On the Move ... [4]

Here is the latest news and an update on improvements from [5].

On May 26, sent an important e-mail to members in which it discussed the new inventory upload price reduction, new enhancements, BEA reminders, and fraudulent order vigilance.

  1. Inventory Upload Price Reduction. Two years ago, created functionality that allows booksellers to upload their inventory, or, more specifically, upload their on-hand quantities of items contained in the database. This was an expensive feature to develop and maintain, so it was priced at $100 per month. However, to date, only 14 stores are using the feature.

    As such, Director Len Vlahos announced in a recent e-mail to members that the inventory upload feature will be lowered to $20 per month on a trial basis, to encourage more bookstores to try the inventory upload feature.

    It is hoped that the price reduction will allow more stores to take advantage of the feature, since bookstores using the inventory upload function have reported that it "really enhances their Web site in a way that translates into customer satisfaction and sales," Vlahos explained. " ... wants more booksellers to be able to take advantage of it."

    Moreover, with this data, it gives the opportunity to bring the program to a wider audience on booksellers' behalf through services like Froogle, the new shopping engine from Google. This could help support booksellers' own marketing efforts.

    Here's how the system works: Each night booksellers export a file from their POS system that includes ISBN, quantity, and price, and then use a tool on their " admin page" to upload that file to the system. Overnight, the system processes the file, and the next morning the data is reflected on the bookseller's site. Once a bookseller does this, their customers will see an "On Our Shelves Now" inventory status on the store's Web site, showing the actual quantity in stock, and what time the data was uploaded.

    It is important to note that the inventory upload price is being lowered on a trial basis only. Vlahos said, "If, after six months, we have only 18 or so stores using the service, we may need to raise the price again. If, however, we have 50 stores using the service, we can probably keep it at $20/month or something close to it."

    Finally, since inventory files are large and use a lot of processing power, stores will be added in a deliberate, measured way. Therefore, beginning the week of June 7, will add 10 stores each week, on a first-come, first-served basis. This will allow staff to monitor system resources and increase power and space where needed.

  2. New Enhancements. The tech team has completed the following work and brought it live:

    a) External links now work! There has been a long-standing bug that caused certain links to external Web sites to break. This occurred when the link in question contained a special character, such as a question mark. Booksellers might have also noted that when they have added a link using HTML, the system would append many extra characters to the link. These problems have been corrected. External links now work, and the extra characters won't be added. (Booksellers are encouraged to re-enter any links on their site. This will get rid of the extra characters and clean up their text areas.)

    There is still a problem with internal links -- links from one page on a bookseller's Web site to another -- but the tech team is currently working on a solution.

    b) For stores uploading inventory: Beginning today, the price uploaded with the booksellers' local store inventory file will be used. Until today, the system defaulted to the iPage price in the database. The uploaded price will now be used as the default if it is above $0 and the ISBN includes a quantity of at least one. If booksellers do not want to use the uploaded price, the price data in the file upload should be replaced with zeroes.

    c) Events main page. A short description that was added to the "Events" main page two weeks ago caused a few stores some difficulty. Now, the short description is optional (see the "Preferences" link on the left-hand navigation bar of the administration page), and the HTML tags have been removed from the short description, allowing for more text. (The removal of HTML tags is automatic, and does not affect the full event description when viewed on an individual event page. The tags are removed for the short description only.)

    d) BookWraps Streaming Author Video. We announced the addition of BookWraps streaming author video last week ( [6]). It's now live. To see an example, search for ISBN: 0743205421 on any site.

  3. BookExpo America Reminders. will be holding a Users Group meeting at Book Expo America in Chicago. The meeting will be at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, June 4, in Room 402A of the McCormick Place Convention Center. Discussions will focus on future enhancements and booksellers' feedback on how best to move the program forward. Booksellers can also schedule one-on-one time during Book Expo with Scott Nafz, senior customer service coordinator, or with Vlahos by sending an e-mail in advance of the show to [7] or [8].

  4. Fraudulent Orders. The fraudulent order syndicate seems to have stepped up its efforts to use stolen credit cards to buy books. Any large order for multiple units of Bibles or medical reference books should be treated as suspect. This is especially true if the order in question is being shipped out of the country, though there seems to be an increase in examples of domestic fraud as well. In many cases, the credit card will appear to be valid; in actuality, the number has been stolen. It is imperative that members not fill suspect orders under any circumstances. Booksellers with questions about such orders should contact Vlahos, or send a note to [9].

In addition, there are plans to upgrade's e-commerce server this summer that will allow to require consumers to include the verification digits now found on most credit cards. This will greatly improve security.