IRCE Session: Make the Most of Your Traffic: Maximizing Conversion

This is the IRCE session Make the Most of Your Traffic: Maximizing Conversion, presented by Karen Van Ert, Director, E-Business Consulting - Zeon Solutions and Lauren Wright, Marketing and Merchandising Manager - Cooper Safety Supply. Research your current data - Google Analytics, etc., then develop some ideas of what you might want to change. Before moving into split or multivariate testing, perform user testing. This will help you see why consumers are doing what they're doing now. Also check with your customer service team and see what people are asking.

One conversion rate test led to a revenue increase by 220%.

Some tests have even helped increase organic search ranking.

There are multiple ways to look at improvements. Don't look at just conversion rates while optimizing - if your conversion rate increases 50% but it's because you drop your prices and your average order value plummets, that's not a success.

Test around video and all image displays, test on-site search optimization (zero results pages, low converting terms, etc), test the number of products displayed on each page.

Test regularly - seasonal changes impact conversion rates.

Know your goal and monitor ad spend, traffic, conversion rate and AOV together.

Always consider consumer intent.



IRCE Session: How the Video Experience is Transforming the Way People Shop

This is the IRCE Featured Address, How the Video Experience is Transforming the Way People Shop, presented by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Chairman & Founder - Joyus. Joyus made their default experience shop by video instead of shop by product.

78% of consumers watch at least one online video per a week.

Video accounts for 50% of mobile traffic.

Content and commerce convergence is here - provide excellent video content.

Shopping at Joyus is video-focused. Video player is the product page, with a carousel on the side that allows you to add the product currently discussed in the video can be purchased.

Use product videos to give how-to content, show different looks, etc. Don't use it just to show different views of the product.

Video commerce is about the art of Selling Special. Video is a way to focus the customer's attention. It works best for a curated selection, not an overly wide selection.

Video-first commerce requires great merchandising, finding hero products, trusted expertise, product-led selling.

Find hero products. Make sure it's a solution to a real problem your customers face. Provide a way for customers to discover new brands and products. Make sure these products are unique.

Establish credibility, trust & affinity with the right expert in your product videos - again and again. Use the same expert in your videos - it establishes a connection between the customer and the expert in the video. They'll come back and buy more because they establish trust for that person.

It’s better to bring your best product experts in to your product video project and then train them on the on-camera skills. Authenticity is important.

Videos should feature 1-4 products max, showing the best product first, with 3 unique selling points. Single product videos outperform. Keep them to 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

Measure video ROI through revenue per video. Some of the best videos take 1-2 years to mature.

Effective videos have 0.5% - 5% video view conversion rate, $0.50 - $2.00 revenue per view.

30-60% completion rate on video - once a user commits to watching a video, they tend to finish it.

55% of users will watch the video no matter what product or host - they find the video entertaining.

Capture maximum video ROI via aggressive distribution - distribute your video to as many places as you can.

Editorial partnerships drive reach for your videos.

Distributed & real-time shippable video player is critical to success - this way when video is embedded on other sites, users can buy directly from the video.



IRCE Keynote: Connecting with Consumers by Giving Them What They Want

This is the IRCE keynote, Connecting with Consumers by Giving Them What They Want, presented by Niraj Shah, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder - Wayfair is #45 in the Internet Retailer Top 500.  Listen to shoppers to decide what to do next.

Be customer-service focused. Enable customers to choose how to interact and find your products.

Many customers don't know what they are looking for until they see it, so you need to marry inspiration with selection.

Visual navigation matters.

Customers love deals and savings - especially daily sales that offer more value in a curated format at a rapid pace.

Everyone shops differently - don't look at customers as just one group. Segment your customers. Some shoppers are shopping for a specific need. Some shoppers are looking to discover something new and unexpected. Practical purchases vs individualization vs inspired impulse shopping.

Meet customers where they are - customers are incredibly busy and have more demands on their attention, so get them started engaging with your brand on their smartphone.

Get personal - produce individualized shopping experiences - quicker access to items that customer will like.

Get engaged in social media on Pinterest and Instagram.

Use the Top Pins API on Pinterest to offer another way to explore your product assortment.

Social & community engagement comes out of true interest, and truly interested users become repeat customers.

Instagram is Wayfair's fastest growing social channel. Connect with customers in real time with compelling images from events, blogger conferences, trade shows, etc.

Listen and take action - make real changes to the business based on customer feedback.

One of your eCommerce metrics should be customer enjoyment of their experience with your brand. 

Change things continually to keep improving the customer experience.

Customers are asking for more personalization and a better mobile experience.

IRCE Session: Building on Strengths: Why Data Should Change Your Marketing Plan Every Quarter

This IRCE session is Building on Strengths: Why Data Should Change Your Marketing Plan Every Quarter, presented by Ryan Bonifacino, Vice President, Digital Strategy - Alex and Ani.  Foundation for success - centralize digital under one department. eCommerce + Analytics tie into digital marketing and social media, and all three should be generating usable analytics and data, sharing that data and making decisions based on that data.

Get your relationships working in a healthy way - you don't want CMO and CIO fighting each other for budget. They should be working together.

Research heavily and define rules and roles - CIO, CTO and CMO should all work together.

Build a knowledge base of potential partners and vendors.

Brands should bring in the best agencies that can provide expertise in each specific niche/need of digital.

Each digital team member at Alex & Ani tracks one other eCommerce retailer and tracks what technologies they use, what they're doing.

Bring in really smart, innovative people to your company to speak with your team to keep them informed on what's going on.


IRCE Session Recruiting Bloggers as Affiliates: Why—and How

This is IRCE session Recruiting Bloggers as Affiliates: Why—and How, presented by Carolyn Kmet, Chief Marketing Officer - All Inclusive Marketing and Carrie Rocha, Blogger -  Bloggers have an established, third-party credibility with loyal, engaged audiences with creative positioning extending brand reach.

Keep in mind FTC rules that bloggers must disclose if you've paid them or provided them with a giveaway, etc. Make sure you realize you will lose some brand control.

Bloggers need to have a personal connection with your brand. Bloggers are seen as a subject matter expert, so they don't want to do anything to risk that, so they focus on their mission first, money second. 

Find bloggers by searching on your target keywords, and then look at their level of engagement with their audience. 

Bloggers are looking for reliable brands to work for - quality products, accurate information, high-quality customer service.

Every blogger has a unique audience - don't send an email blast to all potential bloggers, connect with them with an email/offer tailored to them and their audience.

Bloggers share contact, connections and experiences with each other.  If you provide a great experience, the bloggers will talk and other bloggers will want to work with your brand. 

Measuring blogger ROI: traffic, gross revenue, new/existing customer ratio and long-term-customer-value. Also look at brand engagement - tweets/RTs, comments, shares, etc. Share metrics with your blogger affiliates.

Bloggers measure success by looking at what their readers say - readers response and engagement via comments, shares and sales. Opened communication channel with brand for future projects.

As a personal aside - retailers, please remember that bloggers are a business - don't expect them to work for free, and treat them professionally.


IRCE Session: Lessons from the Internet Retailer Second 500

This IRCE session is Lessons from the Internet Retailer Second 500, presented by Stefany Zaroban, Associate Director, Research - Internet Retailer.  There's lots of lessons we can learn from the Internet Retailer Second 500 - the 500-1000 largest eCommerce sites.

The Internet Retailer Second 500 includes retailers from under $1 million up to around $23 million.

#1 lesson from the 2nd 500: it's getting tougher to compete, but there's still plenty of room for a good idea.

The biggest retailers are gaining market share - 2013 eCommerce sales was 16.9%; top 500 was 17.1%; second 500 was 14.1%

Growth is slowing among small retailers - was 17.7% in 2011, down to 14.1% in 2013.

This is largely due to Google - harder to get noticed; PLA's now cost money; gmail challenges - and Amazon - growing market share and raising customer expectations.

50% of emails are now opened on a mobile device - optimize your emails for mobile!

94% of the Internet Retailer second 500 posted an increase in sales in 2013.

Only 10% of the Second 500 have mobile apps - they're all moving to responsive design.

In the apparel & accessories industry, the second 500 retailers are growing faster than the top 500 retailers.

Second 500 merchants are investing their time and money in social media - primarily in YouTube and Facebook, but Twitter and Google+ have shown largest year over year growth.

These merchants are also investing in paid search. The median paid search spend for retailers making <$1mil - $20mil/year is $13,000 per month.

Secrets of success of fast-growing smaller eCommerce retailers:

  1. Be different
  2. Be an expert in your niche and with your target customer
  3. Be cool

Interesting/cool examples:

  1. - establish a niche in a category ripe for growth; build social media into your business model
  2. - innovative business model, fresh thinking, advanced B2B functionality
  3. - manufacturer direct to consumer, fresh site design, product-focused. Very image-focused; few words, convey benefits via images not just words.

Make sure your customer experience with your brand is better than any other brand in your market.

How to Compete as a Niche in Today's Mass Market

This is IRCE session How to Compete as a Niche in Today's Mass Market, presented by Shelley Nandkeoylar, Chief Executive Officer, President, Founder - The Ivory Company. Niche brands should view their role as curators - you won't be the cheapest, you won't have the largest assortment. Have a limited point of view, but become the expert on that point of view.

Omnichannel means one view, one experience, one brand among all channels and experiences, no matter how many channels you have.

Serve your customer - relentless focus on your customer; understand that customers value distinctiveness. Look to create magic.

Niche brands should have distinctive merchandise to compete effectively.

Exclusive merchandise brings margin. Margin gives you the ability to invest in customer acquisition and experience.

Niche brands must focus on executional excellence. Every order is another opportunity. Focus on doing fewer things well. Cannot be everything to everyone. 100% metric and KPI centric. Steer away from 'shiny ball syndrome'. Constant small improvements.



IRCE Session: Five Hot New Technology Developments

This is the IRCE Session: Five Hot New Technology Developments from the technology workshop. Presented by Aaron Mandelbaum, Howard Blumenthal, Marta Dalton, Ross Higgins and Ryan West. Please forgive any typos - my Macbook battery is drained and my external battery pack for it apparently has failed, so I'm doing my best to keep you updated from my iPad.

SEO & Social

Manual penalties are now being applied to guest posts - SEO now depends on solid content and inbound marketing.

Responsive design is now a must - adaptive design is the next thing etailers need.


Personalization takes a village - need buy-in and integration across all departments and tools - CMS, POS, CRM, marketing automation all have to work together to make personalization work well.

Flavors of personalization:

Email SEM Products Mobile Content


Anonymous visitor Known customer/lead eCommerce Sales Lead

Personalization Journey:

Awareness -> Interest -> Consideration -> Intent -> Evaluation -> Purchase.

Don't isolate customers from information and products that might be interesting to them through personalization - don't over-personalize.

Don't overpersonalize in the awareness, interest, consideration or intent portions of the journey, or it can seem creepy and scare off customers.

Personalization has driven average order value up 30%, conversion rates up 15% and 150% increase in line items per order.

Have initial segments & targets - don't try to target too many segments in your first personalization attempt.


Macro to Micro - macrolocation is provided by geoip, converting their IP address to their general location. For instance, for store-pickup-only items, use geoip to target customers local to your stores with those.

iBeacons and similar technology are powering microlocation - targeting offers and providing payment services for customers based on their exact location in a store.

Advanced Analytics

Tag management - leveraging all of the different data to create and analyze segments on the fly.

Use tag management to feed what server a user is on to your customer satisfaction survey, so you can identify server-specific issues.

New tag management technologies give you new ways to better leverage your existing tools and provide new views of data.

Usability & Design

NewEgg adds hundreds of new features every year. NewEgg used QR codes for MSRP/MAP policies so that users can get prices without providing personal information or starting checkout.

Your site should be easy to use, meet customer needs and never give customers a reason to leave. Remember if customers can't find a product, they can't buy it.

For UX - look for the voice of the customer and the behavior of the customer. Use social media, feedback surveys and comments on the web to see what customers are saying, then use website analytics, split and multivariate testing and user testing to measure the behavior of the customer.

Do usability testing - even if you do it at a Starbucks or in your conference room, just do it. Start with 1-5 participants.

Test early & often, test the old design and test your competition.

IRCE Session: Harnessing Video to Boost SEO

This IRCE session is from the Video workshops, and is entitled Harnessing Video to Boost SEO, presented by Stephan Spencer, Co-Author - The Art of SEO and Jamie Salvatori, Owner - Vat19. SEO requires good content. Your videos need to be good, first and foremost. Make them interesting and engaging and keep people coming back. SEO doesn't fix bad content. Make a video worth SEO efforts. It's difficult, it's an art form, not a process, and there's no formula.

Top 100 subscribed YouTube channels (excluding pop artists) average 2,900 videos per channel. Top 100 channels by views (excluding pop artists) average 9,200 videos per channel - you have to produce a lot of videos, regularly.

Tips to creating good video:

  • Filmmaking is a profession
  • Quality never goes out of style
  • It's not about equipment
  • It's not about technique
  • Treat your art as an ad and you will create an ad
  • Hire professionals
  • Sell benefits, not features
  • Show - don't tell. Don't making it a moving picture version of Powerpoint.
  • Match your video to the tone of what you're selling
  • Embrace your limitations
  • Show the product early - don't hide it
  • Don't open video with your logo or jingle - end videos with that
  • Obsesses over audio - music is a faster emotional connection than video
  • Keep it short
  • Concept and content matters more than technical specifications and equipment
  • Never give up

Anyone can figure out SEO and SEO really does work - the presenter's daughter, who started at 14, made as much as $1000/month from Google AdSense via SEO.

YouTube is the #2 search engine by query volume. Google searches and YouTube searches are different, so research YouTube keywords. Do your keyword research - target the right keywords, and keywords you can rank on.

Use to search on all the major search engines - pulls realtime suggestions from each major search engine on one page.

There's a YouTube keyword tool you should be using for your product and brand videos.

Be remarkable - public unique video-based content:

  • Podcasts - i.e., Rooster Teeth
  • Screencasts - use Camtasia or Screenflow
  • Microsites - i.e.,
  • Explainer videos - Crazy Egg Explainer Video
  • Whiteboard drawings - i.e., RSA Animate
  • Animation  - Quantitative Easing Explained - using xtranormal

Seed linkworthy videos from power user accounts - people who have a large fan base or a lot of subscribers who will produce and post content for you.

Your target keyword should appear in your video title, with your brand at the end. Your keyword should also appear in the video description, and there should be a link to your site. Use tags - don't use thruway words like "and" & "to". Use adjectives as well as category descriptors. Tag list is capped at 120 characters. Make full use of this. Tags can be found either in the source code, or using a Chrome extension.

Custom video thumbnails appear in both YouTube and Google search results and can drive a higher click-thru rate than your title.

Keep your videos short - 5 minutes or less.

Are you at IRCE this year? If so, make sure to join the official, attendees-only IRCE LinkedIn Group.

IRCE Session: Video Without Breaking the Bank: Creating Professional Videos on an Amateur's Budget

This session is from IRCE's Video workshops. It's entitled Video Without Breaking the Bank: Creating Professional Videos on an Amateur's Budget. Presented by Angie Seaman, E-Commerce Manager - Marbles: The Brain Store.  Marbles has a lot of products that are unique but hard to demonstrate via a website, so product videos have to really make it clear how a product works - for example, the Catchoo product video.

Marbles uses videos for different purposes - showing how to use a product, customer service and to give details from the inventors of different toys as to how and why they invited it.

Introduce products with video, but also introduce your staff as product authorities via video.

Marbles started with little technical knowledge about video, and learned by doing.

Video on a budget requires patience & resourcefulness:

  • Make the most of what you already have
  • Learn online for free (or low cost)
  • Be willing to experiment and learn from it

Video also requires time & space:

  • Budget a lot of time to experiment and edit
  • You don't need a dedicated space but it helps
  • Pick a quiet time and a room with good acoustics

Video equipment - can get started for less than $1,000:

  • DSLR camera that shoots HD video - $650
  • Lights - under $200 - Marbles ran PVC piping around the room and connected CFL lights to the piping
  • Sound - about $150 - need a decent external microphone
  • Editing software - $99+

Talent - look at your existing team and have them try roles they're interested in:

  • Videographer
  • Editor
  • Writer
  • Actor


Are you at IRCE this year? If so, make sure to join the official, attendees-only IRCE LinkedIn Group.

IRCE Session: Navigating Choice: Platform Selection & Implementation

This session is Navigating Choice: Platform Selection & Implementation, a session of the IRCE tech workshop. The presenters are  Kim Hansen, Senior Vice President, Marketing, E-Commerce - Winston Brands, Nicole Tolbert, E-Commerce Manager -, Kerry Martin, Vice President, Senior Consultant - FitForCommerce and Joe Warfield, Technology Director - Mardel. Many people are selecting platforms based on what has the best support for omnichannel, even when a large number of people don't understand what omnichannel means.

Multichannel integration and web content management such as product information are top priorities for eCommerce platforms.

42% of eCommerce sites are running on an in-house platform. 49% are on a commercial platform, and 9% use both. Most are moving to commercial platforms to gain a strategic edge.

Time to change platforms:

  • Falling behind the competition
  • Missed benchmarks
  • Can't implement best practices
  • Poor integration between channels
  • Internal costs are too high - if you're hiring to support your current platform, it may be time to replatform
  • Strategic or future growth are hampered by current platform - platform should enable new initiatives, not limit them

Most retailers change platforms every 3-4 years. Costs to re-platform can cost up to $2 million  and take up to 12-18 months.

Be careful when selecting an eCommerce partner - some firms are touting a marquee brand as their poster child, but don't treat all of their clients the same or provide those same features and experiences to their other clients.

Keys to a successful on-time implementation:

  • Define must-have requirements
  • Create a secondary list of desired functionality that may not be critical immediately
  • Get agreement in advance from the executive team and internal stakeholders on features and functionality

The more stakeholders you have involved in your platform selection & implementation, the longer it will take and there will be less satisfaction for each individual stakeholder. Set strict deadlines for reach and debate on best practices to make a call on an eCommerce platform. Assign one individual who has the authority to make the final call on options during implementation.

Assign a project manager to manage your platform selection, and have them test everything.

Mardel replatformed by getting all executives involved, and then brought in 4 developers and an eCommerce project manager. Each developer had a specific area that they were responsible for.

Mardel selected their development partner by looking for someone who was genuinely intrigued and passionate about the company and mission, and their Lead Business Solutions Architect had the best grasp of Mardel's business, and could best synthesize ideas from a large group of varied input and opinions.

You have to choose what's more important - meeting a deadline or being willing to push deadlines to make the end result excellent.

Merchants sometimes don't understand the terms used by their integration partner.

Restructure feedback to be funneled through a project manager or leadership team - if you give everyone access to the integration partner and let them give feedback, it turns into new decisions being made to change the direction of your eCommerce implementation.  Limit posts to your project management portal to just your leadership team or project manager.

Don't look at just monthly or implementation costs - look at a 3 year total cost of ownership for your new eCommerce site.

Another merchant's view of when it's time to replatform:

  • When you're working hard, not smart
  • When sites couldn't be easily updated
  • When your site isn't optimized for marketing promotions or mobile/small screens
  • When you're falling behind the competition and retail partners
  • When internal costs are increasing

Look at why you're falling behind the competition:

  • Shop your competition - what features do they have that you don't?
  • Talk to your customers and find their pain points.
  • Check your data - how and why are you losing sales and visits?

Determine, define and rank your needs - rank your needs as need, want and nice to have. Need should be absolute base requirements - customer accounts, checking out, etc.

Provide as much information you can when requesting proposals for implementation of a new eCommerce platform.


IRCE Session: Conquer the Pain Points and Capture the ROI of Product Information Management Systems

This IRCE session is Conquer the Pain Points and Capture the ROI of Product Information Management Systems, presented by Cynthia Rodgers Maignan, Director, E-Commerce Content Strategy, Management - Office Depot and Ryan Lee, Manager, Technology - Gorjana Griffin. Companies that aren't using a product information management system will waste a combined $2.1 billion. Much of this comes from products that are sitting in warehouses but aren't listed for sale.

Some of the pain points with product data and product information management:

  • Data from multiple sources
  • Excel spreadsheets
  • Inconsistent and poor data quality
  • Erroneous and out-dated information
  • No data validation
  • Manual processes and lack of workflows
  • Legacy systems
  • Unclear roles/multiple users - everyone has access to the system and can edit, etc.
  • Merchants and vendors are using different systems

30% of item data in catalogs used by retailers for reordering stock is in error - each of these errors cost $60-$80 to address.

Product information management leads to a better customer experience - bad product data leads to a bad user experience.

Some of the benefits of PIM:

  • Centralizes and streamlines all product data and syncs with multiple systems
  • Manages data validation to improve data quality
  • Ensures data accuracy
  • Enhanced product descriptions
  • Improved use of data to drive web functionality
  • Improves search and comparison shopping experience on your site

How to identify your right PIM system:

  • Know your specific product information management pain points - there is no one size fits all PIM system
  • Do your homework to narrow down resources
  • Obtain an RFI/RFP from top 3 to 5 resources
  • Acknowledge a PIM implementation is organizational change - get everyone on board and gather the resources you need

Product data is an asset. Data + PIM = revenue. Organizing product data can increase sales, margins & customer loyalty.

Improved product data through product information management provides a competitive advantage by enabling rich content on your site.

Small-and-medium businesses can use product information management systems - there are PIMs targeting Magento Community Edition such as ClaraStream  and Akeneo.

The templates built into a PIM help ensure even small retailers can make sure their data is loaded accurately, correctly and quickly.



IRCE Session: Get Smart: A Roadmap for Sound Technology Investments

Welcome to my first live blog of IRCE. Today is a workshop day, and I'll be covering some of the eCommerce technology workshop and the video workshop. This session is the first session of the technology workshop track: Get Smart: A Roadmap for Sound Technology Investments, presented by Charles Hunsinger, SVP, Chief Information Officer - Harry & David; Michael Arking, President -; Bernardine Wu, Chief Executive Officer - FitForCommerce.

52% of eCommerce businesses are looking into invest in their e-commerce platform. 40% are now looking to invest in responsive design (I'm hoping the other 60% are already responsive!).

Customers don't think about 'mobile' vs 'ecommerce', etc. Look from the customer's view - they look at:

  • Do I like this? Do I want it?
  • How do I find it?
  • How do I decide to buy?
  • Was this a good experience?
  • Would I do it again?

You need to make sure your technology plans meet those goals. Do this by investing in the following areas:

  • Have the right products & assortment
  • Discovery - make it easy to find you and your products
  • Decision - make it easy to make the decision to buy
  • Customer Experience - have a memorable customer experience
  • Moment of truths - customer service, delivery, proactive notifications, delight

Map out a three year plan on where you want to go with your eCommerce investments - break it down to ecommerce platform, order management systems, mobile & apps, 3rd party solutions with the customer in the center - focus on the customer experience.

When selecting a platform, before making your final decision - look at your relationship with the platform, and make sure you know they will back you up and work well as a team.

After selecting a platform, focus on user experience & customizations. Major retailers are spending about 1% of sales/year on new customizations after launch.

eCommerce merchants are getting fatigued by all the calls and emails by 3rd party providers, and can't keep up with all the sales pitches.

By 2015, 60.6% of traffic to top eCommerce sites will come from smartphones. Make sure your eCommerce partners understand the small screen and your customer experience.

Keep mobile and UX front and center - that will drive the most growth in sales in the next few years.

Competition is driving evolution - you have to run faster and faster just to stay in the same place.

Transformative change can't always be implemented incrementally - get the focus of the organization behind large changes and make them happen.

When selecting outside help, it isn't one size fits all - look for someone with lots of experience doing what you need, a boutique firm experienced with your specific needs and goals.

Design is critical - employees want good design in the backend systems as well.

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 (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.


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


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., 


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 - 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!