Since becoming an independent company late in 2015, Magento has been making a lot of changes behind the scenes. This year at Imagine 2016, Magento introduced exciting new stuff like Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition, Magento Marketplace and updates to Magento 2.
The conference itself was full of useful information. The speakers talked about everything from payment processing and PCI compliance to development strategies involving docker and the latest PHP7 improvements. The most entertaining speakers were always at the keynotes. My favorite was Kai Schmidhuber of Fraport (The airport in Frankfurt Germany) and his team utilizes magento. The customer experience is the most fluid that I have seen. Their customers begin shopping with them on the way to the airport allowing the customer to purchase the headphones they forgot at home so that they are waiting for them at their departing terminal. The customer can then continue shopping while in the air purchasing a bottle of wine that is waiting for them when they get off the plane at their destination. The purchasing then ending on the returning flight when they’re picking up groceries as they’re leaving the airport. Take a look at the video they put together below.
It’s one of the best Magento implementations I have seen. As a magento administrator I’m in awe of how this was al accomplished. Connecting all of the systems and languages together to work this well was no small feat. As a customer I’m excited for the fluidity of the experience. I have a feeling that going to that airport will ruin my airport experience everywhere else. Utilizations like this are important for the industry. At times magento can seem like a big overly complicated ecommerce platform lacking the ease of use of platforms like shopify that make it simple to start a store in a weekend. Implementations like this remind us of magento’s extreme robustness and thanks to it being open-source, it’s extreme adaptability.
As a company, Magento themselves seem to be doing everything they can to be competitive in the fast growing ecommerce sector. With platforms for all business sizes, price points, and personal styles they’re aiming for the head. This year they announced Magento Enterprise Cloud, their own hosted version of magento that takes away the complications of managing hardware and improves the process of developing for their platform. Not only did they take away the challenges of hosting an enterprise level ecommerce site web store but they also did everything they could to improve the way in which it was implemented. The backbone of the Magento Enterprise Cloud is Amazon AWS with content being served up by Fastly. These two changes combined with Magento 2, PHP7, and Varnish result in some of the, theoretically, fastest and most stable Magento websites yet.
In addition to cloud hosting, Magento is focused on improving their main product. With Magento 2 only being released November of 2015 and multiple minor updates since, Magento is already releasing version 2.1. A huge improvement in development time compared to the release cycle of Magento 1x which seemed to be on a “when we get to it” cycle. This new update is free and comes with much requested features like the ability to schedule promotions, universal admin search, and one-page product creation. All of these changes cut the time spent managing a magento site and increase productivity. In addition to these features there are also improvements to paypal and braintree as well as the expected minor fixes.
No Imagine conference would be complete with out their legendary keynote and party, this year was no different. This year was the 6’9″, NBA champion and Entrepreneur Magic Johnson. His talk wasn’t like most talks, he didn’t just talk to the crowd, he was in the crowd. He spent the whole time off the stage, walking around, asking us questions, interacting with as many of us as he could. He talked about his accomplishments on the court and how “his lakers” could beat any NBA team in existence and he talked about how his approach to business helped him be successful even when successful people didn’t think he could be. The biggest take away from his talk was the importance of the customer and employee experiences. He frequently would visit and work at his companies to be closer to the products he was selling and see how everyone involved liked or disliked the companies. He then made changes or improvements accordingly. When he was done talking business he went around the room taking selfies with anyone who got his attention, the funniest being a selfie he took with a guy who was somehow taller than him. Most of us were like the guy below, way too short to feel good about taking a selfie with him.
The conference ended (for me at least) with the legendary Imagine afterparty. Honestly, this year was a little lack luster. My first magento conference was the previous year at XS where when you walked in a girl was hanging from the rafters serving you champagne upside down and events every 15 minutes that included circus acts, synchronized swimmers, and sexy fire juggling. This year’s entertainment on the other hand was mostly just a latin band and a DJ but who can really complain with free alcohol and good food! All in all it was an exciting and informative conference that left me looking forward to the future that Magento has to offer.