The 2017 E-Commerce Fulfilment Report

ShipBob, which provides shipping and fulfillment services for e-commerce companies, has raised $17.5 million in a Series B round led by Bain Capital, VentureBeat reports.

ShipBob will use the capital to open more fulfillment centers and increase its headcount:

  • The company is hiring additional engineers to build out its software platform. The platform helps retailers decide where to place inventory by identifying ShipBob warehouses close to their areas of highest demand.
  • ShipBob will use data to build warehouses in areas with higher shopper density — enabling e-commerce companies to ship more quickly, and cheaply, to the bulk of their customers. CEO Dhruv Saxena told the Chicago Tribune that the company analyzes order data to find optimal locations for its warehouses.

ShipBob’s solutions cater to smaller e-commerce players, which have a huge need for fulfillment services. The company provides complimentary order management tools for businesses selling across multiple channels, such as Amazon or Shopify. By offering affordable fulfillment services, ShipBob can help smaller retailers hold their own against retail giants like Amazon and Walmart, which have the advantage of high-volume shipping discounts, or in-house logistics networks.

It’s likely the logistics industry will be disrupted by more startups like ShipBob, as demand for free and fast shipping heightens. Large logistics companies have traditionally geared their services toward large retailers, providing them with added services and the aforementioned volume shipping discounts. This has created an opportunity for logistics players to sell services to a largely underserved market of smaller players, which are increasingly looking to fight costs as more consumers demand free and speedy shipping. ShipBob’s latest raise is demonstrative of the need for such services, and we expect to see dozens of new players moving into the space in the near future.

Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping has led to an industry paradigm shift. Online retailers — small and large — are increasingly offering the perk to keep from losing customers to the behemoth marketplace. But free shipping comes at a steep cost: Rising shipping expenditures are eating away at retailers’ margins.

Larger retailers that can better afford to eat the cost of free shipping are battling to gain an advantage over Amazon. But most retailers, particularly small ones, lack the resources necessary to compete with the massive online retailer. This has set off a race in the logistics industry: Large logistics providers are creating new services for small retailers, while logistics startups aiming to address the same market are growing in numbers.

Stephanie Pandolph, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on free shipping that:

  • Provides an overview of how consumers’ demand for free shipping is shaping the retail and logistics industries.
  • Examines the technologies that may be implemented as a result of  companies seeking to lower shipping costs.
  • Discusses various strategies to implement with free shipping for small and large retailers.

Mobile and marketplaces are changing the e-commerce landscape

US online shoppers are making more mobile purchases, more cross-border purchases, and more frequently shopping on e-commerce marketplaces and using alternative delivery methods, according to UPS’ newly released annual Pulse of the Online Shopper study.

  • 48% of the 5,000 US online shoppers surveyed have made purchases on a smartphone, up from 44% in last year’s study, and 41% in 2015. Millennials are driving mobile growth — millennial respondents made 29% of their purchases via smartphones, compared with 10% of purchases by all other age groups.
  • Nearly all (97%) of “avid” online shoppers — customers who made at least seven online purchases in a three-month period — purchased from e-commerce marketplaces over the past year, up from 85% in 2016. Lower prices resulting from merchants competing with each other on these marketplaces drove customers to the sites — 65% of respondents cited better prices when asked why they shopped on marketplaces, and 55% cited free and discounted shipping.
  • Cost is also driving more cross-border purchasing — 47% of the respondents had purchased from a foreign retailer, up from 43% last year. Lower prices were the top driver cited by 43% of cross-border purchasers, followed by finding something unique that couldn’t be found on US sites (36%).
  • 50% of respondents had used a ship-to-store option for picking up an online order, with 41% planning to use such options more often in the next year. Overall, 37% said they prefer to use alternative delivery locations rather than home delivery for online purchases, up from 35% in last year. Additionally, 44% of those who had used this delivery method made an extra purchase while picking up their order.

The study’s findings highlight expanding opportunities that online retailers can leverage to grow their businesses — as well as growing risks. Retailers need to invest in improving their mobile web and app experiences, with an eye toward winning millennial customers, or they risk losing these customers to rivals.

Online marketplaces like Amazon are increasingly the first stop for online shoppers looking to research products and prices — 29% of the respondents said they plan to research more on marketplaces when they shop, and 30% plan to shop on marketplaces more frequently, making joining these marketplaces and comparing prices on them more important for retailers. Lastly, brick-and-mortar footprints allow retailers to offer alternative delivery methods that consumers are increasingly intrigued by.

 

Singapore tech startups shift gear to tap region’s exploding e-commerce

On Monday, three companies unveiled major plans to deepen their presence across South-east Asia – three months after Grab announced its US$700-million investment in Indonesia to support the country’s goal of becoming the region’s largest digital economy by 2020.

Garena, a consumer Internet platform and South-east Asia’s largest Internet startup, said it has raised US$550 million in new funding, the bulk of which will be used to expand its e-commerce arm Shopee, with a focus on “key markets such as Indonesia”.

Shopee, an app that lets users buy and sell items, is said to have more than doubled in size in the past nine months, with annualised gross merchandise value of over US$3 billion.

Asked why Indonesia, a company spokesman cited research by Frost & Sullivan: Total e-commerce spending in Greater South-east Asia, which includes Taiwan, in which Shopee operates in, will more than triple from US$23 billion in 2016 to US$82.8 billion by 2021.

He added: “And within that, Indonesia will grow from US$2.3 billion to US$22.4 billion, a compounded rate of growth of almost 60 per cent a year, or twice the overall region’s growth rate. This scale and rapid expected growth collectively make Indonesia a high priority for Shopee and Sea more broadly.”

Garena on Monday rebranded as “Sea”, which signals its regional ambitions. SEA, for South-east Asia, reflects the company’s leadership across three platforms: digital entertainment (Garena), e-commerce (Shopee) and digital financial services (AirPay).

Sea founder Forrest Li said: “We cherish these three brands, and are now embracing an overall identity for our entire company.”

Investors in Sea’s latest funding round hail from various countries. They include existing investor GDP Venture (Indonesia), and new investors JG Summit Holdings (the Philippines), Farallon Capital Management (the US), Hillhouse Capital (China), Cathay Financial Holding (Taiwan), and President International Development Corporation (Taiwan).

Sea did not disclose its valuation after the latest funding round. The company was reportedly valued at some US$3.75 billion last year after raising US$170 million in a Series D round led by Khazanah Nasional, which made it South-east Asia’s largest Internet startup.

It has appointed three new senior advisers: former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo; former Indonesia trade minister Mari Pangestu; and Abraaj Group managing director Pandu Sjahrir.

Meanwhile, Lunch Actually Group has acquired Setipe (one of Indonesia’s largest online dating platforms) to extend its presence in South-east Asia. The buyout sum is “in the seven digits”, BT has learnt.

With this acquisition, Setipe will join Lunch Actually Group’s stable of online dating brands which include Lunch Actually, LunchClick and esync. Setipe founder Razi Thalib will remain as chief executive officer (CEO) of Setipe, and head up Lunch Actually Group’s Indonesian operations.

Violet Lim, CEO of Lunch Actually Group, told BT: “With a 240 million population and a fast-growing middle class, Indonesia is definitely a key part of our growth strategy should we want to dominate South-east Asia. There is also a lack of trusted offline matchmaking services for serious singles in Indonesia.”

She added that while Lunch Actually Group already has a strong presence in many other South-east Asian countries, the group’s goal in Indonesia is to create one million “happy marriages”, and quadruple its revenues by the end of this year.

Finally, Anchanto, a company that provides online selling and e-commerce logistics solutions to enterprises, said on Monday it has bagged investments from “two of the largest players in the Asian e-commerce domain”, namely omnichannel retailer Luxasia Group and e-commerce enabler transcosmos.

The combined investment amount was undisclosed, but BT understands that it is “in the millions”.

Anchanto said that the latest money will be used to rapidly expand across the Asia-Pacific, and grow its operations in Malaysia, Thailand, The Philippines, Vietnam and India.

The company added that it plans to help retailers in the region take their business from brick-and-mortar to the online world of e-commerce, and traditional logistics players transform their businesses and start catering to online sellers.

Amazon to dominate Indian e-commerce market in the long run: KPCB report

Bengaluru: Amazon India is likely to emerge as the dominant e-commerce company in the country in the long run, while the overall number of Internet users in the country continues to grow rapidly, according to the latest Internet Trends report by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

According to the KPCB report, the number of internet users has grown 40% over the past year to about 355 million. The report also indicated that Amazon India is most likely to dominate the country’s online retail market in the long run.

The report pointed to Amazon’s rate of growth and investments in the country over the past three-and-a-half years. The company has pledged to invest at least $5 billion in India and grown rapidly to challenge local e-commerce poster boy Flipkart’s leadership position.

In April, Amazon said it posted an 85% increase in gross sales volumes in the three months to March from the same period a year earlier, growing much faster than the overall market.

So far, Amazon’s strategy of offering the widest product selection, backed by aggressive marketing and advertising, is working well in India. Moreover, its subscription programme Prime, which was launched in July 2016, is proving to be a key differentiator and is helping the firm retain many existing customers and getting them to spend more.

And even though the overall online retail market continues to grow at a sluggish pace, experts pointed out that Amazon has “patient capital” at its disposal and can afford to wait 10-20 years for the number of regular, purchasing users to touch critical mass.

“Amazon has done a great job in India so far—they’ve adapted to the local market very well. Some of their solutions from there (in the US), they are customizing those for what makes sense here. And they’re leveraging their great knowledge and capital,” said Sandeep Murthy, partner at venture capital firm Lightbox Ventures Management Ltd.

Even though Flipkart continues to be the leading e-commerce company, the report pointed to the pace of Amazon’s expansion in India and indicated that it was likely to emerge as the dominant player in the market.

Flipkart and Amazon are now neck-and-neck and the battle between the two will be much more closely fought this year compared with most of last year, when it looked like the American retailer would supplant Flipkart at the top of India’s e-commerce market. In fact, for two months last year—July and August—Amazon briefly overtook Flipkart, before the latter struck back during the Diwali season sale and wrestled back its position at the top.

Experts also pointed out that while Amazon has the luxury of pools of capital at its disposal, rivals such as Flipkart and Paytm also have significant firepower from deep-pocketed investors such as Tencent Holdings Ltd, Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd, Tiger Global Management and SoftBank Group Corp.

“The challenging thing about e-commerce though is that if you look globally, there are only 12 companies that have over a billion (dollars) in revenue, over a billion in market value and are public. In India, you have at least four (companies) fighting for that position,” said Murthy.

The problem with the Indian market is that while the number of Internet users is growing rapidly, the number of online shoppers is not growing proportionately—and while the large Internet base in India looks attractive, making money from users remains a significant challenge for all leading e-commerce firms.

“We are also in a market and business today where we don’t have the consumption capacity yet to merit the level of spend that has gone in. We need to have consumption growth first—until then it’s a bit of a waiting game,” said Murthy.

“And during that waiting game, it’s a question of who has the staying power. The fortunate thing for Flipkart is that they have Tencent in their backyard, Paytm has Alibaba and Amazon being Amazon is a good thing. So, we now have some staying power. Now it’s about waiting and watching,” added Murthy.

On 27 December, Mint reported that the online retail market is set to show little or no growth in 2017, raising worrying questions about the potential of the e-commerce market relative to the rosy projections of investors who have pumped billions of dollars into Flipkart, Snapdeal and other Internet start-ups.

How a great web design is important for e-commerce

Investing in a website is critical to ensuring success. Here are 4 reasons to help you understand why a great web design is of primal importance to e-commerce:

  • It makes a good first impression

First impressions count. Every user who lands on your website is a potential customer. It’s important to have a website that’s clean, professional, and direct to the point. Think of it as going to the mall and looking at the shops from the hallway. Would you go inside a store that looks messy and disorganized? Definitely not. But a shop that has attractive banners, welcoming staff, and a clear product display is more likely to attract a customer.

  • It’s easier to tell what products you sell

Having a clean layout helps your visitors identify what you’re trying to sell. In fact, visitors should be able to tell what you offer just by your website address. A good web design showcases your products in a clear manner. Here are a couple of helpful elements that should make it easier for your visitors to identify your products:

  1. Descriptive product names
  2. Detailed product information
  3. Quality product images
  4. Product videos
  • It offers an engaging user experience

Designing for success is all about user experience. It’s important for a website to be user-friendly and idiot-proof. An effective website should guide your visitors on a hassle-free journey from start to finish. You don’t want your customers to get lost on your site because they can’t find what they’re looking for. Make sure that everything is easy to find and the pages aren’t cluttered. Here are a few important things to consider when promoting a fluid user experience:

  1. User-friendly navigation
  2. Easy checkout process
  3. Detailed product pages

Great content is also essential in keeping your visitors and encouraging them to come back. Blogs generate traffic for your site and are a great feature to your ecommerce website. It also builds your audience and improves SEO. And for some reason, it helps to know that your website is active and is being updated regularly at least.

  • It converts visitors to customers

Which is why you setup up shop in the first place, right? All the elements you put on your site should eventually turn your visitor into a customer, driving sales. Visitors should be guided properly to your goal, whether it’s a shopping cart, a contact form, or a download page. Consider the following features that help convert visitors into leads:

  1. Clear value proposition. Visitors should be able to tell immediately what you’re trying to sell them.
  2. Quality Images. Visuals are incredibly important to visitors before deciding to buy something
  3. Clear and bold call to action. Buttons and links like “Add to cart”, “Download now”, or “Call us” must be placed properly.

Competition is always tight on the world wide web. It helps to have a competitive design that helps you stand out from the crowd and improve sales.

Jewellers at Las Vegas trade fairs turn to ecommerce

“People will always find a reason for bad business,” says Deborah Nicodemus, chief executive of high-fashion ecommerce business Moda Operandi. Some in the industry are blaming political uncertainty, others economic drag. But as the trade fairs of Las Vegas Jewellery Week get under way, designers and retailers are reflecting on the poor performance of traditional retail and conceding that there is a need to innovate and diversify.

Las Vegas Jewellery Week includes the JCK trade fair, which organisers expect to attract 30,000 (June 5-8); the Couture Show, a higher-end fair (June 2-6); and the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show (June 5-8).

There is no doubt that business could be better. Although US jewellery sales grew 2.5 per cent in 2016 to $61.8bn, according to Euromonitor, this compares with an average growth of 7.5 per cent across the world’s top 10 markets. The Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT) reports that, in 2016, 1,564 retail jewellers, wholesalers and manufacturers closed down in north America, a rise of 64 per cent on 2015’s 956.

This in part reflects a growing segment of customers willing to buy jewellery online or who reject old-fashioned retail. “We’re seeing many owners of the traditional independent family jewellers choosing to quietly liquidate their businesses and retire,” rather than pass them on to the next generation, says Anthony Capuano, president of the JBT.

The news from department store chains has been poor, with Macy’s, Nordstrom and JC Penney all reporting falls in sales in the first quarter. In March, retail giant Signet Jewelers, which owns Kay Jewelers and Zales, became the S&P 500’s worst performer so far this year. It blamed poor mall traffic, ecommerce problems and flat sales across the industry over the critical Christmas period.

Ms Nicodemus says companies need to find an advantage in the market or try something radical. Moda Operandi reckons that its customers value exclusive access to high fashion and fine jewellery before it hits the stores, so its strategy is now to give first dibs on jewellery collections being unveiled at the Couture Show to its clients.

“We want to make it exciting for the returning visitor,” says Ms Nicodemus who adds that returning customers spend on average 44 per cent more on their next purchase. The company’s fine jewellery sales have increased 170 per cent in the year to date so far, compared with 2016, she says.

Online, we sell a big piece every month, over $30,000

Mark Emanuel, co-owner of jewellers David Webb, says it is exhibiting at the Couture Show for the first time to engage with independent US retailers, having focused previously on relationships with department stores: “We hope these stores can help us reach customers in many parts of the country that Neiman Marcus and Saks can’t reach.”

While the company has experimented with ecommerce for its lower-price Tool Chest collection (from $2,600), Mr Emanuel believes that online technology still lacks the sophistication to sell higher-end products, at $50,000 and above. He recognises that emerging technologies like virtual reality will make selling online easier, but “for now we are committed to more traditional ways of retailing.”

Ms Nicodemus disagrees: Moda Operandi’s no-returns policy has not deterred customers from buying expensive pieces. A recent sale included a pair of $80,000 Martin Katz diamond and ruby tassel earrings.

Jay Hartington of Marissa Collections in Florida says lower-price jewellery may represent the bulk of his store’s online sales but “we sell a big piece every month, something over $30,000.” Since the multi-brand fashion boutique started selling fine jewellery eight years ago, the category has grown to more than 50 per cent of revenue.

One area of growth lately is what Mr Hartington describes as “more fashion-driven jewellery”, priced under $2,000, by brands such as Dana Rebecca and Shay Jewelry. The store initially invested in this category believing it would work well for ecommerce but customers in-store also responded. One recently came in and bought 20 $800 necklaces as office gifts.

Sally Morrison, director of sales and marketing in the Americas for miner Gemfields, says experience, a current luxury watchword, is key. She believes the industry still has a long way to go in giving customers, particularly young ones, a memorable experience when shopping. “There’s not a Sephora [a lively make-up chain] for jewellery yet,” she says. “There’s not a place where people can go and play.”

As well as a continued collaboration with Muse, a showroom in New York representing independent designers, and a new luxury collection with former Tiffany designer Maria Canale, Gemfields comes to Las Vegas to broaden sales of its smaller, accessibly-priced coloured gemstones. Ms Morrison points to fashion fine jewellery brands like Wwake and Zoë Chicco, “whose smaller-scale jewellery resonates with younger consumers, in a combination of both aesthetic and price point”, she says. “We want to be a part of that.”

Some designers are taking the opposite approach. Fernando Jorge returns to the Couture Show for the fifth year with his first diamond collection, priced at $10,000 to $100,000, a higher range than his coloured gem collections. He has received strong pre-show interest from his US partners, which include higher-end departments stores like Barneys New York.

“People are buying high jewellery or very simple, low-priced fine jewellery,” he argues. “The middle ground seems to have plateaued.”

The recent results from middle-American department stores would support this theory, although consultancy McKinsey argued in late 2016 that “the luxury end of the [watches and jewellery] category suffered an especially hard blow” after a decade of growth.

As challenging as these times may be in US jewellery retail, it remains, says Euromonitor, the second strongest jewellery market after China, which grew by 9.6 per cent last year to $103bn.

How New Payment Services are Changing Ecommerce

Ecommerce is growing. Global ecommerce was worth $1.9 trillion in 2016 sustaining double-digit gains year-on-year. Many tech companies are now capitalizing on growth by providing merchant services to ecommerce businesses.

Among these services, it’s payments that have gotten much attention from companies. Payments are central to building ecommerce ecosystems. Providers are in a fierce race to become the most widely accepted payment service across markets.

Competitors include incumbents like PayPal, tech giants like Google and Apple, traditional institutions like banks and card companies, and a growing number of tech startups. It’s interesting to observe how all of this is changing ecommerce.

More payment methods demanded

Customer experience has become central to ecommerce. The shift of consumption to mobile has created opportunities for companies to offer new and improved payment experiences. However, according to the Baymard Institute, payment issues continue to be among the top reasons why shoppers abandon their carts. Many consumers are still discouraged by slow checkout processes and lack of available payment methods.

Addressing this demands the availability of quick and easy-to-use payment solutions for both merchants and customers. As such, providers are now offering more variations of payment services such as apps, digital wallets, and other contactless technologies.

The problem is, each market would have its preferred way of paying. Credit cards are the preferred method in highly banked markets such as the US, UK, and South Korea. Leading providers in these markets, such as PayPal and Apple Pay, readily support cards as funding sources. Many consumers in parts of Europe prefer debit and fund transfers so services such as Trustly use bank accounts for payments. A few months ago, Trustly introduced Direct Debit payment to allow merchants to replace paper-based forms and credit cards with a simple signature.

In markets with low banking and card penetration such as India and Southeast Asia, merchants are compelled to offer cash-on-delivery options.

Because of this diversity, those looking into cross-border business would benefit from partnering with a payment services provider that processes a wide range of methods or at least covers the preferred methods in their target markets. A business may be able to work with supporting the most preferred method in its local market. However, this may become a limiting factor once the business decides to offer their products in other markets.

Betting on digital currencies

Most of these payment methods are still dependent on traditional financial instruments such as cash and credit. In an attempt to provide a more ubiquitous means of transferring value, other payment services are focusing on using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for ecommerce payments.

However, not too many businesses are shifting to such payment methods opting for the more established ones. In addition, access to cryptocurrencies is still beyond the typical consumer. Some markets already struggle with methods such as credit cards or online banking so compelling these consumers to seek out ways to acquire cryptocurrencies just complicates matters.

Other merchants are now riding on the idea of digital currencies. Many of the larger retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks now offer gift card or store point balances effectively creating their own currency.

Improving customer experience

Aside from covering a variety of methods, payment services are also attempting to improve the overall experience by making the process faster. However, this is where many continue to struggle.

Most customers still have to enter card details or be passed on to an external interface to process bank fund transfers. In the off chance that customers have existing accounts with payment providers, they still need to provide login credentials to authorize payment during first use. All of these added steps prolong the checkout process.

Digital wallets and mobile payments are supposed to address this since users’ financial details are already stored beforehand and authorizing payment could be done with a tap or swipe.

Security is also a growing concern by all ecommerce stakeholders. For users, rejected payments due to suspected fraud can be frustrating especially if the transaction is legitimate. Such strict rules are a result of merchants taking extra care not to assume all the risk from fraudulent transactions. Thankfully, many services are now also developing better fraud detection algorithms to protect merchants from chargebacks or loss from non-payment.

Evolving ecommerce

As digital consumer behaviors change, so should the technologies and services that support ecommerce. These developments in payment technologies greatly affect how business is done digitally. Due to a broader array of payment methods these services can support, businesses could now conveniently explore cross-border business. We are now also seeing quicker ways to complete transactions thanks to digital wallets and mobile payments. Ecommerce stakeholders are all working to provide customers an overall experience that’s speedy, secure, and satisfying.

The Meaning and Purpose of Responsive Web Design

It used to be so simple: you’d design a website or application for a 15-inch monitor, and—incompatibilities between browsers aside—you were done.

Then mobile phones with web browsers came along and ruined our easy lives. Worst of all, people loved browsing the Web on them! In 2016, browsing the web on mobile devices overtook desktop browsing for the first time.

Just as developers and designers got used to building websites for phones, along came tablets, watches, TVs, cars, glasses, larger desktop screens, high-resolution screens, and even web browsers built into walls. (Okay, I made that last one up.) Supporting this seemingly endless stream of new devices is becoming ever more challenging.

So how do we support this ever-increasing array of devices? The answer is responsive web design, which harnesses technologies that allow websites to adapt to screens of all sizes.

A lot of older sites, or projects maintained by people with little spare time, are unresponsive. For example, the site for the Vassal game engine:

Many other sites, like SitePoint.com, are fully responsive:

Responsive web design (RWD) subscribes to the popular development maxim “Don’t Repeat Yourself” (usually abbreviated to “DRY”). Instead of maintaining multiple codebases for each device that you wish to support, RWD aims to use a single codebase that adapts appropriately to each device. Using RWD techniques, you write one set of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and display elements appropriately for each platform. Many of these styles and elements can even be reused or built upon for maximum code efficiency.

Sound good to you? To begin, let’s go back in time a few years.

History

“Responsive” design is not necessarily new and is a term that can mean different things to different people, making its exact history hard to track down.

In theory, developers have been creating responsive designs since there was more than one browser. Browsers have always had subtle (and not so subtle) rendering differences between them, and developers have been learning how to cope with these quirks for decades. If you’re new(er) to web development, be thankful the dominance of Internet Explorer’s earlier versions is mostly over. The days of dealing with their quirks were dark.

Since 2004, responsive design has adopted the more specific meaning of adapting your designs to suit a user’s device of choice—typically based on screen size, but also other capabilities. The concepts for responsive design solidified in 2008, but the term is also referred to as “flexible”, “liquid”, “fluid”, and “elastic” design.

This led to a growth and consolidation of other techniques and technologies alongside media queries, such as flexible images and grids, all of which we’ll cover in this book.

To me, “responsive design” is something of a combination of all these ideas and principles. It’s not just adapting a design to screen sizes, but also to other factors such as color depth, media type (say, a laptop screen, or an eReader), or location.

Schools of Thought Within Responsive Design

There are as many schools of thought about how to use responsive design as there are interpretations of it. Some have come and gone, and others have stuck. We won’t cover any in detail explicitly in this book, but we’ll touch upon their practical applications. Let’s quickly cover a few of them now.

Progressive Enhancement

When following the more traditional principle of progressive enhancement, your primary focus is on making the site content available to all users, however simple their device or slow their connection. Then extra features—such as more sophisticated design and functionality—are added for devices that can utilize them.

Graceful Degradation

The proliferation of mobile browsing has reversed the more traditional path of design. In the past, you started a design on the platform you worked on (typically a computer) and then stripped away style and functionality to support devices with smaller screens or less support for certain features.

While graceful degradation is typically applied to the lack of browser support for particular features, you can also think of it more generally. Its principle is that you start with a fully featured version of a site, running on your ideal device and browser, while also ensuring that essential functionality will work for any user on any (supported) device, even if they lose out on nice-to-have features.

Mobile First

Mobile first is similar to progressive enhancement, but more specific to responsive design. It proposes that you start with your smallest or least capable supported device (typically a phone when the principle was created) and then add functionality and style as you increase the device scale.

As a term, “mobile first” can be confusing, especially to non-designer/developer audiences, giving a skewed impression of the priority that mobile will receive in a project.

In theory, the practice ensures that smaller devices don’t end up getting second best—that all devices are treated with equal importance.

What Do You Need To Support?

Before starting or enhancing any web-based project, it’s important to know if it’s worthwhile, and to assess the (potential) userbase for all your hard work.

If you have an existing website, it may be worth analyzing website traffic to see what types of devices your visitors are using to access your website. If 90% of visitors have consistently visited on a desktop machine, this shows that either your mobile experience is poor, or that your visitors are not big mobile device users. You could embark on extensive research to find out the exact answer, or simply use responsive design techniques to build a mobile-friendly site that may attract new visitors.

If you’re working on a new project, analyzing the needs of your potential users is equally important. This can be done by using traditional market research techniques, creating simple test sites, or looking at your competitors to build a picture of who your customers will be.

Computers

Despite the slow decline in sales, there are still lots of desktop and laptop computers out there, and lots of web browsers running on them. These computers include everything from low-quality (and low-resolution) 11-inch netbooks to high-powered desktops with 28-inch, high-resolution monitors in a variety of proportions and orientations, all of which greatly affect the screen area you have to work with.

Mobile Phones

The percentage of people browsing websites on mobile phones has now reached parity with desktop browsing, so catering for users of mobile browsers is of equal (and likely, growing) importance. For more details on the rise of mobile web browsing, I recommend the Smart Insights report on Mobile Marketing Statistics and Statcounter’s desktop and mobile usage comparison.

On iOS, mobile browsing is generally through just one browser, and the device’s sizes are more consistent.

Android has a wide variety of browsers and screen dimensions available. Increasing numbers of devices running mobile operating systems also have high-density screens of varying resolutions.

You also need to consider that users are largely browsing with touch and not point-and-click devices, which affects behavior a great deal.

Tablets

Tablet sales may be shrinking, but there will still be a significant userbase for the foreseeable future, and you shouldn’t think of tablets as large mobile phones or small desktops. Also, users may be using touch screens or mice to interact with your site.

Hybrid Devices

If handling computers and tablets wasn’t enough for you, there are now hybrid devices, such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro, that can switch between being a computer and a tablet. While each mode can be treated discretely, it’s worth noting that users may switch context while using your site.

Wearables

Most wearables are yet to gain a web browser, but it may happen. In the meantime, it’s still possible to re-purpose parts of your content on wearables, and these will need to be delivered in short bursts with an easy follow-up action.

TV

Smart TVs and related devices such as Apple TV come with simplified web browsers, and users will generally use them for browsing particular sites, but they’re likely to become increasingly popular. TVs have very large screens, often with low resolution, so sites viewed on them need to be clear enough to see properly and also usable from a distance.

Cars

Really? Yes, really. This is new territory, but an increasing number of cars now have dashboards with access to the internet in some form or another. For the time being, sites rendered on car dashboards will need to present information clearly on a small screen, and be designed not to distract or overwhelm a driver and thus cause an accident. However, many cars now have screens for passengers, who will have much fuller access to the web and content.

Game Consoles

Most modern game consoles spend some of their time connected to the internet, and some of that time with a web browser. This is typically for media consumption and social networks. Browsers on these devices will likely be limited, and a physical keyboard may not be available. For home consoles, design principles from TV will apply, and for handhelds, a limited mobile experience.

In summary, you can’t predict how and where anyone will view your website, so build it to be adaptable, flexible, and responsive.

Print

Print? Isn’t this a web design book? Yes, but print versions of your web pages will still be frequently accessed, whether for actual physical printing or for rendering your content on offline readers such as Instapaper or Pocket. For certain content, “print” is still relevant.

Drive Leads with 6 Critical Web Design Elements

There is a lot you can do to drive traffic to your B2B website: on-page search engine optimization (SEO), promoting it on social media channels, search engine marketing (SEM), display ads, direct mailers, and email campaigns, just to name a few.

However, what good is all that great visitor traffic if your website if you aren’t getting any new leads?

While the purpose of a website is not solely to drive leads, it’s often the most tangible ROI of any B2B website. For this very reason, it’s critical that any B2B firm’s website is maximized for lead generation. Below are six tips to start driving more website leads.

Intuitive Layout

Recently, we explored critical considerations for digital marketing and usability along with how this impacts the perception of your brand. It’s essential that your B2B website layout is intuitive, easy to navigate, and prioritizes things your prospects and clients care about.

If your firm’s contact information and access to the products and services you offer are the main concern for prospects, put those at the top of the page. If articles discussing how your products are best utilized or a demo of your products are important to your potential clients, make those very easy to find.

There is no one best layout for a B2B website (hence why template websites aren’t ideal), but the main rule is that you don’t want your users to have to hunt for information. Make everything easy to find and enable users to get to information within one to two clicks.

Clear, Concise Copy

Get to the point and get there fast. You only have a limited amount of time to reach a potential client and show them the value of your products or services. This does not mean that you can’t weave a story, but it does mean you can’t mince words. It also means that you must be selective about what you include on the homepage and other pages. Be sure to prioritize the main benefits or values of your products or services at the very start of your copy.

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Working with an experienced, professional copywriter is a great way to achieve this goal. The copywriter can take your input and expertise and finesse it into concise copy that entices prospects to convert.

Compelling CTAs

A variety of compelling calls-to-action on a B2B website are crucial for driving leads. Don’t leave it up to the user to figure out what they should do next – instead, guide them on what to do next. Prompt them to schedule a consultation, take a product demo, see what customers are saying, read your blog posts, or view your product catalog. Make sure your CTAs are designed to convert visitors. Speak to their needs in your CTAs.

Trust Elements

To convert website visitors into new leads, you need to first build credibility and create trust in your brand. People are more likely to trust you if they feel like they know you. A great trust element to add to your website is actual pictures and short bios of your leaders and employees. Do not use stock imagery for these elements. Use actual pictures or professional photos taken of your employees.

Another great way to invite prospects to get to know you is by sharing images and stories of your company. Share any events your company hosts, pictures of your company’s softball team, holiday parties, company BBQs or birthday celebrations in the office. Humanizing your company can go a long way to build trust in your brand.

Third-Party Validation

You can say you’re the best at what you do, but many of your competitors may be saying the same thing. A B2B website can showcase third party validation by listing awards or including certification badges on the website. Has your CEO written articles that have been published in industry trade magazines? That’s third-party validation and should be showcased on the website. Make sure the validation sources you use are credible and related to your industry. Never make up third-party validation since this can be easily ferreted out and will significantly hurt your firm’s reputation.

Client Reviews & Experiences

Prospects want to know what it is like to be a client or partner of yours before they start a conversation with you. Client reviews or testimonials are a great way to show (not tell) prospects what it is like to be your client. This can come in the form of reviews listed on the website, quotes of reviews left on third-party review sites like Yelp, or in longer-form content like case studies and white papers.

A Lead Generation Tool

A B2B website can be a great lead generation tool when carefully designed. Use the elements listed here to entice website visitors to complete desired actions on your website.

WordPress REST API 0day Exploit is Out

WordPress fixed three safety defects almost a week ago. However, only just recently did the organization address the unknown 0day exploits that allowed unauthorized hackers to edit and alter the content of a page or any article within a WordPress website.

The victim and vulnerabilities at hand exist within the REST API built for WordPress. Two major bugs were found allowing hackers Remote privilege escalation and Content injection.

The major issue at hand here is not the fact that the plugin has bugs in them, every single one out there does, but it’s more to do with the fact that the high-profile Content Management System company is used in millions upon millions of websites and they have made the REST API a default ever since their release of WordPress 4.7.0

The vulnerabilities are simple to manipulate, they affect versions 4.7 and 4.7.1 of the WordPress content management system (CMS), permitting an unauthenticated attacker to change all and any content on unpatched websites and can redirect people to destructive and malicious scripts along with virus infected software’s.

The vulnerabilities in the REST API were found and were reported by Marc-Alexandre Montpas from Sucuri to WordPress’s cyber security department. The security staff at WordPress managed to fix the problems within the API, and then immediately delivered a patch for everyone who has the CMS installed on their websites.
However, no details or factual information were revealed about the vulnerabilities when the patch was deployed to keep hackers from taking advantage of the situation and exploiting websites with the 0day before web administrators around the world could path their WordPress websites.

This is what a core WordPress contributor, Aaron Campbell, had to say about the delay in the disclosure of the bugs:

We believe transparency is in the public’s best interest…[and]… in this case, we intentionally delayed disclosing the issue by one week to ensure the safety of millions of additional WordPress sites.

Data from all four WAFs and WordPress hosts showed no indication that the vulnerability had been exploited in the wild. As a result, we made the decision to delay disclosure of this particular issue to give time for automatic updates to run and ensure as many users as possible were protected before the issue was made public.

A video created by a user named Harsh Jaiswal demonstrating the Proof of Concept (PoC) of the exploit has been uploaded to YouTube.

The exploit itself has been posted to Pastebin for any of you who would want to pen-test your WordPress website for the vulnerability and see how the exploit works.

It is advised that for those who have WordPress versions 4.7.0 or 4.7.1 that they download the patches and/or upgrade to the latest updated version of WordPress, version 4.7.2. To get a more in-depth and more detailed clarification concerning the vulnerabilities and exploit, you can go directly to the official post on Sucuri’s blog.