The internet has been a trillion-dollar dream tool for business marketers and entrepreneurs throughout the world. China's savvy internet manufacturers live and die due to the internet.
It seems so simple, you set up a website, process the orders and reap the profits. Ah, but if things really were that simple.
Let's take the case of two computer companies for example, on that sells ultra-sophisticated, incredibly high powered, scientific computers and the second that sells ordinary business PC's.
In the case of the first company, the U.S. government has a list of countries it is forbidden to export these supercomputers to, which among other things can be used to make trajectory calculations for military missiles. So, if someone in Iran's Ministry of Defense logs on to company A's website, the company wants to know about it, and perhaps block all future inquiries coming from Iran's servers.
On the other hand, a Brazilian businessman looking to buy 100 PC's for his factory may indeed appreciate that when he goes to company B's website, the entire page defaults to Portuguese, and concerning prices, the default currency is not Dollars or Euros but the Brazilian Real.
Both companies can do this screening and more through a revolutionary process called Geo Locating.
First of all GeoLocation works by simply taking your Internet Protocol (IP) address and identifies the country where you are in. Through this simple analytic tool, 99 percent of web surfers can be traced to their city and their country.
Even a Virtual Private Network (VPN) won't hide your IP address, because many websites use supercookies that help them identify your true location, and may even search databases to narrow your city down to a specific zip code.
In most cases, at the request of the operator of the website, an IT pro uses an IP Geolocation Database, such as DB-IP GeoLocation Database, which contains millions of IP addresses culled from Internet Service Providers and the various Regional Internet Registries, which are responsible of which there are 5 worldwide, officially responsible for every IP address created by the National Resource Organization which actually assigns IP addresses.
The DP-IP Geolocation Database contains over 22 million records of IP addresses and is constantly updated at least daily.
Through the use of the DB-IP Geolocation database, combined with the resources available to IT pros, website owners can do marvelous things in enhancing their websites by being able to identify not only the country and region where a web surfer is located but oftentimes being able to identify their specific location within a few miles.
Did you ever wonder why companies such as NetFlix block residents of China which has nearly 800 million internet subscribers, and Hulu, which is essentially available only in the U.S. and Puerto Rico? It's because the various studies have strict licensing requirements the service provider must meet in order to extend further.
By knowing exactly where an internet surfer is, these strict licensing requirements can be easily met.
As mentioned earlier, practically every country has strict product export controls to prevent the proliferation of products which can be used to advance potentially lethal military products, as well as to block or embargo exports to companies the government has placed an embargo on such as North Korea.
By being able to geolocate potential problems, huge mistakes can be avoided.
The European Union, in particular, has strict privacy laws that apply to all 28 member states and their citizens. Failure to meet these laws can have invoked strict financial fines to website owners.
At the same time, many pharmaceutical drugs are blocked for import to residents of their country, and not only forfeitures of product, but heavy fines can be levied.
By far, the largest function geolocation is the ability to provide localized, country-specific content. Users from China have the content instantly translated to Chinese, while Thailand web surfers see the same information in the Thai language, and surfers from Mexico get their information in Spanish.
Geolocating customers instantly provides a level of authenticity to customers, avoids miscommunication, and details such as prices appear in their home country's currency.
Many websites also include a small national flag of the home country, telling customers instantly they are at the right place.
Increasingly, large websites are looking for advertising dollars to support their dollars. But click-through rates for advertisers go through the roof when an advertiser can produce their advertisement in a web surfer's home language and advertise prices in the currency of the country.
Another versatile function of geolocating is the ability to offer pricing by region. Say a company wants to offer a product for the equivalent of $100, but in India, they figure the maximum amount of money the traffic will bear is $75 in Indian Rupees.
Through the use of Geolocating, customers in Germany won't be offended that the company offers a lower to its Indian customers, and Indian customers won't be turned off by a perceived, over-the-top price.
And geolocating doesn't just offer different prices in different countries either. Since most IP addresses can be tracked within a few miles of a zip code, companies and advertisers can offer special sales products and prices to only those with a few miles of a designated zip code.
Online Fraud is a multi-million dollar business, and it happens in many different ways.
One common method is phishing, where through mirrored websites that seem almost real, fraudsters attempt to get the login information of people having accounts with you.
Once they have the information, they then change account details such as passwords and email addresses and billing addresses, and then order on, often with credit cards your business has on file.
One way to combat this is to make it a policy that you send an email to the original account holder's email address indicating that you have received a request to change their email, billing address or password. This will eliminate most phishing attacks, but geolocation can take this further.
By identifying exactly where a requester is by their IP address, your email can say something akin to: "Dear Customer, we have it on file that your home and billing address is in Sacramento, CA, however, we have received a request to change passwords, email addresses or shipping address from someone in Paducah, KY. Please verify that you have authorized such changes, and the request is not fraudulent."
This simple geolocation service can save both you and your customer's thousands of dollars.
Geolocating can also minimize fraud by notifying you of customer requests from countries such as Russia, Nigeria or Latvia. These and other countries have an overwhelmingly high percentage of online fraudsters.
Finally, geolocation can prevent fraudulent theft of service. A product that has export limitations outside the United States may have a shipping address in Florida for example, but if the IP address of the order came from China, beware of the mismatch between the IP address and the shipping address. The latter may be merely a way-station to reboxing your product and shipping to Cuba, North Korea, Syria or Sudan.
For reasons of export limitations, local laws, the hassle of dealing with foreign fraudsters, or simply because a company does not choose to do business outside of the country, they may wish to block foreign access partially or all together to their website.
Not only does selective foreign blocking save money on needless bandwidth expenditures, but it avoids costly and time-consuming answering of needless customer service inquiries from customers you don't choose to do business with.
Geolocating does this almost instantly.
Your IT folks can: