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Summary:

The standard, which is being thrashed out under the auspices of the W3C, aims to standardize product and customer information in order to simplify data exchange and make it easier to set up an ecommerce site.

Ecommerce standard

More than two dozen tech firms and ecommerce operators, including IBM, Google, Adobe, Best Buy and Qubit, have banded together to create a standard for managing certain types of website data – particularly the kind that will be valuable to ecommerce outfits.

The companies are going public with the “Customer Experience Digital Data Acquisition” standard now, although they submitted the draft standard back in May and are hoping for sign-off by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in September. The firms have been thrashing out the standard through the W3C’s Community and Business Groups initiative, which launched a couple of years ago to speed up industry-specific web standards development.

Easier ecommerce

The specifications included in the standard cover product category, price, currency, voucher discounts, payment information and shipping information, but also user information from address to username.

The idea here is to simplify the exchange of data between web services that deal in product and customer information (think tracking) and theoretically cut down on site technology vendor lock-in. Another driver is to make life easier for those setting up shop online for the first time – if there’s a standardized way for them to address specifications such as price or shipping requirements, then that should mean less work developing the site.

As Graham Cooke, CEO of London-based data analytics firm Qubit, told me:

“It could benefit any kind of website that needs to collect structured data, though ecommerce is the industry that will benefit most from it. There is so much more commercial structured data on the ecommerce side, such as weight of item, color of item and so on.

“For us what’s so exciting is that we really managed to get a lot of companies to come together and agree on this standard website data structure… we all know what standards can do for innovation.”

This is true – just look at the GSM standard and the way it accelerated uptake of mobile phones. However, this isn’t an HTML5 standard we’re talking about, so don’t get too excited about the semantic web implications just yet.

According to the draft: “the proposed Standard data object is a JavaScript object because of ubiquitous support for JavaScript in web browsers and web based applications, as well as in other forms of digital properties like mobile & kiosks and so forth.”

  1. BigData Cringer Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    Sorry, but I just don’t buy this. When you want to set up a standard for efficiency and simplification of e-commerce transactions such as payment transacting, having standards makes all the sense. When you want to have standards that support the data mining mainstay of these companies, which ultimately leads to more problems with profiling and privacy, the benefit is solely for the advertising revenue for those companies. You’re basically telling everyone: “Hey, we’re going to set up a more standardized system of tracking so we can expand our own advertising network and make everything you do and say online become a quantifiable value to our business”. It’s not so that they can focus on targeting (their) products of interest to you, it’s so they can expand your profile enough that they can target anything that fits your profile. This would include everything to impulse buying tendencies (price, type of product, time of day, etc.)

    Next generation needs to determine how to devalue customer data altogether because the bigger the data gets the more congested our communication streams will become with big data advertising spam. In fact, policy and regulation should be established to prohibit any organization from sending advertising to an individuals mobile devices (cell, smartphone, tablet, etc.) without an equivalent compensation for draining their data and mobile minute usage by promoting their services. Unlimited or not, I’d rather not see this type of congestion.

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  2. Funny, how things really never change, they just go around. There is already a standard in place its called EDI, yes the grand daddy of ecommerce data transactions. And guess what Best Buy already use it !!!
    Its standards based and provides a proper structure to standardize the movement of data. But wait isn’t EDI dead and wasn’t it gong to be replaced by XML and web services ?

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  3. I would love to hear what their approach is, different merchant categories have different Standards, different model of business (single sales vs recurring sales for example).
    If they are talking about exposure that i would like to remind about froogle an “eCommerce/product search” once available on Google, result total catastrophe.

    eCommerce standards must begin with a deep change in rules and policies especially on the consumer rights for claims, create a more leveled structure of fairness.

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  4. richardhalter Thursday, July 11, 2013

    There is already a standard data model for the retail world. It has been in existence for over 20 years and is extensively supported world wide. it is produced by the Association of Retail Technology Standards (ARTS).
    I would hate to see another group create a different standard that one that is already implemented. Because no I have to synchronize my code to do both.
    As a bare minimum I would expect the names to be the same.
    BTW EDI is still strong but ARTS XML standards have been adopted by a majority (if not all) the largest vendors in the world. In addition there are entire retail enterprises built off of ARTS standards.

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  5. How do sematic markup standards like Microdata/Schema.org and RDFa/GoodRelations fit into this ?

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  6. I agree with BigData Cringer. The bigger the data gets the more congested our communication streams will become.

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  7. Robert 'Rocky' Jackson Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    Interesting comments. Are communication streams are getting more congested congested because of the data being collected about us or is this an organic process as the world becomes more digital? If it is the latter then I would prefer to have more relevant advertising and product offerings.

    People forget that advertising and e-commerce are the lifeblood of the internet. Do you think Google Maps and Gmail would exist for free if Google didn’t generate 95% of its revenue from advertising?

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