Magento Meetup: Shipping, Headless Magento and Zero UI
On Thursday 25th January, over 90 guests attended the Magento Meet-up event in London, sponsored by Salmon and Dotmailer, to take note of all things Magento Commerce. The meeting was presented by Robyn Potter of Temando, and Yousef Cisco of Harvey Nichols (with our very own Head of Innovation, Naji El-Arifi, sprinkling in some Zero UI on the side). Attendees also had the opportunity to casually chat about their experiences with the platform over some good pizza and beer. So, what was discussed?
Robyn Potter: Magento 2.2.2 and online shipping
Robyn Potter, Head of Accounts at Temando, opened the meeting by discussing the changing nature of consumer behaviours, and how the Magento 2.2.2 platform can help businesses meet their ever-growing demands. Research uncovered that consumers demand greater online shipping choice; indeed, research shows that 54% of respondents believe the cost of shipping is too high, with 39% of consumers abandoning their baskets due to the unavailability of free shipping. In the UK, we’re spoilt for choice, so it is imperative your business gives the consumer what they want; otherwise, your customers will look for better shopping and shipping experiences elsewhere. Can your business afford to lose almost two fifths of your customers? Robyn doesn’t think so.
But that’s where Magento comes into play… Robyn explained the Magento 2.2.2 platform can offer your business an intelligent, multi-carrier solution to turn shipping and fulfilment into a lucrative machine, giving you the opportunity to connect effortlessly with global carriers and provide your consumers the service they expect which, in turn, increases cart conversion and revenue. So, you end up with a win-win situation; your customers are happy, and your business will reap the rewards!
Yousef Cisco: Harvey Nichols and Headless Commerce
Following a short networking opportunity to (undoubtedly) discuss nothing but the exciting world of Magento Commerce, Yousef Cisco, Harvey Nichols’ front-end lead, presented a specific brand example of Headless Magento implementation. Harvey Nichols customers enjoy a seamless, enjoyable in-store experience, reinforced by fantastic support and stylish displays - Harvey Nichols wanted to take this further and provide this experience to their customers in an online environment. Yousef shared insight into how the Magento 1.13 platform was employed to build a scalable cloud hosted solution across three Harvey Nichols websites. Using the partially headless Magento platform, Harvey Nichols was able to create a bespoke boutique online store, which provided their customers with a significantly larger marketplace inventory and a better customer journey and experience.
Naji El-Arifi: Zero UI and future retail technologies
Last, but not least, Naji El-Arifi introduced the audience to SLAM; Salmon’s process of pushing both ourselves and our clients forward by keeping us as close as possible to the bleeding edge of technology breakthroughs. Naji and the SLAM team recently attended the 2018 CES event in Las Vegas, where technological breakthroughs and next-generation innovations are demonstrated to those who, like Naji, thrive on future technological innovations. So, it’s safe to say he knows a lot about how Zero UI will shape the future of retail.
Naji began by explaining the concept of Zero UI; the use of voice and gestures with the help of digital assistants to browse and shop online. Brands all over the world are embracing Zero UI technology, from devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo that access the internet using your voice, to wi-fi enabled kettles that order filters for you when you’re running low, and even a toilet that allows you to control basic functions without the use of a remote (although, to me, that seems a little weird). He also discussed the most noteworthy advancement in Zero UI; the new Amazon Go store that launched this week in Seattle. It’s possibly the dawn of in-store shopping’s future; you walk into the store, scan your Amazon Go app, take what you want from the shelves and leave. The sensors dotted around the store recognise your account and what you have placed in your bag and charge your account.
Think that’s as far as Zero UI will go? Well, you’re wrong! Naji discussed the concept of BCI, known to you and me as the brain-computer-interface. Simply put, we will be able to interact with devices using just our thoughts, leaving the physical movement of our lips or flick of a switch completely obsolete. Facebook is investing a significant amount of time and money into BCI, with the aim for us to type at 100wpm just using our brains. There is a small catch though… at the moment you need an electrode implanted into your brain. Nissan is also investing significant effort into this technology, recently announcing a range of vehicles that respond to your thoughts (with a headset on, mind you) 300 milliseconds before you physically make a move.
But why should retailers pay attention to all of this? Naji explained that Zero UI has become increasingly popular in recent years; in fact, there was a 35x increase in voice usage between 2008 and 2016, and 20% of Android searches were done using voice in 2016 alone. We are clearly in the race to digitise everything, and consumers are asking our computers and hand-held devices to do more complex tasks. In short, Zero UI will be a major interface and voice will lead the charge, and it is crucial that retailers consider their own Zero UI journey, otherwise they will be left floundering.