Made to Engage is leading the charge on the Episerver Commerce Roadmap for 2020 with our R&D and project work for Ireland's #1 book retailer Eason, which formed the basis of the presentation by Made to Engage's CEO Steven Cassin and myself at Ascend London. We've been working in partnership with Episerver on Custom Segments for Insights and with leading mobile platform provider Branding Brand on developing a mobile app. Both of these areas featured highly in Episerver's Commerce Roadmap session.
Custom Segments makes use of the new API changes for Insights that enable developers to define Filter Definitions. These changes to Insights were featured in both the Product and Developer tracks. In London, I was delighted to make a guest appearance at a talk by Jonas Bergqvist, Episerver's Director of Software Engineering, on the subject.
A definition is unique to that customer and can be used to create a custom segment. For example, with Eason we defined a filter definition of “Customers who purchased a book by author between start date and end date”. This then becomes a custom segment as “Customers who purchased a book by Stephen King between 01 September 2019 and 31 October 2019”.
Branding Brand’s React Native platform, Flagship, allows developers to rapidly build out native mobile apps for both iOS and Android. With its pre-built components and connectors it does a lot of the legwork in creating an engaging app experience. We were fortunate to have the Branding Brand team over in Belfast to provide us with training. In the space of six weeks (yes, you read that correctly), we've been able to build a working prototype that reads from the Episerver catalog, searches products, shows click & collect options and provides push notifications. This is going to be HUGE in 2020!
There was an update on the CSR beta which has come along in leaps and bounds with a very slick UI. This will work for most use cases for customer service agents needing to manage customers and orders. It works nicely with the built-in Episerver promotions and discounts. One thing that is still in the pipeline is returns and the ability to handle rebates or credit back to customers. I can see this being very useful to Commerce customers requiring some back office functionality from Episerver.
On the Developer track, I sat in on an excellent hands-on session on performance optimisation by Quan Mai, Senior Customer Implementation Director at Episerver.
There were many useful hints on how to reduce calls to the database, while also improving caching and application speed.
To summarise from my notes:
Jake Jones led a lab on how to replicate external content into Episerver. This complemented a separate talk by Episerver's Senior Director Of Content Management Strategy, Deane Barker, on distributed content management. It was useful to see how others have been creating solutions to aggregate content. We have a number of existing customers with various solutions in place including content providers, Web API push and custom jobs to sync data.
Here's a quick summary of some other things that were discussed at Ascend. It's clear that Episerver is continuing to evolve their product suite in a way that improves their customers' experiences. A few highlights for the 2020 Roadmap include: