Las Vegas – a place of excess, gambling and lots of bright lights. But last week it was home to Magento Imagine.
And this year more than most, Magento had a lot of explaining to do:
- The merger with Adobe;
- The sunsetting of Magento 1;
- New features and keeping its heart in the mid-market.
But amongst all the hype, there were also some phenomenal insights into where retail and ecommerce is moving.
I spent the entire three days running between a multitude of different talks and workshops. All from big-time leaders at the very forefront of the industry.
Here, I go through the three key themes mentioned time and time again that every retailer should be paying attention to:
1) Customer experience is forever expanding
You couldn’t go anywhere at Imagine without seeing the words “Expand the Experience” – it was even the WiFi password.
But customer experience these days is much more than just a cool nav-bar or simple checkout. It’s how well you customise each individual interaction with your customer.
In other words:
And Imagine was the perfect place for Magento to show off their link with Adobe in this regard – in particular with their use of Sensei.
Sensei is some seriously cool and exciting software bringing advanced AI to product recommendations for Magento retailers. Helping them:
- Learn about customer behaviour;
- automatically create segments and profiles using this data;
- then personalise site content to those customers.
Here’s a quick look at how they revealed it at Imagine:
My mind was well and truly blown! ????
But AI-based product recommendations is just one of a multitude of areas to improve when it comes to experience. We also got sneaks into how Augmented Reality and visual design continues to innovate what retailers can offer online.
All this pointing towards the fact that high-growth retailers need to be thinking about innovation when it comes to customer experience. Either that, or you’ll get left behind while competitors win.
This slide during the Hewlett Packard talk summed it all up perfectly:
2) Mobile, mobile, mobile
It’s no secret that mobile commerce has been on the rise for several years.
But I was fascinated to learn that it now takes up a third of all online orders. And the trend is continuing to move in only one direction.
As such, helping retailers capitalise on this was a huge focus at Imagine.
None more so than the brilliant PayPal-led talk on mobile and omnichannel:
One thing that seemed to get mentioned time and time again was Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).
To be honest, I’d not really heard too much about PWAs. Turns out, they’re pretty damn important for anyone wanting to make in-roads into mobile commerce.
A PWA basically turns your mobile site into an app-like experience for users.
Meaning people browse your mobile site exactly as they would an app – along with all the improved UI and UX that comes with it. (Pretty cool, right?)
And with Google continuing to roll out their mobile-first indexing, perfecting your mobile game needs to be a high priority.
3) Omnichannel is more than a pipe dream
There seems to be buzz about omnichannel everywhere you look. And some retailers could be excused for thinking it’s only for huge, enterprise-sized businesses with large budgets.
But this simply isn’t the truth. Rolling out a solid omnichannel strategy is attainable for businesses of all kinds of sizes.
I spoke to so many retailers and experts at Imagine saying that omnichannel is a must for fast-growth in the coming years.
Several talks (inevitably) spoke about how powerful Amazon can still be for online retailers:
Especially when 53% of their sales currently come from third-party sellers.
But there was also a lot about the consumer demand for offline offerings – a theory supported by Amazon’s own venture into Amazon Go retail stores.
And this all comes back to that word “experience” again. Something perfectly explained in the talk led by Matthew Wasley on using an OMS to drive growth:
The overall point being that the best way to get the most from omnichannel is about providing the same experience across all channels.
Having a clear brand identity as well as transparent availability of stock by time and location is crucial. Use the two together and omnichannel can provide a foundation to a scalable offering to all channels and customers.
Imagine was exciting, enlightening, exhausting, mind-bending – and everything in between. I felt like knowledge bombs were being dropped at every turn.
But in the end, I always come back to a quote from Creatuity on the event’s first day:
“Forget the e, forget the m – in the end it’s all commerce.”
It will always remain true that if you look at your own data and continue to innovate, there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity. Imagine is a great event to see new tech and ideas from peers, but it’s how we act after is when we see the results.