Akeneo - Unlock 2023
- 05 May 2023
What’s new in the world of Product Experience?
In early March 2023, about 1,000 Akeneo partners and customers followed the call and traveled to Paris to join Akeneo Unlock - the annual main event for the Akeneo ecosystem in Europe. Of course, our teams from Smile and creativestyle were also present to connect with stakeholders and discover the latest trends and evolutions happening with our favorite PXM platform. In this article, we would like to share some of our key findings from the event and invite you to discuss the potential they provide for your product experience management and strategy.
Product Experience: the new revolution
This year marks Akeneo’s 10th anniversary. Since the company was founded by former Smile and Magento employees back in 2013, they have had a remarkable trajectory and show no signs of slowing down. In fact, Akeneo expects their growth to continue exponentially. Why is that? Because Product Experience will be, according to Akeneo, the third and next big wave. The first wave was Customer Experience - putting the customer at the center of all business considerations. The next one, starting in the 1990s, was Employee Experience – seeing employees as the company’s biggest asset. And Product Experience? The next big wave will be about providing the most accurate, flexible and tailored product content across the multitude of channels that modern retailers cater to. Take a look at our findings to learn how Akeneo – with the increasing help of Artificial Intelligence and strong partners such as Smile & creativestyle – is aiming to deliver this level of Product Experience.
Custom Apps: a turning point for both users and system integrators!
Last year during Unlock, Akeneo released a new way of connecting with Akeneo: Akeneo Apps and the Akeneo app store. The added benefits of the apps, compared to the already existing connections, is that apps are configured automatically instead of requiring manual intervention, which is a big benefit for those users who are empowered to manage connections between Akeneo and other applications. Activating an app is very easily carried out via the UI using a step-by-step approach. There was only one disadvantage: all apps were public. Until now. Akeneo has released a new feature called Custom Apps!
The release of Custom Apps is a big advantage for both users and system integrators, such as Smile. Custom Apps give us the ability to create customized apps for our customers, without having to release them to the whole community. This enables us to create specific and tailor-made solutions without the burden of implementing/connecting with our customers. We are currently investigating the full range of possibilities, but it is, without a doubt, a very welcome and powerful feature! Especially when taking into account the movement towards a SaaS offering, Custom Apps give us the ability to develop custom solutions without the burden of customizing the PIM application. We’ll keep you posted on the progress!
The Identifier Generator: the new way to automate the generation of your identifiers.
Akeneo started to enrich management capabilities around product identifiers. Indeed, the SKU (short for stock keeping unit) is no longer mandatory (on all Akeneo versions). A new functionality has arrived on the EE/GE side: the product identifier generator. This allows you to automatically generate product identifiers when creating simple or variant products: the SKU, all based on a nomenclature that you configure beforehand. You can indeed define the application criteria of this nomenclature, as well as the selection of the catalog concerned.
Our customers regularly asked for the possibility of adding more information on the categories, such as an attribute for example. It is now possible! You can add different descriptions, images, SEO information, etc., via a template that can be activated if necessary on your tree structure. You will now be able to directly contribute the information within your PIM so that it can be disseminated on your ecommerce channels for example. Your sections on the ecommerce side will thus be able to be expanded with images and descriptive texts and all this from the interface of your PIM!
Product activation for retailer
This new App allows you to connect your PIM with your Marketplaces such as Amazon: an optimized distribution of your product sheets to streamline the posting of your products on the marketplace and to gain control over the administration of these distribution channels.
Indeed, from the interface of your PIM, you can:
- define the product selection for these channels,
- master the information needed to put them online, in this case the prerequisites required by your marketplaces in terms of attributes
- automatically distribute your relevant products
- and finally to have a better control of the activation of these products on the marketplaces thanks to a detailed error log.
As it is an App, it is available and can be activated via your AppStore after contacting Akeneo for its implementation: it therefore does not require any particular technical configuration.
Time-to-Market Insights: anticipating and selling faster.
The Time-to-Market Insights is the first feature providing analytics in Akeneo (and we’re hoping for more in the future). This feature is available for those of us using the Enterprise Edition (Serenity for now). Using a PIM allows one to gather quite a lot of interesting information to measure the output from teams or as an organization. One of these KPI’s is the time-to-market, which is always an important indicator, but for some, it’s a critical one. With the help of this feature, we’re able to measure the time it takes for a product to be fully enriched (using the completeness feature) from creation to 100% complete or measure the number of products enriched over a period of time. This then allows one to start improving the enrichment process when there is a need or compare the performance from one product category/family with another. The goal is to work smarter resulting in selling faster.
With the help of the filters, one is able to zoom in to a specific product family, category and across channels, locales and time frames. The latter is there to track the results after a tweak in the process is made. Exporting can be done to an XLSX file, allowing you to share the results with those stakeholders who do not have access to Akeneo.
Again, a great addition to Akeneo’s feature list during this spring release. Please note that it is a great first step and there are further enhancements on the way, for example being able to search categories in the filtering. We’re keen to see these enhancements in the future and we’re looking forward to the next area of insights Akeneo is going to offer us. In the meantime, if you want to know more about the feature and you are familiar with Akeneo’s Akademy, there is a great course there to guide you through getting to know the feature.
So, we’ve covered some new features launched in the spring release, now it’s time to look to the future. What’s next? For us, as integrators, this is a bit tricky as we might know some new features-to-come which are not on the public roadmap. To stay on the safe side, we’ll only address those features on the public roadmap. Please also bear in mind that this roadmap is subject to change.
What we’re seeing on the roadmap is another enhancement for the Time-to-Market Insights: the Industry Benchmark. It may be stating the obvious, but this would allow one to compare your time-to-market with others in the same or similar industries. How Akeneo is going to shape this and based on which data, we don’t know yet, but it sure sounds promising!
Another feature on the roadmap is something called attribute mapping for catalogs. The aim of this feature is to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership and improve the time to deployment as one has native mapping capabilities inside Akeneo PIM for apps. We can only make a guess at this moment, but it sure seems to be good news for those leveraging from apps inside Akeneo. It makes sense to start the roll out of this feature only for apps, and we can’t wait for this feature to be applicable for connections as well. Again, the only thing we can do is guess, but imagine being able to do some kind of custom mapping per app (and per connection eventually) in your PIM for up- and downstream channels. That’s a gamechanger, that is! Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Last but not least, at least for the next 6 months, is the Multiple product ID’s. To be honest, we have been expecting and waiting for this feature for some time now. This feature would help our customers with multiple ERP’s (and a product ID per ERP) big time. Allowing them to correctly store this kind of product information is a great benefit for governance purposes. Especially if a user can search in each of these ID’s. We can only dream of the next steps (ID generator per product ID attribute, maybe) but again, let’s not jump to conclusions or create false hope. Knowing Akeneo, they will already have tons of ideas for future enhancements. The best thing we can do is to keep an eye on the product roadmap page and register our interest to support the product team in building those features you are looking forward to! Oh, and check out the mid-term section on the product roadmap page as well, some great productivity features are there as well!
AI in Product Experience Management
One of the key future topics of Akeneo Unlock was the growing use of artificial intelligence in product experience management. But can it even be classified as a future topic anymore? We’re not so sure, because the current evolution of AI in products is growing rapidly. Writing product content by AI, based on a set tone and using the product features from the PIM? Happening. Enriching product data based on visual recognition? Happening. Taking care of global translations via automated translation services, directly integrated via API? Happening. It’s an exciting time to be working in the field of product experience: AI is increasing the pace at which new channels can be opened, new markets can be approached and new products can be launched. Get in touch with our team to learn how artificial intelligence is not a buzz word anymore but can help your business to become faster and more efficient.
In a particularly interesting keynote, Heather Hershey of IDC, a leading global research institute, revealed how AI & PXM is already contributing to all of the major digital commerce metrics today: improving customer loyalty, driving more sales, and increase the time spent on a retailer’s website as well as the conversion rate, above more factors.
With a growing number of channels, the importance of internationalization, and demand for fast times-to-market, the demands on Product Experience Management are rising significantly. We are excited to see the dynamic in the market, bringing up solutions that cater to these needs. But what is the worth of the most powerful platform without the knowledge to utilize it to its fullest extent for your business? Fear not, because our team of PXM experts can look back at around 100 successful PXM implementations and will be able to guide you on the right track for the next big wave. Get in touch with us!