magento imagine

What I Wish Someone Told Me Before My First Trip To Magento Imagine - 2015 Edition

Are you headed to the Magento Imagine conference in April? If so, you might want to check out what ended up being my most popular article of 2014 - What I Wish Someone Told Me Before My First Trip to Magento Imagine. A majority of that article is still relevant for #ImagineCommerce 2015, with a few tweaks and new hints:

  1. Imagine 2015 is back to its usual spot on the calendar in April instead of May. That means it won't be quite as hot, but Vegas still averages a high of 80 F and a low of about 60 F during that week of April each year. It's entirely possible it will be even warmer than that - as I write this, the forecast for the next week for Vegas has highs as high as 91 F. The evening events will be cooler this year than last year, though, from the looks of things.
  2. I just want to really emphasize what my original article says about how quickly Imagine passes by. If you see someone you've always wanted to talk to - stop, and talk to them. Even if you miss a session, do it, because before you know it Imagine will be over and we'll all be headed back home. There's several people I wanted to talk to last year that I just didn't get a chance to because I said "I'll catch up with them tomorrow"
  3. Don't assume you have to go to every single session to get the most value out of Imagine. Doing so may leave you exhausted, overwhelmed and missing out on some of the best conversations that are held in the hallways, on the casino floor and throughout the hotel.
  4. This year's event is at the Wynn. The Wynn has a great location on the Las Vegas Strip - across the street from Fashion Show Mall, and at the same intersection as Treasure Island, the Mirage and the Venetian. If you time it right, you can walk down to the Bellagio (a bit less than a mile from the Wynn) and see the fountain show there, then walk back towards the Wynn and catch the volcano at the Mirage on your way back, along with seeing a number of the great Vegas casinos on your way.
  5. The official hashtag this year is #ImagineCommerce. Also, a number of Magento community members now use the hashtag #realmagento instead of #magento due to the amount of spam that occurs on the #magento hashtag.
  6. Speaking of hashtags - some of the greatest unplanned, spontaneous happenings at Imagine are organized on Twitter. Even if you never tweet, keep an eye on the #ImagineCommerce hashtag or follow me on Twitter - @JoshuaSWarren - and stay in the loop with what's going on at Imagine.
  7. A number of community members have written their own guides to Imagine. If you've written one, send me the link on Twitter and I'll post it here. So far, I recommend starting with the 'Taking Advantage - Magento Imagine' article by Karen from WebShopApps.
  8. If you haven't already, go back and read last year's article - What I Wish Someone Told Me Before My First Trip to Magento Imagine - it has even more great tips for your trip to Imagine.

I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at Imagine this year. If you see me at the conference, please don't hesitate to say hi! Don't worry if it seems weird to introduce yourself to someone you follow on Twitter but have never met; I've gotten very used to people saying "Hi, Josh! I follow you on Twitter!".

Magento Imagine Slides, Sessions and Reactions

I plan to post all of the slides, sessions and reactions to Magento Imagine that I come across in this article - I'll update this article as I find more. If you presented at Magento Imagine, please tweet a link to your slides with the #MagentoImagine hashtag and I'll add it here, or post a comment below with the link and I'll get the post updated ASAP. Thanks, and thank you everyone for such an amazing time at Magento Imagine this year - already looking forward to 2015! Simple Steps to Win the Site Performance Battle - Nexcess Breakout Session

Responsive Breakout Session Presentation by Eric Wiese

If you don't see the presentation you're interested in listed here, check the Imagine website to see if it's been posted there.

Also, there's a few reaction articles being posted, which I'll list below. Let me know if I missed your article!

Alan Storm's Imagine 2014: Magento 1.9 Infinite Theme Fallback

Wednesday Afternoon General Session Magento Imagine 2014

Well, it's that time again - time to say goodbye to Magento Imagine. With a lot of excitement in the air, the attendees of Imagine have gathered again in The Joint at the Hard Rock for the final general session of Magento Imagine. Announcing winners of the giveaways, etc.

Showing a customer success story of Terracycle, a Magento customer, and the CEO of Terracycle is now on stage.

Garbage doesn't exist in nature. Everything around us will become garbage one day. Consumption + complex materials creates garbage - we each consume 10 times more stuff than people did 100 years ago. What we buy today is what gives us pleasure, not what we need to survive. Garbage is a major issue - 5 billion tons per year. There are 5 floating garbage balls in the Pacific Ocean, each the size of Texas. 25% of our garbage ends up in the ocean, 5% is recycled.

The answer to the garbage problem is changing how we consume - buy consciously. Buy refill pouches, reusable containers, durable and not disposable items. Terracycle took an interesting path - started out selling 'worm poop liquid' in reused Pepsi and Coke bottles. Went beyond that, though, to transform the entire industry by looking at how to apply the lessons learned on that product to the entire recycling industry and the problem of garbage. Tom challenges merchants that are here to also look at the waste stream their products create and engage consumers on what happens when the product is used - collect, recycle and reuse your used products.

Now we're seeing another customer success video, this time on The Athlete's Foot in Australia, another large-scale multichannel retailer using Magento.

Now Michael Dart, author of the New Rules of Retail, is on stage. There have been 4 waves in retail - Producer Power in 1850, Marketing Power in 1950, Consumer Power in 1980 and Technology Power in 2011. Power of total accessibility - more and cheaper access, quicker and easier access, much smarter access. 80% of consumers that own smartphones are using them when shopping for major items, and it's changing their decisions.

Consumers have gone from needing stuff to demanding experiences.

Consumers have gone from conformity to customization.

Consumers have gone from plutocracy to democracy.

Consumers have gone from wanting new stuff to wanting new and now.

Consumers have gone from self to community.

Consumers have gone from technology for work to technology for life.

In this world, to be successful, there are 3 principals to think about: create a neurological connection, preemptive distribution, superior value chain collaboration.

There's 3 steps to creating a neurological connection - Pre-shopping anticipation -> actual shopping experience -> consumption or using product or service.

Preemptive distribution - reach the consumers in the most effective and compelling way before the consumer even knows they want it.

Increase collaboration among your value chain. Embed technology throughout your business and value chain.

3 retail competitive segments - commodity (driving price down), omni-channel to consumer (engagement between the brand and the consumer), extreme value.  Retailers should move towards the omni-channel to consumer and engage with their consumers.

Every retailer needs to think like they're Silicon Valley - analytics, mobility/tech, social marketing need to be core competencies.

Virtual Reality for eCommerce will the final frontier for the new rules of retail.

Now we're watching a highlight video of Magento Imagine.

Roy is back on stage thanking everyone - sponsors, the Magento team, and his final note was that even though he's leaving Magento, he's confident the eBay/PayPal/Magento team, working with the community, will continue to carry Magento forward to great things even after he's no longer involved.

Magento Imagine 2015 date has been announced - it will be April 20th thru 22nd in Las Vegas at the Wynn. Great to see the event moving to an even larger venue, and on the strip!

Inbound Marketing for eCommerce - Magento Imagine 2014 Breakout session

This session is Inbound Marketing for eCommerce: Double Down on Content to Create a Scalable Customer Acquisition Strategy with Ethan Giffin, Founder & CEO, Groove and Michael Sapera, CFO & Director of IT, Perlis Inc.

Why focus on content?

Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram - 79% of online shoppers spend at least 50% of their shopping time researching products. 57% of businesses have acquired a customer through their blog. 67% of B2C companies and 41% of B2B have acquired a customer through Facebook. So, content is important - it generates customers. Finally, Google's Panda & Penguin updates make content vital for SEO. Inbound vs outbound marketing. In inbound marketing, communication is interactive and two way. Outbound is just broadcasting a message out (TV, radio, etc). Customers come to you via search engines, referrals, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. Marketers are providing value and educating their customers to help them make a purchase decision. Seeks to entertain or educate.

Elements of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a hub and spoke. It brings in blogging & content strategy, public relations, SEO, ratings & reviews, PPC, retargeting, social media, online video, conversion optimization and email nurturing. Inbound marketing cycle - Attract -> Convert -> Close -> Delight. You turn strangers into visitors via blogs and social media. Visitors turn into leads via forms, landing pages, etc. Leads turn into customers via emails and sales workflows. Customers turn into promoters for your brand via events, social and smart content. Closing the loop on your marketing - tie everything together. Make sure you aren't just acquiring customers and then not nurturing the relationship to encourage them to come back.

Goals & Planning aka "The Mission Link"

Rare for small to medium eTailers to plan, but they should. Focus on 3 main metrics - average order value, traffic and conversion rate. GPCT - Goal -> Plan -> Challenge -> Timeline. Set realistic goals. Example goals to consider... Increase: monthly visitors, conversion rate, average order size, email list, search traffic, etc. Conversion rate worksheet at http://groov.co/1nOSFi9 (as an aside, that's a great example of Inbound Marketing and Hubspot in action on Groove's site). Optimal frequencies - test for your audience, but a guideline is 1-2 blogs per week; 4+ emails per month and 5-30 social updates per week. Start a content calendar.

10 Ideas for Creating Quality Content in 2014

Give your site some soul. Talk about yourself. Tell your story. How are you different from the big boys? What's your history? Write good content. Create buyers guides. Have an opinion. Show your expertise.

Check your product descriptions. Don't use the manufacturer's default description!

Classify your catalog - productions for promotion (low traffic, high conversion). products to remove (low traffic, low conversion - if you don't outright remove them, at least noindex them), top selling products (high traffic, high conversion), productions needing optimization (high traffic, low conversion).

Blog top lists - top problems, top solutions.

Versus & compare - interview your audience and write comparison articles because prospects are always looking for education. Type your first keyword into Google, then vs, and look at the auto suggestions are - create content around that.

Show your experience - let prospects know your project and industry experience. Create "How To's", not too technical or detailed, just to show your expertise. Great things to create videos around as well.

Stay Connected!

Social media contests - don't have to be big; even just giving away a drink koozie got hundreds of comments and entries.

Start an email welcome series.

Cart abanondment email series - multiple points of followup, start with simple giveaways. This one process saved one Magento merchant $31,000

Start a birthday email series.

Put a form on your thank you page after an order with some followup questions for birthdate and other customer segmentation info.

Send a post-purchase followup - send emails requesting reviews. Visitors expect 3-7 reviews per product. Don't use Javascript-based reviews systems, get the content on the page in a Google-friendly manner.

Q&A

More information about HubSpot connector? It will feed historical data and current behavioral data from Magento into HubSpot.

How do you get people to engage with your content? Especially people 30+ to engage with your content and social. It's challenging. There's different ways of engaging - if you're a B2C brand engaging an older demographic, it's challenging, but there's ways to do that. Don't try to get them to download an eBook - email and blog posts are the best ways to engage that demographic.

 

Magento 2 Service Layer Breakout Session Magento Imagine 2014

This session is Magento 2 Service Layer: A Deep Dive into Customer Service presented by Chris O’Toole a Software Engineer at Magento. Chuck Choukalos, a product manager at Magento responsible for the service layer, is introducing the overall idea of the service layer.

The service layer streamlines customizations to allow easier installation & upgrades and simplifies external integrations. Consolidate business logic into the service layer.

What is a service layer?

The service layer encapsulates the domain model, data source and data store in turn. The UI and the web API interacts with the service layer. The service layer in Magento 2 sits between blocks or controllers and the models. Template -> block -> service layer -> model -> resource. For controllers, controller -> service layer -> model -> resource.

Services in Magento 2 will be stateless, making them easier to expose via a REST API. No need to make multiple calls to setup and then run an action.

Example Interactions

Before service layer, the template interacts with the block, which interacts with the model. Requires 5+ calls that aren't cleanly separated. There's the possibility and temptation to access the model directly when you shouldn't.

With the service layer, there's fewer calls and the actual models are hidden from the template and block.

Using the Customer Service

Example is writing an extension which will allow you to create customers from an outside source such as PayPal, Facebook, Google, etc.

In the customer model there's 72 public methods - can be daunting. The service layer simplifies that to 25 methods.

Chris walked us through writing this customization - much, much simpler using the service layer. Bring on Magento 2!

Writing your own Service

For instance, if you want to email store owner if a customer is created via an integration. You create a new service that your code calls.

Handling Upgrades

Services are versioned in Magento 2. When interfaces are changed in Magento 2, a new service layer version is created but the old one is still there. This allows you to upgrade and then work on the migration to the new service version at your leisure.

Creating a Web API

A simple XML file defines your API route, the service it uses and resources. Magento 2 service layer team is looking for feedback on what authentication methods developers would like to see concerning API calls in Magento 2. The service layer sits between the API framework and the models, including converting JSON to the proper data object.

Benefits Provided by the Service Layer in Magento 2

  • Consistency
  • Separation between presentation layer and business logic
  • Easier to customize Magento 2
  • Backwards compatibility to make upgrades less painful
  • Create web APIs via simple XML

Q&A

Testing - integration tests are written while writing the service layers. Unit tests are also present to test the service layers. Finally, integration testing is run on the service layers.

Versioning - both services and data objects are versioned. Take a look on Github - i.e., https://github.com/magento/magento2/blob/master/app/code/Magento/Customer/Service/V1/CustomerGroupService.php 

 

Wednesday Morning Keynote/General Session Magento Imagine 2014

With a lot of groggy faces in the room after last night's legendary Imagine party, the general session started off with a bang - literally! A Native American dance group, complete with pounding drums snapping everyone awake. Jamie Clarke joined the stage, and shot Magento t-shirts containing free passes to Magento U courses into the crowd. Then, Jamie discussed how Purina used Magento to launch their innovative Just Right system.

Mark Lavelle is now conducting a chat with PayPal CEO David Marcus. As CEO of PayPal, David focuses on the vision for the future of money, and sees that money is going to change more in the next 5-10 years than it has in the past 50 years. PayPal has launched 5X new products in the past year than in previous years. PayPal connects everyone for transactions - merchants, users, people.

Open source is important for the world and for the Magento platform specifically. PayPal has recommitted to open source in the past 18 month, and has a head of open source. PayPal is releasing code into the open source community - http://krakenjs.com. PayPal wants to take payments to a better place that doesn't involve swiping a card.

David discussed Bitcoin - geeked out a bit about the math and trust behind Bitcoin and the block chain, and mentioned that if you live in a country where your currency is devaluing quickly, storing your money in Bitcoin can be your best choice, but that for now it's an investment vehicle and there's not a sufficient regulatory framework for PayPal to directly get involved with it.

David is discussing his background and path that brought him to PayPal. As a fast growing business, you have to work hard and find your growth vector. Best quote - starting a business and growing it involves "hundreds of near death experiences".

Now we're watching a video about Alex and Ani, and why they selected Magento to power their fast-growing business. They selected Magento because it allows you to customize your store's visual presence. Finally, they mentioned that they have ran 3 different Super Bowl ads and Magento powered through that level of traffic with no problems at all - Magento scales!

Now Carey Lohrenz, the Navy's first female F-14 pilot, and among the first to fly on and off aircraft carriers. Spent 10 years planning, briefing and executing missions as a Navy fighter pilot. As an F-14 pilot, it wasn't just physically and intellectually demanding, it also required managing and leading a squadron flying $1 billion worth of military equipment. You don't win in a competitive environment when you're looking down responding to emails - you win when you're engaged. You should be the catalyst.

Purpose, focus and discipline allows you to succeed. If you lose sight, you lose the fight, as F-14 pilots say. Be tenacious. Be able to be a great teammate and make excellent decisions even in impossible situations. Live on the edges of the envelope - if you aren't a bit afraid, if you don't have a fear of failure, you're not pushing forward hard enough. There's a connection between failure - people who define failure as something that has taught them a lesson are more successful.

Fear hates focus. Identify 3 priorities and focus on them and success to eliminate fear. Don't be afraid to share lessons you've learned with the entire community. Stay focused on what matters and have a sense of purpose - keep working as if you have the opportunity you want.

Plan - don't just fight fires, but plan - have clear objectives / rules, have expectations /accountability and plan to debrief. Even in creative fields, you have to have structure and planning. A written plan increases your chance of success by 90%. Be committed to excellence.

Watching a video of night landings on aircraft carriers and how pilots work through the fear involved - stay focused on what matters and knowing what you need to accomplish. Fighter pilots and high achievers aren't fearless - they just use the fear and power through it.

Now we're watching another Magento customer success story - City Winery. City uses iPads and Magento to provide a paper-less, ticketless system. Magento provided 70% of what they needed out of the box. Magento gave them a solid foundation that scales and doesn't crash.

How Behavioral Economics of Gifting Impacts Commerce Magento Imagine 2014 Session

This session is titled The Gifter’s Dilemma: How Behavioral Economics of Gifting Impacts Commerce and is presented by Kristen Berman, Co-Founder, Irrational Labs and Roy Erez, Co-Founder & CEO, Loop Commerce. Buying gifts is challenging - is it the right style? Size? Will they like it? Is it the best possible gift?

There are financial relationships and social relationships. Gifts should be focused on the social aspect of relationships. A gift is an absolutely personal and thoughtful gesture that retailers are trying to facilitate.

Gift sections, gift registries and wish lists are a good way to facilitate gift purchases on your eCommerce website, but it's not enough.

Social rewards motivate people more than monetary rewards.

Giving physical gifts is more social; giving cash is more financial. Registries and wish lists fall on closer to the financial side of relationships.

Giving items from a wish list or registry are perceived as the same as giving cash or gift cards - impersonal and provide less social benefit.

Gift receivers that were surveyed preferred risky gifts - even if the gift isn't something they like. The least appreciated gifts were cash and gift cards.

Merchants should work to make gifting more social than transactional. A few ways to do this:

  1. Remove price from the gift - gift receipts
  2. Reduce the risk of gifting
  3. Make exchanges easy
  4. Help gifters show the effort (but not the price) they put into the gift
  5. Create opportunities for gifting
  6. Gifting is a year-round opportunity

Gift giving today does not make it easy for people to succeed at gift giving - we have to help people give more gifts that are in the social domain and are a bit risky.

Responsive Evolution Breakout Session Magento Imagine 2014

This session is Brendan Falkowski's Responsive Evolution: Refining Priorities in Multi-Device Frontend Strategy presentation. Brendan will post slides for the presentation soon, and he moves fast, so I won't cover everything here.

Multi-device commerce keeps changing and becoming more important. Users are switching from device to device, and just expect responsive design now. So look beyond responsive design to frontend strategy.

Content, branding, copywriting, interaction, user flows, information architecture, code, emotion and performance are all part of frontend strategy.

Gall's theory - start with a working simple system.

Are your systems, values and goals fitted to the new multi-device environment?

Priorities - focus on maintainability and respect performance.

Your frontend needs a steward - someone promoting design patterns and maintainability.

And, honestly, guys (and gals) - Brendan's too good of a presenter; I'm wrapped up in the content and can't keep up with him. So, check out the slides when he posts them!

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.

 

 

What Happens in the Lab, Stays in the Lab User Research Imagine 2014 Session

This session is titled What Happens in the Lab, Stays in the Lab: 10 Secrets to User Research, presented by 2 user research leads from eBay Enterprise: Elizabeth Zietlow and Palak Desai. eBay Enterprise has two eye-tracking labs and one mobile/tablet testing lab for user research. Will discuss why research matters and the right research methods and when to apply them, as well as how to get the biggest bang for your research dollars.

#1 - OTB - Pick your Objectives, Timing and Budget. What's your objective - who are you studying, what's the purpose, what's it going to inform? What's your timeline? Where should you insert your user research? Finally, budget - understand what your budget is, or even figuring out how much you research you can do without a budget. There's an approach for all teams, you just need to start with the OTB questions.

#2 - You can't please everyone. Focus on your defined objective. Competitors can be used for inspiration, but don't use them for validation. Use user experiments for validation. Look at business needs, consumer needs and technical needs.

#3 - Technique matters. Apply the right type of interview technique. Three techniques - reflect back, think aloud and observe. Think aloud technique is great for evaluating a discrete piece of an interface and you want to understand how users process that interface, but isn't a great blanket technique for everything. Observe technique is great for evaluating an overall design. Create real tasks for your user group to complete so you can get out of the way. Reflect back is an interesting technique - you interview users about a recent experience and ask them to reflect back on it.

Using these techniques allowed eBay Enterprise to recommend 2 checkout page changes  that increased the page's conversion rate by 34%.

#4 Beware of smoke & mirrors. Online testing, mouse tracking and heat mapping vendors push their products as a cheaper, better, faster approach to usability testing vs in-lab research approach. However, these methods help with specific questions, but can't replace in-lab research. Mouse tracking does not always work - in some cases, there is a 10% or less correlation between where someone's mouse is and where their eye is. Heatmapping is good for answering a single question - i.e., where is someone looking.

As an example, a video was shown of an eye-tracking study of a user shopping online, and the vast majority of the time, the user's mouse was not in the same location as the user's eyes were focusing on.

#5 Keep it real. Remember that we are too close to the industry, so you need to get out and talk to 'real' people. For instance, Google interview users in NYC and asked them if they knew what a browser was, and only 8% of the general public had a correct idea of what a browser was. Also make sure the users involved in your research aren't too far away from the industry - i.e., don't ask vegans for feedback on Omaha Steaks website. And don't find people who are too biased - i.e., existing customers or fans.

#6 Cheat a little. Cheat on complex audience, interface or insight to keep testing simple.

#7 Seeing is believing. Bring all stakeholders into the lab - designers, developers, managers - so that they can see real user reactions to their work. Seeing is believing - watching real users can be better than trying to guess based on analytics data.

#8 Sometimes people can't explain themselves - for instance, an eye-tracking test showed that when men and women were showed a baseball player and asked who it was, women looked at the face. However, men looked at the face and the crotch. They wouldn't have told an interviewer this - what people say they do and what they actually do are two different things - so eye-tracking and using the right observe techniques is important.

#9 Make the right connections - use a multidisciplinary approach to get viable, deep results. Bring user research, strategy and analytics together. Use analytics to pose questions that user research can then help answer - for instance, if analytics shows users aren't using layered navigation, use user research to find out why not. Then go back to analytics to determine the value of solving that problem.

#10 It's not all or nothing - continual, incremental research activities are valuable.

#11 Visit eBay Enterprise at booth 93 to see a live demonstration of user research and usability studies.

All in all it was amazing to hear all the different industries eBay Enterprise has worked with for user research - they've helped everything from swimsuit sites, a major toy website, clothing brands and even a hosting company's server configurator.

 

Tuesday Morning Keynote Magento Imagine 2014

This year's theme at Imagine is Transform - transformation in commerce. Powering brands of all sizes - not just large brands - to connect to their customers and compete on a level playing field. Roy Rubin's keynote is covering 4 types of transformation - industry, business, community and merchants. The following notes are from Roy's keynote.

Industry transformations - major brands with brick and mortar stores are cutting store sizes by 25%. Online pure-plays are now also opening brick and mortar stores, as the major brands shrink.

eCommerce is growing at 16%, traditional is growing at 5%. 60% of consumers use mobile shopping and 54% of users are multiple device users.

Business transformations at Magento - eBay Enterprise and Magento were merged to help Magento better help merchants. Merchants can take on different individual services from eBay Enterprise to help them compete.

Magento powered $26 billion in transactions in 2013. More than 240,000 businesses now use Magento, a 60% year over year growth. There's approximately 3,000 merchants using Magento Enterprise. Magento is the #1 platform for the Internet Retailer Top 500 mid-market list, and achieved this in under 6 years.

Magento has 26% market share in Germany, 45% Australia, 42% UK, 30% France.

Community transformations - Ben Marks is the new Magento developer evangelist, which is awesome news for our community.

New Magento certification - Magento Solution Specialist, which helps people avoid unnecessary customizations and better understand how to use Magento to meet business goals.

The single most important decision in the history of Magento was to launch it and keep it an open source platform.

The developer is the agent of change and a big part of why Magento is so successful.

The top verticals for Magento are Fashion, Manufacturers, B2B, Food & Beverage, Home & Garden.

Merchants using Magento are powering anywhere from $5 million to $600 million sales per year.

CEO of BoxPark is now taking the stage. Boxpark is the world's first pop-up mall, and is built from shipping containers. Retail is entertainment - buying in store make people feel special. Boxpark looked at a number of systems and found Magento is the best system out there - picked it primarily because there's lots of people already on it, largest small to medium enterprise platform and because of the large ecosystem.

Roy is back on stage. eBay marketplace (i.e., traditional eBay.com) has transformed itself in the past year. eBay Fashion is using social and magazine-style layouts to reach young shoppers.

Jane Norman, a large London fashion brand that uses Magento, used a Magento extension to list a portion of their inventory to two eBay stores - one selling under their name and one for clearance products and has seen massive success with this.

Stella and Dot, a 'pop up shop in your home',  reaches new fantastic highs and challenges the boundaries of commerce using Magento.

Magento has powered the transformation of hundreds of thousands of merchants and developers. Roy and Magento are looking to us to challenge the industry, strive for greatness.

Roy is now introducing Mark Lavelle, who is the SVP for Product at eBay and the General Manager

Building a transformative company - you need passion, dedication (including 100% dedicated to your team), love (to see you through the deep, dark moments).

Mark started out at eBay doing strategy at PayPal. One of his first projects at PayPal was buying Magento.

1) Product Roadmap

2) eBay's shared purpose underpins everything that eBay does.

3) Forces transformation global commerce

4) eBay Enterprise + Magento

5) Product Vision

Magento Community 1.9 and Magento Enterprise 1.14 are now available. Magento 2 will be the most modern, flexible, scalable and open commerce platform in the world. Magento 2 beta will be available December 2014, with a release candidate in March 2015 and a final production-ready version soon after (my guess is - at Imagine 2015).

eBay's dedication to open source commerce is stronger than ever and will not waver.

eBay and Magento share a common purpose - connected commerce. Creating more opportunity for humans all across the globe. eBay is building the most advanced omni-channel commerce solution in the industry. Each product and service within eBay's portfolio can be used individually or together. Magento lies at the heart of eBay's commerce technologies. Merchants need to own every aspect of the touch points with their consumers, and Magento powers that. Regardless of your vertical or stage of growth, eBay Enterprise understands your needs and can support you.

Brands need exceptional experiences, speed to market, low cost of ownership and scale, which Magento meets and exceeds. Magento has superior out of the box features and design, can launch in weeks and is the undisputed TCO leader. Magento scales - there are merchants reaching $1 billion/year.

Magento 1.9 and 1.14 will include responsive design, Bill Me Later and PayPal Express Checkout Improvements. 1.14 will support faster search indexing.

Paul Boisvert, director of Product Management at Magento, is taking the stage to discuss more about these changes. The responsive reference theme allows a 50% reduction in time to market, and it's likely that building a responsive theme in 1.9 will take less time than building a desktop-only theme in 1.8.

PayPal Express Checkout now has one less step and integrates Bill Me Later in Magento 1.9 and 1.14.

The responsive reference design in Magento 1.9 is approximately 60% lighter by eliminating duplicate styles. It's a beautiful new theme.

Christopher Murray, eCommerce Leader of Global eTransformation at 3M is taking the stage. 3M is shifting all of their sites to be fully responsive.

The new responsive theme in 1.9 and 1.14 makes responsive accessible to everyone.

Brent Peters, CTO & VP of Product Development at eBay Enterprise is taking the stage. Brent worked with IBM for 22 years working with operating systems, web application server, etc. Worked with Apache, Eclipse.org, OpenSocial. Very development-focused. Making sure that Magento 2 is built on the latest technologies that are out there. Standardizing on HTML5, CSS3, jQuery. Adding support for PHP 5.5 and MySQL 5.6. Want to make Magento 2 easy for developers to customers. Magento 2 will improve performance and scalability, and will ship with a benchmarking system to prove it. Customizations in Magento 2 will be much easier, including separating business logic from presentation.

Magento 2 team is sharing documentation as it's developed on their wiki, and is pushing weekly. Magento 2 wants the community's feedback - check the site out from Github and provide feedback.

Once Magento 2 is released in production, Magento 2 team will move to an agile release cadence - meaning that changes will be pushed out faster, no more yearly release cycles.

eBay is making Magento + eBay Enterprise the top choice for fast-growing, top retailers of the world.

Discussing #MagentoDiscuss

If you don't know what #MagentoDiscuss is, check out the original blog post and GitHub repo Several of us discussed getting together at Magento Imagine to have a meeting about the Magento Discuss idea and to get something live to start the process. However, in a classic example of the "shoemaker's children" (or the mechanic's car, which I think is easier for some of us to relate to) we have yet to meet. I should've known - the people most interested in discussing #MagentoDiscuss are the people most involved in the community, who tend to be the busiest people at Magento Imagine. In other words - putting together this meeting is going to be a challenge.

What I'd like to recommend, then, is that we go ahead and setup a site and plan on hosting the discussion virtually after Imagine on that site. That'll allow people who couldn't make it to Imagine participate as well.

As I mentioned on the GitHub repo, I think that this site should not be hosted or sponsored by any partner or other company - it should be completely independent and non-commercial. So, I propose that we setup a site on a VPS (Linode comes to mind, but I'm open to suggestions), running the Discourse discussion forum software that several people have suggested. The VPS login information and the domain name registrar account information used to register the domain should be known to 3 members of the community, ideally from different backgrounds and interests.

We also need to make sure we don't use Magento's trademarked terms, so I'd like to propose a combination of the words 'Magento' and 'Community' - MageUnity, if you all don't think that's too cheesy. I think it sums up our efforts well.

If I get at least 5 community members saying "let's do this" here or on Twitter and suggestions for the 3 people who should have access to the login information to the hosting provider and domain name registrar, I'll put the ball in motion and we'll get this site setup and continue the discussion there.

And, of course, the offer to discuss in person is still open - if anyone wants to meet and discuss in person, let's do it. I'll be at the networking event this evening at 7PM.

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 Overstock.com 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!