C3 headed over to London for the event, which brings developers, agencies, tech providers and merchants together to discuss the latest industry trends and innovation.
To outline every thought-provoking statistic and compelling case study below would be quite the task, so we have summarised the key themes of the day in 4 ‘TECH’ takeaways.
We started the day listening to Andy Mulcahy (IMRG) talk about optimising online retail performance. Using a ‘customer funnel’ model, Andy explained how tracking the performance of a sample of ecommerce sites and comparing trends across the group enabled IMRG to gain further insight on what works – and what doesn’t.
According to research carried out by IMRG, functionality that you might expect to have a positive effect on conversion rate can sometimes have very little impact. Take product videos for example; many retailers might think that if a customer could view a video of their product, then they would be more likely to place an order. However, the results of the study showed no correlation between product videos and conversion rates.
One size does not always fit all and Andy’s talk was a reminder to avoid following the latest ecommerce trends for the sake of it. The key is to know your customer, know their shopping behaviours and optimise your site accordingly. Tracking the way your customers interact with your site and then focussing development on specific areas is far more likely to make a difference than simply adopting the latest and greatest innovations.
Taking a slightly more ‘head first’ approach to innovation, a few of the guests on a panel hosted by Rob Long felt that experimentation was the key to ‘break the mould’ and develop truly outstanding ecommerce sites. However, they did agree that tracking results and taking trends with a ‘pinch of salt’ is the best way to attribute success. Sophie Alway (Gene Commerce) encouraged merchants and agencies to be bold and experiment with new things.
A talk later by Jonathon Roeder explained how AI may have the solution to avoid ‘money being left on the table’, which can happen as a result of experimentation. In his talk, Jonathon spoke about the next generation of Magento Commerce, which will include product recommendations powered by Adobe Sensei. Jonathon then made an interesting point: when we have data on the behaviour of our customers, causal modelling could allow us to simulate behaviours of customers so we can experiment with sites, but without any revenue risks associated. It’s not a theory without fault, but it’s certainly food for thought!
A powerful presentation delivered by Dan Coleman from RedHotPenny HQ called for more collaboration as a solution to the problems that can come with complex agency relationships. Dan connected the dots between what merchants, agencies and tech providers want – which is, ultimately, ecommerce sites that perform – and demonstrated how this can be more easily achieved with open communication and clear objectives.
Communication and collaboration are the bedrock of Antonija Tadic’s approach to project management, which she has developed over her career in ecommerce agencies. Antonija shared her 10 tips to get the most out of a development team and, in short, she believes the key to success are honesty, integrity and teamwork. Antonija encourages young developers, especially, to pull together to find solutions and raise their hand when they need help. Collaboration is a strength, not a weakness.
By far one of the strongest themes running through the event was not on machines, as you might anticipate, but humans. The day was first and foremost an informative, inspiring and innovative discussion about the future of ecommerce, but was also a celebration of the strong community that Magento has built.
In every talk we attended, there was an energy of optimism and a real appreciation for the extraordinary things people are doing within the ecommerce industry. Antonija Tadic believes that every developer is an ‘artist with a beautiful mind’ who should proudly stand beside their code. She encourages agencies to promote healthy debate and appreciate the unique qualities that each individual contributes to projects. Dan Coleman shared his thoughts that no matter whether you are a client, a project manager or a provider, we are all human and we are at our best when all working towards a common goal. And Jonathon Roeder reminded us how far we, as humans, have come since we began developing artificial intelligence. It’s an exciting time to be in ecommerce.
In his closing keynote, Phillip Jackson summarised the sentiments of the day perfectly in one passing phrase: “Software comes and goes… but humans stick around.”