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Magento Imagine 2017 Recap

  • 7 min
  • April 7, 2017
    • imagine 2017
    • thoughts from a vegas pro

My name is Jon-Eric “J.E.” Urseth and I am a Digital Project Coordinator at Irish Titan.  This year, I was one of the four lucky Titans selected to attend the 2017 Magento “Imagine” Conference held April 3-5th at the Wynn in Las Vegas, Nevada.  “Imagine” was jam-packed with education, prominent speakers and networking opportunities for merchants, vendors, and employees of Magento.  I’ll do my best to recap the events, key takeaways and Titan shenanigans that occurred during this whirlwind three-day stretch.  Get your popcorn ready.


Imagine Shenanigans

Sunday, April 2nd

Travel Day.  Darin Lynch, Kayla Picciano, and Anna Kallberg began their journey to Las Vegas, leaving MSP in the early afternoon.  Where was I, you might ask?  Well, if you read my bio you’ll know that I have a strong interest in two things: baseball and professional wrestling.  April 2nd, by chance, was not only Opening Day of the 2017 MLB season but also the holiest day of the year for professional wrestling: Wrestlemania.  Luckily, explaining to Darin that travel was not possible on this day was easier than you might think, given that he too loves wrestling.  This meant a very early flight to Las Vegas on Monday morning, but that was an easy concession.  I packed my bags in between fastballs and hip tosses.  I was ready for the conference.


Monday, April 3rd

I began my morning with a 7 am flight from MSP to LAS.  The flight got off to a rough start as the plane had a battery issue prior to takeoff, resulting in approximately 30 minutes of uncomfortable, non-air-conditioned sweatiness. Fortunately, the air eventually kicked in and we took to the skies.

I arrived in Las Vegas and took a taxi to the conference hotel, the Wynn Resort. I am no stranger to Vegas (partially why I was picked to go!), but I’ve never had the pleasure of staying at The Wynn.  It’s a monstrous property on the North Side of “The Strip” but it features some of the most beautiful gardens and views and even a championship golf course on property.  Price tags here are very high, but you certainly get what you pay for.  Wonderful venue.

Sunset on the Wynn

I headed directly to registration for the 2017 Magento “Imagine” Conference.  Although the conference did not “kick off” until 10 am, our fearless leader Darin Lynch took part in a panel discussion at 8 am, “More than ‘Getting Paid’: Prioritizing Payment Strategy to Enable Growth” hosted by our friends at PayPal.  I arrived just as it was wrapping up.  (Way to go, J.E. – miss your CEO’s speech.  That’ll look good on the ol’ quarterly review.)

The first session I attended was entitled “Magento Business Intelligence: Data Driven Strategies for Online Growth.”  This session focused on data points from the most successful Magento customers with data from the Magento BI tool. 

Some of the key takeaways of the session were:

  • Segmentation of Customer Groups is key to top performing ecommerce companies.
  • 68% of first time customers will never purchase again on your site.  Too much focus is being placed on marketing to NEW customers when the real return on investment comes from returning customers.
  • The top 1% of returning customers account for 19% of ecommerce revenues.
  • The top 50% of returning customers account for 84% of ecommerce revenues.
  • Segmentation of users who buy for others (gifts) vs themselves is an emerging strategy.  This is very helpful for returning customers and loyal customer groups.

This (in retrospect) was one of my favorite sessions of the entire conference.  Data is a very powerful tool.  I’m looking forward to bringing these insights back to our Digital Strategy department.  Our clients will greatly benefit from implementing some of the discussed best practice strategies.

Here’s a list of some of the key takeaways from the rest of the day, drawn from sessions related to Mobile Conversion, Data Migration, and User Experience:

  • 55% mobile payment growth in 2016 for PayPal.  Up to 102 billion.
  • 66% conversion drop off on mobile when compared to desktop. 1/3 conversions of a typical browser desktop experience.
  • Simplifying the mobile checkout experience is key to improving conversion rates.  Tools like PayPal, Visa CheckOut, Master Card MasterPass, and Apple Pay help to smooth out the checkout process.
  • Mobile users are BUYERS, not shoppers.
  • The keys to an effective user experience on Magento is to focus on the following: A clear purpose, universal patterns across all shopping, efficient interactions and progressive stylings.

After the sessions, we were invited to the Magento Opening Night Networking Event.  It was great to meet some of our fellow Magento partners, learn about new 3rd party vendors offering potential solutions to our clients, and, of course, catch up with our clients who had made the trip out to “Imagine.” The food was wonderful and Darin ate approximately 100 miniature grilled cheese sandwiches.  The only bummer of the evening was watching Gonzaga lose to North Carolina in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game.  My wallet became slightly lighter.


Tuesday, April 4th

The morning kicked off with a star-studded opening keynote.  Jamie Clarke ( got the blood flowing with a high-energy story about climbing, surviving and thriving in business.  Jamie is truly a character and is wonderfully entertaining; I highly recommend looking him up if you’re unfamiliar with his story.  At that point, Mark LaVelle (Magento’s CEO) gave us a “State of the Industry” update on the Magento Commerce family of platforms and services.  A number of Magento Customer Success stories (including Canon Cameras and Helly Hanson Outdoor Wear) were shared with the audience.  Juan Benitez (GM of Braintree) gave an update about payments, trends and “connected commerce.” He shared a fascinating statistic: Mobile transactions are expected to increase by 74% over the next two years.  We at Irish Titan are ready to help our clients maximize results as this prediction becomes a reality.  Finally, the keynote was capped by Jessica Herrin (CEO & Founder of Stella & Dot) who told her story of entrepreneurship, struggle and ultimately growth.  Jessica was fantastic and left us with a great vibe as we entered a full day of educational and collaborative sessions.

The rest of my Tuesday included attending sessions related to B2B Insights and Strategy, success stories of recently completed Magento 2 websites, compliance best practices and another session on data migration.

Some of the key takeaways were:

  • 53% of B2B buyers will make half or more of their work purchases online by 2018.
  • B2C will always have resistance to buy online to a certain extent because people want to try things on, look and feel.  B2B does not have the same barrier.  You don’t have to try-on ball bearings, for example.  Just make it simple for the purchaser to find and buy.
  • 93% of B2B buyers prefer to buy online when they’ve decided what to buy.
  • Customer Satisfaction and ORDER SIZE improve when shifting B2B traditional sales to online sales.
  • 68% of purchases are “simple transactions”…the customer already knows what they want and it’s basically just a fulfillment.
  • Magento 2 is helping merchants to reduce PCI Compliance issues by pairing with the Braintree platform.

After the breakout sessions, we were treated to an evening filled with Magento Awards, a keynote interview with Serena Williams, and a 007 themed beach club party.  Serena Williams was wonderful, telling her story of growing up as an athlete, living in the shadow of her sister, and going on to greatness both in sport and entrepreneurship.  Williams truly is inspirational, not only as one of the greatest athletes in the history of the sport but also as a visionary businessperson.  It was a treat to see her onstage.  The beach club party was filled with flashing lights, dance music and discussion about the day’s content.  Several martinis (shaken, not stirred) were enjoyed by all…and this was readily apparent in the next morning’s attendance percentage.  What happens in Vegas…


Wednesday, April 5th

I can confirm that all members of the Irish Titan delegation were present and coherent for the 9:30 am keynote address from the Magento brass.  As I mentioned before, the late-night clubbing enjoyed by most conference attendees had a negative effect on attendance.  Or, to put it more poetically…sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.

The morning keynote was full of announcements of new features and updates for the Magento family of products. Many of these features will be awesome upgrades to an already impressive platform. The next update will include a large amount of B2B features and functionality increases. Magento Social was announced as an upcoming feature and will allow merchants to easily connect and sell directly on social platforms without the need to create a separate storefront instance.  The demo of setting up a storefront on Facebook was simple, seamless and allowed merchants to easily create social ad campaigns for products.  Magento will be rolling out an all new CMS system later this year: Magento Advanced CMS, formerly BlueFoot CMS.  This has me very excited as I am directly involved with a content strategy on nearly all our Magento projects.  Magento is also simplifying shipping by partnering with Temando.  I know that shipping is a major point of emphasis with several of our clients, so I am excited to see what that partnership can accomplish.

After the keynote, I finished up the final breakout sessions of “Imagine 2017.” I attended a session regarding front-end development and best practices for living in “The Amazon World.”  It was very interesting to hear that the global Magento front-end development community is banding together to provide help, guidance and best practices.  The session around Amazon was particularly interesting as I know that our clients have a love/hate relationship with the ecommerce goliath. 

Some of the key takeaways from that session include:

Differentiate yourself from Amazon’s shortfalls.

  • Provide product authority & thought leadership.
  • Explore licensing and exclusivity.
  • Create subscriptions.
    • Beware of security and PCI compliance.
  • Encourage personalized email marketing.
  • Capture more information to segment your lists.
  • Customized search configurations.

After the conference wrapped, the Titan crew enjoyed a night out as a team before heading back to Minnesota on Thursday Morning.  My expertise as a Las Vegas aficionado came in very handy.  We ate some wonderful sushi and headed to Freemont Street in Downtown.  I tried my darndest to find some KISS impersonators to take a picture with Darin, but those guys must take Wednesday off.

Overall, Magento’s “Imagine 2017” was a wonderful experience.  It was an honor to have been chosen as one of the Titans to represent us at a global event.  I cannot wait to share my thoughts, notes, and best practices with the rest of the Titans, our clients and partners.  I can confirm that all four of us made it back to Minnesota in one piece, hydrated and informed.  Take that, Vegas.

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