Cartsen Pötter (a german blogger who has a strong interest in OpenID and microformats technologies) wrote a really interesting article that explains some benefits for online shops to start using OpenID and APML – two technologies pushed by the Data Portability initiative.
One issue with online shops is that you usually have to register on each shop you want to buy from – filling credentials, including physical address, billing address, email… And it becomes difficult to remember each login/password, or to change your physical address when you come back to a shop… OpenID could solve this issue, as Carsten explains:
Online shops should implement OpenID. That changed things for me. I had to provide necessary details like my address just once. Not to any shop but only to my OpenID provider. There are cool extensions to the OpenID protocol which support this: Simple Registration and Attribute Exchange (also see Dennis Blöte’s excellent article on the topic). Both extensions allow transfer of profile data from an OpenID provider to a relying party, e.g. a shop. The first time I confirm my OpenID to a shop, it (=the shop) asks for that data. If I allow it to always fetch that data all future authentication requests work without me interferring.
Furthermore, Carsten suggests shops could rely on APML format to get better knowledge of their customers:
[APML] collects users’ attention data and their interests, e.g. their favourite music or movies. […] The APML file can be stored everywhere. Why not at my OpenID provider? A shop could ask for that file and it would be transferred to it from my provider and I could get recommendations based on my attention profile even if it’s the first time I visit the shop. That’s not suitable for every kind of shop, of course, but for CD shops it worked if my APML file contained all the music I listened to on Last.fm for example. […] Well, it was even a greater shopping experience if the online shop could update my APML file based on the products I purchased there and wrote it back to my OpenID provider.
What is true for shops can also be true for CSEs: import / export of APML data through OpenID can be used to personalize the results of the CSEs based on the users’ interests.
Some months ago I wrote about the benefits social shopping sites could get by leveraging Data Portability standards; but it seems I was too restrictive: as Carsten explains, online shops and the entire online shopping ecosystem could also get benefits from adopting Data Portability recommendations.