Online Book Store Business Consultancy Business Essay

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To start with, this report is about the new opening firm of a online book seller physically and digitalized form or through getting them by a mobility form in to their mobiles, kindle, iPad, iPods etc. I would be an e commerce consultant and give the detailed report about the three competitor's survey, and the intellectual property, privacy and data protection, advertising and marketing, professionalism and ethics.

Competitor's survey:

In the competitors survey of online book stores I would like to compare the firms of abebooks.co.uk, whsmith.co.uk, and Blackwell.co.uk. So now we will see the company information, customer services provided by them, return policy, warranties to products and the ease of use of the web site. Now coming to the seller of abebooks.co.uk, this sells the books online in one market place where they sell million of new books, second hand books, and the rare books which the reader couldn't find in the market can find in this web site. They provide readers the best sellers in the market so that they can find the brands of the stores which they needed. They even provide books for students like new textbook and the used text books. The abebooks.co.uk is one of the ancillaries of amazon.co.uk. The main mission of abebooks is to help people find and buy any book from any bookseller anywhere. This firm was founded in the year 1996. So this is a small gist of the company. The customer services provided by them are online support for the customers, frequently asked questions for the readers which will help them in purchasing the books; they provide information about the sellers. The return policy of the abebooks.co.uk is their book sellers guarantee the products which they give it to the customers as it is in the website. Abebooks.co.uk provide return and refunds to their customers within 30 days of their purchase of the products, provided they want the customers to return the products as it is at the delivery time and post it to them. The book sellers are having four types of reasons for the return or refund the amount according to the valid reason the customer will be getting the refund amount or the book.

Item not received according to the delivery estimate: Here in this situation the customer will be getting the full amount refund.

Buyer doesn't want the product: Here in this situation the buyer received the product but he doesn't want the product and returned it, the customer gets the full refund for this reason.

In correct item delivered: in this situation the customer gets the full money and doesn't have the return shipping cost.

The item is damaged: the buyer received the item but it damaged in the post so he can return the product so that he will get the full refund or replace the product without the shipping the charges.

So the above are the return policies of the abebooks.co.uk. the ease of designing the website is good and it is user friendly and for any new customer it is very easy to find out the product and there is a privacy followed by the firm for every customers so that the customers details are not the disposed outside and the security for the bank transactions are good so that there are no frauds in the transactions.

Whsmith.co.uk: The second company is one of the well reputed book sellers and online books sellers in the market. In a short we can see the company information and the return policy and the customer services provided by the company. The WHSmith is one of the leading the retailers in UK. They are well known for the retailing and the house hold and now the online booksellers. They are having retail shops over 500 across the city, their main target of the business was setting up the business in the high streets and the railway stations and the hospitals and the motor services. People know them for the books, newspapers, and the stationary. Their online service is good as the real store because they deliver goods free to any WHSmith retail stores, delivers orders for free over £ 15, instead of waiting for the whole order they send books instantly when they are available, makes returns easy for the customers they can just bring the books to any retail shops and return them. They treat every customer as valuable and they provide good customer services in stores as well as online. They provide FAQs for the customer and the online support for the customers and they also give the reviews for the products and allow customers to review the products so that they can read before purchasing the products. The return policy of the WHSmith is very unique when compared to the above one. The returns of the products are until 30 days from the date of purchase or customers can take the return products to the stores on the high streets so that the customers can get refund in the stores itself or post it back to them. In this concern the firm have four conditions like the abebooks.co.uk, they are: the items must be in original condition or sealed with the security tags, the customer have to package it properly and send it back through the post, and the final condition is the customer have to include the reasons for the return and inform them that you like to get a refund or the replacement for the product. These are some of the return policy of the WHSmith. The design and the ease of the website is very user friendly and the customers can access very easily and can find their products. The website provides the privacy policy to the customers so that the keep the customers information very confidentially and customers are protected by credit card frauds and they are protected by the VeriSign secured so the customers can use their card very easily.

Blackwell.co.uk: This is also one of the famous online book sellers in the UK. Black well was started in the year 1879. Black well was in the business of selling the books as the family business. They were very reputed in the sales of the books in their town and in the year 1995 they were the first persons in the business of selling books came online and did their transactions through the website in UK. They came out with more 150000 titles in the online store. Blackwell has a several store and including the medical outlets and the in oil industry. In 2008 they introduced musical DVDs, audio books, cds, DVDs etc in the stores and as well as in the online. The mission of the Blackwell is desire to capture that unique Bookshop experience in the virtual world of the internet. The customer service provided by the company to the customers very loyal and the support the customers online and they have opened in the social networking sites and informing the customers about what is happening in the company and promotional offers and the newsletters are sent to the customers. As same by above companies the Blackwell also provides FAQ to the customers.

The return policy of black well is divided in to two types one for individual customers and the other for the business customers. The policy followed for the individual customers is different from the other companies like Blackwell operates a 'no questions asked' returns policy providing you return your book within 7 working days of the delivery of your order. This policy is according to the UK distance selling regulations. Other than this they have a regular return policy like other companies,

The items are found to be damaged or faulty: in this case they do a refund of full amount or replace the product.

The item was in correctly supplied: for this type also there will full refund including the postage.

The item does not meet your requirements: in this there will be a refund but postage are maintained by the customer and the customers should return the products within 28 days in UK and post it back to the address.

So these are the return policies followed by the Blackwell.co.uk. The design and the ease of the website is very user friendly and the customers can access the website very easily and maintained the privacy as mentioned by other websites. The privacy of the customers is kept very confidentially so that it is not disposed outside. The transactions taken place in this website are very legal and they don't access to the frauds of the cards and they are secured by very sign were the customers can use very easily.

So the above three companies are the competitors in the online book selling and they are competing with each other with different business strategies and the return policies and their regulations in the business of online selling.

Section 2: Intellectual property

In this situation the investor saw a trade mark in Japan as he liked the trademark he wanted to use it for his new business. According to trademark act section1 (1) "any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from another."[Trademark act definition 1994] so according to trademark act in this situation the investor has three options in succeeding it.

The investor can use the trademark if owner of the trademark have not registered it in Japan.

If the consign owner in Japan have registered the trademark in only for that country then in this situation also our investor is capable using the trademark in the UK.

Finally the third option is if the owner of the trademark in Japan has registered it as community trademark then in this situation our investor can use the same trade mark in the United Kingdom because in the community trade mark European countries Japan is not in the list. So there are only three options available for succeeding the trade mark according to trademarks act 1994.

Here in this situation the investor is interested in using the some of the domain names like www.books.com, www.blackswells.co.uk, www.pandora.com. So according to trademarks act 1994, the domain names that the investor is interested in is similar to the web sites that already exist. The www.books.com website is similar to the website named www.book.com where this firm sells the online books and digitalized books as same as the investor. The second domain name www.blackswells.co.uk is similar to the website www.blackwell.co.uk which I used in the competitors survey, here in this firm also they sell books online from long time. The third domain name that the investor is interested in is www.pandora.co.uk, even this domain name is similar to the website www.pandora.net where this firm is related to the popular online jewelers sellers. So according to trademarks act 1994 under section 10 (2) b the grounds for domain names infringement based on the UK trademark law the first two domain names www.books.com and www.blackswells.co.uk the trademark and the domain name is similar or identical which comes under the domain name disputes of typo squatting and the goods and services provided by the original seller is similar to our investor due to this there is a likelihood of confusion for the customers so the registration can be refused.

The third domain name www.pandora.co.uk is also similar so according to the trademarks act 1994 under the section 10 (3) grounds for domain names infringement based on UK trademark law is similar/ identical but the goods and services provided by the original seller is different from our investor due to this there is a reputation in UK and unfair advantage or detriment happens to the original seller. So the trade mark registration can be refused.

So the investor can choose another domain name instead of using the similar domain name and getting the registration refused.

Section 3: Privacy and data protection:

Advice on the legal issues regarding the following:

Asking customers for religious affiliation when purchasing the products.

The above issue is asking the customers about their religious association when the products, so according the privacy and data protection act 1998 it comes under the sensitive personal data information where the website should not ask about the issues like racial or ethnic origin, political opinion, religious beliefs, trade union beliefs, sex life, physical or mental condition, criminal record or convicts about the users. So this situation is about asking the customer about religious affiliation when purchasing the products which is not required by the online sellers of the books because according to section 3 of fair processing of sensitive personal data is unlawful but if it is for a employment details they can seek for a religious beliefs. So in this situation of online sellers of books should not seek the information about the sensitive personal data according to data protection act 1998, it is unlawful.

Sharing information about the customer purchases with the police:

In the situation of sharing information about the customer purchases with the police is unlawful because according to data protection act 1998 under the data protection offences, section 55 (1) says that it is unlawful obtaining or disclosing of personal data. So in the above issue given about the sharing of information about the customer purchases with the police or any one is illegal. If so if they want to do they have get permission from the customer.

Selling customer information to other companies:

The above statement clearly states that it is unlawful selling customer information to other companies. So according to data protection act 1998 under the data protection offences, section 55 (4) and (5) says that it is unlawful selling of the personal data. So it is an offence for the web sites selling the personal data of the customer.

Sending direct marketing communications to the customer:

The above issue stating that the websites sending the direct marketing communications to the customer, so according to data protection act 1998 under section 11 it is right of the customer to prevent the processing of direct marketing in to their emails and also according to "directive 2002/58/EC-EU e privacy directive spam article 13" says that it prohibits the use of the customers email address for the purpose of marketing is unlawful. If the website made an agreement with the customer for sending the marketing issues then they can send the emails.

Using cookies to collect information on users browsing habits:

The use of cookies to collect the information on users browsing habits is allowed unless or until the user is clearly mentioned and informed about the cookies and tell them why they are using and for what purpose they are using the cookies and if the user accepts then the websites can send the information regarding the issues. So, according to the "directive 2002/58/EC-EU e privacy directive states that the cookies must ensure about the use of the electronic communication networks to store information must be clearly informed to the user in agreement to data protection".

Section 4: Advertising and marketing:

Design an advertisement for the business and mention any three ways in the advertisements is related to the uk regulation and identify particular regulations:

Here in this section I have designed an advertisement regarding the book selling online. The advertisements are the heart of any business because it helps the organization in selling the products and improve their profits. The given below advertisement is the designed advertisements.

This advertisement clearly states that it is the advertisement of the online books selling where it shows the pictures of both the books and the laptop and you can see that the laptop is connected to the books, it represents that this site sells digitalized books. According to the UK regulations the advertisements is truthful and there is no misleading in this advertisement and it says that there is some special offers for students and in this part also it is confusing any of the viewer. There is a morality and decency in the advertisement and is not representing any other thing except selling of the books and there is a fairness in the sales promotion which represents the UK regulations in the advertising. It doesn't contain any of the false information or untruthful in the advertisements and the advertisement does not lead to deceive the consumer with various sale promotions on it and leading the customer and go buy it immediately and it just says that there are some special for students without mentioning any of the offers on it and conditions on it. By seeing this advertisements the students can come and visit the site because it stated that there is offers for the student and it is for the sales promotion. So the mentioned are the three ways that the advertisement is conformed to the UK regulation in the advertisements.

The three particular laws or regulation identified in the advertisement are; according to the committee of advertising practice i.e. CAP code as they are the industry bodies responsible for the UK advertising codes where they have code for the each of the advertisements and the three laws or regulations identified are under the general sections and principle of the cap codes are compliance, recognition of marketing communications and the sales promotion.

According "section (1) of cap codes general sections and principle it is the compliance which says that all marketing communications should be decent, honest and truthful". In this advertisement the compliance is a suitable section for the advertisement because as it mentioned the advertisement is really truthful and decent if any viewer see the advertisement it is not misleading them and giving any faulty information to the customers so that it is deceiving the customers. In this way the cap code of compliance is very suitable regulation or law for the advertisement of the book.

The second regulation or the law identified is the recognition of the marketing communication, according to "section (2) of cap codes general sections it is the recognition of the marketing communication which states that the marketing communication must be identifiable as such". This regulation is opt for the above advertisement because if any customer or viewer see the advertisement they can understand that the advertisement is about the online selling of the books and nothing else is in the advertisement except the sales promotion. So in this way the cap code of recognition of marketing communication is very suitable law or regulation for the advertisement of the book.

The third regulation or law identified in the advertisement is the sales promotion, according to the "section (8) of cap codes principle it is the sales promotion where this law states that the promoters should comply with all other relevant legislation, including data protection legislation". The sales promotion is very suitable regulation because the advertisement contains the sales promotion where it says that there is some special offers for the students in the firm. So it advertisements is very clear stating sales promotion and it is not misleading any of viewer with unlawful advertisements to cheat the customers and get them to the website and improve the sales.

So the above three regulations or law has been identified regarding the UK regulations of advertising.

Advice the investor on the legality of the following marketing communications identifying any relevant regulation or legislation:

The first situation is an ad for a book stated that the book is a "bestseller" although the online bookshop has only sold 50 copies from their website, so here in this situation according to cap code general section (8) it represents the sale promotions but the sales promotion made by the company is untruthful and misleading so according to consumer protection from unfair trading practices 2008 under the regulation (5) of misleading action the advertisement contains false information and untruthful information so it is deceiving the consumer because the company has just sold 50 copies of the books and it states in the ad that they are best sellers so due to this ad the company is misleading the consumers and there is a chance that the average consumer will be confused by seeing the ad and make him go to go the website. So this is unlawful and punishable under the consumer protection from unfair trading practices 2008.

The second issue is an ad to promote a book on the joys of drinking red wine contained a photo of a family, so in this situation the ad is misleading the customers because the book is about the drinking of the red wine and the image printed is a family photo and therefore the customers see the family photo and when they go for the buying the product it states that it is about the drinking of wine then the customer is deceived by the company in order to gain profits. According to the consumer protection from unfair trading practices 2008 under the regulation (5) of the misleading action and aggressive commercial section of regulation (7) states that the advertisements contains the false information which is misleading the consumers and according to the "aggressive commercial section regulation (7) states that it significantly impairs or likely significantly impair the average consumers freedom of choice or conduct in relation to the product concerned through the use of harassment coercion and undue influence".

In the third concern it states about the offer of kindle 3g is now available for £ 119 and in the boxed text it stated that buy one get one free only £ 197.5 plus taxes and vat and in the order form it stated 1x kindle at £ 197.5 plus taxes, in this situation the company is misleading the consumers creating the confusion in them because in the first it says one product is of this price and buy 1 get 1 free at price were the company is misleading the consumers. So according to CPR 2008 the regulation (5) is the advertisements is untruthful and it contains false information and according CPR 2008 of misleading omissions, "the regulation (6) states that which provides material information which is unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous and untimely". So the information provided by company is unlawful and misleading the consumers.

The last situation is about the ad containing a book called the secrets of martial arts on karate showed the viewers in same poses, throwing punches, and at the front of the ad the man held a computer generator character and hitting the men on the sofa, this ad is like a harassment of the people where the people are not interested in it. The regulation involved in this is the aggressive commercial section of regulation (7) it significantly impairs or likely significant to impair the average consumer freedom of choice through the harassment so this ad mentioned is restricted under the law of CPR.

Section 5: professionalism and ethics:

Understanding professionalism and ethics is important in running a business:

The understanding of professionalism is very important in any business because every human should be loyal to the work he is doing and follow the ethics of the business. The profession is nothing but the person who is involved in his personal work in earning money is profession. For example we can take lawyers, doctors; dentists, accountants etc are example of profession. The meaning of the ethics is doing a right thing in any profession is ethics. For example if we take the accountant, his job is to maintain the audit of the company or a person, here he has to follow the ethics if he discloses the details of company to another company then the ethics of his profession is not followed and the accountant is not having in any ethics in his profession. Now coming to the business of profession and ethics in business is very important because it gives the immense reputation to the business and for doing this the organization or business need to follow some rules and regulations and setup their own policies for the business to maintain their own style and do not copy from others and they should not betray or reveal the competitors strategies and use them to gain profits. Every business organization should go according to the law so there will not be any interruption and illegal thoughts. So maintaining the professionalism and ethics is very important for the business.

Discuss ethical concerns of the following:

Keeping track of buying habits of customer in order to build the personal profile of customers and target them provide the details of new products. Here in this concern the organization is taking the details of buying of the customer or which product line is the customer interested in and sending the promotions is correct in point of the business for improving sale but it is purely unethical maintaining the details and sending the promotions to the customers without asking the customers permission in sending them. That is why now a day's every website is asking customer about whether the customer is interested in getting the newsletters and marketing from the website, if the customer is interested then he marks it yes then the company got permission from the customer so that they can send.

The second concern is about selling the books bearing the name of the US publisher but they are secretly printed and sold cheaply by the South American company. The company thinks this is the only way to maintain the low price to sell the books to everyone so in this concern also as the publisher of the books the company is unethical and trying to sell the books to everyone at a low price using the reputed brand name of the original publisher and spoiling their reputation is unethical they can use their own publishing to sell their books instead of bearing the name of the other company.

The third issue is about selling the pornographic books to anyone. This concern is purely unethical because these types of books age restricted and the sellers of the books cannot sell to the people of under aged as there is a law concerned to the under age restrictions so to increase the sale and gain the profits the sellers should follow some ethics in this concern and it also unlawful and they can be jailed and fined for this concern.

The last concern is about monitoring the employees using the computer software and the CCTV. According to my point of view it is not unethical because in large organizations they deal with the major projects everyday so it is necessary see what is happening in the office but in case of watching all time what they are doing is unethical. So in certain situations it is ethical and in some other situations it is not ethical.

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