Earlier this month, Akeneo welcomed more than 500 members of the Akeneo family to Paris, France for the latest edition of the Akeneo PIM Summit. Over the course of two days, partners, customers, and special guests gave attendees a look at how PIM is being used to solve omnichannel challenges, examined the ways PXM is reshaping the PIM market and unveiled innovations to the assembled PIM devotees.
If you weren’t on hand at historic brewery and distiller Espace Clacquesin in Paris, site of #APS2020, today’s your lucky day. Here’s your chance to look back at highlights from the week that was — and if you were lucky enough to find yourself in the crowd on February 5 and 6, now’s your chance to relive some of your favorite moments.
1. Brewing the Perfect Product Experience
#APS2020 opened in style as Akeneo CEO Fred de Gombert and APS MC Francois Chaix showed off their setting-appropriate, Peaky Blinders-inspired attire, and welcomed guests to Espace Clacquesin, a historic brewery and distillery just outside of Paris.
Fred took the time to explain why this year’s event took place at such a venue. It isn’t just because Akeneo PIM has had plenty to celebrate over a pint in the past year, including the 7th anniversary of Akeneo’s founding, a new round of fundraising from Summit Partners, and much more!
It’s also because the craft beer industry in the United States provides a good showcase for the current state of product experience. Craft beer has become enormously popular in the United States, with small breweries opening up in cities and towns across the country, eager to get a share of the success of this newly popular space. However, beer consumption as a whole held steady to historic levels — which meant that these new companies were competing for the same small group of customers.
A similar phenomenon has taken place in a range of industries as eCommerce and omnichannel sellers flood markets with options, giving consumers more choice than ever before. That’s where product information and product experience come in. Because consumers have more choice than ever before, how you sell your products is incredibly important, Fred explained — meaning those who aren’t reaching customers on the right channels and communicating the right information will fall behind those that provide dynamic and compelling experiences to customers across every one of their touchpoints.
2. The Age of Amazon
While the recent rise of craft beer may have helped demonstrate its importance, product information is nothing new. Since the dawn of trade and retail, people buying products have craved information and expertise about the objects of their desire.
But as Neil Roseman, formerly of Amazon and now technologist-in-residence at Summit Partners, explained on the opening morning of #APS2020, the internet has presented unique opportunities, and posed new challenges when it comes to product information and its uses. This is especially true following the advent and popularization of massive marketplaces like Amazon, which put increased importance on product information. It’s been a bumpy ride for many companies working to take control of product information and put it to good use in the omnichannel age, as they work to deal with new general and industry-specific channels and marketplaces.
There is some good news, however. As Roseman told the assembled masses of PIM devotees at Espace Clacquesin, there are three lessons that modern sellers can take from the early days of eCommerce and omnichannel commerce.
The first is to start with the information the customer wants to know, and work backwards from that point, ensuring that you don’t leave shoppers searching for answers to their biggest questions. Next, while it may be a cliche, it’s still essential to remember that necessity is the mother of invention — so don’t be afraid to try out a new approach or solution when confronted with a new problem. Finally, Roseman reminded those in attendance that, while some would have you believe otherwise, failure is always an option. So, while it’s crucial to move quickly in this digital world, it’s also important to take the time to continue to work on a project until it’s completed and ready for the big time.
3. Technodom, Staples Canada, and Groupe Atlantic take home the top prize
After APS attendees had their fill of PIM and PXM expertise for one day and the moon had risen, some Akeneo customers and partners got their moment in the sun as the winners of APS’ three awards were announced.
Akeneo customer Technodom, along with their partner Scandiweb, showed that you don’t need experience to flex some PIM expertise. The pair took home the Rising Star Award for the work in turning Kazakhstan-based seller Technodom into an efficient eCommerce machine by optimizing their website and product data to accelerate time-to-market and improve conversion rates.
The B2C Award, meanwhile, went to Staples Canada and their partner Bounteous. The pair had worked on a full digital transformation since 2018, beginning with the replatforming of their B2C eCommerce site and the adoption of Akeneo PIM. By the time the project was complete, Staples had integrated its previously existing product information into Akeneo PIM, connected their new PIM with their new eCommerce platform and other solutions, and improved its product information quality.
Finally, Groupe Atlantic and their partner Smile took home the B2B award. The two French companies had worked to make Akeneo PIM a single source of product information truth for HVAC sellers Groupe Atlantic, which previously had information trapped in various departments and silos. Atlantic now has more than 100 families, 2,000 attributes and 6,000 categories in their PIM and is scaling the solution to cover even more of their products.
4. Akeneo PIM 4.0 Takes Centerstage
After attendees had dined to their hearts’ (or stomach’s) content and the awards had been awarded, it was time for Day 2 of #APS2020 — and what a day it was! The day started off on a high note as a team of Akeneo experience experts, including Emilie Gieler, John Evans, Camille Fant, and Benjamin Gouraud, took to the stage to unveil Akeneo PIM 4.0, the newest version of Akeneo PIM!
So what new features, upgrades, and improvements does this new and improved version of Akeneo PIM offer?
Let’s start with the new Asset Manager capabilities offered by Akeneo PIM Enterprise Edition. As more and more consumers migrate to digital channels, assets like photos, videos, and documents have become crucial to brands and retailers alike, as they help tell customers a story, increasing trust and emotional impact. To help your team take control of digital assets and enhance your product experience, Akeneo PIM 4.0 offers enhanced asset management capabilities for both B2B and B2C businesses by offering greater flexibility, better asset organization, improved asset transformation and linking capabilities, and a dedicated asset library to help you visualize all your digital assets.
But the Asset Manager isn’t the only new feature coming to Akeneo PIM 4.0. It also offers a new capability known as Data Quality Insights, designed to help improve your product experience by raising product data quality. To do so, this feature searches for and identifies misspellings, inconsistencies, formatting issues, and other product quality challenges, and helps you quickly and efficiently correct these mistakes and inconsistencies.
Another Akeneo PIM 4.0new feature is designed to take Akeneo’s open source foundation to the next level. With the new Connections feature, users can now more easily connect and configure extensions from within the PIM, allowing them to easily add add Source Connections (inbound feeds) from systems such as your ERP, MDM, DAM, or others, or Destination Connections (outbound feeds) meant to distribute product information.
But that’s not all. Akeneo PIM 4.0 also offers enhancements to several existing features, including continuous delivery of updates and patches, and additional incremental performance improvements.
5. Out of the Black, into the Green
The new features of Akeneo PIM 4.0 aren’t only designed to help give omnichannel customers great experiences, Virginie Blot, Akeneo’s PIM evangelist, noted from the Espace Clacquesin Stage on the morning of Day 2.
As she and Philipp Engelmann, head of product management at MyTheresa.com, explained, they’re also designed to help brands and retailers put their values on full display. The pair noted that as buyers have become more concerned with customer experiences, they’re also paying increased attention to socially responsible aspects of the companies they do business with. While this creates product information challenges for companies who now need to show customers that they’re creating a great product, but doing it in an environmentally-friendly and ethically-responsible way, it also creates opportunities.
Organizations can now promote their company values and highlight product experiences that appeal to these buyer preferences — that is, if their product information is up to the task. MyTheresa and Akeneo, the pair explained, have looked to take advantage of these opportunities by taking an active stance, and using Akeneo PIM’s product experience capabilities to feature the company’s efforts surrounding sustainability.
6. A first-hand look at the power of PIM
After hearing about all that Akeneo PIM 4.0 has to offer, it was time for the attendees of #APS2020 to get a first-hand look at the practical power of PIM from some of Akeneo’s most successful customers, including Midland Scientific and Which?, among others.
Rodrigo Neves, technology officer at Midland Scientific, took to the stage to explain just how Akeneo PIM had helped the scientific instrument maker and seller move into the digital age. He noted that the company had tapped Akeneo to replace legacy product information management processes and systems after struggling to manage information for a large and diverse product catalog while providing highly technical, specific, precise, and accurate information to customers.
The result was a decrease in inaccurate or inconsistent product information, which helped the company improve its relationship with buyers and boost its customer experience. Akeneo PIM also helped Midland Scientific accelerate time-to-market, Neves said, as the company could now enrich its print catalog, a process that previously took an entire calendar year, in six months, and enrich 10x as many eCommerce products per week as it did before implementing PIM.
Lewis Skinner, digital product manager, and Leon Harvey, senior delivery manager, also took to the Espace Clacquesin stage to explain the impact PIM had on online seller Which?. The pair explained that, while the company may be known for helping customers find the best options for everything from home goods to technology, it’s real business is product information.
However, much of Which?’s data was trapped in high risk, high maintenance legacy systems, which threatened time-to-market and product data quality. So, Skinner and Harvey said, the company looked to Akeneo PIM to serve as an all-in-one solution. The PIM-powered digital transformation was a success, as the company was able to cut enrichment time in half while improving their content creation and curation processes, improving their businesses experience and customer experience in the process.
Thanks to all our customers, partners, and sponsors for making the 2020 Akeneo PIM Summit such a special event. We can’t wait to see you again next year!
Want to relive more memorable moments from the event? Search for #APS2020 on Twitter!