Engaging Customers & Sustaining Success Magento Imagine 2014 Session

This breakout session is titled Standing Out From the Crowd: Innovative Approaches to Engaging Customers & Sustaining Success and features:

  • Jonathan Hiltser, Head of IT, Frank & Oak
  • Paul Johnson, Sr. Product Manager, Peet’s Coffee
  • Paul Kasinski, CIO, Brighton Collectibles
  • Gorden Nugent, VP of eCommerce, Harvey Norman
  • Matthew Plant, Sr. Software Engineer, Julep
  • Ben Pressley, Head of Worldwide Sales, Magento

The only sustainable advantage is deep knowledge of and deep engagement of your customer base.

Retail is changing - you need customer engagement. If you have a store, you need to do things in-store to extend your brand and create deeper customer engagement with your brand.

For in-store experiences, brands are using tablets and Magento instead of a traditional POS system, because it's easier to incorporate social and other customer engagement features.

Loyalty programs that provide real value will create customer loyalty and engagement.

Retailers that are successfully engaging their community are generating and leveraging high quality brand-centric content.

Look at more than just high-level ROI; measure funnel metrics, A/B testing of different experiences throughout the checkout flow. Don't just use automated testing, though - engage with customers and and get their feedback on their experiences with your brand on your website.

Use A/B testing to show the facts to stakeholders to drive decisions, especially when people argue for their personal preferences vs proven improvements. Run at least 1 to 2 tests per week.

Harvey Norman "wouldn't be where we are without Magento".

Closing advice/tips from the panelists:

  • Make shopping incredibly easy - customers are online because they want to buy things quickly and easily.
  • Don't forget the traditional means of customer service - don't forget customer service. Live chat, reaching out to customers, etc.
  • Engage with customers on social media - take negative feedback about your product, reach out to them, replace it and then improve the product going forward and make it clear that it's thanks to their input.
  • Every customer touchpoint - email, in-store, on phone, live chat, site experience is a precious opportunity to build your brand - don't waste any of them. Promote brand over channel and all the channels win.
  • Remove friction. Look at where pain points are in experiences with your brand and remove friction.
  • Engage your customers and really listen.
  • Make sure your partners are mobile-ready; don't want users to click over to a partner-provided page and it not be mobile friendly.
  • Responsive is more than just mobile and tablet - large-format screens of 23"-30" are becoming more popular, so make sure your site scales up as well.



eBay Inc. Merchant Solutions Forum at Imagine 2014

Responding to requests at Imagine 2013 for eBay to give solution partners better tools to provide to our clients, eBay held a forum this morning at Magento Imagine to introduce a number of eBay and PayPal leaders to the solution partner community and outline new tools, techniques and support offerings from eBay to Magento partners and users. Bill Me Later is built into PayPal, allowing users to obtain no-interest financing for 6 months on any purchase over $100, leading to an increase in average order value. PayPal absorbs the risk - the merchant is paid immediately like a normal PayPal transaction. BillMeLater allows even the smallest merchants to offer financing, competing against has seen a 4-6% increase in their bottom line after offering BillMeLater.

PayPal offers tokenization via a Magento extension, allowing PCI-compliant saved credit cards and subscriptions for all Magento merchants.

eBay has grown the support team for Magento sites that use PayPal, and created a premium support and escalation path for Magento partners to make sure the PayPal integration process is as seamless as possible for Magento websites. Some interesting stats were shared, including that 27% of users won't make a payment if PayPal isn't available, and that merchants see, on average, a 18% sales lift with PayPal Express Checkout + BillMeLater, both of which are built into Magento now.

Braintree, a fairly recent PayPal acquisition, has powered as many 1.5 million transactions in a day. There is now a Braintree extension for Magento, and Braintree integration is coming to the Magento core.

Braintree is revolutionizing payment gateways and payment processing - built-in fraud protection, PCI Compliance scope reduced by 90%. Kount fraud protection is free for all Braintree merchants, and only a few lines of code are needed to unlock it's full functionality. Braintree handles all all of the analytics and configuration for Kount. Braintree encrypts credit card data in the customer's browser before ever transmitting it, to reduce PCI compliance scope.

Braintree has strong multi-currency support; US merchants can accept payments in 130 currencies from users in any country. They can also support multiple merchant accounts in different local currencies. Braintree's pricing is flexible and transparent; no hidden fees. They look at the merchant's current statement, and show how Braintree can save them money.

eBay is looking to bring more Magento merchants into the eBay marketplaces, including eBay Local and cross-border transactions. When merchants add eBay marketplaces, they create an incremental sales channel of a 5%-15% increase in sales, and adds up to 90% new new buyers. Because eBay doesn't compete against their merchants like other marketplaces, they share data with their merchants - eBay is only successful when their merchants are successful.  Merchants that will have the most success on eBay marketplaces have less than 10,000 SKUs and are in fashion, electronics, home & garden and business industrial verticals.

eBay showed a video of several leading brands that have launched onto the eBay marketplace, including Skullcandy and NewEgg, with an emphasis on the fact that eBay marketplaces bring new buyers and is not a discount platform - it's a viable place to sell new, full-price merchandise to buyers that you wouldn't otherwise reach.

eBay offers a Global Shipping Program which is an excellent way for merchants to ship globally without any hassles - the merchant ships to a US address and then eBay handles the international shipping. Great way to expand internationally quickly and easily.

eBay provides a number of integration options to connect eBay and Magento, and is providing dedicated technical support for Magento integrations. eBay is working very closely with M2E and other extension providers to improve and simplify the experience of bringing Magento merchants on board to the eBay platform.  eBay recommends an indirect integration through an extension like M2E for less than 10,000 SKUs. eBay on-boarding specialist says M2E is the best integration option for Magento merchants with less than 10,000 SKUs. If you have more than 10,000 SKUs, direct integration is recommended via the Merchant Integration Platform (API and feeds). If you don't have a technical team but have more than 10,000 SKUs, using an indirect integration through something like ChannelAdvisor, Mercent or eSellerPro is recommended.

The M2E extension ran 4.2 million live listings and $300 million in sales on eBay for Magento merchants in 2013. While it's a stable technology, the on-boarding process is fairly complex, taking up to 30 days.

eBay Enterprise Marketing Solutions is presenting solutions that they can provide to Magento merchants, including their affiliate network. eBay can provide an affiliate network, media services, display advertising, retargeting and more. eBay Enterprise Marketing can provide strategy and creative services - i.e., provide consumer insights, engagement, media, digital commerce strategies. eBay's Enterprise Marketing Solutions is focused on omnichannel commerce and approaches everything from the standpoint of commerce - for instance, the paid search and SEO divisions only focus on search for commerce actions and brands; many search firms 'focus' on all of search instead of just commerce-focused search.

eBay made it clear they want to provide incremental value to merchants and partners, and don't want to step on the toes of any existing solution partners - i.e., if a solution partner already has a client and is providing SEO services to that client, eBay wants to preserve that relationship between the client and the solution partner and only provide additional solutions that the partner isn't able to provide to the client. Allows Magento solution partners to offer every service a Magento merchant could possibly need either directly or via Magento industry partners and eBay Enterprise.

At the end of the session, the eBay team held an open question & answer time and answered a number of questions from the solution partner community in great detail, making it clear that they are interested in a deeper transparent relationship with the Magento community.

Overall, eBay is looking to engage with Magento solution partners to fill any gaps and make sure that our common clients have access to every service they could possibly need, driving growth for Magento merchants. In my opinion, they seem earnestly interested in this, which provides a clear place for Magento in the eBay and eCommerce world - Magento provides a platform for eCommerce merchants to thrive on, and eBay generates value for their shareholders by providing tools and services to those merchants. Given the ROI numbers that were presented today, it's truly a win-win - merchants see great growth in their eCommerce business, eBay is paid for these services and solution partners are able to help their clients grow even faster.

Quick note: In addition to live-tweeting as much of Magento Imagine as possible under the hashtag #MagentoImagine, I'm also going to attempt near-live blogging of the major events. Please excuse any typos, incomplete sentences, etc., as I am trying to put these together as quickly as possible and get them live to benefit those who couldn't attend Imagine this year.

What I Wish Someone Told Me Before My First Trip to Magento Imagine

Magento Imagine

Twitter is filled with people posting Magento Imagine 'survival guides' that read more like 'How to Survive Spring Break in Cozumel' than a guide to attending a professional conference. So, since those guides cover the basics of how to avoid passing out (get lots of rest before Imagine), embarrassing yourself (don't Tweet, especially from company accounts, while drinking) and dehydration (drink lots of water), I thought I'd share something that I haven't seen yet - a packing & prep checklist that I wish someone had given to me before my first visit to Magento Imagine. If you're going to Magento Imagine next week, here's a few tips of what to pack and how to prepare from someone who has attended before:

  1. The Magento community is a diverse and generally laid back bunch, so attire varies quite a bit from person to person. In a recent email, Magento said that most attendees dress 'business casual', and mentioned that the 'recommended' attire for the two evening events is 'cocktail attire', with 2 caveats: 1) they specifically mentioned 'Gentleman, you can leave those ties at home' and for the 2nd evening event (the 'legendary' event, which will be truly legendary in my experience) they requested black or white cocktail attire - sounds like  they have a cool theme planned. Breaking this down into simpler terms - I flipped through all of the photos that were posted to Twitter last year with the hashtag #MagentoImagine (check those photos out here) and I noticed a few trends. For guys - 99% of the crowd was wearing jeans or khakis. The jeans varied from your basic comfortable jeans to what I would call 'dress jeans'. Khakis - it may have just been me, but it seemed like you could actually tell with reasonable accuracy someone's role in the Magento world by their pants - most of the people wearing khakis were in sales, most of the people wearing comfortable jeans were developers and most of the people wearing dress jeans were presenters at Imagine. Lots of polos and lots of short-sleeve dress shirts, with some long-sleeve dress shirts and sport coats mixed in. Ladies - well, I can barely figure out what I should wear, so I'm not even going to attempt to give fashion advice to the ladies. From looking through the photos, there were a lot of dresses mixed in with other attire. Basically anything you'd wear to work is the best way to summarize it, I think. 
  2. It will be hot - very hot - during the day. 99% of the conference is indoors (the only real exception being lunch, when there's a mix of seating indoors and outdoors), but you may decide to venture out of the air conditioned comfort. If you do, the sun can be brutal in Vegas. Sunglasses, hats and sunscreen if you burn easily, and, as everyone mentions, make sure to drink lots of water.
  3. It will be cooler at night - it shouldn't be as cold as last year, since Imagine is a month later than usual, and the evening events are usually outdoors. Looking at the forecast, even at midnight on Monday night it'll still be 70 degrees (F - about 21 C), and Tuesday night they're forecasting for it to be 76 degrees (F - so about 24.4 C).  It may get a bit breezy, so if you're cool natured, you may want to bring a jacket or sweater.
  4. Whether it's email, Tweeting, taking photos or exchanging contact info, you will be using your smart phone - a lot. These venues don't always have a lot of power outlets, so I would recommend some sort of battery pack. I use the Limefuel batteries when I travel, which I can't recommend enough. I've used the smallest size (so small it's now discontinued and replaced with a slightly larger model, the 6000mAh model) for years now, and it's more than enough to fully recharge my iPhone 5 at least twice. Recently, I upgraded to the 18000mAh model to keep both my iPad and my iPhone charged up while using the personal hotspot feature on my iPhone and from what I can see, this battery could last for days!
  5. Imagine goes by FAST - so if there's a vendor you want to visit with or someone you want to make sure you meet, get in touch with them now and set aside a specific time to connect. Not everyone has a booth, and in addition to the main sessions and breakouts there's various events going on each day (the developer and designer BarCamps, Certified Developer testing, various receptions, etc) so don't assume you'll just be able to catch someone one day at the event.
  6. If you plan to gamble, bring your gambling money in cash - this serves two purposes. First, the ATMs at the casinos charge an incredibly high convenience fee, and second, it makes sure that you stick to your budget for gambling and don't go too crazy.
  7. Each hotel/casino in Vegas has some sort of theme and target audience. The restaurants, entertainment and even casino games will vary based on that theme and audience, so keep that in mind if you decide you want to visit some of the other casinos. For instance, last year we discovered that MGM has the exact same video craps game in both the Luxor and the Bellagio, but at the Luxor the minimum bet is $1 and at the Bellagio it's $5. If you're gambling on a small budget, that can make a huge difference in how long you're able to play.
  8. If you've never been to Vegas before, there are cocktail waitresses that will bring you free drinks while you're gambling. Yes, the drinks are free, but please tip at least $1/drink to your waitress. Combine this with the previous tip, and you'll see that finding a game with a lower minimum bet can give you much more entertainment and free drinks than a game with a higher minimum bet.
  9. My last gambling tip - there's a lot of advice out there about which games give you the best odds, how to 'beat the system', etc. Forget about all of that. Play what you want, what you find fun. In the end, unless you're counting cards (which, as Ben Affleck learned last week, the Hard Rock frowns on), the odds are always against you - there's a saying in Vegas - Vegas wasn't built on winners. See all those free drinks, amazing sights and sounds and gigantic hotels? They don't make their money and build their hotels and casinos by paying out huge gambling wins. So, consider your gambling budget as money you're spending for entertainment, and not an investment you're trying to double, and just have fun.
  10. The Hard Rock hotel is literally the closest hotel to the Vegas airport - it's on the same street, and a mere mile away from the airport. Some (insane, if you ask me, given the heat) people actually just walk the ~20 minute walk from the airport to the hotel, but you can also very easily grab a taxi when you arrive at the airport and you should be at the hotel in just a few minutes. That's the good news. The bad news is, it's not on the main Vegas Strip. It's about 1 mile east of the Strip, so again, about a ~20 minute walk in the heat to get from the hotel to the main sights of Vegas. The good news is the Hard Rock runs a shuttle to the Strip - it picks up at the HRH front drive and departments on the hour from 10AM to 5PM, with the return shuttle departing 15 minutes after the hour from 10AM to 5PM from the Fashion Show Mall. So if you're planning on exploring the Vegas strip after 5PM, bring cab fare or plan on a ~20 minute walk to get to the Strip. Once you get to the Strip, if you want to walk the busiest, brightest part of the Strip (roughly from the Luxor to Treasure Island), you're looking at about 2.3 miles in total, so if you don't stop (and trust me, you'll stop - there's lots of crazy things to see along that walk) it should take about an hour each way. The good news is, a majority of the way you can either use covered walkways or duck inside of hotels, shops and casinos.

I hope this list helps - if any of these items help you out, or if you just want to say hi, please don't hesitate to post a comment here or find me on Twitter as @JoshuaSWarren. Make sure to find me at Imagine and say hi!