Saturday, January 17, 2015

E-commerce sites, hosted by major providers, owned by small businesses, may be "safer" than major corporate retail sites

At a social gathering today, I did gain some useful “intelligence”.  It seems like merchant accounts do work pretty well for small businesses, and take care of the encryption requirements (and other customer information issues) to process credit cards.
I had been under the impression, ten years ago, that e-commerce hosting was much more expensive than general shared hosting, but now it seems to run $30-$80 a month (most companies would need the upper end).  High end non-commercial shared hosting is typically around $30 a month.
The business person said that small businesses using these services have not been vulnerable to the hacks that large companies (like Target, Home Depot, etc) have experienced. 

Some small businesses have card readers attached to smart phones.  It would sound as though debit cards would be a problem until the new chips are available.  But even newer debit cards will need to be protected by metal foil (ID blog Nov. 14, 2014). 
That brings up another question with sales of media items – individual book copies and CD’s or DVD’s.  I’ve pretty much depended on Amazon (and maybe BN) and as well as the original author publishing services operations (iUniverse, XLibris).  I have sold copies of books to people, usually from email, usually with check (Paypal is possible – see Books, Oct. 4, 2014). 
It has been common for authors to set up sites selling their books by themselves with their own merchant sites.  A few filmmakers have done this, selling DVD’s only this way before moving to Amazon, for several months at least.  I’m not sure what the sense of this is.  Possibly there is a “political” point, not giving in to the supposed “monopoly” of Amazon, especially (and some controversy over the way some authors – not me -- are affected by its Kindle purchase pricing). 
An author selling this way (often with copies printed for him or her at a volume discount) still needs to handle the name and address of a customer to send the book or CD, but would not need to keep it online. 
A merchant account, however, is predicated on volumes of items, and ordinary business concepts like price-points.  This is indeed “Shark Tank” selling, in theory.  Retailing or dealing with many individual customers (even in wholesale, as my own father did for decades) is the major objective.  It takes over the concern with content for its own sake, which is still my game.  I view all contact as interrelated, like in the movie “Cloud Atlas”.  I realize this is a controversial “model”, not sustainable for a lot of people, and only to be followed when life circumstances justify it.  

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