about her ventures, as well as what it’s like to be a small-business owner in today’s quickly-changing world of business.  Thank you, Candice for speaking to me and sharing your experiences with our readers.  We wish you the best of luck in the future!

Tell us a little bit about your business and what makes it unique.

We invented a high heel shoe that converts from high heels down to lower heels.  It is a new kind of technology.  The shoes have interchangeable heels so that women can wear the same pair of shoes but adjust the heel height.  It’ll be the first time that women can wear fashionable and much more comfortable shoes at the same time.

What prompted you to start this business?  Was there a problem you aimed on solving?

The main problem is that women love to wear high heels, but usually after a few hours of wearing them, their feet really start to hurt. They’re usually forced to carry extra shoes with them in their bag to wear to work in the morning or to go out at night.

One of the stories that I tell a lot is that I was packing for a trip – I had to go on a corporate trip down to Miami for a few days and I was told to pack lightly and not check baggage.  I was trying to fit all of these shoes into my little tiny suitcase and I noticed that I ended having three pairs of shoes that looked similar but all had different heel heights, depending on what I was going to be doing.  I knew that immediately when I was getting off the plane, we were going to be chartering a boat and going on that for a few hours, so I was going to need small heels.  Later, we were going to be walking around the tradeshow for a few hours.  I needed to look appropriate in my suit and wear medium-height heels.  Then we were going to go out for a fancier dinner at night so I needed to have high stiletto shoes.  All my shoes looked the same but had different heel heights.  Also, they were taking up so much room in my suitcase.  I thought that it would be so nice to have a travel shoe – one shoe that you can wear to multiple occasions.

What are your short-term goals for the next year?  What kind of things is your business focusing on?

Right now we’re working on refunding and financing.  We’re trying to get some money in the door to finish prototyping.  We are also going to have to invest in getting a mold made.  Once we have a mold, we’ll be able to mass-produce the shoes in China.  We’re also looking for a shoe designer and a shoe manufacturer.  We already have one, but we’re looking for an alternative one.  We’re also trying to close some deals – we’re hoping to do a licensing deal with an existing shoe company.  We’re talking to companies like Steve Madden and zappos.com.  It would be great to get a licensing deal with a larger shoe company.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for small businesses in today’s society and economy?  What do you see as the best solutions to these challenges?

Funding, for sure, is number one.  Another one is building a team and getting people to work for straight equity instead of money is difficult – so getting people to either quit their jobs or to work for you full time.

The biggest thing that I’ve done is just talk to everybody I know or everybody I can think of.  I go to a lot of networking events and tell people what I’m trying to do and what I’m struggling with.  People always want to help, especially if you specifically tell them what you’re struggling with, which makes it easy for people to introduce you to other people.

From your experience, what are the best ways to advertise yourself?  Do you make use of tools like social media?

We have been using a lot of social media tools.  We use Facebook and Twitter and we have our own website.  We’re working on search engine optimization, for example Google keywords.

Where do you go to find advice or to get information that is relevant to your business?  Where would you recommend that other small businesses in the community go?  How do you connect with other businesses?

There’s a book that I’d like to recommend to people.  It’s called The Four Steps to the Epiphany.  That’s a book that is helpful for this kind of business that can help business owners get some customers and prove that people want things in the way that you’re doing them.  It’s a good way to get information to people.

Have you had any problems with demonstrating trust to your potential clients or customers?

People seem to be pretty good with trust.  Sometimes people have issues with our particular product.  They are reluctant to believe that the product will hold up well and be sturdy enough and strong enough.  What we’ve done to reassure customers is have a couple of videos on our website demonstrating the shoes, how they’re worn, and how they work.  In the future, we’re hoping to get a lot of customer reviews, feedback, and testimonials from people.  Communication is very important.  We’re trying to put ourselves out there so that people can better understand what we’re doing.

If you could choose a dream spokesperson to represent your business, who would it be?

My dream spokesperson would be Carrie Underwood because we would love to have a celebrity that would be able to wear our shoes.  I think that a lot of people would follow suit.  She’s a rising star and an American Idol and holds a lot of credibility for young women in America.

What do you see as the future for small businesses like yours?  Are you seeing any trends or changes developing?

I’m in the startup world of Boston, which is a really big startup community and city.  It seems that more and more young folks are starting businesses right out of college.  Instead of graduating college and immediately trying to find a job, people are thinking creatively and taking entrepreneurial courses or looking up to other young startups.

Do you have any parting comments or words of advice to our readers and the small business community?

If you have an idea, you should act on it.  Ideas can be a dime in a dozen, but it’s really about execution.  I think that if people put all of their effort into starting a business…if they’re passionate about it and tell everybody they know about it, then almost anyone can start their own business.  I encourage people to start their own businesses and try to ground themselves with people who have done so and been successful.  It’s good to have mentorship from people who know how things work.

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview and I hope you gained something from Candice’s words of wisdom and many insights into what it’s like to own a start-up.  What do you think of her ideas?

Feel free to leave feedback here or contact Candice through her site: http://www.convertible-heels.com/Day2Night.html

Support her business here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2072356942/day2night-convertible-high-heel-shoes

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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

Verisign vs. KikScore: An Overview of Online Trust Seals and How They Differ

Monday, June 27th, 2011

VS.

If you follow the KikScore blog, you are most likely well versed in the general subject of small businesses and online trust.  You most likely even have one or two pop culture references under your belt that relate to topics such as security and e-commerce.  I would go as far as to say that you probably know a good bit about trust seals.  But do you really understand the different features that are provided by different companies?  A little research could really make the difference for your small business.  Lucky for you, the research has already been done….in this blog post I’ll provide an overview comparison of the KikScore Trust Seal and the popular Verisign Trust Seal.

Let’s start with what we know.  Just to review: a trust seal is a type of validation for an online site that is provided as a service from a third-party business.  Current popular providers include: Trust Guard, BuySAFE, Verisign, Better Business Bureau, TRUSTe, and McAfee SECURE.  These companies typically provide services that range from bonding transactions to services that may aim to prevent hacking or identity theft,  scanning services for websites or display privacy policies for businesses.

For this post, I am going to use the Verisign Trust Seal in comparison with the KikScore trust seal.  The Verisign Trust Seal is the probably most wide publicized in the market today.  If you are a small business with an online presence, you probably have heard of Verisign.  So why KikScore?  Why would you need the KikScore Trust Seal if there are so many other companies out there who provide what look to be similar services?

ANSWER: KikScore provides services to small businesses that you will not find anywhere else and here is why.

  • Multi-Dimensional Approach to Demonstrating Trust for a Small Business.
    • The Verisign trust seal has its benefits.  It possesses an impressive methodology that screens sites for certain malware and enables online businesses to identify a subset of security issues, as well as provide solutions and support.  KikScore takes a different take on yje trust and information standpoint for small businesses and uses an approach to incorporate and consolidate key information about a business’ track record that a website visitor would like to know about such as: customer satisfaction, financial responsibility of the business, management information location of the business, customer service and return policies, website history and reliability.  This information is then compiled into format that is easily accessible to website visitors from the website of the small business owner.  KikScore then creates a unique trust score based on all of this information about a business and displays it on the small business website.  So while other seals scan a site, KikScore focuses on information and data about a small business and whether that small business has a record of reliability and trustworthiness.
  • Merchant Report Card.
    • All of the information compiled on a small business is then consolidated into an interactive and continually updating report card for that business.   Both the KikReport and the trust score are continually updated as more information becomes available.  This is a feature that cannot be found in companies such as Verisign and is unique to KikScore: the merchant report card evaluates and displays information about merchants and small businesses on areas such as reliability and trustworthiness so that customers can further evaluate the trustworthiness of a site.  The KikReport allows a small business to take information about itself and display it in one place to website visitors, leads and shoppers.
  • All-Inclusive and Customized Using the Small Business Brand & Reputation Not Someone Else’s.
    • Verisign heavily advertises the fact that they are an already well-established service.  In fact, the Verisign logo even shows up in search engine results, for example, Google.  While this is a nice feature, this approach relies solely on the Verisign name and reputation and ignores the small business’ reputation and their owners trackrecord and history.  KikScore provides a unique trust score to each of its clients and allows the small business to use its own reputation and track record of reliability through the KikReport to demonstrate trust to website visitors.  Also, the KikScore trust seal is not simply a trust seal – it provides actual information about the business, its history and reliability so website visitors can make their own informed decision about the trust and security of a small business.  Which brings me to my next point…
  • Transparency.
    • The KikReport includes website history, store locations, services provided, and customer testimonial.  All of this is in addition to the basic Trust Seal and Trust Score.  This creates a solution for small businesses that allows website owners to be more transparent and open about themselves to shoppers and website visitors.  There is such a wealth of information about a small business that they can use to convey a track record of reliability and trustworthiness, KikScore simply enables a small business to take this existing information about a company and makes it easily available to potential customers and website visitors at the point of purchase.
  • It’s A Dynamic 2-Way Street!
    • KikScore also helps small businesses further develop a relationship with its customers.  Merchants have the option of providing an informational  video on their own KikReport as a way to introduce themselves to website visitors.  Additionally, the trust seal facilitates  real time interactions for small businesses with their own customers through the feedback platform that is built into each small business KikReport.

Verisign as a company has a reputation for generally providing a reliable and useful service to its clients.  But, if you are a small business who already subscribes to the Verisign service, you might want to consider adding the KikScore Trust Seal and Score to your website.  Another option to consider is the KikScore Service Seal: a product that is targeted towards businesses and websites who do not sell physical products online.  People who run service businesses such as bloggers, contractors, plumbers, lawyers, and movers can use the KikScore Service Seal, which is a confidence badge tailored specifically towards these types of companies.  The Service Seal is unique to KikScore; this type of seal cannot be found anywhere else in the market.

KikScore provides online businesses with the opportunity to extend their approach to online trust and security through greater transparency which ultimately should help a small business become more accessible and successful by clearly and convincingly demonstrating their trustworthiness!  Check us out and for more information about KikScore here are some recent articles about the KikScore trust building service for small business: Dealing with Shopping Cart Abandonment, Customers Unsure They Can Trust Your Business? Consider Trust Seal Provider KikScore and this article on A New Wave of Online Trust Scores.

Disclaimer: Product names, logos, and services are the property of their respective trademark holders.

Photo Credits: http://verisign.com, http://kikscore.com

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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

Identity Theft is at a Record High: What This Means in the World of Online Commerce

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

The News:

According to the Government Accountability Office, taxpayer identity theft has increased fivefold since 2008.  This has become an absolute nightmare for the IRS, especially its criminal investigations division, the division responsible for investigations of of identity theft.  However, even the IRS admits that they “pursue criminal investigations of suspected identity thieves in only a small number of cases.”  In other words, the majority of identity thieves are not prosecuted.  Identity thieves are faced with far too few obstacles and therefore, their crime rates will continue to rise.   And indeed they have risen: there were 248,357 incidents in the 2010 fiscal year, in comparison to the 51,702 in 2008.

The Implications:

The identity theft counts are more than just a mere statistic: these numbers make up a trend that affects more than tax returns.  The rise in identity theft rates mirrors that of other cybercrimes.  Online trust concerns are a direct result of the inability of security solutions in keeping up with rapidly developing technology.  The changing face of technology and cyber commerce make security much more complicated than the situation shown in the comic above.

Giving away any information at all online can pose a risk.  The recent Sony Network breach is proof that even larger, established companies can’t always protect customers’ information.  Personal information obtained from Sony included the names, addresses, email addresses, birthdays, PlayStation Network and Qriocity passwords and user names, and online user handles, of over 70 million customers.

Naturally, people have become more protective of their financial and personal information.   This poses unfortunate challenges for small businesses who are trying to make their mark in the seemingly endless web of the internet.  Customers are extremely reluctant to give away their personal information to lesser-known companies, and therefore, online businesses suffer.  In fact, more than 63 percent of shoppers leave transactions uncompleted because they are concerned about online security.  At an average of $109 in abandoned goods per transaction, online businesses lost $21 billion in the year 2008 alone.

Recent events make it even more imperative that small businesses, consumers, and the government all work together to create a safer shopping environment.  The practice of online commerce is here to stay, so we must all take steps to protect our own information and the information of our customers.  What are you doing to improve online trust concerns?

Image: BrickHouse Security Blog

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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

Shocking Results in Recent OTA Findings: Should YOU Feel Safe on the Internet?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

As cybercriminals become more advanced and efficient, all businesses must recognize and prepare for the imminent threats of online hackers. The issue of cyber-attacks has made its way to the Senate, debating the amount of power the president should have in dealing with cybercrimes (Full story here).

Similarly, in accordance with the looming threat of online fraud and cybercrime, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) released their annual Online Safety Honor Roll and Scorecard two weeks ago, revealing the many insecurities of the internet. Their findings were very surprising, making me question my privacy and safety on the internet. Two of the most shocking discoveries include:

  • Only 26% of the top websites and government agencies evaluated by the OTA were recognized for their adoption of the best, most efficient technologies to help protect users’ privacy and identity. This means that 74% of the top websites used by millions of people have not implemented safe measures that protect against malicious emails and rogue websites. Organizations that made the Honor Roll enacted email authentication processes, Extended Validation SSL Certificates, and testing for malware and known site vulnerabilities. More than 500 million emails originated from the organizations lacking efficient online security measures. These facts demonstrate that we are not protected on the majority of sites we visit and are members of, and therefore we must consider reevaluating websites before giving them any of our personal information.
  • Social media, e-commerce, and financial services ranked higher in securing their sites than government agencies.  About 27% of the FDIC 100 and 24% of the Fortune 500 qualified for the Honor Roll, though only 12% of government agencies made the list. It doesn’t make me feel particularly safe that government agencies’ websites are some of the most vulnerable to cybercrime attacks. The government and its various agencies should be the ones protecting us, enacting the proper online security protocols and trying to set an example, not being most susceptible to malware.

This report is extremely important for both e-commerce shoppers and small businesses. Online shoppers must realize the dangers of registering on sites that may be unsafe and prone to cyber-attacks and abuse. Therefore, they will seek out websites that have the proper preventative online security measures, and will most likely buy from the large, reputable online websites. This will in turn hurt small businesses that lack a reputation in online safety, and are trying to flourish in e-commerce.  This makes it even more important that for small businesses to succeed that they clearly demonstrate to the public their record of trustworthiness and reliability so potential customers are ensured that the small business they’re dealing with can be trusted.

The OTA’s full 2011 Online Safety Honor Roll and Scorecard can be found here: https://otalliance.org/news/releases/2011scorecard.html.

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Internet Explorer 9 “Do Not Track” Security Feature…Will it Really Work?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

I was reading this article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday when I realized that Microsoft released their new version of their uber popular Internet Explorer web browser which included the highly touted “Do Not Track” feature. The new feature is news-worthy for a few reasons in my opinion.  First of all, Internet Explorer is now the first major browser to include this type of feature in a major release of their we browser although Mozilla’s Firefox browser is said to include a similar feature in an upcoming release.

I think that this new “do not track” feature is also an interesting advancement because of how quickly Microsoft developed and included this functionality in a major release of their web browser.  This type of new feature only started making news a few months ago when a number of consumer privacy advocates started complaining about how so many websites, like Facebook and others, are now collecting personal information about people and their web browsing habits when they visit their websites.  Microsoft and Mozilla took these requests so seriously that they decided to include this feature in their next browser releases only a quarter later.  In my opinion these web browser companies decided to include this feature so quickly because they knew it was relatively easy to implement (in the way they have) and they also knew that this new feature would make big news and would therefore help market their new releases.

Finally, I think this new web browser feature is of note because of the way it has been implemented technically may not be very effective at doing exactly what it is meant for.  Basically, now when a person using Internet Explorer 9 browses to a web page that is trying to collect information about the person or their computer or their web browsing history it sends a series of “header” records to the requesting website indicating that the person requests that the information not be shared with anyone else or used for marketing purposes.  The only problem here is that there are no set standards around these “header” records and no major websites or eCommerce associations have acknowledged that they will accept or abide by these requests to not share the user’s data.  Inevitably, what will happen here is that Microsoft will start pointing the figure at the eCommerce sites that do not recognize these header records until they cave in and recognize them because Internet Explorer is the most used web browser in the world and nobody wants to fine themselves on the wrong side of this argument because their sites will be bad mouthed in the press and seen as non-consumer friendly.

In conclusion, I think this is definitely a step in the right direction by Microsoft but I am not sure that this is really the best or most effective way to go about it.  I guess if this is just the first step in the direction of better security for shopper’s personal information on the web then it is probably worth it and will probably get us where we want to go. 

What do you think about this new feature that Microsoft started offering yesterday in their new Internet Explorer 9?

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Show Shoppers Your Online Business Can Be Trusted: KikScore Your Trust Solution

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

PROBLEM: Online Small Businesses lose billions in dollars a year in sales because shoppers do not know if they can trust those small businesses.

SOLUTION: Trust Seals – But which one?

It is established that small businesses, especially ones just starting out, can have a difficult time conveying to the public that they are trustworthy and reliable.  As a result, small businesses often lose significant sales because of this concern that the public has.  One of the primary ways that small businesses address these concerns is putting a “trust seal” on their website.  The trust seal is supposed to denote that a third party validation has occurred in some way and that third party therefore “vouches” for that small business so shoppers can then trust that business.  There are many trust seals out in the market that do different things and some of the providers of those seals include Verisign, TRUSTe, BuySafe, Trust Guard and the Better Business Bureau.

So we at KikScore often get the question: Why should a small business use KikScore and how is KikScore different than the other trust seals?

This post is not going to bash other seals, but there are critical differences between the KikScore seal and other seals that are on the market.  This post points out those differences and is meant to educate the community about why these differences are important.

1) Empowering Small Businesses To Show Their Track Record – A fundamental concern that shoppers have is can they trust a business?  Many businesses and business owner have an actual track record of reliability in paying their bills, having a strong financial history, reliably delivering products and services and historically being responsive to customers. Typically that has been built up over years of being responsible, reliable and trustworthy in the market.  So isn’t that track record work something? We say YES!  KikScore allows small businesses to take their own great track record and communicate it to the world and visitors to their website.  No one else allows a small business to take their business history and communicate that to the world so shoppers can get more comfortable with that business.

2) Promote Your Own Brand Not Another Company’s – A lot of other trust and verification seals do much more to promote their brand name on your website than actually assist in promoting a small business.  This is especially the case with some seals with lots of money behind their brand name that are widely recognized. Again these may be good trust seals that have a limited purpose, but they each miss out on a critical element to the trust equation.  They essentially are saying their brand name is more important to have on your website that your own brand name. At KikScore we do not believe that is the case. In fact, our seal is structured to take extensive amounts of information about the small business itself such as the management team’s names, their financial reliability, business policies, locations and website information and promote that information rather than our own brand name. We do this because we feel that information is more important to a website visitor or shopper in their determination of trustworthiness of a website.

3) KikScore is a Multi-Dimensional Trust Seal – Some trust seals try to do and message different things to the public. For example, some seals check for certain types of malware, some collect comments, some convey that an secure connection (SSL) is on the website, etc.  KikScore deliberately leaves those tasks to other folks because again in some instances those functions serve a purpose.  Those seals/services are, however, typically a one-dimensional service that only communicate that a small business website site gets a periodic and limited security scan.  You should note that based on our extensive information and first hand experience those scans can be helpful, but by no means are comprehensive and historically have not caught major pieces of malware that have resulted in some recent data breaches. KikScore’s seal actually incorporates all of these seals in our Certifications tab in our merchant report card, called a KikReport, in addition to providing the other wealth of information about a small business, its management and website history. Taken together this creates a multi-dimensional seal unlike others in the market.  This multi-dimensional seal allows small businesses to have one comprehensive seal that addresses the trust and reliability equation from a variety of angles.

4) Give Shoppers Dynamic and Continually Updated Information About Your Business – As small businesses know, their historical track record for reliability and trustworthiness always is being updated with new data and information as more transactions occur and a business grows.  Kikscore’s seal addresses this by being dynamic and continually updating a small business and their merchant report card (KikReport). The KikScore seal is set up to continually be updated and our own databases and data providers are scanned constantly for new information about a small business site.  So for example, when a small business website’s traffic increases meaning that business may be growing, that is reflected in the KikScore seal and the KikReport.  Also as a small business becomes more financially viable, that also gets reflected in the KikScore seal too and again helps demonstrate trustworthiness and reliability to shoppers. We do this, others do not.  Most other trust seals are static meaning they do not update information presented on a seal besides perhaps a change in the date of a scan that is performed – otherwise other trust seals just present static information.  That static information really does not do a lot to help address the issue of building trust for small businesses.

5) You Get a Unique Trust Score for Your Small Business –  Unlike anyone in the market, KikScore takes information, data and merchant provided information, analyzes that information and presents to the public a completely unique and dynamic trust and reliability score.  This trust and reliability score takes into account literally hundreds of data points and indications of trustworthiness in order to compute the trust score.  The trust score which in some ways is akin to a credit score except that the KikScore trust score is made available to the public so a small business can communicate to customers that they have a high trust score and therefore can be trusted.  Even better is that the trust score is based on data and information that is verified by KikScore through our systems and automated processes.

6) KikScore Helps Small Businesses Giving Wary Shoppers Transparency Into Your Business – KikScore attacks the heart of the trust issue for small businesses by giving small businesses a way to make themselves, their business and their management more transparent to shoppers.  We have seen that when shoppers are provided more information about an online business their level of comfort and likelihood of buying from that website increases.  Without this important transparency, sales are lost and shopping carts are abandoned.  Instead of empowering small businesses to provide this transparency, other trust seals merely provide a very small, isolated and static piece of information about a small business (a malware scan, etc). Those seals are just not comprehensive enough to fully address the trust issue.

7) Encourages Interaction with Your Customers – KikScore’s seal incorporates an interactive feedback platform within the seal.  This permits small businesses to interact in real time with their customers.  This also allows these small businesses to have other shoppers review the comments that are posted inside the KikScore seal about the shopping experience with that customer.  KikScore even incorporates these comments into the trust score for the small business.  One additional benefit of the interactive feedback platform is that it helps bring customers to the small business website to post comments instead of having those customers post comments on various unrelated sites around the internet like Yelp.  Now granted their are a few other seals that include comments sorting and response functionality, none of them have the comprehensive trust building solution that KikScore includes with the items listed in 1-6 before.

So I will leave everyone with the following:  We rarely and I mean rarely overtly talk about the KikScore product on our blog.  Instead, we use this blog to communicate with the community and provide valuable small business tips.  That being said, we thought that this would be a good time to take the opportunity to educate small businesses on the critical differences between KikScore and the many other seals that claim to address the trust concern that shoppers continually say are a barrier to buying more online.

We would love to know your thoughts on the differences we have identified.

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