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  1. Black Friday Stats

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    This year’s Black Friday is now over, but how did it do?

    Amazon UK reported busiest day on record this year. The website had orders of over 5.5 million, with 64 items being sold per second. This beats last year’s record of 4 million items sold for the UK e-retailer and shows the growing popularity of Black Friday in the UK.

    “Ever since we introduced Black Friday to the UK in 2010, sales have increased year-on-year but this year really has surpassed all of our expectations.

    “The public’s appetite for Black Friday has been bigger than ever, kicking off the Christmas shopping period in earnest and establishing Black Friday as a fixture on the UK Christmas shopping calendar.”

    John Lewis also saw an increase in website traffic this year compared to last with a 307% rise compared to 2013. They reported that the most popular items sold that day were iPad minis and food processors. Other retailers, such as PC World had website traffic ‘increasing five fold from last year’. Many retailers, such as Curry’s, had to place queues on their websites because their servers were overloaded with waits of over 30 minutes long. Other websites that struggled with server demand were TescoDirect, Argos and John Lewis.

    As well as online, many physical retailers also sold a large amount of goods. Asda sold 8000 televisions in an hour and over a thousand BMXs by 9am.

    Black Friday’s getting bigger every year in the UK, showing the increasing popularity of pre-Christmas sales.


  2. Mastercard and Visa Plan To Drop Passwords in Online Payments

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    Safe banking

    Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve entered all your payment details, gone to pay and then been asked for a password you can’t remember? Well good news, Mastercard and Visa announced last week that they plan to drop the need for customers to remember passwords and make the experience more secure and less frustrating.


    So how do they plan on doing this?


    3D Secure 2.0, Fingerprints and One-Time Passwords

    Initially, streamlining the experience involves Mastercard and Visa co-creating a new authentication standard which ‘will be the largest wholesale upgrade to online payment security’ known currently as 3D Secure 2.0. This upgrade will not only benefit consumers, but also merchants and banks by involving fewer password prompts and invisible authentication.


    Analysts predict that by 2018, mobile devices will make up 30% of all online payments. With this growing trend, the companies also plan on incoporating these devices into their new standard by using cardholder data to make the process of paying more streamlined. In the event that consumers’ payment request needs authenticating, they will be able to identify themselves with one-time passwords or even their own fingerprints removing the need to remember or store a password.

    “All of us want a payment experience that is safe as well as simple, not one or the other,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard. “We want to identify people for who they are, not what they remember. We have too many passwords to remember and this creates extra problems for consumers and businesses.”


    These upgrades are expected to begin rolling out as soon as 2015 and will gradually replace the current 3D Secure consumers see today.


  3. Error Codes – What Do They Mean?

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    A technical blog today. Click on the more tab below to see a list of error codes and what they mean.

    If you aren’t sure what the message means, the error code doesn’t appear on the table or if you have any suggestions on how we can improve the table, please contact us at and we’ll be happy to help!


  4. Singles’ Day sales of $7 Billion and Black Friday to break new records

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    As the Christmas season draws closer, some of the biggest shopping events of the year are coming up and continue to smash records.

    Alibaba’s $7 Billion Singles’ Day Sales

    China’s Singles’ Day falls on the 11th of November each year, and is celebrated as an “anti-valentine’s day” for single people to purchase gifts for themselves. It mirrors Cyber Monday as one of China’s biggest online retail sales days of the year.

    One of China’s retail giants, Alibaba, far exceeded expectations this year and sold “$2bn (£1.2bn) of goods in the first hour.” It went on to sell $6.96billion (£4.4bn) worth of goods in seventeen hours with “analysts predicting that sales could surpass $8bn this year.

    Compared to 2013, Alibaba recorded sales of $5.75bn and shipped over 150 million packages. The sales for online retailers are increasing annually and show no signs of slowing down, so what can we expect for this year’s Black Friday?


    Black Friday UK

    Black Friday is one of America’s biggest shopping events having grown in popularity with the advent of eCommerce and boasts new records every year.

    It meant little to the UK until had a week long Black Friday sale in 2010. Last year, supermarket chain Asda boosted the popularity of the American event by running “flash promotions within stores.” cutting prices of tablets, tvs and drills. This year, analysts expect Black Friday is to “set new records for online sales”.

    Not only will it break records, but it’s set to change shopping habits as well:

    “Andy Street, the managing director of John Lewis, has said Black Friday will be ‘huge’ this year. Street claimed Black Friday has brought some Christmas spending forward and also highlights how many people are now using their smartphones and tablets to shop. On Black Friday last year, traffic to peaked between 7am and 8am at levels 14 times higher than anything the department store retailer had seen before.

    Mark Lewis adds, “Black Friday has definitely become one of the key dates in the UK’s shopping calendar. Following steady growth over the last few years, Black Friday really emerged in the UK in 2013, when we saw the day break our previous records for a single day’s online trade. Now that customers are aware of the date and expecting it, we anticipate that this year’s Black Friday will be bigger still. Black Friday is changing the way our customers plan their Christmas shopping and we expect this year will see it come of age in the retail calendar.”

    With each year breaking records and with 2014 looking no different, it’s no wonder that many retailers, both online and physical, are taking advantage of pre-Christmas sales.



  5. Payments via mobile number to start this month

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    Consumers will be able to use mobile phone numbers to make payments via mobile from 29 April, it has been announced.

    The changes mean that account-holders will be able to pay friends, family or traders without having to ask for their bank details. Instead, they will only need to ask for their mobile number, according to the Payments Council. However both parties will have to register to use the service, known as Paym – pronounced “Pay Em”. Customers can register in advance, from Wednesday 2 April.

    The Payments Council, which supervises banking transactions in the UK, has rejected fears about fraud. Neil Aitken, from the Payments Council, told BBC Radio 5 live that the system was secure.

    “The only thing that people would be able to do if they got your mobile number is pay you – it will be integrated in to your existing banking app so it’s password protected,” he said.

    Those wishing to make payments via mobile phone numbers will still need to use their banking apps, which require customers to log on to their accounts. Account-holders will need to visit their own bank’s website for more details.

    Similar systems have already been introduced by Barclays and RBS NatWest.

    How will it work?

    Customers of the following banks can now register to link their mobile number with their bank account: Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Cumberland Building Society, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds, Santander and TSB. Other banks – including NatWest, RBS and First Direct – will join the scheme later in the year.

    People who wish just to receive money – as opposed to paying it – will still be able to use the system, even if their phone is not a smartphone, or they do not use mobile banking.

    • To send money, a user will have to log into their bank’s mobile banking app, using a pass code as normal.
    • They will then have to select the recipient of the payment, using their existing contacts or by typing in that person’s mobile phone number.
    • After confirming the name of the recipient, they will have to check the amount being paid, type in a reference for it (such as “dinner”), and then press send.
    • A confirmation message will then be sent to them.

    Current levels of security will apply and payments will not be possible without an app’s pass code being entered.

    Further information is available from a new website, run by the Payments Council.

    Source: Here

  6. Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank

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    New plans announced by UK retail banking institutions Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks (subsidiaries of National Australia Bank) are to see the two financial institutions close nearly 30 branches and invest £45 ($74) million in improving services in the mobile and online channels and developing six flagship branches.

    The switch to a greater digital presence comes after the financial institutions reported a 30% drop in footfall at their branches over the past three years. In addition to the shift to mobile and online, Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks plan on investing in their debit and credit card portfolio, making their cards fully contactless as consumer adoption and use of contactless payments grows in the UK.

    In a statement, the National Australia Bank said “These necessary changes will move Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks in line with the way customers are accessing their banking services,” citing a 40% increase in consumer mobile and online banking use in the past three years.

    The reorganization of branches and the strategic shift to improving online and mobile channels is part of a wider industry trend seen in the UK as well as US. By making this change, the National Australia Bank and its subsidiaries the Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks are ensuring that they are not left behind as consumers demand more innovation from their financial institutions.

    Source : Here

  7. Visa Europe Reports Rise In Contactless Payments

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    The latest figures from Visa Europe show that throughout 2013 Visa cardholders used their contactless cards to make more than 94.3 million purchases in the UK, simply by tapping their cards, compared to just under 25 million contactless purchases in 2012, showing that UK consumers are embracing the ease and speed of contactless payments.

    Contactless purchases were not just up in the UK but across the whole of Europe, with Visa cards used to make a staggering 340.1 million contactless purchases across Europe last year.

    The top five markets to embrace Visa contactless payments in Europe in the last 12 months:

    • Poland (158.7 million purchases)
    • UK (94.3 million purchases)
    • Czech Republic (30.6 million purchases)
    • Slovakia (23.1 million purchases)
    • Spain (17.5 million purchases)

    The number of contactless terminals has also risen by almost 200%, with both large retailers (including M&S, Waitrose, Starbucks, Costa, Co-Op, Lidl, McDonalds and Boots) and independent retailers making contactless payments available to customers. The total number of terminals has now reached over 300k.

    The stats also show a massive 125% increase on the number of Visa contactless cards in circulation compared to December 2012. There are now 32.1 million Visa contactless cards in circulation in the UK with the European total reaching 80.6 million, a 158% increase on 2012. Every issuer in the UK now offers Visa contactless cards.

    The average UK purchase value in 2013 was £6.09, which is comparable to the average lunch spend or small supermarket shop, highlighting that consumers have embraced contactless to make everyday shopping convenient. The average purchase value across Europe is €9.18 showing a similar trend of contactless being used for convenience shopping.

    “We’ve seen impressive growth across the board on the amount of Visa contactless cards within the UK and the overall purchases and spend,” comments Sandra Alzetta, Executive Director at Visa Europe. “Spend has risen to over £618 million in 2013, with £82 million being spent in December of last year alone.”

    Londoners have also taken to contactless travel with 10 million contactless journeys being made on London buses ade on London buses using Visa contactless cards.

  8. Shopgate Acquires MagCorp To Bolster M-Commerce Magento Integration

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    Germany and Palo Alto-based m-commerce platform Shopgate has made its first acquisition: The Creathor Ventures and Northcap-backed company has acquired Magento developer MagCorp for an undisclosed fee. The move — which, since it’s buying developer talent and expertise, might best be categorised as an acqui-hire — will see MagCorp’s four developers join Shopgate’s existing 132 strong team at its campus in Butzbach, Germany.

    Shopgate lets merchants build a mobile store-front using its platform, enabling them to be up and running with either a native app or browser-based m-commerce offering. Where it claims to beat much of the competition is that it integrates with popular web-based e-commerce and shopping cart provider APIs, including, of course, Magento, which means that Shopgate is pretty much plug-and-play with most of the online store backends that retailers are already using.

    That’s where today’s small acquisition comes into play. MagCorp’s team of four — Alexander Wesselburg, André Kraus, Stephan Recknagel and Peter Liebig — bring with them a wealth of experience working with the Magento platform.

    Projects they’ve previously worked on include Glossybox, the Samwer brothers’ Birchbox clone, where they are said to have built the Magento-based e-commerse side of the site so that it could handle reoccurring payments needed by the subscription service. Members of the MagCorp team have also worked for venture-backed German clothing retailer Luxodo, online car dealership giant Autoda, and online sporting goods retailer mysportgroup.

    Shopgate plans to use this expertise to bolster its Magento integration. Specifically, to extend the Magento integration they already offer and “start focusing on Magento Enterprise”, Shopgate’s newly-hired COO Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine tells me.

    Shopgate also says is isn’t ruling out further acquisitions as the company continues to grow. It currently claims over 5,200 registered online shops using its platform, disclosing that more than 4,200 shopping apps had been created for iPhone, iPad and Android as of November last year.

    “Shopgate has a team of 132 but is looking to grow to over 200 by the end of the year,” adds Baranoff-Rossine. Developers are needed for the startup’s backend and apps, but also “to handle more shopping carts”.

    In June Shopgate told TechCrunch it had raised $7 million in Series B funding led by Danish VC firm Northcap, and original backer Creathor Ventures out of Germany, bringing total funding to $9.4 million.

    Source : Here

  9. Smartphone swipe payment scheme unveiled

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    Tapping a smartphone on a card reader to pay for a sandwich or a bus journey could soon become an everyday event, under a scheme unveiled on Thursday by Vodafone, O2 and EE.

    Paypal and Google, as well as banks and mobile operators, have been trying for years to create mass market mobile phone payments systems, so far without much success.

    Now Weve, a joint venture formed by Britain’s three largest mobile operators to create advertising and payments platforms, has become the latest group to put forward a plan to make the technology a reality.

    It has announced a partnership with Mastercard, which is building a payments system that links bank cards to the SIM cards installed in every smartphone. The partners aare preparing to market their system to banks wanting to offer their customers the service, under their own brand.

    Customers of Barclays, for example, would be able to link their card to their phone using the Barclays app, after which the handset can make payments at tills with contactless readers already used for debit and credit cards.

    Tapping a smartphone on a card reader to pay for a sandwich or a bus journey could soon become an everyday event, under a scheme unveiled on Thursday by Vodafone, O2 and EE.

    Paypal and Google, as well as banks and mobile operators, have been trying for years to create mass market mobile phone payments systems, so far without much success.

    Now Weve, a joint venture formed by Britain’s three largest mobile operators to create advertising and payments platforms, has become the latest group to put forward a plan to make the technology a reality.

    It has announced a partnership with Mastercard, which is building a payments system that links bank cards to the SIM cards installed in every smartphone. The partners aare preparing to market their system to banks wanting to offer their customers the service, under their own brand.

    Customers of Barclays, for example, would be able to link their card to their phone using the Barclays app, after which the handset can make payments at tills with contactless readers already used for debit and credit cards.

    Source : HERE

  10. Turn your side project into a money-making business

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    Turn your side project into a money-making business

    Keir Whitaker and Elliot Jay Stocks of Viewport Industries explore some key considerations for making the jump from client work to running your own show

    Let’s be honest, being part of the web industry is great, isn’t it? Many of us are privileged in working for ourselves or as part of a small business. By and large we are all passionate about what we do and enjoy working on client projects. They are fun, fulfilling, occasionally give us scope to push the technological boundaries – and ultimately enable us to pay those all important bills.

    In spite of this, it’s hard to think of anyone – be they designer or developer, or a mix of both – who isn’t tinkering away on one or more side projects in their own time. The joy of creating something that is truly your own is very appealing. A project where you call the shots; a project where you can try out new ideas; a project whose success or failure depends solely on your input.

    However, many of us struggle to turn that side project into something that can actually generate money. In fact, generating an income from a side project is often perceived as something of a pipe dream… but it doesn’t have to be. What could be better than earning a living doing something you truly love? Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen more and more people turning their side projects into not-so-side projects. Products such as Perch, Codebase, 8 Faces and, of course, 37signals’ Basecamp all started out as small-scale ideas and have all gradually turned into profitable enterprises.

    Take away the pain

    The common factor in all of these projects – and almost all side-projects – is that they are products, as opposed to services such as client work. This move from selling a service to selling a product is often a radical departure when you’re used to dealing with clients rather than customers. But we’re going to show you how to take away the pain from that transition – and show you how easy it can be to give up your day job, focus on making some exciting new products and ultimately make money from doing what you love.

    Our decision to form Viewport Industries and stop doing client work to make products (both physical and digital) wasn’t the result of us not enjoying client work; we’ve both had some fantastic clients. It was down to feeling a lot more passionate about doing our own thing and realising that in order to do it well, it had to be our sole focus.

    Like many, we were never told how best to go about the process, but making it up as you go along is not necessarily a bad thing. Our approach has been proven in part by the success of 8 Faces, so it was a case of applying that to multiple products and under the banner of a new company. What follows is not intended to be a prescriptive guide of how to start a new business, but a series of steps that have worked well for us so far.

    Setting up a UK-based business

    So you’ve got a great idea you’re passionate about, you’ve identified your potential audience, you’ve worked evenings and weekends to build up a cash cushion, and now you’re ready to start dedicating daylight hours to your project. What’s next?

    If you’re working solo, you can either register with HMRC as a sole trader or incorporate as a limited company (LTD) with Companies House. If you’re working with another person, you have the option of forming a limited liability partnership (LLP), a limited company – or the often-overlooked co-op. Limited companies tend to be the obvious choice for most people as a company is very much its own entity, entirely separate from the directors who run it. That’s what we went for with Viewport Industries Ltd, assigning ourselves a straight 50 per cent split of shares.

    Setting the ground rules about ownership and profit share at the beginning might seem a little hasty, but all being well it should act as a safeguard against resentments creeping in and affecting your project at a later date.

    Getting a company bank account

    Once you’ve decided on your structure, the next step is setting up your company bank account. Even if you haven’t formed a limited company, it’s advisable for your business to have its own bank account – it keeps everything separate from you as individuals. Most banks are keen to get new businesses on board early and offer free banking for a limited time period, as well as free business advice and a dedicated business manager.

    While we all live in a virtual world it’s very reassuring to be able to call up ‘our man James’ in our local branch of HSBC. Additionally HSBC is one of the few UK banks to provide feeds to Xero, the online application we use for all of our invoicing, reconciling and accounting.

    Speaking of accounting, we recommend getting an accountant before almost anything else in the set-up process. Not only will your accountant then have a complete view of the company right from its inception, but he or she can usually also help with getting it all set up – as well as handling the burden of all the legal paperwork. Getting bogged down in accounts is not the best use of your time: it’s one thing where it’s definitely worth putting your hand in your pocket.

    A question of VAT

    Depending on your product(s) you may wish to consider registering for VAT before commencing trading. Currently levied at 20 per cent in the UK, charging VAT will effectively raise your prices by a fifth for those who can’t claim it back. But registering will enable you to claim back VAT on your company expenditure, so may be worthwhile depending on your outgoings. Remember that as your revenue hits a certain threshold, you’ll be required to register for VAT anyway.

    You should also note that certain items are exempt – physical books and magazines fall into this category, but digital books and magazines do not. Be sure to check HMRC’s website to find out which product types you should be adding VAT to, and speak to your accountant on how to handle VAT charges to different territories.

    On VATable products in the Viewport Industries shop, we charge VAT to all customers in the UK, we charge VAT to customers in the EU unless they’re able to provide us with a valid VAT ID, and we charge zero VAT to the rest of the world.

    Setting up a legitimate online shop

    With all mundane but essential business matters squared off, it’s time to open up your online shop and start trading. Whether you’re selling physical products, digital products, or – like us – a bit of both, the process is essentially the same and there are a variety of services to help you sell online.

    By far the most common option is the simple PayPal ‘buy now’ button, although it’s still extremely easy to build your own shop by utilising a free WordPress theme/plug-in such as WooCommerce, or hosting your shop with a service such as Shopify or Big Cartel.

    While adding a PayPal button to your site is free, most services will attract a cost. WordPress plug-ins such as WooCommerce will charge a fee for payment gateway integration, and services such as Big Cartel and Shopify are based on a monthly subscription cost. Many offer free plans that enable you to test the system, but it’s worth looking into the option that suits you best.

    One of the difficulties we’ve encountered with PayPal is that the fees are taken directly from each transaction. This can make reconciliation a little difficult, because the amount invoiced is never quite the same as the money received. This was one of the primary motivations behind our decision to go with a set-up that charged us for fees in arrears, as well as maintaining a higher level of control over our transactions.

    Going pro: merchant accounts

    Merchant accounts might sound a little scary, and setting everything up can be a bit of an arduous task, especially when very little is written about them… but that’s why we’re here!

    Before doing anything, write some terms and conditions, as well as a privacy policy, and put these on your site. They should touch on your policies regarding delivery, refunds, tax, cancellations and currency, and most banks will need to see these – as well as your physical contact details – before being able to give you a merchant account.

    Essentially the merchant account itself (which you can request from your bank) is only one part of the equation; for everything to work, we had to employ the ‘holy trinity’ of a merchant account, (from HSBC), an ecommerce site, powered by the excellent Shopify, and a payment gateway in the form of Cardstream to glue them all together. Both Shopify and Cardstream offer full PCI Compliance, which means it’s far easier to obtain a merchant account from your bank.

    The likes of PayPal and Google Checkout are easy to set up. But given the recent problems with PayPal freezing accounts, we felt a more pro-level solution would be better in the long run, and the money would always go straight into our bank account, with fees from the three services invoiced completely separately.

    Running costs

    Selling goods online using a set-up similar to our own – having a merchant account, a card processor, and an ecommerce platform – will require monthly payments, usually based on percentages of your sales. Each service might also charge a flat monthly fee as well as a one-off set-up fee. It’s worth looking into exactly how much it will cost you, but don’t be too put off by these extra costs, as they might still be less than the all-inclusive fees from services such as PayPal or Google Checkout.

    Launching the product

    We hope you’ve enjoyed our overview of setting up a business, getting bank accounts and accountancy sorted and setting up a robust, pro-level ecommerce solution to sell your products. Now it’s time to put your feet up and watch those sales flood in! Or is it?

    Success is great, but also means shipping goods, replacing items lost in the post and dealing with customer support requests – a task that may have you begging those clients to return! But if you’re prepared and seek the help of others to share the load, even arduous tasks need not be too stressful.

    Nothing can compare with the joy felt by making your own products and seeing them in the hands of customers who genuinely love them.

    Words: Viewport Industries

    Source: CreativeBloq