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Fast Fashion Bites You in the Ass

Fast Fashion Bites You in the Ass

I’ve written about the existential problem which is returned merchandise.

It’s a big problem.

In the U.S., alone, Eco-Age claims that clothing returns create more annual carbon dioxide emissions than 3 million cars. (Carbon dioxide is initially emitted through the collection of returns, before increasing as returns are either incinerated or deposited in landfills. Due to the prevalence of synthetic fibers in many fashion items, returns can take up to 100 years to fully decompose, emitting carbon dioxide and methane in the process, as well as leaching harmful substances into the surrounding soil.)

Source: TheFashionLaw

It’s expensive. To responsibly eliminate a polyester blend garment can take hundreds of years. So when millions of people order multiple sizes and then return them, you would think the retailer would be a good shepherd of the planet and maybe re-sell, discount or otherwise prevent those very ugly tights from going into a landfill. For a century. And, while we’re at it, those tights were ugly, they did make your ass look very fat and stank like a chemical plant. ‘K? Just sayin’, ‘boo.

The real source of the problem with this scenario is that retail stores do not prevent ANYTHING from going to a landfill. They do not resell it. They put it on a diesel tanker, burning bunker fuel and ship it to Ghana.

So just in the relocation of these clothes (not considering their manufacture or sourcing) produces more CO2 emissions than entire nations. In fact, 15 ships account for more CO2 emissions than all of the cars on the planet.

Shipping containers produce more greenhouse gas emissions than some small countries. According to The Essential Daily Briefing: “It has been estimated that just one of these container ships, the length of around six football pitches, can produce the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars.
Source

The video below makes me want to wear underwear to client meetings. And even then…

It’s dire. And it’s inexcusable. And we can do something about it.

cgk.ink is working with Stripe Climate to offset our products’ carbon pollution. It’s an emergency and we are trying to respond. READ MORE >

Arturo Rios

Arturo Rios

Arturo loves the colors of nature, flowers, particularly birds. His inspiration comes from what he sees in everyday life, combining vintage materials with modern ideas.

Since 2005, Arturo has been designing fabulous couture head wear worn by famous personalities and clients around the world. Celebrities including, Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B., Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Daisy Fuentes, Tyra Banks, Paris Hilton, Juliette Lewis, Lindsay Lohan, Adrianne Bailon, Adriana Lima, Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark and others. Arturo’s work has appeared on many international runways, red carpet events, and in high end fashion publications like, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, People, Numero, Marie Claire, Brides and other mixed media.

Creative design is not a solo endeavor.

cgk.ink welcomes the opportunity to work with inspiring creators in all media.

Interested in collaborating with us? Let’s talk!

DISCLAIMER:

ArturoRios.com is a client of cgk.ink So we’re biased. But his designs rock hard. And he’s cool and our fave client evah and stuff.

The State of Global ecommerce: INFOGRAPHICS

The State of Global ecommerce: INFOGRAPHICS

Ecommerce continues to post record numbers. It is quickly becoming the dominant retail channel.

In general, ecommerce seems unstoppable. CBRE estimates:

E-commerce’s share of total retail sales is expected to rise from 20.7.% in 2021 to 23.4% in 2023, averaging 1.3 percentage point each year.

However, digital-impacted retail sales, which include purchases made online and purchases made in-store by consumers who used a digital channel to research or browse, are expected to rise even higher. Digital-impacted sales are forecast to total more than $2.4 trillion and account for more than 58% of total retail sales by 2023.

Source: CBRE Research, Q1 2022.

There is no lack of data. Indeed, it quickly overwhelms. WebSitePlanet.com has done a very well-designed series of infographics to look at critical sectors, regions and methods.

A brief timeline of ecommerce milestones:

the GLOBAL MARKET

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by MARKET/CHANNEL

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by REGION

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10 REASONS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE (WIRED)

10 REASONS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE (WIRED)

The sixth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not mince its words when describing the disastrous impact that humans are having on the planet. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,” reads the opening summary of the landmark report.

The report spells out the latest science on climate change, and what we can expect to happen over the coming decades and centuries. In short, it’s not good news. Without very significant reductions in greenhouse gases over the next decades, it is likely that global surface temperatures will exceed the 1.5C threshold set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Even if we do curtail emissions, sea levels will almost certainly continue to rise throughout this century and may continue to rise for centuries or millennia beyond that. Extreme weather events – particularly heatwaves and heavy rains – have become more frequent since 1950 and will become more frequent and more severe as global temperatures increase.

The message could not be clearer: we need to do everything we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions right now. Unless we take major action to stop emissions, we’re facing an Earth that is hotter, plagued by more extreme weather and is less hospitable than the already-warmed planet we have today. Here’s everything you need to know about where we are with the climate crisis.

1. There’s more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than at any time in human history

In February and March 2021, sensors at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii – which has tracked Earth’s atmospheric concentration of CO2 since the late 1950s – detected CO2 concentrations of more than 417 parts per million (ppm). Pre-industrial levels were 278 ppm, which means that humans are halfway to doubling the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere compared to the period between 1750 and 1800.

CO2 concentrations fluctuate with the seasons, with the annual CO2 concentration for 2021 predicted to be 416.3 ppm, even taking into account a slight fall in emissions in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained this much CO2 was more than three million years ago, when sea levels were several metres higher and trees grew at the South Pole.

2. We’re on the path to exceeding 1.5C of warming

In 2015, the nations behind the Paris Agreement set an ambitious target for keeping global warming below 1.5C. The latest IPCC report spells out just how difficult it will be for the world to stay under that limit, unless we drastically slash emissions in the very near future. The report models five different future emission scenarios – from very high emissions to very low emissions – and in each scenario global surfaces are expected to hit at least 1.5C.

Of the emissions scenarios modelled, only the very low emission scenario estimated that the world would see less than 1.5C of warming by the end of the twenty-first century. In that scenario, temperatures are likely to overshoot 1.5C of warming between 2041 and 2060, before returning back down to 1.4C of warming by the end of the century. This scenario would require the world to dramatically reduce its emissions with almost immediate effect. Based on current emissions, the world is likely to hit between 2.7C and 3.1C of warming by 2100.

3. Our remaining carbon budget is tiny

At its core, climate change is really simple to grasp. The more carbon dioxide – and other warming gases – that we put into the atmosphere, the higher global temperatures will rise. Between 1850 and 2019, humans released around 2,390 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. One gigatonne is equivalent to one billion metric tonnes, so that’s a lot of carbon dioxide. So far these emissions have led to 1.07C of warming when compared to pre-industrial levels.

To have a 50/50 chance of staying under 1.5C of warming, we can only release an extra 500 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – and that includes emissions from the beginning of 2020. In 2019 we emitted over 36 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, and as emissions are still yet to peak it looks extremely likely that the world will eventually sail past that carbon budget.

The same logic applies to other temperature thresholds, too. To have a 50/50 chance of keeping temperatures below two degrees of warming, we must emit fewer than 1,350 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.

4. Extreme heat events have become more frequent and severe

You only need to think of recent devastating wildfires in Australia, California or southern Europe to see that climate change is leading to more frequent and more severe hot weather events. The kind of extreme heat event that would have only happened on average once every ten years between 1850 and 1900 now likely occurs 2.8 times every ten years, and is likely to occur 4.1 times every ten years in a world that hits 1.5C of future warming. The same is true of once-in-every-50-years events. They’re now more likely to occur 4.8 times in 50 years, and in a post-1.5C world that will be 8.6 times every 50 years.

Heavy rain is also more common because of climate change. The kind of heavy one-day rain that 150 years ago would have only happened once every ten years is now happening 1.3 times every ten years. In a world warmed by 1.5C, that will go up to 1.5 times. And as frequency increases, so does severity – we can expect these extreme weather events to be hotter and wetter than those that went before them.

5. Humans have already caused 1.07C of warming

The IPCC report estimates that global surface temperatures are now 1.07C warmer than they were between 1850-1900. Since 1970, global surface temperatures have risen faster than in any 50-year-period over the last 2,000 years and this has been particularly pronounced in recent years, with 2016-2020 being the hottest five-year period recorded since at least 1850.

And just in case there was any remaining doubt, the IPCC report makes it clear that the principal driver of these changes in temperature are down to human-released greenhouse gases.

6. Sea levels are rising faster today than ever before

Melting ice sheets and glaciers, and warming oceans lead to higher sea levels. Since 1900, sea levels have risen faster than in any preceding century in at least the last 3,000 years and this is set to continue for a very long time. Because oceans take a long time to warm, a lot of sea level rise is already baked-in. If warming is limited to 1.5C then over the next 2,000 years global mean sea level will rise to between two and three metres above current levels. If warming is limited to 2C this rises to between two and six metres above current levels.

7. Arctic sea ice is rapidly diminishing

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than almost anywhere else on the planet. Between 2011 and 2020, annual Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level since at least 1850 and late summer Arctic sea ice was smaller than at any time in at least the past 1,000 years. Under all the future emissions scenarios in the IPCC report the sea ice minimum will fall below one million square kilometres at least once before 2050 – making the area practically free of sea ice altogether. This level is about 15 per cent of the average September sea ice observed between 1979 and 1988.

8. Two-thirds of extreme weather events in the last 20 years were influenced by humans

The number of floods and heavy rains has quadrupled since 1980 and doubled since 2004. Extreme temperatures, droughts and wildfires have also more than doubled in the last 40 years. While no extreme weather event is never down to a single cause, climate scientists are increasingly exploring the human fingerprints on floods, heatwaves, droughts and storms. Carbon Brief, a UK-based website covering climate science, gathered data from 230 studies into “extreme event attribution” and found that 68 per cent of all extreme weather events studied in the last 20 years were made more likely or more severe by human-caused climate change. Heatwaves account for 43 per cent of such events, droughts make up 17 per cent and heavy rainfall or floods account for 16 per cent.

9. Dengue fever could spread through much of southeastern US by 2050

Dengue is the world’s fastest-growing mosquito-borne virus, currently killing some 10,000 people and affecting around 100 million per year. As global temperatures are rising, Aedes aegypti mosquitos that carry the disease could thrive in places that were previously unsuitable for them and benefit from shorter incubation periods. A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature warned that, in a warming world, dengue could spread to the US, higher altitudes in central Mexico, inland Australia and to large coastal cities in eastern China and Japan.

10. Average wildlife populations have dropped by 60 per cent in just over 40 years

The average size of vertebrate (mammals, fish, birds and reptiles) populations declined by 60 per cent between 1970 and 2014, according to the biennial Living Planet Report published by the Zoological Society of London and the WWF. That doesn’t mean that total animal populations have declined by 60 per cent, however, as the report compares the relative decline of different animal populations. Imagine a population of ten rhinos where nine of them died; a 90 per cent population drop. Add that to a population of 1,000 sparrows where 100 of them died – a ten per cent per cent decrease. The average population decrease across these two groups would be 50 per cent even though the loss of individuals would be just 10.08 per cent.

Whatever way you stack the numbers, climate change is definitely a factor here. An international panel of scientists, backed by the UN, argues that climate change is playing an increasing role in driving species to extinction. It is thought to be the third biggest driver of biodiversity loss after changes in land and sea use and overexploitation of resources. Even under a two degrees Celsius warming scenario, five per cent of animal and plant species will be at risk from extinction. Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to extreme warming events, their cover could be reduced to just one per cent of current levels at two degrees Celsius of warming.

Updated August 9, 2021 14:00 GMT: This article has been updated to include the latest climate crisis statistics. It was originally published at 10:50 GMT on June 19, 2019

DO SOMETHING!

Color Theory

Color Theory

Color is an odd phenomenon. We all see it, respond to it, quantify it, but what is it really?

It’s just a group of photons vibrating in particular waveforms. But it is so much more. It has become part of our culture, our literature, music, psychology and much more.

Personally, I’m fascinated by color. Others are too. So fascinated that it has its own science: color theory. Our buddy Sir Isaac Newton came up with the standard color wheel to define how colors relate in 1666. We still use it today as a basic tool in design. We have expanded it to accommodate more than the visual light that Newton was seeing; there are digital and print variations, for instance. Dyes and tints apply to textiles and pigments give color to base materials.

While creating this collection, I had to learn, as in really study, how color behaves across media. It’s a lot more complicated than you first think. In the particular case of digital color, I am using hexadecimal color codes to instruct a machine to mix colors visually. But when inks are applied to material, there are no digital codes. The basic color wheel holds true, but the procedures require additional info.

Additive vs. Subtractive Color

As kids, we all learn that if we shine a red lamp and a blue lamp, we get purple (violet). Blue and yellow become green and so on. But add all three primary colors and you see white. This is additive color, meaning that the surface upon which the object is shown is irrelevant (mostly). Television and screens do this trick very well using a slight variation of RGB (red, green, blue). They alternate dosages of these three primary colors to create millions of combinations. This is important to keep in mind when you’re designing for digital presentation as the design is actually made of emitted light coming at the viewer.

If you add primary colored lights together, you get white light. However, if you try this with paint, you get a blech brown. Printing uses subtractive coloring to create true shades of color upon a surface. This surface reflects light (not emit, as does light). This is why printing has four basic colors, CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black is the “k” part).

Yeah, so?

90% of our initial product assessments are based on colour,”

It’s a basic knowledge that goes a long way. That beautiful blue flower you see in the garden in real life is going to look very, very different when it is rendered in CMYK on a t-shirt. There are literally thousands of apps that assist in mitigating this difference (or manipulating it all together).

UPDATE:

There is a fascinating BBC article which ventures into how color affects or psychology: “How colours affect the way you think.”

(…) legends on data graphs, or maps: the colours chosen – more specifically, their intensity – might be intended to use that association to manipulate how you interpret that information. “People infer that darker colours map to larger quantities, which has been used very well in most of the pandemic maps I’ve seen – more cases, or fatalities, represented with darker colours,” she says, citing her own work as well as that of others on how we’re behaviourally conditioned to make that link.

cgk.ink experiments. A lot.

We’re learning how ecommerce evolves even over short periods of time. This site is a laboratory first, in which we apply what we know and check out the results. We sell the successes and, well, do “other things” to the failures. We welcome your comments below, whether on this topic or any of the other ideas we’re playing within our little lab!

Global Warming Stripes

Global Warming Stripes

No words. No numbers. No graphs. Just a series of vertical coloured bars, showing the progressive heating of our planet in a single, striking image.

The climate stripes were created by Professor Ed Hawkins at the University of Reading in 2018.

They show clearly and vividly how global average temperatures have risen over nearly two centuries,

Each stripe represents the average temperature for a single year, relative to the average temperature over the period as a whole. Shades of blue indicate cooler-than-average years, while red shows years that were hotter than average. The stark band of deep red stripes on the right-hand side of the graphic show the rapid heating of our planet in recent decades.

The graphics also show how no corner of the globe is immune from the effects of global warming. Stripes images for more than 200 countries, states and cities are available to download for free from the showyourstripes.info website. People in every country can see how their home is heating and share the images, helping to start conversations about climate change.

Our response is to offer a few items that further the goal of minimizing Global Warming.:

Social Commitments

Social Commitments

Our Commitments

Being charitable is, we believe, a core human value. The challenges we face today are complex, overwhelming and unprecedented.

No one needs to go through this alone.

We are temporary caretakers of our planet, our society and ourselves. So let’s start taking better care.

Currently, cgk.ink supports:

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cgk.ink is part of Stripe Climate, a coalition of businesses accelerating carbon removal

No company can stop climate change by itself. Stripe Climate aggregates funds from forward-thinking businesses around the world to increase demand for carbon removal.

When human rights are in question, we are all vulnerable

cgk.ink believes in the fundamental right to safe, legal and compassionate abortion. We’ve selected items that allow you to participate in this goal: 100% of profit from the selected items will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

We will be judged by how we treat the least among us.

Natural disasters, famine, plague, war… none of us are excluded by these challenges. We believe that wars can be stopped; plagues cured; the hungry fed and the homeless sheltered. Select items on cgk.ink will generate contributions to the American Red Cross.

We are attempting to raise $1,000 for each organization. Here is our progress so far:

%

%

%

We had to do some soul-searching on this post. Is it better to focus on efforts that can immediately affect change, or, does one throw as much aid to everyone? It’s a troubling question. We’ve taken care to select these three organizations. It will change. And we want to hear what you think about which organizations deserve to be here, too.

Tell us.

Together, we can change our society for the better. cgk.ink firmly believes this, we integrate it into our production and we support others to do the same. Thank you for working with us and we always welcome your feedback.

Missy Hissy Putina: A Trainwreck Before Your Very Eyes

Missy Hissy Putina: A Trainwreck Before Your Very Eyes

KEEP IT TOGETHER

A small message from cgk.ink.

War can only be defeated by love. Unconditional, unrestricted, unbound and continuous. The unconditional love you seek is within you. Share it.

We do not need to live in fear.

Little side note. I have it on good authority that Putina (not poutine, heads up mes amis Quebecois) has chosen “she/her” as pronouns. It’s very hush hush and pronouns have been weaponized!

Just understand, you’ll be talking with an insane, evil person and then go about your day.

That’ll be all.

PS: she kinda has some good points and the sneakers are fucking hawt but the whole purple thing? They make latex gloves that color? WHA? WHAT IS GOING ON?

PPSS: “Putina” is now the OED/MLA/Columbia standard when referring to the “president” of the former Soviet Union (*burn!).

CCCP indeed. And really? Heart attacks and clumbsy poisons? C’mon, you’re better than that. Just make sure you weight the dead bodies down.

RETURN TO SENDER

RETURN TO SENDER

One of Amazon’s best features is that returns are free and easy.

I know, I do it a lot. It’s a staple in ecommerce, especially when you sell tangible items (clothing, perfume, anything that you need to sense, really). Ecommerce does a lot of things, but tactile is not a feature on any site.

So, this means Amazon has a little problem with returns. Amazon, as always, will not release numbers on anything, but let’s just assume that it’s a large number. There are internal outlets for these items; Amazon Warehouse, Woot!, etc. But what do you do with this:

From The Atlantic:

“With a couple hundred dollars and a few minutes, you could go to a liquidation website right now and buy a pallet full of stuff that people have returned to Amazon. It will have, perhaps, been lightly sorted by product category—home decor, outdoor, apparel—but this is mostly aspirational. For example, in one pallet labeled “home decor,” available for sale on liquidation.com, you could find hiking crampons, shimmer fabric paint, a High Visibility Thermal Winter Trapper Hat, a Mr. Ellie Pooh Natural White Paper List Pad, a St. Patrick’s Pot O’ Gold Cupcake Decorating Kit, a Spoontiques Golf Thermometer, a Feliz Cumpleanos Candle Packaged Balloon, and five Caterpillar Hoodies for Pets.”

Chaos. Not a Theory.

It’s not ideal and there a lot of questions, but when you buy a palette from Amazon that they say is worth $4K for only $200, you definitely feel like you’re an insider getting the bargain of a century. Except they aren’t:

“Every box is a core sample drilled through the digital crust of platform capitalism. On Amazon’s website, sophisticated sorting algorithms relentlessly rank and organize these products before they go out into the world, but once the goods return to the warehouse, they shake free of the database and become random objects thrown together into a box by fate. Most likely, never will this precise box of shit ever exist again in the world. On liquidation.com, each pallet’s manifest comes with suggested prices for each product in a pristine state. If you add them up, the “value” of the box might be $4,000, while the auction price might only come to $200.”

“So, Liquidity Services, the operator of liquidation.com, became a major (though not exclusive) handler of Amazon’s American liquidations. The company calls dealing with returns “the reverse supply chain” — a part of the retail business that has been growing in importance as online shopping becomes more popular. Liquidity Services now has 3,357,000 registered buyers on its various liquidation websites. In the past fiscal year, it sold $626.4 million worth of stuff.

Amazon represents a growing chunk of Liquidity’s business. In its most recent SEC filing, the company disclosed that it spent approximately $33.7million on Amazon liquidation inventory, which it then turns around and sells for maybe 5 percent of the supposed retail value. And, assuming the company is trying to turn a profit, it must buy the inventory for a fraction of that. Doing the rough math, we’re talking about inventory that once had a collective value reaching into the billions, before it landed in some box on a doorstep.”

Inventory Just Sucks

Any business will tell you that the cost of acquiring, storing, safeguarding and delivering inventory is the #1 thing tugging their bottom line down. It sucks. HARD.

I’m seeing more and more of my clients move to “physical cloud services,” by which I mean that they employ Fulfilled By Amazon, Shipstation and a ton of other fulfillment services. And they are either delighted that the onus of carrying inventory has been lifted off their shoulders. Until they realize that they have lost control of their entire brand due to the whimsical policies that firms like Amazon mandate. Hairspray. OK yesterday. Not OK today.

cgk.ink can help navigate the turbulent evolution of ecommerce. Let’s talk more in depth about your latest project.

FBA Can Bankrupt You

FBA Can Bankrupt You

Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) is indeed, a brilliant idea.

It’s also an unbelievably huge, complicated mess that has reduced grown men to tears.

The concept is simple enough to anyone who understands drop shipping. You purchase bulk items from a third party — usually one located in a country where wages and expenses are insanely low — then mark them up and sell them online without ever touching a package.

Amazon inserts itself in this cycle and the third party goods get shipped to one of their warehouses where they store, package, ship, deal with all sorts of customer issues and then take a fee. Sounds easy. But it’s not.

You’re playing with Amazon. That Amazon which is currently worth more than the GDP of Kuwait. The process of selling on Amazon is so detailed and delicate that most vendors simply give up. In addition to the fees paid and the set-up headaches, it is an unsaid fact that you will need to pour money into an ever-gaping maw since you are (most likely) competing with several hundred or thousand vendors — who bought the same, identical product. Advertising quickly adds up and somewhat shady practices need to be deployed to get your product noticed. If caught, Amazon can (and does) shut you down in a second with no appeal.

The idea of passively watching your bank account swell while on some tropical island quickly becomes a depressing reality.

In her excellent article in the January The Atlantic, Alana Semuels’ How To Lose Tens of Thousands of Dollars on Amazon, she describes how this scenario has allowed a very special type of “consultant” to thrive. 

 

Amazon depends on both of these players as more than 50% of all 500 million of it’s products come from Marketplace vendors. So it’s in their best interest to address this quickly and effectively… which they’re not doing.

I’ve successfully integrated several clients’ sites and products into the Amazon Marketplace. I have also advised many more clients to avoid it. It’s easy to say that you want to sell on Amazon but the reality is that there are several (very unpleasant) factors to consider.Often, it’s better to take the money you would spend on Amazon (and other sales channels) and reinvest it into your existing operations. Operations over which Amazon has no control

cgk.ink can help determine if sales channels are right for your online projects. Let’s chat and see what your options are.

FETISH: Love, Broken Feet and My Journey to Self-Love

FETISH: Love, Broken Feet and My Journey to Self-Love

Let’s just get right to the point.

Broken feet/legs. Uncontrolled sexual fetishism. Porn. Sound like a good Tuesday night? Good.

For those who are lost and just fumbled upon this, please do read my post on bizarre Orchid Sex. Having said that:

There are straight (cis) broken feet enthusiasts; Arabic broken feet; Amish broken feet and, of course, high-heeled broken feet.

Not to be outdone, there are gay & lesbian broken feet. There are Eskimo lesbian broken feet and a shout out to all the peeps who are felons, required to wear an ankle monitor but are still into broken feet.

Celebrities have had some type of itch “down there” as well.

OK, I am getting very off-topic. Comments and anonymous emails are welcome. Enjoy the gallery below. And you’re welcome.

Yours in Orchid Love,

C.

Orchids: They Outnumber Us. And They’re Kinky.

Orchids: They Outnumber Us. And They’re Kinky.

I Learned Three Things About Orchids.

I was given a beautiful orchid by a friend. I’ve always been fascinated by their stark, alien beauty. I’m learning how to properly care and nurture this plant. So, I’ve been doing a lot of research on orchids and I’m becoming obsessed.

1. They Outnumber Us. By a LOT.

Orchidaceae, commonly called the orchid family, is a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants, with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant.

Along with the Asteraceae, they are one of the two largest families of flowering plants. The Orchidaceae have about 28,000 currently accepted species, distributed in about 763 genera.[2][3] The determination of which family is larger is still under debate, because verified data on the members of such enormous families are continually in flux. Regardless, the number of orchid species is nearly equal to the number of bony fishes, more than twice the number of bird species, and about four times the number of mammal species.

The family encompasses about 6–11% of all seed plants.[4] The largest genera are Bulbophyllum (2,000 species), Epidendrum (1,500 species), Dendrobium (1,400 species) and Pleurothallis (1,000 species). It also includes Vanilla (the genus of the vanilla plant), the type genus Orchis, and many commonly cultivated plants such as Phalaenopsis and Cattleya. Moreover, since the introduction of tropical species into cultivation in the 19th century, horticulturists have produced more than 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.

2. They Are Serious Sexual Freaks.

Catasetum, a genus discussed briefly by Darwin, actually launches its viscid pollinia with explosive force when an insect touches a seta, knocking the pollinator off the flower.

After pollination, the sepals and petals fade and wilt, but they usually remain attached to the ovary.

OK? Here’s more detailed kinkiness:


The complex mechanisms that orchids have evolved to achieve cross-pollination were investigated by Charles Darwin and described in Fertilisation of Orchids (1862). Orchids have developed highly specialized pollination systems, thus the chances of being pollinated are often scarce, so orchid flowers usually remain receptive for very long periods, rendering unpollinated flowers long-lasting in cultivation. Most orchids deliver pollen in a single mass. Each time pollination succeeds, thousands of ovules can be fertilized.

Pollinators are often visually attracted by the shape and colours of the labellum. However, some Bulbophyllum species attract male fruit flies (Bactrocera and Zeugodacus spp.) solely via a floral chemical which simultaneously acts as a floral reward (e.g. methyl eugenol, raspberry ketone, or zingerone) to perform pollination.[11] The flowers may produce attractive odours. Although absent in most species, nectar may be produced in a spur of the labellum (8 in the illustration above), or on the point of the sepals, or in the septa of the ovary, the most typical position amongst the Asparagales.

 

Phalaenopsis pollinia (orange) attached to a toothpick with its sticky viscidium

In orchids that produce pollinia, pollination happens as some variant of the following sequence: when the pollinator enters into the flower, it touches a viscidium, which promptly sticks to its body, generally on the head or abdomen. While leaving the flower, it pulls the pollinium out of the anther, as it is connected to the viscidium by the caudicle or stipe. The caudicle then bends and the pollinium is moved forwards and downwards. When the pollinator enters another flower of the same species, the pollinium has taken such position that it will stick to the stigma of the second flower, just below the rostellum, pollinating it. In horticulture, artificial orchid pollination is achieved by removing the pollinia with a small instrument such as a toothpick from the pollen parent and transferring them to the seed parent.

 

Ophrys apifera is about to self-pollinate

Some orchids mainly or totally rely on self-pollination, especially in colder regions where pollinators are particularly rare. The caudicles may dry up if the flower has not been visited by any pollinator, and the pollinia then fall directly on the stigma. Otherwise, the anther may rotate and then enter the stigma cavity of the flower (as in Holcoglossum amesianum).

The slipper orchid Paphiopedilum parishii reproduces by self-fertilization. This occurs when the anther changes from a solid to a liquid state and directly contacts the stigma surface without the aid of any pollinating agent or floral assembly.[12]

The labellum of the Cypripedioideae is poke bonnet-shaped, and has the function of trapping visiting insects. The only exit leads to the anthers that deposit pollen on the visitor.

In some extremely specialized orchids, such as the Eurasian genus Ophrys, the labellum is adapted to have a colour, shape, and odour which attracts male insects via mimicry of a receptive female. Pollination happens as the insect attempts to mate with flowers.

Many neotropical orchids are pollinated by male orchid bees, which visit the flowers to gather volatile chemicals they require to synthesize pheromonal attractants. Males of such species as Euglossa imperialis or Eulaema meriana have been observed to leave their territories periodically to forage for aromatic compounds, such as cineole, to synthesize pheromone for attracting and mating with females.[13][14] Each type of orchid places the pollinia on a different body part of a different species of bee, so as to enforce proper cross-pollination.

A rare achlorophyllous saprophytic orchid growing entirely underground in Australia, Rhizanthella slateri, is never exposed to light, and depends on ants and other terrestrial insects to pollinate it.

Catasetum, a genus discussed briefly by Darwin, actually launches its viscid pollinia with explosive force when an insect touches a seta, knocking the pollinator off the flower.

After pollination, the sepals and petals fade and wilt, but they usually remain attached to the ovary.

In 2011, Bulbophyllum nocturnum was discovered to flower nocturnally.[15]

Asexual reproduction[edit]

Some species, such as in the genera PhalaenopsisDendrobium, and Vanda, produce offshoots or plantlets formed from one of the nodes along the stem, through the accumulation of growth hormones at that point. These shoots are known as keiki.[citation needed]

 

3. They Are Kinda Lewd *cough*

The third grader in me giggled:

The type genus (i.e. the genus after which the family is named) is Orchis. The genus name comes from the Ancient Greek ὄρχις (órkhis), literally meaning “testicle“, because of the shape of the twin tubers in some species of Orchis.[25][26] The term “orchid” was introduced in 1845 by John Lindley in School Botany,[27] as a shortened form of Orchidaceae.[28]

In Middle English, the name bollockwort was used for some orchids, based on “bollock” meaning testicle and “wort” meaning plant.[29]

A kinda not-related but very related side note:

So, about a decade ago I had my foot run over by a Lamborghini (long story – looking back at it, the make of the car didn’t really matter). So I told my friend and she said, effortlessly, “you could make a fortune. You know there are broken-foot-fetishists out there. Google it.”

And she was right. I got very distracted by this. So much so, that I put together a little “gallery.” Please, share it with your “friends.”

MY POINT: I kinda found stumbled upon (innocently and while reading the Bible)  some soft-porn video(s — there is an amazing number of them) for “Orchidaceaphiliacs.” I know. I am amazed at my search skills as well. Pretty sure Boolean logic was not meant for this particular use, but who are we to judge?

Ya’ll are freaks and I am too and I love you for it. So from me to you, with Orchid Love:

UPDATE: New Print on Demand (PoD) Platforms

UPDATE: New Print on Demand (PoD) Platforms

I’d like to discuss how the print-on-demand (PoD) is evolving. It seems that the new entrants have focused on simply replicating the two or three main players. And they have focused almost exclusively on software and a small range of products. Unfortunately, the technology has been stalled. There seems to be no “break out” provider yet.

That’s too bad. The tech exists to do truly amazing things. Think of a true replica of classical art. I see no 3D printing capabilities, which means, no David for you or me. PoD companies might work on delivery (no, 10-20 days is not an option in the US) and generally, make their site less of a lead-generator and more fun and exploratory. Customers are not into creating an account or entering data before they see what you’re selling.

Be generous. If you cannot fulfill an order or request, pass it on to someone who can. The karma bump is huge.

Here’s my wish and my criticisms (and I do name names):

  1. Stop regulating my designs. I get pixels and dpi – isn’t that your problem?
  2. Pattern making would be nice. Printful does it. What’s the freaking problem? I’m staring at you, Printify.
  3. Unreasonable dimensions. I’ve had success in selling large format printed items. But seriously, can someone explain to me why these sites provide guidelines that are way off? It’s just frustrating as a designer to comply to the suggested side and receive a comp that is horrendously out of scale. It’s a shower curtain. Not rocket science, kids.
  4. Content. Oh boy. This qualifies as a huge sticking/pain point for me. I know, asking foreign software developers to also write English content is a really bad idea (to be fair, my Chinese is, well, non-exisitant). But to make me deal with egregiously bad English is a turn-off. A list of materials and dimensions would be great, OK? Look, invest in copy. Hire a native copywriter. It can compel and reinforce your message. Anyone can print what you’re printing, so it would be a good idea to set yourself apart with intelligent and engaging language.

and a bit about: Support

All providers are good at this, with the exception of Printify and Printful. Smaller operators respond quickly and with great effectiveness (looking at you, Yoycol).

API, timeouts and cron (sic) jobs seem to plague this industry. Why have they not been fixed? Like you, I pay a lot of money for my host to be able to deal with long timeouts and a variety of super geeky things I wish I had not known about. What I have learned is that the timeout/tech/web/API “problems” are ALWAYS on the provider’s side.

cgk.ink | 2022

Yoycol.com

Sell.xyz

cgk.ink | 2022
cgk.ink | 2022

Very, insanely into customer service. And yet, they are just now exploring “new servers to the US.” I really like these guys, but that’s a pretty lame excuse. MY EXPERIENCE? Products that you design go into a black hole and there is no way to see if they have been transmitted. After hours and hours of waiting.

What I do appreciate is the owner responded to an email the same day and actually spent time on the issue.

PRO: Amazing, direct customer support. The selection of blank items is very broad and priced well below other PoD providers.

CON: It just doesn’t work (good idea, though). They’re based in China, so shipping is convoluted and unreliable. I’m eager to work with them to fix the issues.

Also, bad logo — just saying

PRICES/FEES etc.: Man, does this get complicated. Overall, the actual items are cheaper and shipping is reasonably priced. It is also a fee schedule that is changing frequently and quickly, so make sure you know what you’re walking into when you sign up.

more info from yoycol.com >

Evidently, this ambitious startup did not read the maxim “you can’t be all things to all people.” Cause, that’s what they’re trying to do. T shirts? Vitamins? Moisturizers? Framed prints? I find this to be scattered and dilutes their brand. What exactly are you good at?

To be fair, I do have a video conference with them, so will report back.

PRO: Wide selection. Fun, well-done site. Extensive info on how to connect and maintain the API. Pretty geeky, which I like. Products available can be found on very few other sites. Plus, they’re company team photo is adorbs.

CONS: The items offered seem to have been chosen by the committee. And we know how that goes. Complete lack of unity of the product. Inability to customize beyond the given template. Slow response to customer service and… when connected, not capable. They are also not being very clear about their affiliation with Lu.ma, which raised one of my two eyebrows. Would love to hear the whole story but very unreachable so thumbs down. Based in Latvia (which is becoming a huge center for Pod, btw). So, unfortunately, be wary of the war’s impact.

These companies are the ones that caught my interest. Do you have other platforms to add? We welcome your idea either in the reply section below or directly here at info@cgk.ink

15 + 6 =

Bad Design Sucks

Bad Design Sucks

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Designing apparel, decor and accessories can be difficult. We understand. But, seriously, do you need to post that online for all to see? Or, even worse, actually buy that? Just stop it.

We have installed an internal AI thing/software/app/self-driving car/robot that will automatically decline your payment when you try to buy something ugly. We call it The Bad Choice Index™ and you may have been surprised, maybe, recently, to discover that your credit card bank totes agrees with us.

Luckily, the staff here at cgk.ink are obsessively censoring bad design and have launched a new campaign called “YOU’RE WEARING WHAT?” Consider us the overly educated assistant who tells you “No, you’re not stepping out of this office in that.”

You’re welcome.

As always, our stylists (all one of them) are standing by to assist.

And if our judgemental attitude guidance is not enough (it’s free, so…), you can design your own pieces of fabulous thingies. Just click below. Hurry up, before we’re compelled to take a nap.

 

TOO FAST: Schein On

TOO FAST: Schein On

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control: Inside Shein’s Sudden Rise

The Chinese company has become a fast-fashion juggernaut by appealing to budget-conscious Gen Zers. But its ultra low prices are hiding unacceptable costs.
A refreshingly no-bullshit article about how ecommerce is not the saviour of the human race: it kinda sucks, guys. 

I have advised myself to shut the fuck up and let a more talented person explain:

Love, from cgk.ink

 
Tits Up

Tits Up

Commercial aviation is very difficult.

Sure, it sucks for you, the passenger. But think of just how shitty it is for them when they run out of money. It ain’t pretty.

Airlines fail for various reasons (plague, economic collapse(s), war… basically The Four Horsemen). What they leave behind, though are (mostly) fond memories of when flying was less akin to a root canal. With no anesthesia.
Some have died, slow, painful deaths. Others have had spectacular flame outs.
Regardless, we here are at cgk.ink are always ready to assist you when celebrating others’ demise.

We are All Ukrainians Now | Ми всі тепер українці.

We are All Ukrainians Now | Ми всі тепер українці.

I can’t possibly go on designing happy fun things while an insane war rages in Ukraine. I just can’t. So, I have to do something.

I’m reluctant to make this a category, per se, on this site because that lends it permanence and credibility, neither of which I want to associate with this vile inhumanity.

I’m exploring how to contribute a portion of profits to the Ukrainian Red Cross. As you can imagine, they’re a little busy right now, so I think I just need to create, sell and cut the check. Everything’s happening so quickly. I don’t mean to be vague (transparency is always my goal). tl;dr: Watch this space.

I made this card last night. A lot of me is in it. I shy away from heavy handed religion and politics, but I found some small amount of beauty in this. I’d love to hear what you think about it.

 

Google “Improved” What?

Google “Improved” What?

It’s hard to define what’s true in tech journalism: 

It’s hype and not so innocent like a carnival barker. Why, for example, does Google (and many other A-list tech companies) pour so much money, effort and soul-sucking bullshit into the semi-religious events such as product “unveilings,” conferences, trade shows and that all-elusive buzz. The very last thing that geeks do well is sexy, flashy “buzz.” No offense, geek here, too.

And so here we go. The Carousel of Progress brought to you by Google© has a very direct impact on those who manage entire ecommerce strategies. To contradict myself, I love that Google’s vibrant and changing and exploratory. What I’m not so cool about is the cost of adapting to what has become a nearly-authorized (in which we participate) rule. It’s kinda how I see an update on WordPress, which is: “fuck, what breaks, now?”

The major points with which I have an issue… I know, bad sentence but it’s my damn website:

Head-Up Mother Fucker

To prevent retailers from losing sales stemming from poor search results, Google introduced a Retail Search tool to provide customers with more precise search results when shopping online, Srikanth Belwadi, group product manager of Google Cloud, said in a blog post on Wednesday.

According to the announcement, the tool is equipped with advanced query understanding to give shoppers better search results and semantic search to match product traits with website content for discovery. The search tool optimizes results by harnessing user interaction and ranking models and also includes privacy practices that protect retailer data with access controls.

Uh huh.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated e-commerce spending, but research suggests that consumers are still turning to stores for the majority of their purchases. A 2021 report from Forrester predicts that 72% of retail will occur in physical stores in 2024. Still, e-commerce grew by 30% in 2020, the highest growth since 2002, according to Forrester.

All quotes are from:

Google releases Retail Search tool to improve shopper discovery

Published March 31, 2022

By Tatiana Walk-Morris (pro-tip, Tatiana, you might want to read beyond the press release).

DESIGN & STRUCTURE

DESIGN & STRUCTURE

We instinctively respond to design; colors, shapes, symmetry. And most people do pay attention to “what looks nice.”

But design is much more than pretty patterns and witty layouts. It’s a centrally critical part of your site. It also functions on many deep levels that are not easily apparent.

Structure is a key component of design (indeed, it could be considered as its own science and design). It allows us to make sense of vast amounts of data and we’d be lost without it. A well-structured site makes a successful site 🙂

PORTFOLIO

Here are some examples of my recent work that shows some of my general aesthetics, philosophy and techniques. They change constantly, so this page will, too.

COLOR

I’m fascinated by color. It can alter our mood, emotion, thoughts and physical bodies. It can communicate in ways that words and images can not. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand it. I even built an entire collection based on color theory!

CLARITY

We crave order. Digital information can overwhelm us easily because it is, by its nature, monotone. All elements of code are treated equally. So when we’re presented with an ocean of data, we rely, instinctually on structure to make sense of it. In these examples, I’ve tried to corral mobs of data into workable and easily understood collections:  

UTILITY

Designers can be “precious” with their work. Obsession with detail is usually a good thing, but then, it can hinder efficiency. Look, we’re probably not going to be winning any awards, and that’s the point. Design must follow in the steps of revenue-producing functions. Design, like everything else, must produce revenue to be sustainable. This isn’t art shool anymore, kids, it’s capitalism.

Let's talk design!

7 + 15 =

Que lástima

Que lástima

I recently had this call from one of my (our) suppliers. It went like this:

ME: Why are these hats taking so long to deliver?

THE GUY: Dood, we’re at war in Latvia.

I swallowed and thought, “fuck.” Not the fuck you give when you don’t care, but the one when you realize things are going south and fast.

I am not the person to call for peace – there are many better people who work, tiresome, gruelling tasks to do that. NOW is the time support them. I am fully aware of South Sudan and how this, has again, become a political discourse about worth and … oh, just had a flash back to my critical lit class.

STOP

Do something. Taking a country by sheer willpower must be met with a cultural Id that says, no.

Scouting good nuclear war holes in LA! Fly in before it’s too late! I’ll have liquor, dancing boys and girls and a shit ton of very powerful narcotics.

 

 

 

Shipping Delays & You & Me

Shipping Delays & You & Me

A confluence of events, weather and just plain stupidity has slowed global shipping to a crawl. The Gods are Angry!

We’re sorry that items that you’ve ordered are being shipped out slowly. And we’ll definitely communicate the delay to you as soon as we get word. Of course, you can always inquire about your order here.Or call 213 245 1125 (9AM-5PM Pacific)

Since we use print-on-demand suppliers around the world, components of each order need to arrive at the same time (see: Just In Time Manufacturing). This has completely collapsed.

As an example, if you were to order an embroidered shirt, the “blank” (or “stock”) may be sitting in China. The embroidery may happen in Latvia. And then it’s shipped to New York. Or Los Angeles for delivery to you as it wends its way through the USPS/FedEx/UPS web of connections.

This is ideal when everything is working well and keeps costs down. However, it demands a lot: there can be no bad weather, no plague, no lockdowns and certainly no closed factories. That’s exactly what’s not happened

cgk.ink | 2022

Remember this rat fuck?

The supply-chain is vulnerable

“What’s causing supply-chain delays? … Global supply chains are still recovering from the whiplash caused by the city lockdowns governments imposed in 2020 to contain COVID-19. Initially, lockdowns in China shuttered factories, which stalled much of the supply side in global shipping.”

And it gets worse:

cgk.ink | 2022

In one of the worst cases of cargo losses recorded, ONE Apus lost 1,816 containers some 1,600 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii after reportedly sailing into a heavy storm on November 30, 2020.

Obviously, having tons of perfume, cars, books, medical supplies and stuffed bears, liquor and towels (let’s say) poured into the ocean is not exactly environmentally-friendly.

Not judging, but the ocean life does not need any of those things. Thank you, though.

Here’s a fun way to track the next disaster.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please contact us with any questions or concerns. You can always use the “my cgk.ink” link in the top menu to easily see where your item is.

Human Design: Namsa Leuba

Human Design: Namsa Leuba

Vivid portraits shine light on Tahiti’s ‘third gender’

Published 9th October 2019
 
Written by
On the Polynesian island of Tahiti, there is said to be something akin to a sixth sense — one that belongs to neither men nor women. Instead, it is the sole domain of the “mahu,” a community recognized as being outside the traditional male-female divide.
 
“Mahu have this other sense that men or women don’t have,” said Swiss-Guinean photographer Namsa Leuba, whose images from the island are showing at a new exhibition in London. “It is well known in (French Polynesia) that they have something special.”
 
In Tahiti, mahu are considered a third or “liminal” gender, born biologically male but recognized by peers as distinct, often from early in their lives. Their gender identity has been accepted on the island since time immemorial, and mahu traditionally play key social and spiritual roles, as guardians of cultural rituals and dances, or providers of care for children and elders.

It’s Really Unfortunate and an Annoyance That We Live According to Normatives.

Years ago, I stopped using the word “should.” All my friends, collectively, just shrugged and ordered another drink. I think I was right and would like apologies, please.

We speak of “late phase capitalism” without realizing that we use those same words for cancer.

My main issue here is that “normative” no longer holds power. O! They try to make it work.

Your Digital Carbon Footprints Are Everywhere

Your Digital Carbon Footprints Are Everywhere

empty type gallery

I think the term “environmentalism” is concerning, if not just rude. “Saving the planet/whales/rainforest” is not some odd thing you do on the weekend. Birkenstocks are not required and global warming is not a theory. Be a human and look around. We’ve treated this planet like shit.

I’ve written about the startling amount of energy required by ecommerce and its insatiable need for energy. Bitcoin mining alone uses more energy than Argentina

The digital universe though is larger than bitcoin and ecommerce. We generate more data at increasingly enormous levels.

This amount of data, its creation, storage and maintenance requires vast amount of energy. Energy which is fairly damaging to the planet. So until we create sustainable fusion, here’s what we’re looking at: these infographics (god, I LOVE infographics):

In one day, we send 500 billion email messages per day; 26 billion weather requests; 5 billion searches; 3 billion photos on smartphones. Whew. You can see a video here (warning, the narrator is very handsome and charming but definitely needs to watch the Valium intake). He did teach me a new word, though, which is always cool: zettabyte. 

How Big is a Zettabyte?

Seagate explains, a zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes, and one exabyte is 1,000 petabytes. Each petabyte is 1,000 terabytes. A zettabyte is enough storage for 30 billion 4K movies, or 60 billion video games, or 7.5 trillion MP3 songs
 
– according to Seagate.Apr 8, 2021

No Images.
Please upload images in images manager section. Click on Manage Images button on the right side of the gallery settings.
Please make sure that you didn't enabled option: Images of the Current Gallery. Option should have Show value to show images.

Thanks to Tom Read for a comprehensive article on this subject (highly recommended, long article). Big hat tip to Olivia Zumrano for making the connection.

All infographics courtesy of: Safety Detectives.com

RAGE: Customers Are Not Always Right. Or Nice.

RAGE: Customers Are Not Always Right. Or Nice.

The meanness of the public has forced many public-facing industries to rethink what used to be an article of faith: that the customer is always right.

(Source: NYT)

They are not. They are fat, violent animals who will kill you over an offensive slight. Or a vote. Jeez, this list could go on forever. “Bump into me in First Class? I will destroy you!” O, the list goes on.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that customer service in online commerce is taking a very similar race to the bottom. We’ve all been subject to the delusional Indian named “Bob.” It’s getting worse.

I am amazed that online etailers have just assumed that I have a 5G phone. Which I can’t find right now (help?). Or know how to operate. Web site? Nah, just download the app. Customer service? Hi, ‘bot, how are you. I have occasionally (well, kinda often) performed my own tiny Turing tests. Which end in a disconnect. THANKS!

In an excellent New York Times article by

This type of repeated violence has a cause. It pre-dates Trump. It is the American ideal of I COME FIRST.

The dearth of empathy in all of our interactions makes me wonder: is Covid a respiratory virus or a psychological one?

WHY are we so angry? I think it’s because we’re experiencing the collapse of a societal bubble. I am astounded by the statistics about wealth inequity. Who would not revolt? The Bastille was a building and yet, it, too, collapsed.

THE REAL ROOTS OF AMERICAN RAGE

The untold story of how anger became the dominant emotion in our politics and personal lives—and what we can do about it.

Here’s the thing: corporations are failing with staffing, budgeting, being aware of our world beset by plague. It does not require a consulting firm to tell you that you’re way behind the curve.

What would we do without American Airlines? Survive. Pay attention or your company’s the next under the bus.

I promise I won’t get into a brawl at Detroit’s airport, but (although it is amusing) this has got to stop.

Let’s be civil in times of great need, not ‘Merican Patriot individuals ready to throw a punch or storm the US Capitol.

Insecurity Sucks On SO Many Levels

Insecurity Sucks On SO Many Levels

Why Now, Brown HTTPS Cow?

HTTPS is now free, easy and increasingly ubiquitous. It’s also now required if you don’t want Google Chrome flagging the site as “Not secure”. Yet still, many of the world’s largest websites continue to serve content over unencrypted connections, putting users at risk even when no sensitive data is involved.

Following is a list of the world’s top 100 websites by Tranco rank not automatically redirecting insecure requests to secure ones. You’ll then find the top 50 sites by country underneath that. The data is driven by Scott Helme’s nightly crawl and is explained in detail in the launch blog post for this project.

The World’s Most Popular Websites Loaded Insecurely >

Each of these websites loads over an insecure connection without redirecting to a secure, encrypted connection. The 100 websites below represent 6% of the world’s largest 1,803 websites. Fuck.


Resources for Going HTTPS

If you’re responsible for a website and aren’t sure why HTTPS is important or would like resources to help make the transition, try these:

  1. Does My Site Need HTTPS?
  2. HTTPS Is Easy!
  3. Here’s Why Your Static Website Needs HTTPS
  4. Is TLS Fast Yet?
  5. HTTP vs HTTPS Speed Test
  6. Understanding HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS)
  7. What Every Developer Must Know About HTTPS
la mode: la bête noire de l’écologie

la mode: la bête noire de l’écologie

I’ve written a lot about “fast fashion” and, by extension, the insatiable need we have for more things.

Fashion, or more specifically, apparel (which is a product of fashion) is an insanely destructive industry. It is second only to energy production in its potency to debride our planet. Like most wonderfully satisfying things in life, it’s toxic (would you like a drink? Cigarette? Drugs? Saturated Fat?). Our current weird capitalism-hypnosis-coma is a deal with the devil. And the contract is now payable.

How long will we laud designers who relish in destroying resources that belong to all humans?

cgk.ink | DTLA

This looks suspiciously like Melania Trump. Don’t think so? Check this out: 

cgk.ink | DTLA

I can quote facts. I can display infographics. And I have. Statistics are easy to corral, no matter the intent. Let’s just get to the point: our consumption is, honestly, consuming us. As in “consumption.”

The video below is far more eloquent than I may ever be:

Want to do something about this? And you’re waiting for what? A good reason? Well, this is an outstanding resource. Congrats CFDA, great work!

Or start a discussion below.

Being buried in Dior saved not one of us.

me

Start Dreaming of a Plastic-Free Christmas

Start Dreaming of a Plastic-Free Christmas

Done with Christmas? Me, too. In fact, Come December, I’m a straight-up misanthrope.

Which is why this article: “Shopping online surged during Covid. Now the environmental costs are becoming clearer.” by Catherine Boudreau in Politico made me uneasy in all sorts of annoying ways.

Like you (almost certainly), I’ve become an Online Customer (I’m using caps for a reason). Amazon? It’s how I eat and cloth myself. Netflix? What I watch while dozing off after eating. Drugs? No issue. Both CVS and my marijuana dispensary deliver (and alarmingly quickly) to my door. Would that I needed an MBA toute de suite, should not be a prob. Stanford? Doesn’t matter that I live in LA.

cgk.ink | 2022

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Census Bureau

By: Annette Choi/POLITICO

 

I’m pretty good at being a recycle-nerd, even though I live in an apartment building. For some reason, multi-family residences are exempt from recycling. Never understood that. I digress. I’ve had my share of cardboard and packing peanuts and air bags and plastic so hard and sharp that I could use it as a weapon.

My point? When I go to my local store or farmers’ market, I can choose to not use plastic – or anything. Not so much with ecommerce.

The pandemic, in effect, hit overdrive on a decades long shift toward online shopping. E-commerce sales jumped nearly 32 percent in 2020 compared to the prior year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. So far this year, online sales are on track to outpace that record. To meet the demand, delivery companies such as Amazon, FedEx, UPS and food delivery services wrapped millions of purchases in layers of cardboard and plastic and hired thousands of new drivers to bring them to our doorsteps.

It gets really complicated, really fast in a city the size of Los Angeles. ~4M peeps. 4,753 mi² (deets here).

Now, cities, climate scientists and companies are trying to figure out the consequences for the planet. (…) Months before, Santa Monica launched the country’s first zero-emissions delivery zone spanning one-square mile of its downtown, where electric delivery vehicles get priority at certain loading zones. They also are testing last-mile deliveries on e-cargo bikes and scooters.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE >

PLAGUE CLEARANCE!

PLAGUE CLEARANCE!

DISCOUNTED!!! INSANE SALES! 999% OFF!!!!! NO MASKS REQUIRED!!!!!!!

I kinda sensed this fucked up weirdness was coming.

“Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.”

Americans do this: Kill other people over merchandise. A marketer’s dream! We do this well, us Americans. Insanely brutal force, tacky greed very, very well.

Plague (it’s a plague), no discernable economy, no idea what to do. Booster shot? Sure! But we’re not real clear on that. You might need one every month. Vaccination card, please? Fuck it, just order it from Amazon.

Not Quite As Provocative As I Recall – Just call me “Tickle Me, Get Kicked.”

America: Canada’s Shoes – But you’re not in Canada now, are you?

WE HAVE A WINNER!

WE HAVE A WINNER!

PRESENTING:

A Gift to Humanity from cgk.ink.

The Velour Christmas Jogging Suit

-or-

The Ugliest Thing We Have Ever Seen

At cgk.ink, we pride ourselves on our astute style sense, our understanding of what “on-trend” means and several French words that we bat around like Badminton shuttlecocks.

Which is why things at Global HQ have been a little tense lately. Our editorial team has one mission: to show you that we are way cooler than you can ever be. Which why our previous “Ugliest Christmas Sweater in the World” contest was begun in 1962.

We’ve seen some of the worst possible design choices existing and we collectively have formed a support group so that we do not lose our hope for humanity. Because, certainly, this trend could our undoing.

We honor those who have gone before:

To Be Sublime

To Be Sublime

I had no idea “sublime” was an adjective, a verb and a noun!

Just read this very well-written explainer by Prodigi. It explains the differences, the pros, the cons and the process(es). Check it out.

Generally speaking, sublimation describes the process wherein solid forms covert immediately to gas/vapor, by passing the liquid phase.

What is sublimation?

Let’s start with the broad strokes. What exactly is sublimation?

In simple terms, it’s a method of printing that transfers a design into a material or fabric using ink and heat.

In the world of apparel, it’s a game changer in that it allows whole garment prints — designs that go seam-to-seam.

 

The sublimation printing process

So how does sublimation work? Well, sublimation printing uses heat to essentially bring ink and fabric together as one.

First, a design is printed onto special paper. The inks that are used turn into gas when brought under heat, then combine with the fabric and permanently print onto the fabric. The effects are permanent and less prone to fading, as the ink is embedded in the fabric or substrate rather than simply laying on top like a normal print.

The process is almost like a tattoo, but instead of for your skin, it’s for your chosen product. The heat opens up the pores of the fabric, then with the applied pressure the ink cools and returns to a solid form.

The result is a permanent, full colour image that won’t crack, peel or wash away from the substrate. The process allows the ink to go from a solid to a gas without turning to liquid, a bit like dry ice. The conversion is initiated by heat and controlled by pressure.

This quick and effective digital print method is growing in popularity for smaller batch orders and those designs that rely on the details. Sublimation printing is also known as ‘all over printing’ as it allows you to choose a design that can literally go from seam to seam.

The longevity of the design is a plus point, with a design that won’t crack, peel or fade. Even after going through the washing machine countless times, your garment will never be demoted to the back of your wardrobe!

Sublimation printing is suitable for small batch orders, seam-to-seam designs and garments with a large number of design variations and applications.

The cons lay mostly with the choice of materials. Sublimation printing is only suitable for garments that include polyester (100% polyester or polyester blend). Although sublimation is possible on other materials such as cotton, the image will not be permanent as it is on ‘man made’ fabric and it isn’t recommended.

If you wanted to go for the vintage/distressed look, which is all the rage right now, choosing a fabric with a lower percentage of polyester in it would give you that finish.

Another potential problem to watch out for is white creasing. Sublimation works by printing a design into white fabric, and if there are areas of the garment that are unreached by the design, they’ll stay white. This can be caused by accidental folding or small amounts of moisture that accumulate on the transfer paper.

— Source

Window Allure

Window Allure

Sheer Window Curtains

Today, privacy is in short supply. When you can draw a curtain and relax; a remedy is easily achieved.

 

100% polyester

100% polyester

This extremely strong and durable synthetic fabric retains its shape and dries quickly

Hemmed edges

Hemmed edges

The product is sewn around the edges, making it durable and long-lasting

 

Vibrant colors

Vibrant colors

The latest printing techniques provide bright and crisp colors matching your craziest designs

Lightweight material

Lightweight material

Thin polyester fabric to soften light while adding a touch of elegance to a room

Streaming Instructs Ecommerce

Streaming Instructs Ecommerce

How Streaming Is Reinventing E-Commerce

What Netflix, HBO Max, and others can teach us about doing business better online.

I’m going to repost a very insightful article from Inc.

Normally, I’d edit and quote, but the article is succinct, well-written and contains some great advice.

The author delivers three points that streaming services can inform better ecommerce practices. They are:

1. Fight for Attention or Fail.

Streaming giants know that their success relies on how much of their users’ time they can siphon, especially as new, tempting distractions emerge from all sides. In 2013, Netflix was still focused on beating HBO: The company said its goal was “to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”

Yet by 2019, video games had become a much larger threat: 15-29-year-olds were averaging 39 minutes a day playing games. “We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO,” Netflix said.

By 2020, the sign posts had moved yet again: Netflix congratulated TikTok on its astounding growth, “showing the fluidity of internet entertainment.” TikTok has overtaken YouTube in watch time in the U.S., getting over 45 minutes per day from its audience. The common thread in the changing competitive landscape was attention: Netflix still needed to beat its traditional competitors, but also needed to take on anyone else vying for its audience’s time.

While many retailers have yet to realize it, they too are engaged in this same battle for users’ attention. The success of e-commerce has evolved from the traditional focus of increasing conversion and reducing returns to also including metrics that represent trust, dialogue, and discovery with the customer. Metrics such as account creation and post-purchase engagement are now critical to sustained success.

As IRL options flood back in, the competition for users’ time intensifies. In May, retail sales dropped 1.3 percent, as consumers diverted money towards long-awaited services and experiences. That’s why it’s crucial now to focus on winning — and keeping — consumers’ attention. It’s the surest way to remain relevant.

2. Experience Talks, Transactions Walk.

What streaming giants excel in is great content, or, in other words, entertainment. Users are immersed on streaming platforms because they feel thoroughly entertained. Yet streamers have also learned the hard way that it isn’t enough to just have great content — they have to get users to discover it and watch it too. That’s why streaming services make discovery so much fun for users, while also aggressively moving them towards committing to watching a program as quickly as possible. Movies and shows autoplay as soon as the cursor hovers over the preview picture, opening titles have been scrapped in favor of instant beginnings, and ending credits are replaced by autoplaying the next great piece of content.

That same type of immediate, content-rich engagement is now true of great e-commerce sites. But many are still stuck in the one-dimensional mode of closing a quick deal. Not so long ago, shoppers did their research in-stores, surreptitiously whipping out their phone to check prices and reviews online. They slinked out of the store — or more accurately, the showroom — and settled in behind the computer to buy the same item from whoever offered the cheapest price.

Brands learned to accept and then monetize that practice, and e-commerce took a transactional position in the retail experience. As a result, e-commerce sites were optimized to get out of customers’ way: to remove friction and make it as easy as possible to complete the transaction.

However, with the digitalization that accelerated as more and more stores shuttered during the pandemic, e-commerce is now no longer the last, thrifty step in an immersive brick-and-mortar purchase process. Instead, it’s a 360-degree experience: an always-on engagement program that spans the full customer lifecycle, including post-purchase ownership.

Today’s e-commerce sites are complete brand experiences, where brand, mission, product, and lifestyle are intertwined into rich storylines that can suck the consumer in like a great show, and leave shoppers wanting more (or wondering where the time went) — just like Netflix and HBO.

3. Go Live or Go Home.

Most streaming giants operate a livestream arm alongside their ready-to-stream content: Amazon Prime Video has an ever-expanding selection of live sports, and Amazon-owned Twitch dominates gaming livestreams. Netflix started testing Direct, a linear TV channel, in France last year. And both Disney and HBO have adopted the hybrid movie release model, where fans can see the latest blockbuster in theaters or right away at home. Retailers are now realizing the power of bringing live content to their audiences too.

Livestream shopping isn’t new, but this is the first time that all the pieces have fallen into place to make it hot in the U.S. Technology, culture, and consumer behavior are all converging in this space to finally make it premium, fun, and intimate. In livestream shopping, hosts (generally influencers) tell their origin stories, demonstrate products, introduce their friends, interact with the audience, and accept orders. The format generated $60 billion in sales globally in 2019 — with China far in the lead, and only $1 billion of those sales taking place in the U.S. However, the arrival of exceptional new players such as Ntwrk is changing that, and dominant platforms such as Instagram are joining in.

All e-commerce companies are now entertainment companies. The best way for retailers to thrive is to hook customers in and get them to linger with exceptional content. Livestreams are the next natural evolution from that.

RELATED: Live Streaming E-Commerce Is The Rage In China. Is The U.S. Next?

Forbes


cgk.ink works across multiple media to address the new demands of ecommerce. Let’s discuss how this might your business.

the Curious Nature of English Spelling

the Curious Nature of English Spelling

English spelling is ridiculousSew and new don’t rhyme. Kernel and colonel do. When you see an ough, you might need to read it out as ‘aw’ (thought), ‘ow’ (drought), ‘uff’ (tough), ‘off’ (cough), ‘oo’ (through), or ‘oh’ (though). The ea vowel is usually pronounced ‘ee’ (weakpleasesealbeam) but can also be ‘eh’ (breadheadwealthfeather). Those two options cover most of it – except for a handful of cases, where it’s ‘ay’ (breaksteakgreat). Oh wait, one more… there’s earth. No wait, there’s also heart.

— Source: Aeon’s Arika Okrent

I’m a writer at heart, so I have an intimate relationship with language. It drives what I do, it creates worldviews and it is integrated into my work as an ecommerce professional. I’m very keen on seeing how language works in ecommerce (and all media). It has power that ascends beyond mere business; it influences, persuades and encourages the very emotions that make us human.

I volunteered for many years at Los Angeles’ Adult Literacy Program teaching a weekly writing course. It was the most humbling thing that I’ve done in my life. My students came from everywhere: Finland, North Korea, Columbia and Vietnam among others. Their intent was to learn how to write and speak English so that they could do more than order in a restaurant, but to express their narratives in a language, which, by all means, is incomprehensible. And they succeeded. Language truly is power.

No language Academy was established, no authority for oversight or intervention in the direction of the written form. English travelled and wandered and haphazardly tied pieces together. As the blogger James Nicoll put it in 1990, English ‘pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary’.

English can be a bitch to learn mostly because its a mongrel, combining and reordering other languages. It looks a lot like other languages but those are deceptive optics. It is truly an expansive, unique and changing living language that incorporates (even celebrates) the perpetual mutation and assimilation. There is a reason why computer programming codes are referred to as “languages.” They have syntax and rules and either it is correct, or it’s not. Not so much with English. Yes, syntax and rules do apply, but it’s really a clusterfuck of agreed upon terms and it changes — it changes a lot.

Writing is unquestionably a technology. It attaches to language in the way that the fork is a technology that attaches to our eating habits. Eating is undeniably a necessary part of our nature. The fork is a recent, unnecessary (no matter how useful) innovation. That analogy doesn’t go much further. There are very few things that capture the relation between language (the behaviour) and writing (the technology that represents the behaviour). It’s hard to find a good analogy. The point is that the eating happens whether we have the fork or not. Language happens whether we have writing or not.


cgk.ink uses language at advanced levels to promote your products. Let’s have a conversation about how writing can drive your business.

Who Are You?

Who Are You?

The Who asked, poignantly, Who the fuck are you? And the answer is overwhelmingly that you are pieces of data collected and maintained by the world’s wealthiest companies.

In a recent post on BBC’s Futures “The Online Data That’s Being Deleted,” Chris Baraniuk discusses the consequences of a digital catastrophe. He focuses on a recently published book by Susan Donovan: New York City Hypogeographies. The premise? In 2250, electrical pulses wipe most data from our servers. All hell breaks loose. I highly recommend the read.

Information wants to be free.

The quote is attributed to Stewart Brand, publisher of The Whole Earth Catalogue. There is a second line to that edict: “Information also wants to be expensive.” And it is. We may think nothing of snapping away at blurry ceiling fans and cute kittens and what we’re eating without thinking of the real cost. Well, there are very real costs.

The BBC reports that bitcoin mining (data) uses “more electricity than the country of Argentina.” To be precise, this much:

RELATED: How to profit from greener bitcoin miners:

Critics of crypto mining, including dogecoin fan and Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, have slammed the practice for being bad for the environment because of the massive amount of energy consumed. Mining farms in China have been scrutinized in particular, and the Chinese government has since cracked down on the practice.


Deciding which data needs to be preserved is a subjective exercise. What do you pick? And why? What importance does 10 Gbs of (adorable and cute-for-days) images of my dog have? And at what cost? as an example, this site contains 8+ Gbs. We tend to think that this costs nothing. But it does. Data-centric companies rely on an endless stream of independently created data. So we rush about our day creating it, for free, so that they may resell it. Kinda fucking brilliant.

Curate or Die

As an ecommerce retailer, it’s important to understand that more is not necessarily better. I’ve written before about the importance of curation. Selectively, critically and mindfully choosing the information you present has far greater value than simply vomiting into peoples’ laptops. You’re not Amazon and you will never be Amazon, so act smarter.


cgk.ink works with businesses to narrow their focus and pinpoint opportunities. Let’s talk to see how this might benefit you.

Post-Pandemic Ecommerce Data Emerges

Post-Pandemic Ecommerce Data Emerges

Plague. Pandemic. Disaster. However you name it, we have changed profoundly.

I’ve written earlier that porn drove us online. Now, viruses are making ecommerce an economic staple. It’s easy to see why. Just how far has ecommerce carried us through this public health catastrophe? It turns out, pretty damn far. Ecommerce’s growth stats kinda resemble a rocket launch:

Statistic: Retail e-commerce sales in the United States from 1st quarter 2009 to 1st quarter 2021 (in million U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Ecommerce has grown at a reliably predictable rate over the previous decade. And then, it went insane. Consumer acceptance of online retail — perhaps the key indicator of future trends — undeniably tracks closely to the virus’ infection rates. 

However, this growth wave is tightly coupled with a profound and comprehensive move to “online everything.” Companies need to be ready for amazing digital growth, and its potential problems, from scaling issues to cybersecurity challenges presented by rushed deployments, architectural mistakes, and online instability. In other words, we need not only disaster preparedness but opportunity preparedness.

Fortune

cgk.ink researches, investigates and experiments with ecommerce-specific technology. Let’s talk about how can help you maneuver a post-pandemic marketplace.

Summer 2021: Redux & Tan Lines

Summer 2021: Redux & Tan Lines

To be frank, I’m having anxiety about the relaxation of COVID mandates.

I also really, really want to get to the beach. And this confuses me because, do we all want to be walking around with COVID tans? I mean, it’s gonna be kinda weird with a huge swath of your face untanned. Right around the mouth. Not good, as our friends at FOX have clearly thought of this and present this horrific image (with multiple sociological implications):

I’ve endured the months-long COVID illness; my daily fever reading was an FM radio station number. My dog hates me. My Amazon delivery guy is getting to know way too much about me and I am vacuuming, gardening and doing laundry at unprecedented levels (and still losing socks – what is that?) I have not started baking, though, so there is hope that my laziness is not in peril.

So Now What?

Well, I’ve (like you) have had a lot of time staring at my ceiling fan and/or abusing Netflix/Amazon Prime/Hulu/Disney+. Here is what I’ve come up with so far:

Delivery has become an essential service.

I live in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). So I have no shortage of amazing food and stores on my own block. Delivery has always been a 3-second conversation in my head that went along the lines of: “I want a cheeseburger. There is a cheeseburger place on my own block and they’re excellent. Stop being a lazy fuck.” Would that I could live on cheeseburgers.

But I can’t. Ordering online has become a lifeline and the technology is as good as the people who make it happen. This is not about convenience. It’s about basic needs being met during a time of great difficulty.

RELATED: Amazon to Raise Pay (NYT)

Everyone else needs to catch up.

The disparities between offline and online have never been starker. If Amazon can deliver toothpaste, a USB cord and pretzels in 2 hours, why can’t FEMA? Certainly, that’s an unfair comparison… kinda. Delivery of online goods is not a luxury anymore, it is downright mandatory. Whether it’s sushi or a bandage, the bar just got raised on how you communicate.

We have no idea what the fuck we’re doing.

Ecommerce just got very, very real, people. I am very keen on watching how businesses adapt. And I’m seeing some very good signs that small businesses (my focus at cgk.ink) are moving at light speed. Mistakes are happening everywhere and that’s a great sign that individuals and groups are experimenting and pushing limits.

I know, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. And I’m very tired of using the words “the new normal” since that’s a very conditionally subjective term. I grew up with ready access to some of the best beaches in the world. As a kid, my world revolved around that briny smell and tide ponds and squishy wet things. I live in DTLA now which is not too far from the beach. If I find out how to order all that online, I will!

cgk.ink is watching closely as ecommerce evolves while getting partially tan in California. Sometimes.

4 Things to Contemplate About Ecommerce

4 Things to Contemplate About Ecommerce

I’m very interested in this piece by Jay McCall in DevProJournal.com:

Retail Industry Trends Software Developers Need to Respect

Although the intent might have been different, it did trigger my mind to organize the main points into (broadly) four categories worthy of ecommerce professionals’ attention.

PULL

Subrah Iyar, CEO and Co-Founder of Moxtra, sees retailers shifting from a “push” model to a “pull” model. “Businesses need to adopt digital solutions to keep customers satisfied and continue growing their businesses. They’ll shift experiences to doing businesses where customers can pull services on-demand rather than pushing their services onto a customer. To enable the on-demand ‘pull’ engagement model for customer experience means that digital workspaces will be consolidated to act as virtual extensions of business,” he says.

In other words, stop annoying your customers. I’m pretty sure no one wishes to receive more unsolicited emails.

UBIQUITY

Christine Spang, CTO of Nylas, says, “Over the past five years, there has been an explosion of communication platforms, from Twitter to Slack. We have seen certain channels like SMS messaging shrink while, surprisingly to some, email is growing as a primary form of communication.”

Digital marketplaces are expanding at an alarming rate. Every app/platform/thingamajig can conduct traditional ecommerce. And that might create some major opportunities. It also requires a strategy and an actionable plan — otherwise, you will scramble trying to manage your marketing efforts across dozens (if not more) of platforms. You can see this in action by checking out brands across the chaotic shit storm that is “social media.”

TRANSPARENCY

Scott Agatep, Executive Vice President, Solutions and Services, ScanSource: “developers are working feverishly to make all business functions, from payments to inventory management and payroll, easy and accessible to everyone.”

If ecommerce technologies make your outward reach nearly universal, it also means everyone knows your business. And if you try and block that access, you will quickly find that no one is interested in buying your stuff. Be open about where you source materials from, who makes your products and (a big one), what is the environmental impact your .com is having.

CHANGE

Yes, I am close to vomiting at the thought of millenials being used as a noun. So let’s get this one over with:

“Millennials are rejecting traditional payment solutions like credit cards in favor of options that are integrated into their favorite merchants’ e-commerce sites, such as digital revolving credit,” says Harris. “Market research shows that 67 percent of millennials don’t even have a credit card because they regard them as financially burdensome.”

Harris suggests integrating more flexible online payment solutions into e-commerce sites to meet millennials’ demands for more flexible payment options – and increase revenues for merchants – will be an important retail industry trend that developers need to consider when planning for 2021.

This, of course does not even address the rise of cryptocurrencies (but I have).

cgk.ink is a nimble, rapid and deep solution to implementing these four points. Let’s talk.

Your Pets Are Tired of You

Your Pets Are Tired of You

Your pet wants you to go back to work.

Like at the office. All day. Seriously. Right now.

It’s been a year now and you’ve completely fucked up their routine. You’ve disrupted their sleep cycle (which is 98% of their day) by sleeping in their bed(s). You’re noisy, rude and inconsiderate because yes, they ARE your “best doggy” / “Missy Fluffy” and no, they do not need a belly rub right now. They want to take a 10 hour nap. LEAVE.

Also, you’re a slob. When you yell: “Look at me! I just had a ZOOM meeting! ALL BY MYSELF!” they politely point their noses at the sweats you’re wearing. You know, the really comfy ones? That you’ve been wearing for four days now? Those. Mr. Tech Genius. Christ.

Just because you’ve given up, does not mean that your pet has to as well. And frankly, you’re embarrassing them in front of their friends. It’s cool if you decided to wear that while out for a walk, but they have some standards. Socks with Crocs? Mother of God.

 

To make this easier on you, we’ve put together a snappy little collection we like to call the Self-Respecting Pet Collection.

Each item is fully customizable and can feature your pet’s chosen design or we can search for one. Of course, it can contain witty quotes from Fluffy’s favorite writer, pictures Buddy has of him running on the beach during happier days or even Fido & Coco nuzzling together on their own custom-made bed. With a blanket over their heads. Trying to ignore you.

Wouldn’t your work day be so much nicer if your pet didn’t have a lingering feeling of animosity and dismissal?

Yes. Yes, it would be. Finish up your little PowerPoint thing and let’s go.

They’re not going anywhere.

Upload files

MONEY 2.01

MONEY 2.01

I’m fairly fried after trying to understand bitcoin. Or Dogecoin. Or if I should just start issuing some me-based coin.

It all started cause some feverishly cryptocurrency-intoxicated client paid me in bitcoin. An extremely small amount of money and she was picking up the bar tab so I thought, hell, why not?” And then I made a lot of money. A lot.

Since this site’s primary goal is to show emerging ecommerce technologies and their impacts, I thought it would be way cool to try to integrate cryptocurrency. And so I did.

At checkout, you’ll see an option to use a few different cryptocurrencies. I used a plug-in named Coinbase Commerce which is, of course, created by Coinbase. 

You’ll need to have a Coinbase account. Once done and funded, you can choose from:

I use USDC by default since the value never fluctuates (it’s a stablecoin, meaning $1 = $1)

The learning curve to understand cryptocurrency is akin to taking a calculus exam. While high. At 10 years old. With no arms. Yeah, it’s that intense. There are several bazillion other resources to understand how it works, all of which are better than what I can offer. It’s good to know one’s limits. Like you, I’m good at very many things, but this is not one of them. Hell, even having anxiety makes me anxious.

I highly suggest that you check out Coinbase if you are curious about cryptocurrencies since their knowledge base is not only unrivaled, but super easy to understand.

The Thing About Cryptocurrency

There is no debating that cryptocurrency is a valid and powerful economic force. The mechanics of block chain can daze even the most experienced economist. And that’s the point. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized and anonymous and by design, unwieldy. This poses very real, complicated problems for ecommerce. The change is inevitable. Which is why I’m watching this topic very closely in terms of its impact on ecommerce.

SHIPPING: An Unsustainable Nightmare

SHIPPING: An Unsustainable Nightmare

Ecommerce has a disconnect problem. The ease of pressing “ORDER” is diametrically opposed to the real-world effort that goes on when you transact with a retailer.

In a brief article, Forbes’ Retail’s Future: Open-Air, Curbside, And Data-Driven by Investing writer Greg Petro maps out some of the overlooked, but unavoidable consequences of ecommerce replacing brick-and-mortar retail operations.

Will e-commerce kill bricks-and-mortar? “I think it’s exactly the reverse,” says Adam W. Ifshin, founder and CEO of Elmsford, New York-based DLC Management Corp. DLC owns and/or operates more than 300 shopping center and mall assets. He notes that while Amazon’s net product sales surged in 2020 (36 percent), so did fulfillment costs (45.5 percent).

Any physics student will tell you with certainty that to move an object from A to B requires energy. Lots and lots of energy. And, energy ‘ain’t cheap:

By some estimates, Amazon’s shipping costs are 18.5 percent of net product sales

Ifshin says such a pure e-commerce system is unsustainable and the concept of pick-up in store and curbside, “is here to stay.”

Shipping has always been the ugly fact that no one talks about — until they realize they’re facing bankruptcy. Digital marketers seem to forget that shipping costs a lot. Like a shit ton. So if you’re trying to compete in an open market with razor-thin profit margins, you’ll soon realize that FedEx is eating your lunch. 

Amazon (and others) know this and recognize that it is a prohibitively expensive block for even large retailers. So multiple hybrid “solutions” are attempted; Amazon Locker, their horribly executed alliance with Kohl’s, and start up “return services.” It’s with a small smile that I’ve read that Amazon is quietly opening its own physical shops

What has been your experience with managing shipping and return policies? Leave a comment below.

COVID-19’s Impact on Global Networks

COVID-19’s Impact on Global Networks

An update on the internet congestion’s details during COVID-19

Allconnect recently compiled data to provide key information on the best and worst times to be online. Of interest, specifically:

  • Days of the week with the fastest upload & download speeds
  • How to best avoid high latency periods
  • Average speed by according to the time of day

You can view the full report here:

An awesome, comprehensive, and detailed look at how COVID-19 has impacted global networks.

Lots to think about and how we might prepare for future catastrophes.

TL;DR

To understand how the internet is performing with the changes in internet use brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we investigated two key metrics during February and March in some of the countries and states that were hit hardest by the virus: changes in the traffic volume served to those regions as a reflection of changes in internet use, and changes in download speed measured at our servers as a reflection of internet quality. In almost all regions, the largest increases in traffic volume occurred immediately after public policy announcements, such as school closures or stay-at-home orders. Similarly, the most dramatic decreases in download speed followed the official starts of those policies — presumably when populations made the shift to staying home.

(source)

For a much more detailed analysis of how Corona-19 has effected global internet usage, look here. It’s fascinating.

IMPORTANT: UPDATE ON SHIPPING DELAYS

IMPORTANT: UPDATE ON SHIPPING DELAYS

We are experiencing significant delays in processing orders.

On average, we are seeing delays of 7-10 days on new orders. This is primarily due to reduced staffing, slower delivery and additional time needed to process payments.

Delays are not uniform and the amount of time needed to process items depends on the supplier. We’re monitoring this daily and will contact you if the delays are extraordinary.

Questions? We welcome your questions. Contact us.

GUEST POST: Fast Fashion vs Slow Fashion

GUEST POST: Fast Fashion vs Slow Fashion

Can apparel manufacturing be less damaging to the environment?

I’ve written a lot about just how badly fashion (apparel) pollutes our planet. But there are those in the industry making tremendous strides in mitigating – if not reversing that damage.

Rare & Fair is a “boutique slow fashion brand promoting handmade clothes and accessories by artisans using natural, sustainable materials.” In this post, I particularly wanted to share how they take into consideration not only the chemical and industrial pollution caused by fast fashion, but also a holistic understanding of how fast fashion affects the community.”

As of today, it is common knowledge that the fashion industry is having a detrimental impact on the environment – with water contamination, waste, and carbon pollution at an all time high, it’s clear that something needs to change.

What you may not be aware of is the effects that fast fashion has on people, specifically garment workers and their families.

You can read the entire post here.

COVID Pushes Ecomm Over the Top

COVID Pushes Ecomm Over the Top

Societies do not change gracefully. Behind major shifts in how humans go about their days often stand unspeakably horrid events: war, plague, famine, flood.

When the shit hits the fan, we deploy all of our technologies to mitigate the disaster. Medically, that translates into vaccines and healthcare systems. In times of natural disaster, we call up the engineers and first-responders.

The current crisis has forced us to shift as a planet in multiple ways. One of the most prominent economic shifts is in consumer behavior. The changes are significant, real and much more substantial than we think.

Are These Numbers For Real?

It’s a black ribbon medal, for sure. But ecommerce has arrived. No longer an oddity or an alternate, it is now required to be online, either as a consumer or a retailer. This one graph pretty well sums it up:

cgk.ink | ecommerce growth

That’s impressive growth on any level. But the percentage increases become ridiculously large when you start looking at a few industries. Obviously, we know the losers (aviation, hospitality, etc.) but there are some surprising winners. Chiefly among them is an industry I focus on a lot: Print on Demand (PoD).

“It was almost a straight line up when people were scrambling to shift from traditional production to on-demand,” says Brian Rainey, CEO of Gooten, a print-on-demand logistics and fulfillment company. “We saw an enormous spike in Q2, and it continued in Q3 and Q4. On-demand manufacturing and mass customization is growing faster than anyone can keep up with.”

Printful, another on-demand fulfillment company that prints, packs and ships custom products from e-commerce sites, reported an 80% year-over-year increase in order count over the last three quarters of 2020 and a 44% year-over-year growth in the number of new stores joining the platform. During the holiday shopping bonanza between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the online printing and drop-shipping company fulfilled 25 million products. In fact, that weekend, Printful saw a 70% order increase, with as many as 204 orders per minute – twice as high as in 2019.

(Sources)

The Future: More of the Same

“I don’t think anything will revert back to the way it was before,” says Rob Watson, chief experience officer at Top 40 supplier Vantage Apparel (asi/93390), which offers its own home-grown on-demand customization service to distributors. “More distributors are getting into the space and offering a solution that end-users wanted before but never knew that distributors could offer. I don’t think this is going to go away.”

Don’t expect 2021 to rewrite the narrative for on-demand companies and promotional products firms that follow the same model – 2020 wasn’t a blip. It was merely an acceleration of what’s already been happening. Consider that Printful’s impressive numbers during the holiday shopping weekend came after an already staggering growth rate for the company, which ballooned by 441% over the three previous years – from $21 million in 2016 to $116 million in 2019.

Related article: U.S. Ecommerce Up 92.7%

Robots Deliver, No Mask Needed

Robots Deliver, No Mask Needed

Fulfillment warehouse robots are having a moment as online shopping continues to increase during the pandemic. The hot market for autonomous fulfillment solutions has helped Locus Robotics, which makes autonomous mobile robots for use in fulfillment warehouses, raise an additional $40 million during a successful Series D this week.

“Automation has proven to be a critical solution for retail and third-party logistics businesses during this challenging time,” says Tony Palcheck, Senior Director, Zebra Ventures, which led Locus’ Series D. “As the retail industry continues to shift to e-commerce, Locus Robotics’ warehouse automation will help businesses meet the demands of this ‘new normal,’ ensuring that customers can increase operational efficiency to meet requirements for fast, accurate delivery.”

Locus Robotics makes autonomous mobile robots that operate collaboratively with human workers to improve piece-handling productivity as much as 2X-3X, with less labor compared to traditional picking systems. The robots are aimed at helping 3PLs and specialty warehouses efficiently meet the increasingly complex and demanding requirements of fulfillment environments, which now include social distancing restrictions — something robots don’t have to worry about.

“We have recently seen a dramatic disruption of retail with e-commerce growth as high as 400% year-over-year in some categories. And others were severely limited as the bulk of their inventory was in stores that they could not get into due to lockdowns. It’s critical that retailers are prepared for direct fulfillment from the warehouse,” said Greg Buzek, President of IHL Group. “This announcement underscores the need for companies to prepare for today’s new labor challenges that will be impacted by the significant volume increases that are already occurring. Companies investing now in warehouse automation, particularly AMRs, will be better positioned for success in the post-pandemic economy as they can support sales from any channel.”

SOURCE:ZDNet.com

Mandalas & Jung

Mandalas & Jung

Jung used mandalas in his psychotherapy by getting patients, who had no knowledge of it, to create individual mandalas.

This enabled him to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality. He realized there was a great deal of similarity in the images they created.

Mandala is a graphical representation of the center (the Self at Jung). It can appear in dreams and visions or it can be created spontaneously as by drawings all formulated into lived experience. In our dreams, the mandala indicates the phenomenon of centering of the ego in relation to the psychic wholeness.

— Michael Koth, MyPhysicology.com

Jung and Mandala

Mandala is a graphical representation of the center (the Self to Jung). It can appear in dreams and visions or it can be created spontaneously as by drawing. It is present in the cultural and religious representations.

Christian Mandala

Examples of mandala can be found in all the ancient cultures. We find it in Christianity under the form of frescos with animal images representing apostles (and the zodiac). The astrologic zodiac and its versions are examples of mandala. Also, in the Indian spiritual practices we find fascinating examples of mandala, with symbols of the local pantheon.
In yoga practices, mandala can be a support for meditation or an image that must be internalized through mental absorption. This image organizes the inner energies and forces of the practitioner and puts them in relationship with his ego-consciousness.

Generally speaking, a mandala is a geometrical form – a square or a circle – abstract and static, or a vivid image formed of objects and/or beings.

In our dreams, the mandala indicates the phenomenon of centering of the ego in relation with psychic wholeness. It is part of the individuation process as described by Jung in his works.

In modern dreams, a mandala can be a sophisticated electronic device: an electronic watch or a piece of sophisticated circular machinery. Often the UFOs seen in the sky or in dreams are also mandalas.

Other mandala images can be circular fountains, parks, and their radial alleys, square market places, obelisks, buildings with a circular or square shape, lakes, rivers (radial water networks).

Jungian Mandala

In Jungian therapy, which includes the recognition and the conscious integration of the contents of the collective unconscious, the spontaneous drawing of mandalas is required.

There are a lot of illustrations that testify this technique practiced by Jung himself.

Carl Jung About Mandalas

In 1938, I had the opportunity, in the monastery of Bhutia Busty, near Darjeeling, of talking with a Lamaic rimpoche, Lingdam Gomchen by name, about the khilkor or mandala. He explained it as a dmigs-pa (pronounced ”migpa”), a mental image which can be built up only by a fully instructed lama through the power of imagination. He said that no mandala is like any other, they are all individually different. Also, he said, the mandalas to be found in monasteries and temples were of no particular significance because they were external representations only.

 

The true mandala is always an inner image, which is gradually built up through (active) imagination, at such times when psychic equilibrium is disturbed or when a thought cannot be found and must be sought for, because it is not contained in holy doctrine.

 

It seems to me beyond question that these Eastern symbols originated in dreams and visions, and were not invented by some Mahayana church father. 

 

It is not without importance for us to appreciate the high value set upon the mandala, for it accords very well with the paramount significance of individual mandala symbols which are characterized by the same qualities of a – so to speak – “metaphysical” nature. Unless everything deceives us, they signify nothing less than a specific centre of the personality not to be identified with the ego.

 

Psychology and Alchemy, Princeton University Press, 1993)

Mies van der Rohe

Mies van der Rohe

David Chipperfield Architects’ renovation of Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie unveiled

Tom Ravenscroft |  5 comments
The first images of the renovation of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin by David Chipperfield Architects have been revealed.Neue Nationalgalerie released the images shortly after the scaffolding surrounding the building was removed following an extensive, five-year renovation of the museum by David Chipperfield Architects.

Source: Dezeen.com

Photography is by Thomas Bruns, courtesy of BBR.

There is a building a few blocks away from my home. It captivates me. I can’t take my eyes off of it.

Since I moved to LA in 2007, I regard The City National Plaza (AKA The Arco Towers) as a statuesque, beautifully dressed superstar and I just stand there and gawk. For years.

Although it was not designed by Mies van der Rohe (Albert C. Martin & Associates is the architect), It is most definitely an homage. The profile is Modernist. The use of The Golden Triangle (Φ) ensures that the ratios are impeccable. Simply put, it’s fucking gorgeous.

What Have We Learned Today?

There are very good reasons to edit, revise, and remake. However, do not do so simply because you can.

I learned a lot from this building. It serves as a constant reminder to me to keep an eye on how design functions as well as how it looks.

Mies’s last work was the Neue Nationalgalerie art museum, the New National Gallery for the Berlin National Gallery.

Considered one of the most perfect statements of his architectural approach, the upper pavilion is a precise composition of monumental steel columns and a cantilevered (overhanging) roof plane with a glass enclosure. The simple square glass pavilion is a powerful expression of his ideas about flexible interior space, defined by transparent walls and supported by an external structural frame. Art installations by Ulrich Rückriem (1998) or Jenny Holzer, as much as exhibitions on the work of Renzo Piano or Rem Koolhaas have demonstrated the exceptional possibilities of this space.

The glass pavilion is a relatively small portion of the overall building, serving as a symbolic architectural entry point and monumental gallery for temporary exhibits. A large podium building below the pavilion accommodates most of the museum’s total built area with conventional white-walled art gallery spaces and support functions. A large window running along all the West facade opens these spaces up to the large sculpture garden which is part of the podium building.

Source: Wikipedia

 

And Then This Happened.

The North Tower, known as the Paul Hastings Tower, underwent renovations. The main client of the building, the international law firm Paul Hastings decided this stunner needed plastic surgery. And they did this:

Lawyers have no taste.

JPL’s Visions of the Future: The Inspiration

JPL’s Visions of the Future: The Inspiration

JPL’s Visions of the Future

Read about the creators’ concepts and methods in this interview:

A creative team of visual strategists at JPL, known as “The Studio,” created the poster series, which is titled “Visions of the Future.” Nine artists, designers, and illustrators were involved in designing the 14 posters, which are the result of many brainstorming sessions with JPL scientists, engineers, and expert communicators. Each poster went through a number of concepts and revisions, and each was made better with feedback from the JPL experts.

David Delgado, creative strategy:

The posters began as a series about exoplanets — planets orbiting other stars — to celebrate NASA’s study of them. (The NASA program that focuses on finding and studying exoplanets is managed by JPL.) Later, the director of JPL was on vacation at the Grand Canyon with his wife, and they saw a similarly styled poster that reminded them of the exoplanet posters. They suggested it might be wonderful to give a similar treatment to the amazing destinations in our solar system that JPL is currently exploring as part of NASA. And they were right!

The point was to share a sense of things on the edge of possibility that are closely tied to the work our people are doing today. The JPL director has called our people “architects of the future.”

As for the style, we gravitated to the style of the old posters the WPA created for the national parks. There’s a nostalgia for that era that just feels good.

Joby Harris, illustrator:
The old WPA posters did a really great job delivering a feeling about a far-off destination. They were created at a time when color photography was not very advanced, in order to capture the beauty of the national parks from a human perspective. These posters show places in our solar system (and beyond) that likewise haven’t been photographed on a human scale yet — or in the case of the exoplanets might never be, at least not for a long time. It seemed a perfect way to help people imagine these strange, new worlds.

Delgado:
The WPA poster style is beloved, and other artists have embraced it before us. Our unique take was to take one specific thing about the place and focus on the science of it. We chose exoplanets that had really interesting, strange qualities, and everything about the poster was designed to amplify the concept. The same model guided us for the posters that focus on destinations in the solar system.

Lois Kim, typography:
We worked hard to get the typography right, since that was a very distinctive element in creating the character of those old posters. We wanted to create a retro-future feel, so we didn’t adhere exactly to the period styles, but they definitely informed the design. The Venus poster has a very curvy, flowy font, for example, to evoke a sense of the clouds..

Thievery Corporation

Thievery Corporation

Theft has gotten blurry. It usually is clear cut. I possess something that another covets and takes it. Shitty, but done deal.

Now, not so much. The following story (clipped and edited – the whole thing is here). This is an important post and has made me focus on what and how I sell online. To be clear and transparent in my writing, I use three different print on demand services for my products on cgk.ink. I have a few rules:

  1. I’ve made the design
  2. It is found on a royalty-free site like Unsplash. When I do this, I keep the file name which always includes the artist’s name and I have no problem disclosing that information. I always use that work to inspire me and again — alter the design with attribution.
  3. I will not download and use any work that is representational and/or figurative of another person’s style without their permission. Fine art that is legally in the public domain is fair game (if you want or can). I have far too many artist friends to piss off people.

The edited article:

Amy Crabtree is a UK graphic artist and owner of Cakes with Faces, a brand of colourful T-shirts, clothing and gifts. Recently, she found out that her artworks had been copied and sold across a host of different websites. Here she tells us about her experiences, how she fought back and how you can too.

I then discovered it was not only the Alpacalypse but my other T-shirts too. In total I found 25 cases of my designs being sold without my permission. With the exception of that first case on AliExpress, they were all print-on-demand shops. On one site alone, my design was being sold on 158 different products.

I then discovered it was not only the Alpacalypse but my other T-shirts too. In total I found 25 cases of my designs being sold without my permission. With the exception of that first case on AliExpress, they were all print-on-demand shops. On one site alone, my design was being sold on 158 different products.

Copyright for designers

In the UK, copyright protection is granted automatically when you create something. This is stated clearly on the UK government website. There’s no need to pay to register it (although that is something you can do); the copyright of your designs and artwork is yours by right.
Through various agreements, this copyright extends to other countries, including China.

Proving copyright

As a designer you’ll likely have a trail of evidence to prove the work is yours if you need to. Rough sketches aren’t dated, but they are evidence to show the design is your creation. Anything digital has a time-stamp – that includes working files on your PC, as well as any emails, tweets and Instagram posts.

In my case I also had orders from customers, documented and dated, from both my own online shop and Etsy, where there are also reviews from customers, with dates. There are articles about the Alpacalypse on third party blogs and magazines. Thanks to YouTube, I even have videos showing the T-shirts and hoodies on my booth at comic con, with publication dates. You can clearly see me wearing an Alpacalypse hoodie in a vlog from an alpaca show.

If you’re public about your work and active with self promotion – which you have to be, if you’re selling online or touting for work – you’ll likely have a whole digital trail behind you.

What to do if this happens to you

If you spot your work on a print-on-demand merchandise site, you can report it through the store. All the print-on-demand sites I dealt with had links or forms to report copyright infringement. Some even have “Report this” links on each product as standard, which is an indication of how common this issue is.

Reporting involves involves filling in forms and providing links as evidence to show that the design belongs to you. In most cases, a link to the product in my shop was sufficient. For AliExpress, the process was lengthy: I had to register with their online IP portal, which involved uploading a photo of my passport, then registering the design as my property, with proof and dates of when it was first created, published and sold. Once that’s approved, you can finally register a complaint against the counterfeit product.

To their credit, all the print-on-demand sites dealt with my complaints very quickly and efficiently. Most of the products were removed within a day, and after 48 hours there were none remaining.

However, the fact remains that filling in forms and getting proof together is a lengthy process. As a small business owner or freelancer, that’s time you don’t necessarily have. Larger brands and companies have whole legal departments to deal with these problems.

So now, do I have to search the internet periodically to check if any of my designs have been stolen? Is that something I have to add into my weekly to do list?


Amy’s Your Cake or Your Life design has also been ripped off.

Print-on-demand sites and copyright

Print-on-demand sites are ideal platforms for anyone who wants to profit from stolen artwork. Users can upload as many designs as they wish, and wait for the orders to roll in. Unlike when you produce your own merchandise, there’s no upfront investment and no financial risk. Many of the sellers that had stolen my designs had shops filled with T-shirts in so many different styles that they must have been stolen from other people. Many of the designs were clearly clipart or cringe-worthy, cheap slogans, with very little care taken over them.

Obviously it’s not the fault of the print-on-demand portals, who sent me copy and paste apologies and disclaimers saying they’re not liable for the actions of their users. Anyone can register and upload any designs they like. They simply have to tick a box saying they hold the copyright – but if you’re the kind of person who steals art you’re probably not going to have scruples about lying on an online form.

Copyright infringement of indie designers is clearly an issue. Your work has to be online in order to promote yourself – we wouldn’t be able to get work or sell products if it wasn’t. Even if you watermark art you post online, Photoshop can do anything. It’s so easy to be a victim of design theft without even knowing.

All imagery in this story is courtesy of Amy Crabtree

How Much Are You Worth?

How Much Are You Worth?

You are being hired because you know something that your client doesn’t. Your client needs your services and is hiring you specifically because you know what you are doing. That time, that effort, that expertise that has attracted you to them has a value of some sort. Now, I wouldn’t expect you to charge $50,000 just for your time to overhaul a WordPress website. Hell, if you did, I certainly wouldn’t hire you. So whilst you may feel you are worth $50,000, you will also have to factor in the going rate.

Read Nathan Hawkesanswer to How much should a WordPress developer charge for a complete overhaul? on Quora

Shipping and the Messy Part About Returns

Shipping and the Messy Part About Returns

Sending Things.

I have a security guard in my apartment who spends the better part of the day playing postman. My building has roughly 300 residents. So the poor guy’s logging in, storing, distributing, and verifying hundreds of packages and getting to know all of us. Everyday. This must suck for him.

This post isn’t an opinion like the others. I’m not here to resolve/blame/shame anything or anyone. Instead, I want to focus on an aspect of ecommerce that is critical: shipping.

Salesforce recently predicted the value of holiday returns this year to top $280 billion, an amount equivalent to the GDP of Finland.

The returns from online shopping last year created 5 billion tons of landfill waste and produced as much carbon dioxide as from 3 million cars driving for one year, according to Optoro, a tech company that manages retailers’ returned items.

The process of sending back unwanted items and potentially re-selling them results in 10 billion unnecessary transportation trips every year.

It’s Expensive

It’s often overlooked when planning an ecommerce site. It can eat up to 30% of your profit. It requires staff and customer service ’cause things will go wrong every f’ing day. And, if you’re not, say Amazon or Target or Walmart, you’re paying insanely higher prices than they are

It is Incredibly Confusing

Even if you are Amazon or a super-shipper, things don’t get easier:

Many parcel delivery services have struggled with the surge in demand for shipments and have began imposing measures to deal with the influx. Other shipping services such as FedEx (FDX) and USPS have increased their pricing premiums for the holidays and hired thousands of temporary workers to handle shipments.
UPS says it added 20 new facilities and 14 additional aircraft for the peak season. It also expanded its weekend operations and the speed of its ground delivery.
Meanwhile, Amazon (AMZN), one of the country’s largest retailers, has skated ahead without much shipping troubles thanks to relying on its own delivery service and drivers to accommodate its slew of shipments. This past weekend, Amazon reported bringing in nearly $5 billion between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a 60% increase from last year.
 
— CNN’s Jordan Valinksy contributed to this report.

It Creates Major Inefficiencies

Overall, about 10% of all purchases are returned, according to industry estimates. But items bought online are three times more likely to be returned than those bought in-store. For some categories of clothing think shoes and women’s jeans  more than half of online purchases are returned.

 

Buy Now! We Mean It!:

The “buy now, choose later” online shopping approach was common even before the pandemic hit. But now, more shoppers do it than don’t, according to some research.

A survey from shipping and logistics company Narvar, which counts 800 retailers as clients, found that nearly two-thirds of shoppers this year bought multiple sizes or colors of the same item, with the intention of returning some of the items. Buyers of luxury goods, as well as shoppers under 30, were most likely to use this practice, known in industry parlance as “bracketing.”

“Consumers were already in the habit of using their bedrooms as fitting rooms for online purchases, but the practice skyrocketed this year,” Narvar found.

It’s Not Them, It’s You (Kinda)

So, there’s this massive shipping network carry to — and from consumers who, ya know, like the convenience and the pretty pictures. And I have no clue how humans can deliver something to my home at warp speed. But they do it. And it is emerging as a significant environmental danger:

The ease of returns is a major ecommerce selling point. Ecologically, it’s pretty ugly.

“Unfortunately we’re going to see more and more of an increase in returns. That has not slowed down,” said Narvar CEO Amit Sharma.

The more shoppers buy, the more they return. The reverse is also true: a generous return policy makes shoppers more likely to buy from a website. That’s why, despite the losses that returns represent, companies are loath to tighten free-return policies lest they drive away shoppers.

“It’s now a consumer expectation,” said Sharma. “It’s table stakes.”

Quarantine & Ecommerce

Quarantine & Ecommerce

Quarantine does have its advantages.

Dressing up means wearing pants. You now have a rock-solid excuse to not speak to your shitty neighbor. Groceries are delivered and you never even have to face the delivery person (who is definitely shaming you in their head for the case of Pop-Tarts). The Vodka & Valium Flavor. Your dog is asking “don’t you work?”

If you live in my grand city of Los Angeles, we’re at the beginning of a torturous plague that is infecting thousands per day. You can’t get a drink anywhere and “fine dining” means not-the-paper plates. Economically, we’re facing the prospect of not having one.

I’m watching closely how this is impacting us, and particularly how we behave as consumers. If I were to fully comply with California’s guidelines, I would have no toilet paper, food, water and my dog would have definitely left me for greener pastures. It seems, that the entire country is “just making it through.” And I totes get it.

 

RELATED: U.S. Ecommerce Up 92.7%

The Change is Permanent

This isn’t happening automatically. There has been a fundamental shift in e-commerce and the signs are just beginning to show. McKinsey & Company has a fairly good read with “The great consumer shift: Ten charts that show how US shopping behavior is changing

Not to put too fine a point on it, but there is this:

Black Friday shopping in stores craters 52% during the pandemic as e-commerce sales surge.

  • Traffic at stores on Black Friday fell by 52.1% compared with last year, according to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions.
  • “Shoppers are spreading out their shopping throughout the holiday season because of concerns about social distancing and the pandemic,” said Brian Field.
  • Online spending on Black Friday surged 21.6% to hit a new record, according to data from Adobe Analytics.

CNBC, again

It is a perfect confluence. Isolation + Fear = Online Shopping. And boy, did it take off. With roughly nine months of experiencing the cataclysm that is COVID-19, The data is astounding:

  • Holiday shoppers spent $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday, up 15.1% from a year ago, setting a record for the largest U.S. online shopping day ever, according to Adobe.
  • That came in short of Adobe’s original forecast of $12.7 billion in spending.
  • Adobe cut its online sales forecast for the entire holiday season to $184 billion, which is a 30% increase from last year.
  • Shoppers started their gift-buying earlier than ever, as retailers promoted deals in October.

CNBC

Fuck Fashion

Fuck Fashion

I’ve written a lot about fashion and ecommerce.

It’s an easy target. A cultural WTF? $10,000 for a handbag? And who is this “Coco Chanel” anyway?

Why do I care? And why am I writing about this on an ecommerce site? ‘Cause:

Online apparel sales accounted for 38.6% of total U.S. apparel sales in 2019 and 100% of the growth in retail clothing sales. … In fact, ecommerce contributed all of the 1.9% year-over-year growth in total U.S. apparel sales

(Source)

It’s also destroying our planet. It is, without dispute, second only to the oil & gas industries in the amount of damage it does to our environment. The World Economic Forum has a few stats and alarming facts.

So this is why I’m posting two videos (three, kinda… maybe more). The first is a fascinating overview of the entire mess:

 

The True Cost

The True Cost is a documentary film exploring the impact of fashion on people and the planet. Storyline: This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?

The Machinists

This 2010 British documentary film directed by Hannan Majid and Richard York documents the exploitation of garment workers in Bangladesh with the personal stories of three young women working in factories in Dhaka.

SO MUCH MORE HERE

From ELUXE Magazine, a list of five of the most ethically-probing documentaries about the fashion industry

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF FASHION

From Investopedia, a studied financial analysis of the fashion industry. Always follow the money.

BONUSES +:

Chanel Spring-Summer 2018

In which we are hypnotized by how glamorous we are not when we are at the airport. Obviously, there is no coach class. It’s pure performance art. Good job, Karl. RIP.

FUCK FASHION

By my newest, most favoritest diva, Manila Luzon. The manatee kills me.

Scam Shops & Poisoned Wells. FUN!

Scam Shops & Poisoned Wells. FUN!

Your Ranking Just Became a Target

In an article on ZDNet by Catalin Cimpanu for Zero Day learn of a kinda creepy new type of extortion:

A new cybercrime gang has been seen taking over vulnerable WordPress sites to install hidden e-commerce stores with the purpose of hijacking the original site’s search engine ranking and reputation and promote online scams.

Like many of you, I’m a small business and invest a lot in my online presence. I use all the proper and tested security features available to me. But this is something ingenious. It’s not ransomware per se, it’s ransomeware+.

And it goes like this:

The attackers leveraged brute-force attacks to gain access to the site’s admin account, after which they overwrote the WordPress site’s main index file and appended malicious code.

While the code was heavily obfuscated, Cashdollar said the malware’s primary role was to act as a proxy and redirect all incoming traffic to a remote command-and-control (C&C) server managed by the hackers.

It was on this server where the entire “business logic” of the attacks took place. According to Cashdollar, a typical attack would go as follows:

  1. User visits hacked WordPress site.
  2. The hacked WordPress site redirects the user’s request to view the site to the malware’s C&C server.
  3. If a user meets certain criteria, the C&C server tells the site to reply with an HTML file containing an online store peddling a wide variety of mundane objects.
  4. The hacked site responds to the user’s request with a scammy online store instead of the original site the user wanted to view.

Wait, It Gets Worse

In addition, the Akamai researchers said the hackers also generated XML sitemaps for the hacked WordPress sites that contained entries for the fake online stores together with the site’s authentic pages.

The attackers generated the sitemaps, submitted them to Google’s search engine, and then deleted the sitemap to avoid detection.

And Worserer

[Cashdollar] now believes that this kind of malware could be used for SEO extortion schemes — where criminal groups intentionally poison a site’s SERP ranking and then ask for a ransom to revert the effects.

“This makes them a low-barrier attack for criminals to pull off, as they only need a few compromised hosts to get started,” Cashdollar said. “Given that there are hundreds of thousands of abandoned WordPress installations online, and millions more with outdated plug-ins or weak credentials, the potential victim pool is massive.”

Cashdollar now believes that this kind of malware could be used for SEO extortion schemes — where criminal groups intentionally poison a site’s SERP ranking and then ask for a ransom to revert the effects.

(Source: ZDNet)

H&M: First Major Retailer to Recycle Consumer Clothing

H&M: First Major Retailer to Recycle Consumer Clothing

New York (CNN Business) —

Fast fashion chain H&M wants to turn discarded clothes into something new to wear again — within five hours.

The Sweden-based retailer is about to start giving consumers at its Stockholm store the option to turn in used garments that it will then transform into one of three different clothing items.
Once the program begins Monday, customers will be able to bring in a garment they don’t want, which will be cleaned and put into a machine called Looop. The machine will disassemble it, shredding it into fibers that are then used to create new clothing.
The effort comes amid arising volume of global clothing waste, and growing concern over fast fashion’s contribution to it.
The company said the recycling process, which can handle more than one garment at a time, doesn’t use water or chemicals and sometimes might need “sustainably sourced” raw materials added in, but it hopes to make “this share as small as possible.”
 
The entire process takes about five hours and is visible to shoppers
 
Similarly, customers can drop off used clothing, footwear and accessories in more than 1,300 Zara stores. Last year, Zara announced that all of the cotton, linen and polyester used by the company will be organic, sustainably sourced or recycled by 2025.
 
“One of the biggest drivers of clothing over consumption are fast fashion sellers,” said Deborah Drew, analyst and social impact lead with the global research non-profit World Resources Institute. “Large companies like H&M and Zara can have a really big, transformational impact on the industry and on consumers if they lead the way in facilitating change.”

Read the full article here.

Curate or Die

Curate or Die

We’re cultural slobs.

Our propensity for swallowing, huge, shit-loads of pop crap is astounding. Yes, please, I would like some promo for a shitty movie with my McDonald’s meal. We don’t think twice about what we consume. Or how we behave… O, the list goes on. Personally, I blame Blackberry, but that’s me.

Critical thought lags behind Instagram (stress the “insta”), Google and Facebook. Where am I? What am I doing? What do I like? All these perplexing problems have been solved for you by algorithms (which is not AI).

Make a Damn Choice

Curation puts a check on these modern ill-thought-out behaviors. Curation is defined by Google (I know) as:

cu·ra·tion
/kyəˈrāSHən/
noun
noun: curation; plural noun: curations
  1. the action or process of selecting, organizing, and looking after the items in a collection or exhibition.
    “the curation of the exhibition was informed by my experience as an artist”
    • the selection of performers or performances that will feature in an arts event or program.
      “I had a chance to talk with a fellow musician about the festival’s curation”
    • the selection, organization, and presentation of online content, merchandise, information, etc., typically using professional or expert knowledge.
      “curation of online content that is relevant to your business can be an excellent way to drive SEO”

An article in Forbes caught my eye. Yes, you’ll have to jump through some hoops and give up your personal data to access it (fuckers) but here it is and it’s all about Target.

Today, eMarketer reported that Target has surpassed three competitors to become the eighth-largest retailer in the U.S. in terms of e-commerce sales, up from 11th place just one year ago. 

Very impressive. But not quite good enough in terms of technology-business Darwinism.

 

COMPETITION?

So how does one compete? Does one even have to compete? Evidently, we are tooled to dominate. But is this the healthiest thing, business-wise? Remember, companies only exist to serve people, not the other way around.

CRITICAL THOUGHT, PART DEUX

I’m really good at some things. Like design and content and eating doughnuts with coffee. Total pro. I totally suck at most other things, basic things, like bagging groceries or balancing a bank account or laundry. This is why I turn to people who know a shit-ton more than I do about these things.

Enter: Target’s brilliant strategy. 

OMNIBUS vs. MONOBUS

Target’s e-commerce marketplace (known as Target+ or Target Plus) assortment is highly curated, as opposed to Walmart and certainly to Amazon. 

You are not Amazon. You never have been and are not now and will never be. It’s a freak of nature and an anomaly and an abusive, weird oligarchy that also shoots shit into space and builds clocks that will outlive us all. Just… deep breath. Because I’m OK and you’re OK. We don’t have to do that whole “Masters of the Universe” thing cause it ended really badly in the 90s, right?

RIGHT AND TIGHT

Target has gotten the message and has ran with it:

Target can avoid some of the negative consequences of Amazon’s burgeoning marketplace, chiefly counterfeit products, gray-market inventory sold by third parties which creates headaches for brand owners, and fake product reviews. Amazon shoppers also face an avalanche of brandless products when searching across many product categories like bluetooth headphones, pajamas, and fish oil supplements. (For further reading, see this great New York Times piece.) While you’d imagine that the overabundance of options might cause many shoppers to abandon their searches, Amazon continues to power on—acquiring more market share every year. 

Target+ could also attract the same brands who have shunned Amazon in recent years due to concerns with counterfeiting and unauthorized resellers.  

  • 60 active sellers on Target+
  • 36,754 sellers on Walmart.com
  • 1,010,695 active sellers on Amazon.com

FOCUS LIKE A FUCKING LASER

Do not try to be all things to all people. See: Corinthians. Sorry, I got biblical. Look at what you do and what you do well. Discard the stuff that doesn’t achieve that goal; they are distractions. Limited resources = limited marketing. Do you like cats? Go for it and make it sing. You don’t see that site also selling detergent or dry cleaning, do you? No. No, you do not. Learn.

The most successful small- to mid-sized online retailers have a focus. I’m not talking about bullshit mission statements or slogans. I’m talking about doing one thing and doing it well.

What’s your focus? 

Let’s talk.

 

CUSTOM JOURNALS

CUSTOM JOURNALS

WHAT DO YOU THINK? 

“Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way to help you distill what’s important and what’s not.”

— Martina Navratilova 

Writing is, perhaps, one of humanity’s highest achievements. Collecting your thoughts, emotions; your successes and failures allows you to meditate on a very deep level.

A custom-designed journal proudly states that you are quietly observant and mindful. It’s easy and fun to create your own personal journey. 

I’m offering 10% off journals that are custom designed. Simply fill out the info below and upload a hi-res image, illustration, photo, or tell me your favorite quote — anything, really, and I’d be happy to send you a mock-up free of charge!

Questions? Contact me.

 

FEATURES

 

90gsm Paper
 

Semi-gloss Laminated Cover
 
Casewrap Binding

UPLOAD YOUR DESIGN

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CURRENT JOURNALS

Showing all 64 results

Porn + Food = Ecommerce

Porn + Food = Ecommerce

I ran across an interesting article on the BBC “Worklife” page titled: “The curious origins of online shopping.”

If you were an early adapter, you might remember the thrill of upgrading from a 14.4K modem to 28.8K. Was that speed even possible back then? Soon, a mind-blowing 56K would be available and that was pure, straight-up science fiction at that point.

 

Right then, the first group of large-scale online services began to take shape. These were almost entirely social-based experiments. Prodigy, AOL, Compuserve, these were attempting to figure out not only the “how” but the “why.” What did they provide besides a way to chat and email and lookup phone numbers? One company, Amazon, had the foresight to begin the very first models of e-commerce. The market matured and slowly, this weird concept of buying products via computer started to put down some roots.

Online bookstore and IPO

After reading a report about the future of the Internet that projected annual web commerce growth at 2,300%, Bezos created a list of 20 products that could be marketed online. He narrowed the list to what he felt were the five most promising products, which included: compact discs, computer hardware, computer software, videos, and books. Bezos finally decided that his new business would sell books online, because of the large worldwide demand for literature, the low unit price for books, and the huge number of titles available in print.[9] Amazon was founded in the garage of Bezos’ rented home in Bellevue, Washington.[7][10][11] Bezos’ parents invested almost $250,000 in the start-up.[12]

SOURCE: Wikipedia

The Porn Paradigm

I firmly believe that the impetus for users to go online was porn. It was the perfect match between content and delivery. It was prurient but discrete; enticing and easy. Likewise, Amazon chose a similarly (if not less carnal) product to marry to this new form distribution: books. They were easy to ship, they were easily identified and sorted digitally since they were already assigned an ISBN # and, perhaps most importantly, they did not need to be personally inspected like, say, a pair of pants.

It often takes a tectonic social shift to see if a trend becomes a more permanent feature of any large, diverse community. And we are at that moment right now. One could not create a more telling stress test for e-commerce than COVID-19. And the preliminary statistics show it:

Between March 2020 and April 2020 in the US, ecommerce sales jumped 49%, led by online grocery with a 110% boost in daily sales. Kahn says that ecommerce has finally reached the kind of high penetration (the kind that makes more sense relative to its age) because people have turned to the internet to buy food.

— Source: BBC

These numbers are astonishing in any environment. The rate of acceptance of previously brink-and-mortar-only retail drives an entirely new type of ecommerce. We are now shopping for survival, not for fun.

“A real inflection point for online shopping as we know it today could be traced to around 2017. By the end of the prior year, many Americans were “starting to shop online as often as [they] take out the trash”; according to the Pew Research Center, eight in 10 Americans used a computer or phone to buy something online that year – as opposed to the just 22% who did so in 2000.”

— Source: BBC

EARLY, BUT DEAD, PIONEERS in ECOMMERCE

(my hat’s off to them)

COVID-19: Further Impacts Ecommerce

COVID-19: Further Impacts Ecommerce

306 million Americans are affected by stay-at-home orders. This is 95% of the U.S. population.

(Source: Forbes)

I don’t believe in this hype that ecommerce can expand infinitely We are talking about human-to-human transactions; the method of delivery is not very important here. The method of shopping is. This presents a huge problem for UI/UX designers who now have to deal with everything. Have you tried to shop your supermarket online? How’d that go for you? Yeah, challenging. 

What I’m experiencing is massive volatility in inventory. Put something in your cart, say, Romaine lettuce. Within seconds it is automatically removed from your cart since it “NOT AVAILABLE.” This makes me unsure of what I am buying vs. what shows up at my door. I quote heavily here from this Forbes article, although I disagree with the author’s intent. There is no “good” point to this.

Time and You: Getting Along?

We (all of us) have this burning question in uncertain times of “what’s next?” I do it all day long. Ultimately, the answer is nothing. I know, very existential, but what if there is nothing to do about this situation? What if we are too fucking dumb, as a species (not a population, not a sect) to wear a fucking mask?

Ecommerce attempts to solve this disconnect. Contactless Delivery? Click this box. Self-isolating? We have a promo code for that. 

What We Are Not Addressing

With all it’s commercial power, ecommerce businesses — of any size — have failed us miserably. If I can have a can of tuna, a computer and handi-wipes delivered within two hours, um, why is my COVID-19 test taking 10-13 days to process? 

Why is Amazon not simply shipping out test kits? Is that sweater more important than my health? Seemingly so, because I can get that sweater, try it on, hate it and then return it within an hour.

Time To Step Up

We are fragile beings. Wish to be otherwise, but we are. An invisible thing can bring us to our knees, destroy our civilization and remake it in its own image. Ecommerce has evolved into the most efficient distribution of goods ever created by humans. 

Can we distribute health?

the TRAVEL JOURNALS

the TRAVEL JOURNALS

TRAVEL INSPIRES

I truly believe that we become better human beings by traveling. And I know that you do, too. Think back on your life. The smell of a new place, the unexpected, delightful, experiences. The touch that a foreign tongue has on your ear. It’s phenomenal.

I designed these journals in an attempt to capture those very feelings.

So stop looking at your computer and go have some fun!

Fast Destruct Fashion

Fast Destruct Fashion

I’ve written quite a bit about fast fashion. That’s apparel produced in weeks, shipped, and sold before the season even begins. It’s what we count on at Zara, H&M, Target, Walmart. It is simple, inexpensive but high in quantity (not quality) and it makes a ton of money.

It also is incredibly ecologically damaging in so many ways; it can bankrupt nations and cause unnecessary deaths. Not pretty. To put this into perspective:

  • Producing a pair of jeans consumes even more water — around 3,000 liters — due to the dyeing and bleaching involved, according to calculations by Quantis.
  • Making a single pair of jeans emits around 20 kg of CO2, the same amount produced during a 49-mile car journey.
  • The industry is responsible for high carbon emissions, wastewater production, and large amounts of landfill waste.
  • Fast fashion is second only to oil as the world’s largest polluter.

The fast fashion industry produces ~1 billion garments annually.

Profits are around 3 trillion dollars per year. What impact does this large amount of production have on our environment? Production at this scale is pushing our natural systems to the absolute limit.

The fast fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year.

This is about 5% of global emissions. That’s more than the emissions created by air travel and international shipping.

In 2015, the fast fashion industry used 80 billion cubic metres of freshwater.

The industry is one of the largest consumers of freshwater on the planet. To put this in perspective 80 billion cubic metres is enough to fill about 32,000 Olympic size swimming pools.

Production of textiles uses about 3500 different chemicals.

The industry uses chemicals to produce, dye, coat, and soften fabrics. Many of these chemicals are harmful to humans and the environment. Through wastewater, chemicals used to produce clothing often end up in our waterways and oceans.

Cotton is one of the most resource-intensive crops out there.

In comparison to synthetic materials cotton may not actually be better for the planet. This crop uses large quantities of pesticides and fertilizers. Globally, we use about 11% of pesticides and 24% of insecticides on cotton crops. Currently, less than 1% of cotton crops are organic. On top of this cotton requires an enormous amount of water.

I rely heavily on Print-on-Demand companies like Printify and Printful. So I becoming increasingly concerned that I am becoming part of the problem and not helping the issue

This company has a pretty smart response (and they’re cute, too! BONUS!)

U.S. Ecommerce Up 92.7%

U.S. Ecommerce Up 92.7%

  • U.S. e-commerce sales jumped by 92.7% in May, according to a new SpendingPulse report from Mastercard. In April and May, consumers spent more than $53 billion via e-commerce in the U.S.
  • Mastercard’s research also found that hardware sales and furniture sales increased in May. Year over year, online and in-store hardware sales rose by 36.2% in May, and furniture sales went up by 7.5%, per the report. 
  • U.S. grocery sales increased by 9.2% year over year in May online and in-store, which Mastercard noted as the strongest grocery sales volume for the month of May in SpendingPulse history.
 

Insight:

E-commerce, which has come to the forefront for retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a bright spot in otherwise trying times for brands. While some nonessential retailers like GameStop have seen an e-commerce boost during the pandemic, others, like Zara, are rethinking their store footprint and closing locations in order to focus on digital sales. 

Mastercard’s research found that e-commerce sales in April and May comprised 22% of all retail sales, double last year’s 11%. A recent eMarketer projection anticipates that U.S. retail sales will drop by 10.5% in 2020 overall, but e-commerce sales could see an 18% bump. 

Echoing forecasts from analysts at Wedbush and Morgan Stanley, eMarketer’s latest report doesn’t point to digital sales making up for the losses of brick-and-mortar store closures. As online sales rise, the constraints of e-commerce are coming to the forefront, especially returns and supply chain snags. It’s not clear how much consumer shopping behaviors will change, maybe permanently, because of the pandemic.

“The shift to digital ways of shopping has been undeniable, while everything else has been incredibly unpredictable,” Steve Sadove, Mastercard senior advisor, said in a statement. “The question is what changes will stick around for the long-term. Investing in your home and shopping local are two recent trends. Heightened demand for touchless services is another, which could have tremendous impact on what stores actually look like and how they blend their online and brick and mortar footprints.”

— Source

DON’T BE A DICK: ADA Compliance

DON’T BE A DICK: ADA Compliance

Ecommerce ignores those with disabilities.

We tend to think that all of our visitors have perfect eyesight and perfectly capable limbs and ears that work as expected.

Obviously, it’s not true. According to the World Bank:

  • One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries.
  • One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.

(MORE STATISTICS)

Disability Statistics in the United States

Here’s a more specific look at the number of people in the United States who could find their way to your website and who also live with various disabilities:

  • As of 2016, an estimated 3.8 million people aged 21 to 64 years were blind or had serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses
  • Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing
  • The number of people living with cognitive disabilities in the United States is equal to twice the population of New York City.

Why Care? Are You an Asshole?

Technologies that assists the disabled have evolved considerably. And now it’s time that ecommerce becomes inclusive. Yes, you gain a very largely ignored market, but it’s also just the right thing to do. I have known a few disabled people (including my own sister) who struggle with equipment and technology that is designed for the able-bodied majority. Think about it: would you be able to go about your business blindfolded? With both hands tied behind your back? No. No, you would not. So stop thinking about yourself and show some fucking empathy.

And You Can Be Sued

The ADA is actually the law. No joke. And you can enter litigation hell if you do not comply. As an example: some of the 3.8 million people mentioned above with visual impairments may use a screen reader to consume text in the HTML code of web pages, to translate it into audible speech. If text is not embedded in image properties (using alt tags), this could render the content inaccessible to visually impaired users, violating the Equality Act of 2010. — (source).

Lack of Compliance is Considered Discrimination

Given these numbers, if your website is not accessible to those with disabilities, you are leaving out a significant portion of the population. And when these users can’t easily access your website, they will go somewhere else, even if it means paying more for a service or product.

You know that discrimination against people with disabilities is against the law, so don’t do it.

My initial results seem promising but also troubling.

Solutions

I set about to understand what this means and was immersed in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There are similar global, national and industry-specific standards. I’m focusing on the ADA in this case because it’s the broadest and most applicable to my audience. So, since I’m locked down here in Los Angeles, I had a ton of time to spend learning. Here’s what I found:

Multiple Options

There are, as far as I can understand (not being a pro in this field), there a few ways you can make your site easily accessible to the disabled.

  1. You can pay a firm to audit, fix and certify your site with authority ($)
  2. Run a self-compliance test and then have it certified ($)
  3. Diagnose, fix and self-certify (NO $)
    • The paid audit & fix option is great if you’ve got a few thousand + to spend on crafting your own response through a legal team and having your site certified globally.
    • The self-compliance route is cheaper, but you will have to get pretty sophisticated with your coding.
    • Being lazy and slowly going crazy self-quarantining, I went the easiest route: self-certification. I chose EqualWeb. The self-diagnostic tool was easy, comprehensive and accurate. Better yet, they fix your mistakes with a code insertion. A Chrome extension is helpful and they have a FREE plan which allows you to enter this confusing subject, understand it and offer options. Well done, EqualWeb!

I’m purposefully not endorsing any company here simply because I have not done exhaustive research on each that would let me do so with confidence.

 

Accessible Design is Good Design”
-Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft

New Payment Options

New Payment Options

UPDATE: Newer Options with Cryptocurrency

Online payment methods have seen tremendous growth over the past couple of years.

The standard, PayPal, has dominated the ecommerce payment market for years (1999 to be exact). It is, by far, the most widely used payment service.
But there are several competing services recently which both advance and confuse consumers’ choices. We’ll take a look at two of the more advanced options here: Venmo and Zelle:

Venmo

Venmo is actually PayPal under a different name. It’s focus is on mobile payments with a social feature that can disclose who paid who (without the amount). After several lawsuits, users can opt out of that feature.
The key focus of Venmo is to make splitting payments among friends easier (dinner, rent, groceries, etc.) and not as a robust business processor. This is changing rapidly as they have begun to allow certain merchants to accept it as a form of payment. The integration with ecommerce platforms is problematic because of this and requires that the merchant also accept PayPal. There some clunky work-arounds, including the use of QR codes. Be aware that Venmo is restricted to US accounts. (Source)

Zelle

This one’s a lot more complicated. In essence, Zelle was created by major banks as a way to transfer funds quickly. Wire transfers are expensive and slow. Zelle allows almost instant deposits into your existing bank account.
Zelle is bank-centric, meaning, it’s not an app per se (although there is one) but a service and is made available through your existing checking account. In other words, you use Zelle through your bank directly. Money received does not go into a seperate, Zelle-branded account which then needs to be transferred.
The pros are that it’s absolutely free and it’s nearly instant.
The cons are that it’s composed of over 400 banking institutions who can impose any type of regulation or fee they see fit. I’ve personally ran into situations where a business account could not be used to either send or receive money (sometimes). Most smaller banks are open to using Zelle, but smaller, regional banks may not be.
Zelle’s stance on ecommerce is a little unclear. If both you (the merchant) and your consumer are already using Zelle, then it’s just an issue of requesting money and getting paid. However, if your an ecommerce merchant, it gets complicated. There’s an application, forms, tax records,and even then, you’ll need to also get a Braintree account (which is owned by PayPal!) for some reason that confuses me. Read more at: zellepay.com

Choices

As an ecommerce developer, I find that integrating either of these payment options is prohibitively complicated. I’ve integrated a few work arounds on my site and I’ll report back with how it goes. I also see an incredible opportunity here to challenge the near-monopoly that is PayPal. Other processors, like Google Pay, Apple Pay, Square, etc. are also actively developing new tech and services that will keep this marketplace fluid.

cgk.ink understands how important choosing the right merchant account is to your online business. Let’s discuss what’s most important to you:

9 + 15 =

COVID-19 Shows Ecommerce’s Strengths and Weaknesses

COVID-19 Shows Ecommerce’s Strengths and Weaknesses

An article in today’s South China Morning Post demonstrates how ecommerce has become a solid foundation of modern economics:

Chinese e-commerce platforms are scrambling to hire thousands of temporary workers, as the coronavirus outbreak and government-imposed travel restrictions have increased consumer demand for online grocery delivery services.

Their recruitment initiatives include hiring part-time staff from small firms and restaurants, whose operations are currently struggling amid the health crisis and general business slowdown.

A child waves as she sits in a vehicle carrying residents evacuated from a public housing building, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, outside Hong Mei House, at Cheung Hong Estate in Hong Kong, China February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Ecommerce is trying to absorb the impact of a virus that has quarantined entire cities. Ecommerce also has the lack of skill or willpower to patrol itself:

(This article originally appeared on ABACUS)

As the death toll of the coronavirus outbreak climbs, face masks have become a valuable commodity. Now unscrupulous sellers are starting to rise. Two of the biggest Chinese ecommerce companies, Alibaba and JD.com, said they’re clearing their platforms of shops selling “problematic” masks. 

Alibaba announced on Weibo that it removed 15 merchants for selling fake or inferior masks and reported five of them to the authorities. JD removed seven merchants, according to state media reports.
Alibaba also said it removed 570,000 mask listings suspected to be problematic and is cooperating with the police to home in on shoddy mask manufacturers.
Stats vs. Design

Stats vs. Design

I’m not really into “top 10” lists of anything, really. But this one quote caught my eye:

“I think we’re in an age of user feedback that drives well-optimised but increasingly generic executions,” argues Simon Gater, creative director and co-owner at Mad River. “The quality feedback we get from users makes it much easier to get a solid understanding of whether your work is ‘fit for purpose’ quickly, and ensures we achieve client goals at a statistical level. But as more and more people get similar feedback, we’re at risk of being filtered down the same design trend or path of execution. Because of this, we now need to work harder for that point of differentiation while maintaining the optimum user experience.”

Source: creativebloq.com

I think market research and “feedback” are essential tools that make sure that you’re not making an obvious mistake in understanding your markets. But when stats start dictating which font to use, I begin to have a problem. 

Statistical analysis has, I think, grown out of all proportion and is anathema to creativity. This reliance on numbers can produce some very boring endeavours. Why? Because context is lost when you start staring down the rabbit hole that is Google Analytics. This is glaringly apparent when people start relying on social media to either influence or straight-up decide for them what strategy to take. The users of Twitter who take the time to write a scathing review of your product really is not representative of your consumer base at all. Just look at the demographics that social media companies provide: 

Source: SproutSocial

Mob Rule

It’s important to remember that these are percentages of percentages which are created by the social media companies themselves. And -if we continue to rely on statistics, every page would either look like a fascistic Apple white space or a chaotic, laissez-faire Amazon. Statistics don’t take into account creativity, failure, accidental, surprise brilliance or the power of a deadline. It also obviates experimentation for no reason other than to do it.

Unsplash, Thank You!

Unsplash, Thank You!

As I become more interested in Print on Demand (PoD) technology, I also find that my design and creative mind is along for the journey

I am not a graphic designer. Or a designer at all. I’m a language guy. I’m finding that design and art function a lot like language. I’m also beginning to understand how very, critically important design is.

Almost all the items created by cgk.ink are sourced from the web. I approach design from my mind, first. I am, right now, fascinated by Islamic art. The fact that it is based on three shapes: circle, triangle, and square, blows my mind. These elaborate, sophisticated designs show us how the human mind can excel at imagination.

Loyal & Royal

The major trick in doing this is not to violate another artist’s intellectual property. I, personally, would be very annoyed if someone were to take an article I have written and claim it as their own — let alone profiting from it. So, I am very careful where I get my images and designs. I’ve created fantastic, long-lived relationships with other designers who are masters of their craft. And I’m happy to state that we both benefit. 

For other designs, I find that I continually return to Unsplash.com. It is a completely utopic site for people like me. High resolution, incredible work by artists and completely royalty-free and public domain. I know, unbelievable. Impossibly cool. They are the ultimate enabler for design junkies. They even have a very eloquent manifesto:

Manifesto

In 2013, we started Unsplash by giving away 10 images we had leftover from a photoshoot. Instead of letting our photos sit dead in a folder somewhere, we thought it would be much better if they were put to use to move other creative projects forward.

Unsplash was formed as the antithesis to the stock media experiences available at the time. Instead of vast libraries, licensed and presented for commercial buyers, we focused on pushing the impact of photography further than ever before by making original, high-resolution images available for anyone to use for anything.

Today, Unsplash has become a platform fueled by creators who have generously gifted hundreds of thousands of photos to be used openly for anything. We’ve seen Unsplash images inspire millions of creations, from multi-platinum recording artists to world-renowned writers.

Our aim is to celebrate the gifts Unsplash contributors make by extending the connection to their photography as far as we can. Images connect on an emotional level. They are not only how we self-express but also how we understand all kinds of information. The creative spirit is one of exploration. If creativity is a form of exploration, then an image is the perfect start.

From the beginning, Unsplash has held a particular view on the future of creativity, and our vision remains unchanged. We believe everyone is creative and that we have a responsibility to empower everyone to create. Creativity is a fundamental human need that is essential not only for progress but for feeling connected to the world and oneself. Our world is evolving rapidly. Manual to automated. Physical to digital. Earth to Mars. While we don’t know exactly where everything is headed, what we do know is creativity will be how we get there.

Our values:

  1. Share. Remix, rework, recreate. This only works if we all take part. So share, manipulate, and reshare.
  2. Care. While the Unsplash License allows you to share without the limitations of copyright, this doesn’t mean we should ignore the work of our contributors if we can help it. It is not required but when possible, support artists willing to offer their work by giving credit.
  3. Create. Art only exists because of other art. What you build becomes the next material that inspires the next artist. Without creation we have nothing so go make something.

Pretty fucking cool.

I try to attribute credit to the artists whose work I use in my store. Due to the sheer volume, I can not always achieve this. So what I do is make sure that the source file always remains unaltered so that the attribution is within the code. I could do better and I am actively exploring ways to do that without impeding the production process.

And, in the same spirit, I also believe that “without creation, we have nothing so go make something.” This is why I welcome collaboration, experimentation and I’m happy to talk to anyone who would like to replicate what I’m doing on this site. You can contact me here.

Shopify, Drop Shipping and You.

Shopify, Drop Shipping and You.

Drop-shipping is not necessarily an evil thing.

 

But it is a hell of a lot of problematic to base a business on.

 

Drop shipping is, in a nutshell, a really shitty proposition. It goes something like this:

You find a supplier in Asia (usually China) who makes consumer products for pennies on the dollar. And of course the quality is sub par, but heh, you have dreams of sitting on the beach collecting money while you nap. You come up with a snappy site and sell these items that are shipped on your behalf by your Asian business partners.

It sounds good. No inventory costs, au