Editor’s note: E-Commerce is ever-changing and constantly evolving. As such, there are plentiful opportunities but it can also be easy to be left behind if you don’t keep up with the latest updates and predictions. Today, we want to present an interview with E-Commerce Evangelist – Thomas Robertshaw. Being fascinated by e-commerce trends and best practices, an expert shares his thoughts and ideas regarding the industry and Magento platform in particular.
1. Tom, you have been working with the -commerce industry for a while now. What was your first experience in this field and what are you currently working on? Please, tell our readers what are the most exciting moments of your career?
The very first ecommerce store that I had a hand in sold dog jackets and boots. Yes, you read that right! From memory, I think I worked on a new version of the logo and wrote HTML for content pages.
Now, I’m involved in projects on Magento, Shopware, Shopify and BigCommerce. While I’ll always have a soft spot for development, I spend most of my time with clients and our team to define requirements and design solutions.
The most exciting moment of my career? Now that’s a tough one. A top contender has to be when Space 48 acquired my agency, Meanbee, in 2017. We’ve worked with some amazing clients in the past include Ordnance Survey, Smythson and ShopGo who all had particularly challenging and novel requirements that were exciting to solve.
Since then, I’ve had an opportunity to work on some even larger projects which have challenged me to work on a bigger scale.
2. As I can see from your profile, you have various Magento certifications. How did they help in your career path and how important is it to obtain such certifications?
The value of certifications, in general, are a debated topic. For what they’re worth, they are our best estimate that a person has a working knowledge of a topic. In terms of the Magento certification, I’ve been quoted before saying that they are a rite of passage and I still believe the process of studying for them is more valuable than taking the test itself. For many developers, this is the first time they deep dive into the request flow of the application. Knowing how an application works can help increase confidence and enjoyment of working with that application.
I think the Magento 2 certifications are an improvement as it’s less a test of memory and more a test of applying experience to situations, this also makes it more difficult to cram for.
In terms of how much they affect your career progress, they are a means to an end and not an end in themselves. The way you progress your career is all down to you and your personal desire. For those that wish to tackle larger problems and take on more responsibility for greater reward, it requires dedication to reflection and study. You will work to build on your strengths, recognise your weaknesses – both on a technical, personal and professional level.
3. Being a Magento advocate, would you mind sharing with us the vital Magento improvements for the past year?
Magento is a company that never fails to launch initiatives. Not all of them work out, but it is a company that continues to push forward which they should receive credit for.
Without question, the biggest news of the year was the acquisition by Adobe. I think that merchants are yet to see the fruit of this but it will raise the bar on what can be achieved with a single platform – if content is king then Magento commerce is in for a treat with the power of Adobe.
On a more practical level, the biggest changes of the year was the Magento 2.3 release though we’ll have to wait a few more months to see this rolled out across the ecosystem and stabilise with patch releases. Some of the biggest parts of the 2.3 release are features that are actually arriving in the first quarter of 2019: Payments, Sales Channel and Page Builder.
4. So, can you single out the top 3 reasons why online business owners should choose the Magento solution over other shopping carts?
Magento suits merchants where creating a unique online experience through tailoring technology is core to their values and offering. It suits them because of the rich set of features out of the box that has the flexibility to be repurposed or extended in an organised and maintainable manner that also encourages collaboration between community members.
5. The number of Magento extensions grows every day which give an opportunity to customise and personalise e-commerce platform in accordance with the business requirements. In your opinion, how can Magento applications influence company growth and success?
In life as in ecommerce, do yourself what you enjoy and what defines you, for everything else, partner with others. That’s the power of having a strong extension and SaaS product marketplace for your ecommerce platform. There are so many fantastic products that you could never compete with if you tried to do yourself. So don’t bother, instead compose a superior ecommerce experience by calling on best-of-breed products and services and focus on working on the business. It’s amazing what you can achieve by removing wasted work.
6. The new year is approaching. What Magento updates do you think we can we expect in the near future?
As mentioned earlier, we’ll see and hear more from the new products from Magento of Payments, Sales Channels, and finally the general release of Page Builder.
I think that this year we will see some case studies on pilot projects that incorporate aspects of the Adobe and Magento ecosystem which is going to be inspirational and exciting.
I’m sure that this year we’ll see some of the first stores using Magento’s PWA Studio. It will be very bleeding edge, but it’ll be great to see the community forge ahead there and show off what can be achieved.
7. To conclude, are there other insights you want to share with our readers? Maybe some interesting materials or resources you have found to be useful after years of experience?
I don’t think there’s any one resource that I can point you to. I think it’s all about learning from others and letting conversations do the inspiration. This could just be at work with your colleagues, on open source projects on GitHub, at conferences and meet-ups, reading blog posts or watching. I get great satisfaction out of the journey of learning and creating with others.
It was Tom Robertshaw with his expert’s insights considering Magento and e-Commerce in general. Plumrocket team would like to thank this inspiring professional for having a chance to learn about his life and experience.