News in Shop 8/20

%-Discounts!

Actually, the discounts were supposed to help with the reduction of the VAT in Germany, but then this became a more hard piece of work. Now, discounts on item basis (or on product group basis in PCG) are taken into account as well as individual discounts for customers who enter the shop via discount groups. Previously, the discounts were only calculated and displayed correctly after a “passage” through the merchandise management system, now this works directly in the shop.

This sometimes results in an implicit increase of the minimum order value, e.g. in the case of high employee discounts. This can be corrected customer-specific – or by address.

Discounts already added in the PCG are of course still taken into account. In general, the highest discount will be applied to each item. Discount items can now also always be changed – if not explicitly blocked in the merchandise management.

Changes in the search feature

Search terms that suggest that the customer is looking for regional products, now show these directly, or even just a button “Regional products”. You may even find discounts and other shop features using the search field.

Supporting Tour Models

Already with the depot feature, the reconstruction of the shop to support any number of addresses and tours per customer was started (up to now max. 5). Now this work is completed as well. This means that customers with many departments, kindergartens or schools, but also with many delivery options (i.e. depots or branches) can be better supported. Depending on your settings, you can now offer more or less flexibility, e.g. you can only display the possible addresses and not make them selectable.

The selection of one of several tours (delivery options) on the same day has been simplified – this can now be done directly in the shopping cart.

Build-In Content Management

The built-in small content management finally got a file upload. In addition, external pages can now be stored more easily, so that they can be found in the search function.

Phishermen’s Friend: AI

The publication of the private data of celebrities should be a good reminder to us of the intentions we all had at the turn of the year. But not that motivated me to write this article, but some phishing mails I probably got from you. Also you are prominent!

Me, prominent? Nobody wants anything from me.

I’m afraid that’s thought too briefly. In almost everything that goes through your mailboxes or Facebook messages, there is also information about others – and if it is only the email address. Many of you readers also look after customers – the protection of this data is not only a matter of decency, but is also vital for business.

Well, then the bad guy just learns the email addresses of the others. What can he do with it?

Well, he can write her up! The email contained names, was it about orders, was an invoice included? All wonderful points of contact for phishing.

Phishing?

Damit ist -sehr verkürzt- das Ausnehmen von Dummen gemeint.

Uh, me? What does he want when he has phished me off?

Always money in the end. And the phisher needs access to the computer or mobile phone. This of course means access via the network (you don’t need a screen).

Sure, to get to my banking app!

That would be an idea – but it’s rather elaborate and leaves too many traces. It is easier to encrypt the hard disk to extort ransom. But it doesn’t have to be this immediate super disaster – it is obvious to spy out the computer for more email addresses and thus new potential victims. You can install a program that writes passwords of keyboard entries. Hijacked computers can also be rented – for money.

Who rents something like this?

If you want to send a lot of new phishing emails (say a few 10000), and want to do so in a way that the traces are not traceable, you need a lot of computers. It’s better not to attack large institutions with your own computer. Or to get bitcoins calculated…Is your computer sometimes so strangely busy when you’re not doing anything?

Hm, I don’t know. What do I have to do in order not to belong to the stupid ones?

Rule 1: Keep all your software up to date! On all computers or mobile phones! Even computers that are supposedly never connected to the Internet, if there is a network cable or a USB port. If the software doesn’t do this update control itself (like modern browsers or MS-Office) – check it daily.

Rule 2: Never click on email attachments unless you know exactly what will happen. It’s best to only open attachments like pictures or PDF’s.

But I’m already doing that!

Very good. Now rule 3: Don’t trust emails from friends per se! Are there any new attachments? Is there a strange link in it? Ask possibly back. And take the questions of your computer seriously (“Should scripts be executed in this Word document?”)!

Isn’t that an exaggeration?

Maybe, but it can save a lot of trouble. In addition, we will see much more really good fake mails in the future.

So fake emails? Who writes them all?

A computer program, probably even on an already hijacked computer. And it will use the latest trick of the programmers: Artificial intelligence.

Boah!

Well, that sounds a little dramatic. Mostly we mean “machine learning” and that is again just well done statistics and mathematics. To do phishing mails is, so to speak, what you can do especially well with AI: You design 10 variants with the help of the additional information and send them to 10000 victims. The variants that work particularly well are then (automatically) further developed (this is the learning effect)…

..and at some point the result is so perfect that they have me.

That’s it. But if your mail program is well maintained and up to date, it will certainly warn you – the good side hopefully knows the tricks too.

Well, then, three rules, that sounds manageable. Now I am sure.

Rule 4: Stay vigilant and disciplined, be honest about your own mistakes. Computers are better reinstalled when something dubious has happened. This works best with a backup, mainly of the data. On a medium that is not always connected.

Oops, you got me 🙁

Rule 5: Don’t get paranoid, we have to continue doing business, and our customers want to use their computers as well. That’s why it helps to invest 15 minutes every month to find out what’s new in data protection and computer security. And make sure that employees have not forgotten these rules again. And to think about the case of the cases…but that requires the GDPR anyway.

There are not only these 5 rules, of course, but they are some of the most important. Sorry if this all comes across as a bit masterly. But we are all require the Internet to work – and its really not so complicated. – Bob

Spring User Meeting 2018

Many new and young PCG users accepted our invitation to the User Meeting 2018 in Schmerlenbach near Aschaffenburg, Germany. 60 people from 32 companies came together – many familiar faces and of course many from the PCG team.

Katrin has again moderated and conducted us through the wealth of topics:

We started with the presentation of various service packages that we see as useful for PCG users – from a consultation regarding the use of enterprise resource planning (Charly), to the new backup or assistance in implementing a uniform email communication (Bob).  After a breakup with the presentation of the chat system, Hanno introduced our new documentation system. In terms of content, of course, it was all about the new shop – what can you do with it, what is there to set? We demonstrated this during a “foray” through the building blocks of the new system. Designed as an open system, some special offers will be added in 2018 for the implementation of the online shops. Leon, known to many as the face behind the driver app, presented an idea – exciting! The users of the new shop spontaneously called their own small meeting – and developed good ideas.

As always, Erhard and Markus presented news from the PCG. Ralph showed – right with all the hardware! – how to connect a telephone system to the PCG.

The evenins went on in the bar (a new room in the monastery building!), there is always too much to discuss within the community.

So we stick to the concept: a user meeting in autumn on a Friday and Saturday in the middle of Germany (Kassel) and a user meeting in January/February from Wednesday to Friday in Schmerlenbach near Aschaffenburg. Register again, always 4… 6 weeks before the appointment, with Sandra!

Market Stats from Biofach 2018

Since we as a PCG team do not have our own booth at the Biofach this year, there is more time to look around with colleagues or at the congress events.  Some of the presentations were about statistics – the figures seem to support the perception we all have:

  • The market for organic products (in Western Europe) is growing – but not for all participants. Producers were mainly milk producers, who have grown in number and size. Agricultural acreage grew by only about 5% across Europe, but products were up 50% – driven by Vegan & Co.
  • Organic trade in Germany grew by about 10%, although 9% of this growth came from supermarkets. In total, only about 4% of the trade are organic products. Incidentally, the USA has the highest share in the food sector worldwide, with almost 10%.
  • France is interesting: the number of dealers and suppliers has risen by 30% in 2017.
  • Italy has many supermarket chains: there was a slide in the presentation showing 21 different brand labels – and then there are the growers’ associations. The situation is similar in the rest of Europe, so differentiation is becoming increasingly difficult.
  • If you look at the dimensions of organics, ecology/sustainability and ethics… organic food is winning enormously. So people buy because they find it good for themselves – not so much to save the world.

The figures and my interpretations are, of course, to be treated with caution – especially when comparing the markets. There are many different methods of counting, there are also various organisations in the countries that publish their figures at different times – sometimes in 2016 from country A has to be compared with 2017 from country B.  As with all statistics, the trend is therefore what can be compared well – and this fits in with the interest the Biofasch Show: organic continues to grow.

Chat!

The chat module has been ready for use in the shop for some time now – although it was initially built for the new shop, it also works with the Amperhof shop model!

After a few experiments, we decided to develop our own solution – this opens up many more possibilities for integration into our system.

A supervisor can manage many chats at the same time – but she can also protect herself from too many requests by using a “pause button”. In quiet times on the other hand, the supervisor can be “woken up” by SMS (therefore he does not have to wait in front of the PC or on his mobile phone all the time.) Especially on Sundays in the evening, several colleagues would certainly be busy supporting the customers by chating. Various studies seem to confirm that customer satisfaction and revenue increases when someone can respond immediately.

There are many ideas for the above integration – from screen broadcasting to live support by remote control of the website (where can I find the delivery pauses?). The system is also prepared for cross-company use, where, for example, one jointly “sponsored” supervisor can maintain different websites. The integration of automated systems (chatbots) is also an obvious solution.

Do you need a chat? You have to find out. But often there are small questions that are answered quickly and leave a good feeling of “they take care”. Maybe a feeling that compensates for a real store visit in person. On the other hand, some customers expect this because they have already used it “elsewhere”.

Anyway, the module is quickly switched on in the shop – and if necessary also switched off again ; -)

Ready for Business! Websites with the new Shopsystem

Admittedly, it took some time – but now all the the great functions that existed already are included – and of course much more!

Actually, the system has been in operation since February last year. However, the implementation of the online sales concepts that are now possible is often not only a technical thing, but also requires a lot of thought in the companies, occasionally requires organizational changes, sometimes forces to think about the entire marketing concept… in short: it also takes time.

In addition to the modernization of the technical basis, many more item details can now be displayed, there are filter mechanisms, the navigation is freely configurable directly from the PCG, there are more possibilities to display subscription boxes, we have relaxed the registration (“guest”) and also the subscription control is back.

In the meantime some of our customers reimplemented their websites, which means that there is not only the PCG team, which can advise you, but there are also colleagues you can ask. Much of what we have learned has ended up in the new documentation system, which we will present shortly at the user meeting.

The new system consists of building blocks that have to be built into a website. For example, there is a shopping cart component, a component for displaying articles, for logging in, for filtering products or components for chat and mail. Once you know which pages to place these components on, the WebDesigner has to “dress them up”in your style.

In contrast to the previous system, this gives a lot of freedom to design – this freedom forces me to think: how can I best present my products? A little crazy or traditional? Of course you can look at colleagues… or at other shops out there.

So far there are some websites, which means several web designers are already familiar with them and can make you an offer. As a PCG team, we will also be able to offer you pre-configured systems during the course of the year, including training and assistance with initial setup.

Within 2018, there will also be a prefabricated standard system, which will replace the current (“Amperhof”) model. This should also work “out-of-the-box” and can be adjusted in a few easy steps. Of course, you then have a standard layout and not the flexibility of the solutions described above.

Incidentally, the new system could also be installed “by the way”: Why not have a website just for one event? Only for some product groups or brands? For recipes or for a specific region? With the technique of alternative system this is easily possible parallel to the main shop.

We are happy to advise you!

 

Meet the Team: Simon

And today it’s Simon who wants to introduce himself:

“I’m Simon Heilmeier, 22 years old and I’m from Freising. In 2017, I moved from my computer science studies to PC Gärtner GmbH in order to gain practical experience in programming. Since September I have been supporting the PCG team in programming and now, after the training, I will work more and more productively on PCG modules.

In addition to my education, I spend my time playing football and snowboarding in winter, as well as all sorts of things to do with computers.”

Delivery is Due!

With the automatic order reminders, customers can always be reminded of upcoming deliveries. A large number of customers gladly accept this notice and update their order.

In the last few weeks many small enhancements have been added to this feature. Of course, the most important thing was the memory of customers who only order occasionally. These can be specifically marked in the communication settings of the PCG.

The time of sending was previously fixed at 9:00 a. m. – now you can select the desired hour for sending.

In order to get more transparency about the function of this automatic, the execution can now be simulated in the admin area of the shop. There is also the possibility to initiate the process by hand. Another new feature is a report that is sent to the admin email after execution.

If the message is sent as an SMS, several SMS numbers can now be stored at the customer’s premises. The internal number check ensures that no mails are sent to Timbuktu by mistake.

New EU Data Protection Rules 2018

A topic that was already on the table in 2016 – there was the basic data protection regulation (DSGVO)… And now again? I see that many people are now rolling with their eyes as they read; -) But fair trade involves dealing fairly with the data of the people with whom we trade and work together – and that is why it should even be a boss issue.

A comprehensive data protection reform will enter into force across the EU in May 2018. The rules have been known for some time and will be updated and obligatory on this date with the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG).

It is generally relevant for PCG users – even if you run a system without an online shop. The essence of the matter is personal data. But on this occasion you can also illuminate other data flows.

For larger companies there are detailed regulations (ITIL) and best practices, which often serve as a precondition or preparation for certification. But even if you don’t want to have an ISO9000 stamp, the tables of contents of such manuals offer good hints where all risks can be hidden.

Few people will have the patience to work through this, so we will discuss some aspects of the law in the next issues. This reading material can be regarded as a homeworkers’ task – so the company is fit for it in May.

Alternatively, you can get help from service providers who – in contrast to us – can also make legally binding statements.

Step one: Process Inventory

Many companies have grown over the years – new employees have taken on tasks that had previously been performed by the boss herself; growth often leads to the specialisation of areas of responsibility with their own rules and procedures. Something of the overview can get lost – and this is what you need in order to identify risks for the “data” of employees, customers or the company itself.

It is best to start with a list of processes known in the company. “Create new customer” or “process order” are obvious, but also “employee leaves us” or “article purchase” should be found in this list. After a while of thinking, the list should have 20 entries, maybe more. Some processes that have always existed will be given a name for the first time.

Such a process directory is also helpful to train new employees or to measure and optimize internal processes. But that’s not what this is about.

In the next step, you write the data processes that are involved for these list entries. With the example of the new customer installation, this would be first of all the collection of data – from the online shop or an email or by telephone. Maybe a little sketch might help. Now you could add who “moves” these data (one name or a role, e. g.”customer service”), with which he moves them (“email program”,”PCG”) and where these data “store” (“server with PCG”,”oekobox-online”). Probably first in an email mailbox, then locally in a database and then online in a database – the new customer should be able to log in to the shop.

Here are a few more ideas for processes, which can be found in one form or another for each of them, some of which are possibly very similar and can be summarized:

  • Subscription changes, vacation entries, customer master data changes
  • Modification of employee data (o-yes, these are also persons!), time recording or vacation arrangements
  • Tracking data collection of web pages and the online shop: who collects, who does what with the data?
  • Collection and maintenance of supplier data
  • Processes in Ordering
  • Driver and delivery processes (driver app)

You may not be aware of some of these things (because they are hidden behind a button in the PCG) or you may not even be interested in them – please feel free to ask us in the PCG team. Often it is more interesting than you think; -) – besides, as mentioned above it is a matter for the boss, it could also be, a data protection officer comes by and asks you.

In four weeks we will need this list to identify data fields, identify risks and identify responsibilities.

Item Representation: DataNatuRe, Ecoinform

Both, DataNatuRe as well as Ecoinform are currently primarily for german data consumers – perhaps that will change some time in the future.

For some time now, DataNatuRe has been building a product database for the organic and natural goods trade. In addition to data from our proprietary “Ökobox”-pool and that of the pioneer in this field, Ecoinform, our shops can now also display data from this new source.

In the online shop we need descriptions, pictures, exact manufacturer information and details of the ingredients. This is important for displaying, filtering and organizing information on the web pages. However, some of these are also important in the ERP backend. Anyone who has already registered new articles in the system knows how time-consuming this process can be.

Of course, it is as simple as possible for the seller if this data is complete and uniform, because then the import can be done automatically. Unfortunately, this is not always the case: why is it so difficult to get good article information for the online shop? Or to put it another way: why is it so difficult to build a unified database?

On the one hand, not every manufacturer has the capacity to present its products well for all sales channels. For example, an image should usually be high-resolution and rich in detail for printing, while for an article list in the online shop a striking and less data-intensive smaller image is more likely.

On the other hand, a central database is used by many people in different positions. They often have a very specific look at the data: Bookkeepers, for example, tend to look at prices rather than pictures, while marketing people focus on the text and the picture, rather than the ingredients. Statisticians compare merchandise categories and need the articles in a certain order. Some mean well and fill in the fields for description-long, descriptive-medium and description-short, others are in a hurry and write a sentence in the “-lang” field.

The article information also differs according to the product group – i. e. there are different data fields for a cheese (e. g. fat content, rind or rind type) than for a wine (drinking temperature or decanting time). And then the structure and type of data are not the same: the fat level is expressed in %, but there must be clear indications in the country of origin. Allergens can be one or 10, certifiers usually have one, but sometimes several.

This complexity is even evident in DataNatuRe’s rather young database, which is designed with modern means and on a broad basis. This way we get all the information for our system, but the preparation is not easy:

  • From the large number of data fields (more than 1000 in total) the relevant data fields for filtering or display in the online shop must be selected – even though the merchandise category assignment in the individual shops usually does not correspond to the data supplier’s specifications.
  • Many numerical values are not entered homogeneously and cannot be compared easily, e. g. during filtering (100ml are 0.1l, but a computer does not know this easily)
  • Despite a lot of trouble with the input masks, I have already seen vegans, which is explicitly not vegetarian, or a chicken broth which explicitly does not contain pork (oh).
  • It often happens that some articles have a super detailed description, others don’t – if these articles stand side by side in the shop, for example, this is noticeable negatively – not to mention article names that wind around the screen.
  • Unfortunately, images are typically not available on the web – optimized for small and large screens, for detail or list display. This is where automated image processing algorithms come into play, which have to cope with very different raw materials.

Last but not least, there is a series of additional information which in turn requires data to be added by other sources. For example, we have our own data pools with information on manufacturers, associations or origin marks.

In order to make the use of all these information details as easy as possible, the InfoPool module is available in the PCG. Not only can groups of articles be edited en-mass, but you can also simplify your work with the help of simple dependency rules. Finally, the information must be correct, even if the manufacturer changes the formulation of a cream, for example.

The different pools can be activated in the shop settings. For fast results, the system can easily add missing information from these data sources, e. g. by assigning them via GTIN. There are also statistics on their use and query options, which can be used during data entry and for checking purposes.