Jamersan’s CEO TJ Gamble hosted a live stream with special guests David Deppner from Psyberware, Brent Peterson from Wagento and Adam Randazzo from Great Lakes Dental Technologies, for a discussion on getting merchants more involved in Magento events and the Magento community in general. Here is a highlight of the live stream and you can also watch the entire video here.
In addressing why merchants aren’t as interested in the platforms as their technical counterparts, David believes that merchants see Magento as a tool to get the job done, akin to a glorified checkout. Brent agrees that the merchants don’t care necessarily about what’s underneath the platform and instead concentrate on how well it works and performs. They tend to look to their agency for knowledge about the platforms, rather than attending conferences themselves. Adam adds, “For us, having a platform that allows us to pivot, expand, and change with minimal frustration is really important.” He feels Magento has been good for that.
In response to TJ’s question on why it’s important to have merchants involved in conferences, Brent indicates that agencies want feedback and to give merchants a platform to speak about their concerns. It is also a great time for the merchants to hear what the developers are thinking, as well as interact with the rest of the agency staff, such as project managers and technology partners. He concludes, “I feel it is very important that the merchant is there and that they are heard.”
TJ notes that there can be two views regarding merchants attending conferences. The optimist’s view is that this gives vendors feedback from the merchants on how to improve, while the pessimist’s view is that vendors are just there to sell to the merchants. He asks David on how to combat this negative perception. David responds, “I think the perspective that merchants don’t want to be sold to is very incorrect.” He agrees that a merchant may not want to be sold to by every vendor, but they appreciate the time and focus from the vendors who interest them.
As a merchant, Adam agrees with David by recounting his first Magento event. He recalls that his objective was to absorb as much as he could and learn the potential good and bad things. He has enjoyed walking around events and talking to vendors even when the product isn’t a current fit, because it’s helpful to get a pulse on what is happening.
Brent believes that merchants who want to know more about the underpinnings of Magento can be served well by conferences. He says, “The deeper that you can go and the more knowledge that you have about that platform, the more you are going to learn about what it can do.” He adds that other platforms don’t allow you to do as much as you can do with Magento.
In response to TJ’s question regarding concern over bringing a client to a conference with possible competition, David says that this isn’t an issue, especially since he feels confident in their work. He feels that it can be beneficial for his clients to meet with others who may be able to help them be successful in other realms.
From the merchant perspective, Adam adds that he’s had great experiences at conferences with valuable takeaways regarding project management and roundtable discussions. On being identifiable as a merchant (such as with the “green badges” at Magento Imagine), he explains that because he wants to learn as much as he can, he thinks it’s a good thing. It’s a great icebreaker and can lead to conversations with others who could be helpful at a later date. David adds that he’s been on both side of things and feels that sometimes the colored badge system can be a barrier to organic conversations. Brent agrees that the badges can create a wedge between merchants and vendors as well.
David shares that he feels that the merchant to merchant sessions weren’t very helpful and were structured by Magento to be about the platform. Adam agrees that he saw some of that, but overall he found the sessions helpful for networking with other merchants. He thinks more organic conversations would be more beneficial. Brent adds that he thinks the merchant workshops are even more worthwhile for learning on a specific topic.
In the Whatcha Bitchin’ About on Twitter segment, TJ asks the group if they think that the Adobe acquisition will eventually lead to Magento being 100% in the cloud as part of the Adobe Suite. Brent doesn’t see this happening and definitely not in the next five years. Adam thinks it would be tough to move Magento fully to the cloud, especially because Magento is such a good platform because of its flexibility and ability to integrate. However, he agrees that he would be interested in implementing some of the other Adobe products and services into Magento. Brent thinks it makes sense to keep Magento as is and then maybe eventually add in a SaaS version as competition for lower end platforms. He thinks that Adobe will be looking to give developers more choices. David isn’t sure of Adobe’s strategy but imagines that they will look to monetize more of the platform. TJ thinks Adobe will try to lower the barrier to entry for Magento, making it cheaper and easier to get onto the platform.
Magento recently announced that they will be ending support for Magento 1 in June 2020. Brent finds the deadline helpful because it will help in client conversations regarding what platform to use. He thinks education is important to help merchants understand the reasons to move to Magento 2. David believes that many businesses have already made the move and shares that he would rather work on Magento 2 anyways. Adam adds that having a deadline helps people work towards that and it seems like a fair timeline.
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