Sunday, June 23, 2013

Where is the Online Privacy in Reviewing Sites?

     Nowadays a lot of online review sites are increasing; the new challenge lies on the privacy of the users.  Sites that have reviews are like Yelp or Tripadvisor, have become a great source of information for people that want to try a new restaurant or even are planning a trip.  The information posted in these sites become public, i.e. for everyone to see and read, and in some cases the users disclose “private” information – like relationships, family, etc.

     By doing reviews, customers start inadvertently disclosing private information in their reviews.  Either the customer specifies that they went to a place with family or to celebrate a particular event of their lives or even that they went on a particular date, etc.  To a certain point customers disclose their experience exchanges with the establishments and write everything on a review, leaving this information available for anyone that will search for it.  These reviews are linked to the customers directly, therefore the customer becomes exposed to the establishment or to the world.  There have been cases in which the establishments have attacked these customers via email and even via telephone, especially when the review has been a bad one.  Once the information is out there in the world wide web there is no way of retrieving it or even blocking it.  Once the information is out there, it’s out there for everyone to see.  Where is the online privacy for the users of these sites?  Seems that these sites don't care about online privacy, they just want whatever type of information for their benefit.

     Sites like Yelp have their members put their first names and the first initial of their last name on their profile.  Plus the site also mentions that when the member makes its profile more “credible” meaning putting a real picture of you will make the account a more “real” one.  So much for online privacy, there is no privacy here.  I think that to a point these sites are trying to make the information more credible when the site knows that when they are linked to a real name person and make that person accountable for the information.

     Yelp motto is: Real Reviews, Real People.  Have sites become revealers of who the customers are and make customers feel that the only way to express themselves is by showing their identity?  and make their customers feel they are exposed?  Has society come to a point in which people have to reveal they identities to make their opinions to be considered in the real world?  What will be next?

Article related:

Miyazki, Anthony.  Is "Online Privacy" the Ultimate Oxymoron?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New Tax Laws for Online Food Retailers.....

Internet has changed how we shop and now with the new tax laws, we might even be affected more.  After reading an article from Miyazaki, Will Amazon be the next Walmart?, many questions arise.  Many things have changed since the internet arrived to our lives.  Now tax laws are about to change when purchasing online.  There was no tax charge when one would shop online.  The new tax law in the State of California states to charge as much as 9.75% on internet sales.  This means that consumers will be more aware at the time when shopping.  Consumers will try to find the least expensive way to get an item.  With the new tax law, different taxes will apply to different states.  So the dilemma is, do I shop with an online retailer that is in one state or another? But what about the online retailers that are nationwide in the United States?  How will the new law affect them?  Will it depend on the state that you are purchasing in? or it will depend on the location of the physical business of the retailer?  These are questions that will come to mind when a customer shops online.

Retailers like Omaha Steaks and Harry & David will be affected by them.  How? These online food retailers sell food items over the internet.  Since the creation of internet, the reach for the consumers has gone from local to global.  Will this law change the physical presence of the stores? 

In Florida the Department of Revenue’s Web site says, online purchases are subject to the state’s 6% sales tax, even if the seller does not collect it at the time of purchase.  There is a convenience of shopping online, many people might say that the mall is open 24/7 and you are shopping in pajamas and then having the items delivered to your preferred location.  You would not have anybody bombarding you or a sales person telling you that the item looks great on you.  Online shopping is a new way of shopping without a sales person next to you – yapping.  But still the consumer will be subject to tax charges, free tax haven did not last that much….

What will online shoppers do to get the best deal?  Will this make them shop less online? Now online onsumers have to take into account Sales Tax.
Carrns, Ann. Online Shopping, with Sales Tax Added. April 2013. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

E-Marketing and Food Selection

Online marketing has grown over the past years.  The availability of information is 24/7, and it has created a society of information – unless you don’t have internet.  Nowadays, information can be at the palm of your hands with mobile devices.  Social media has changed our buying behaviors throughout the years.

But how does the buying process occur?

According to Miyazaki, the process is done in 3 steps:
  • Need/Desire Recognition:  the consumer has to recognize the need
  • Need/Desire Development: once the “need” is recognized, we have to develop it so we know what to buy – gathering information in order to evaluate the options available
  • Need/Desire Fulfillment: when information has been evaluated, we decide as a consumer we make our purchase, and sometimes provide a post usage evaluation – which will eventually influence on future buyers
Let’s see for example the Yelp website, I am a user and a member of the site.  When I look for a new restaurant this is the first website I go to – the desire is there.  Why do I go to Yelp? Because there is information available about other customers experiences, as we would say there are tons of exchanges between the business and the customers.  And off I go in the search for a good restaurant, by location, cuisine, service, etc.  – this is the information gathering.  And after all that information gathering now comes the part of the fulfillment in which I have decided which establishment I chose as a nice restaurant and it is up to me to go and make an exchange with the restaurant.  I will pay for the food and they will provide service, food, all in essence they would provide an experience for me.  After my experience with the restaurant I will write about it on Yelp.  How is this not being an influence on future customers?  As customers we have become more informed and aware of information.  Customers are more to trust a friend than straight from the company’s website – it’s just the nature of it.  Customers tend to believe that products sell better when it’s coming from a trustworthy source – in this case coming from the members of the Yelp website.

We are bombarded with lots of information everywhere.  By reading and getting informed through social media, the buying decision could convert into revenue to the establishments.  According to a study made by The Boston Consulting Group they state, digital content and online-advertising are still struggling to find ways to effectively service the advertising needs of small businesses.  If small business owners are not fully aware of the digital marketing, then the articles suggests that only the big companies are managing their e-marketing resources.  It’s the amount of information that is available and if the source is a reliable one.

Another finding of the same study stated that small business owners learn that the economic impact Yelp has on small businesses is on average $8,000 on revenue yearly.  Yelp uses “word of mouth” marketing tactic to spread the word about a product/service being good or bad.  And probably this is what exactly social media marketers want consumers to do, express their opinions on a certain product.  It is up to you to decide whether you will buy it or not.  

But to what extent would the government would regulate the e-marketing?  I don’t think the government on limiting the role of e-marketing.  It would go against the freedom of speech, and so forth.  More people have turned into online shoppers.  If the government were to regulate, it would mean a manipulation of information to the society – which is something that would not be seen well.  As Bernadette Tracy, a research expert says: The internet has become the mall of the America.  If the government were to regulate it, I think it would have economic implications in the long run.

Other Sources:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Miami Florida has become a melting pot of cultures.  How does Miami interact with the community is the question.  Besides going physically to a location, one can simply enter the internet to find out every kind of information.

Nowadays we can find such following information on the internet if we are searching for a new restaurant to go to or what type of activity to do.  Websites such as Yelp and Foursquare are examples of sites in which customers write about their experiences to the public.  Some reviews on these sites have been removed.

Websites like these increase the interactivity of information between customers and between the individual and establishment.  A comment like the following is very common to find in these websites - this is a fragment of my personal review:

The best place that I have had dim sum in South Florida is South Garden Restaurant located on Sunset Drive and 108.  The following dishes are what I totally love having at this place. 
  • Steamed Beef Balls - Although you might need to order them since they are not in the carts, it’s worth the wait.  The beef is so soft, you wouldn’t believe it’s beef!  Typically served with some soy bean piece of paper on the bottom so the beef does not get attached to the dish when steamed.
  • Egg Custard Tart - Tart is just perfectly flaky, that when you bite and combine it with the egg custard it’s just heavenly delightful!
  • Sponge Cake- This soft cake brings me childhood memories, soft, yellow and sweet
  • Beef Tripe- Yep, it’s tripe, i.e. honeycomb, it’s great with the scallions and ginger; if you like the gummy texture, you will love it!
  • Har Gow (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings) – This is a must try, definitely a staple for Dim Sum
  • Siu Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumplings) – another staple in Dim Sum!
  • Chicken Feet – yep, chicken feet!! Who would have thought that chicken feet would be so meaty and tasty? They are gummy and feels like eating cartlidge.  Like you have never eaten cartlidge in your life…. Ahem…. In the Chicken!  This is my personal favorite, the flavor is incredibly good!  Now the question is posed, how do you eat them? Many people find it to be a lot of work because of the bones.  Just take a bite, start working into the meat, and take sure you don’t eat the bones!  Take the bones out one by one and transfer them with your chopsticks to the plate and your done!  You have experienced eating Chicken Feet!
To see my full review:

Information is available everywhere, it all falls into how credible the source is, do you know that person? Have you read other pieces of information from that person?  What do these websites are trying to do with interactivity marketing?  They are trying to promote these restaurants/businesses as to how good/bad they are informing customers what these establishments provide.  And it takes the reader into a new level in thinking, would I be willing to try this because of this person’s experience?  It is also a much unbiased way to view the business.  And to a certain point, I believe it is free advice.  But the question is till what point?  As a business owner how much would you listen to the public? Are these valid complaints? What are the effects of these complaints for the business?

It’s an unbiased way to promote to the customers to come in and try their food.  One of the problems of interaction is a bad interaction.  According to Miyazaki, when interactions are not positive there is an opportunity to reply in an attempt to resolve the complaint.  Establishments interested in fixing a problem or trying to keep that particular customer will work on it to a certain point.  If it’s a bad interaction and stay as a negative interaction the image of the restaurant will be damaged. 

For every interaction there is a positive or negative outcome that may damage or improve a business image. 

But how have these websites have become such a powerful resources?  They obtain information that recollects the interactions between customers and businesses.  Probably even the establishment will never know who wrote a particular review about their place.  

Have these websites become insensible in publicly showing all information there is?  Until what point are these websites sharing the information? what are their rules to remove or leave a customer review for the business?