On October 22, I posted a blog titled, "The DMA Needs a Paradigm Shift," which garnered some passionate responses from readers about their frustration with the DMA needing to evolve. Colleen Bruemmer commented on that blog, saying that "in order for 'traditional' DMers and organizations that serve the industry to survive, all parties my reinvent themselves."
While most of the technology vendors exhibiting at the DMA seem to be looking toward the future by demonstrating a sharp focus on integrated marketing, multichannel communications, and innovative ways to leverage social media to interact with customers, I want to shine a spotlight on two brand new companies that I believe offer unique services. While they don't fit into the exact one-to-one framework, they offer innovative solutions for future sustainability.
The first company I came across is Badcustomer.com. I spoke to Brien Heideman (no one uses titles there), who explained to me that Badcustomer.com was established to provide a method for businesses and consumers to come together for the mutual benefit of both. For businesses, the company helps to protect them from selling to potential scammers who are notorious for "chargebacks." For the consumers, Badcustomer.com trains them to resolve their issues of scamming retailers.
Chargebacks happen when consumers dispute a sale, often saying they never received the product or that it was damaged, when actually neither happened. So the retailer sends a new item and incurs the charge while the consumer receives the product for free. This scam costs retailers millions each year.
To resolve this issue, Badcustomer.com has compiled a database of names of consumers associated with chargebacks and are likely to issue further chargebacks. Access to the database is free to retailers and links to the online checkout system. When a consumer is ready to check out, the point-of-sale system scans the blacklist, which contains the consumers' names, addresses, and credit card information. If a consumer's name is flagged, the sale will automatically be restricted and the consumer must then pass through Badcustomer.com's Gatekeeper system, which gives him the option of signing a "No Future Chargebacks" agreement.
The way Badcustomer.com makes its money is through the "No Future Chargebacks" agreement. For a nominal fee, Badcustomer.com counsels the scamming shopper with the promise to remove his name from the blacklist after counseling, thus allowing him to shop freely in the future.
It's a win-win--businesses protect their profitability, while helping consumers protect their ability to make credit card purchases.
While Badcustomer.com is getting tough on "friendly" fraud, a new company called Zumbox is helping organizations save on mailing costs. Launched just a week prior to the DMA in October, Zumbox is a digital mail delivery system that provides an alternative to mail.
The company has created a Web-based platform for the delivery of paperless mail. For every U.S. street address, there is a corresponding digital mailbox--a Zumbox--enabling mail and other content to be sent as digital files and received online with no paper, printing, postage, or scanning. As a marketing channel, Zumbox offers geo-targeting and analytics capabilities, while empowering consumers with greater control and convenience.
For consumers, it's easy to view--just type their street address on the homepage of Zumbox and their mailbox will appear. They can just click on the envelopes to read the mail. For the senders, it's cost effective and environmentally responsible.
Donn Rappaport, president and CEO of this paperless postal system, said it's a viable alternative to postal and email. "It delivers the mail any time day or night, and it's environmentally less wasteful," he said.
And because the service is spam-free and HIPPA compliant, banks and healthcare organizations can send financial statements and personal health information, something not allowed currently via email. "The postal service has had a good run, but in many ways it's inefficient and environmentally wasteful," Rappaport added.
So there you have it--Badcustomer.com and Zumbox are two companies reinventing the process. Like Bruemmer noted in her comment on my DMA blog: "The past is gone and we need to embrace the future."