For the second straight year, Blue Acorn was a gold sponsor at Magento Imagine. If you haven’t had a chance to go to the conference, do it. DO IT. You won’t regret it. How many other platforms host 2,000 attendees including merchants, developers, industry partners, and solutions partners…. that actually like each other?
With so much going on, it’s difficult to even begin describing all that went down at Imagine 2014, but I’ll do my best here to recap my favorite highlights:
Conversion Science Session
Our founder and CEO, Kevin Eichelberger, spoke on the tools and tactics needed to drive revenue with data. The session, briefly titled “Conversion Science – Blending Qualitative and Quantitative Data to Make Informed Website Decisions.” In it, Kevin made a rather complex approach really easy to understand. Make sure you check it out when it becomes available on Magento’s website.
The Optimization Suite
While Kevin’s session was very well attended and well received, we (accurately) expected that most merchants would want to know how to apply such tools and methodologies to their own site, which is why we co-hosted the “Optimization Suite” with our partners at Optimizely, a Magento Gold Industry Partner (and the most widely used A/B testing platform worldwide). We booked a suite by the pool that happened to be adorned with our mutual company colors, stocked it with plenty of libations and coffee, and prepared ourselves for one-on-one sessions with merchants and eCommerce consultants looking to learn more about making data-driven decisions.
Visitors took part in personal discussions with representatives from both Blue Acorn and Optimizely. Together, we spoke with dozens of companies about their business needs. While we taught them a lot about optimization, they taught us about the current state of optimization for Magento merchants and in doing so, reaffirmed our choices in technology partners in this space.
Breakthrough Sites of 2013
What good is a conference without a few awards? Blue Acorn was proud to have our client, SCOUT, recognized as one of Magento’s three finalists for the Most Innovative Feature award. SCOUT utilizes nearly all of Magento Enterprise’s native features. However, their use of Magento Enterprise’s native loyalty points feature – often misperceived as being solely for consumers – is what allows SCOUT to segment its B2B customers, giving them a UX that is dynamically tailored to them and redefining how they engage with the site.
The SCOUT Loyalty Program segments B2B customers by assigning them a certain STAR level in the program based on yearly sales. Every dollar spent earns a point. Offline orders also earn loyalty points via daily, automated imports into Magento.
These levels determine user-specific merchandising, pricing, and minimum order amounts. Points can also be used to purchase display items, promotional materials, products, and redeem free shipping.
Magento 2: Coming Into Focus
Magento made two big announcements – they released Magento Enterprise 1.14 with a shiny new responsive theme and revealed the roadmap/timeline for Magento 2.0.
The new responsive theme is going to be great for clients with a tight budget looking to go responsive. The key to remember is that responsive design is more than a theme. It’s a process. You cannot plan for and design a responsive, content-focused, mobile-first website the same way you’ve been creating websites for years. You just can’t. It requires a new way of thinking about content. So goodbye mobile theme – you have been good to us!
As for Magento 2, we’re happy to see Magento officially commit to a release date. Beta will be available by New Year’s Eve and the full version is expected on 3/31/15. But for us, the real date that matters is the release date of Magento 2.1. While it may be cool to be an early adopter, it can also be a costly headache. We’ll wait until 2.1 comes out before using it to ensure bugs are worked out. Our best guess for that date is the middle of 2015. Meanwhile, our team will continue to evaluate and prepare as releases are made available.
We are excited about what the future holds and thank you to Magento, our clients and the community. It’s clear that, day by day, Magento is becoming more and more a central cog in the ebay Enterprise team and strategy. We have 360 days until Magento 2015 at the Wynn Las Vegas April 20-22, but until then stay informed by following the #MagentoImagine hashtag on Twitter. Also, feel free to share your feelings in the comments section below.