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Cookies


1.      Introduction

As competition is increasing and the costs of attracting new customers are rising, outstanding companies go all out to retain their customers (Kotler et al, 1999).  Same as Men・s Dress Shirt market which is in its maturity stage, ABC intends to adopt customer retention approach to deliver high customer satisfaction that results in strong customer loyalty.  The company is planning to offer special privileges for frequent visitors to its Website, and to provide more effective targeted marketing and other value added functions through its Website to retain its consumers.

2.     Suitability of Problem

This is a passive user data collection because consumers are unaware that they are giving information when they browse to the Website.  Cookies will be used to solve the problem.  Brain (2002) defines a cookie as .a piece of text that a Web server can store on a user・s hard disk, which allow a website to store information as name-value pairs on a user・s machine and later retrieve it・.  Cookies are embedded in the HTML information flowing back and forth between the user・s computer and the servers (Mayer-Schonberger, 2002).  Whalen (2002) emphasizes that cookie is a very important method for maintaining an application・s ability to work interactively with a user, remembering all data since the application started, and differentiating between users and their individual data sets on the Web.  Cookie is suitable to solve the problem because it has the following uses that ABC desires:

Online ordering systems track user・s visits and interests 

Cookies can be used for e-commerce site to implement things like shopping carts and quick checkout options (Brain, 2002).  According to Symantec, cookies can also affect the types of advertising or information the visitors sees according to the visitor・s previous visits, and offer special privileges for frequent visitors (Wilkins, 2002).  Without cookies, companies do not know who is a new visitor, what visitors come back, how often they come back, where they went, and what they came to see.  This lack of information makes it difficult to improve sites and make them more profitable (Cattapan, 2000).

Targeted marketing

Cookies allow companies to gather information about current or potential customers who access their Websites (Famulla, 2000).  Marketers can use the information to target advertisements that are relevant to specific customers needs and interests, prevent repetitive banner advertisements, better understand the habits of consumer behavior by compiling data through advanced data miners to anticipate and react to high volume traffic (Cattapan, 2000).  

Other value-added functions

Cookies can help create customized home pages so that the site can look different for each visitor (Brain, 2002).  According to CIAC (1998), a cookie is sent to the visitor・s browser for each of the items s/he expects to see on her/his custom home page.  Whenever s/he requests the custom home page, cookies are sent along with the request to tell the server which items to display.  Without cookies, a server would require the visitor to identify her/himself each time s/he visit the custom page so it knows what items to display.  The server would also have to store the customer page settings for every visitor. 

Websites can use cookies to track the last several websites the user visited before coming to their own websites.  Some Websites require users to login before showing core content.  They can save user information in a cookie so the user does not have to re-enter the information every time they visit. 

3.     Plan Objectives

The plan objectives include:

4.    Details of the Collection Plan

The details of the collection plan include determine data required, develop cookie and site configuration, pilot testing, data collection, analyze data and develop targeted marketing, and monitor results.

Determine data required

The data required includes:

Develop cookie and site configuration

A cookie for each consumer will be developed.  According to Whalen (2002), a cookie contains more than simply a name and a value, and has six parameters that can be passed to it: the name of the cookie, the value of the cookie, the expiration date of the cookie, the path the cookie is valid for, the domain the cookie is valid for, and the need for a secure connection to exist to use the cookie.

Cookies can get erased and make it hard to recover previously stored preferences.  Hence, visitors to ABC Website will be asked to register with a user name and a password and the Web server will store all these information in a central database.  So even the cookie file is lost, the preference values of visitors can be recovered. 

Pilot testing

Pilot testing is very important to test technical difficulties and server reliability (Ho, 1999).  Other technical issues such as storage space allotted for returns, bandwidth load, and server capacity must be satisfactorily addressed for large amount of logins.

Data collection

According to Mayer-Schonberger (2002), cookies are based on a two-stage process.  First the cookie is stored in the user・s computer.  When a visitor login and selects categories of interest from the Web page, the Web server then creates a specific cookie which is essentially a tagged string of text containing the user・s preferences and it transmits this cookie to the user・s computer.  During the second stage, the cookie is clandestinely and automatically transferred from the visitor・s machine to a Web server.  Whenever a visitor directs her/his Web browser to display a certain Web page from the server, the browser will transmit the cookie containing personal information to the Web server.  This two-stage process therefore transmits the relevant data desired by ABC.

However, cookies by design are meant to work invisibly (Berger, 20002).  They are like a personal tag or tracer and hence, some people see this as the most invasive of privacy (Berger, 2002).  To reduce this anxiety, all visitors will be alerted at their first time visit that a cookie is being used and how it is being used.  Also, the Website will provide correct information about cookies.  For example, cookie is not a program and it cannot do anything such as read cookies from other sites; steal information from a hard drive; plant viruses that would destroy the hard drive; track movements from one site to another site; take credit card numbers without permission; and track to find out names, addresses, and other personal information unless consumers have provided such information voluntarily (Cattapan, 2000).

Analyze data and take action

The data collected from the previous stage will be analyzed to:

Monitor and measurement

The data collection process should be monitored and measured whether the desired results can be achieved effectively and efficiently.  This can be done by using cookies to measure the increase or decrease of visitors, and increase or decrease of individual visits.  WS can be used to measure the effectiveness of targeted marketing and other value-added functions.

5.     Expected Outcomes

The data collected through cookies are considered reliable.  However, an error of +/- 2 percent will be used to interpret expected outcomes with consideration of the following:


References

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URL:http://www.aarp.org/computeres/howto/Articles/a2002-11-27-cookies

Brain, Marshall (2002), .How Internet Cookies Work・, Howstuffworks, [Online, accessed 19 December 2002]
URL:http://www.howstuffworks.com/cookies.htm

Business Research Lab (2002), .A Discussion of Web Surveys・, The Business Research Lab, [Online, accessed 18 December 2002]
URL:http://busreslab.com/tips/tip38.htm

Cattapan, Tom (2000), .Destroying E-Commerce・s :Cookies Monster・ Image・, Direct Marketing, Garden City, April, [Online, accessed 19 December 2002]
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CIAC (1998), .Internet Cookies・, Computer Incident Advisory Capability, US Department of Energy, [Online, accessed 25 December 2002]
URL:http://www.ciac.org

Dibb, Sally; Simkin, Lyndon; Pride, William M and Ferrell, O C (2001), Marketing: Concepts and Strategies, Fourth European Edition, Houghton Mifflin, Boston

FedStats (2002), [Online, accessed 24 December 2002]
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Famulla, Rainer (2000), .Business World (Philippines): Open House: Harnessing the Power of the Internet・, Business World, Manila, May 30, [Online, accessed 19 December 2002]
URL:http://proquest.umi.com

Ho, Karl (1999), .New Technologies for Survey Research・, Research and Statistical Support, University of North Texas, [Online, accessed 18 December 2002]
URL:http://www.unt.edu/rss/class/survey1/

HKSAR (2002), Census & Statistics Department, [Online, accessed 26 December 2002]
URL:http://www.info.gov.hk/censtatd

Ilieva, Janet; Baron, Steve and Healey, Nigel M (2002), .Online Surveys in Marketing Research: Pros and Cons・, International Journal of Market Research, Henley-on-Thames, Third Quarter, [Online, accessed 19 December 2002]
URL:http://proquest.umi.com

Kotler, Philip; Armstrong, Gary; Saunders, John and Wong, Veronica (1999), Principles of Marketing, Second European Edition, Prentice-Hall, Essex

Mayer-Schonberger, Viktor (2002), .Cookies・, Cookie Central, [Online, accessed 25 December 2002]
URL:http://www.cookiecentral.com

Simek, Zeki and Veiga, John F (2001), .A Primer on Internet Organizational Surveys・, Organizational Research Methods, Thousand Oaks, July, [Online, accessed 19 December 2002]
URL:http://proquest.umi.com

Stec, David J (2002), .Why Collect Data?・, Rensselaer, [Online, accessed 20 December 2002]
URL:http://www.rh.edu/~stecd/Chapt_2.ppt

US Census Bureau (2002), [Online, accessed 24 December 2002]
URL: http://www.census.gov/index.html

Whalen, David (2002), .The Unofficial Cookies FAQ・, Cookie Central, [Online, accessed 25 December 2002]
URL:http://www.webopedia.com

Wilkins, Kevin (2002), Managing Internet Marketing Information, Charles Sturt University, Australia


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