Building a Working Retail Augmented Reality Prototype: Final Week of Development
When it came to building a mobile-web-browser Augmented Reality proof of concept in less than four weeks, we knew two things:
We knew we would run into a whole bunch of unexpected challenges.
And we knew it would get done.
Software development in a time crunch is almost guaranteed to come with eleventh-hour surprises, late nights, and frazzled nerves. And that’s pretty much exactly what happened.
Luckily, the Valtech and Contentstack teams building our Augmented Reality demo do not rattle easily.
The team had come up with a concept for a content-rich AR showcase in less than one week; the week after that, became subject-matter experts on the topics of beauty and skincare, and determined the must-haves for a usable and working AR POC, and finally had designed and developed live interactions in AR, including how the data would be structured and pulled from the CMS, last week.
Here’s how it all came together in week three — as we raced to build our working Augmented Reality prototype that would help a retail beauty (skincare) buyer navigate supermarket shelves and browse through a brand’s products to receive a personalized recommendation; take a product home and get onboarded to using it; and finally get recommendations for repurchasing, changing usage, and/or leaving a review.
And spoiler alert: yes, we did all of that, and yes, you can try out the AR app for yourself.
Integration, integration, integration
“If this were Sesame Street, the word of the week would be: Integration!” quipped Danielle, our project manager, at the start of week three.
Week two had consisted of building all the individual ‘parts’ of the application in small ‘samples’ — little scenarios that could, in parallel, all be shown to work. This included things like: designing the scenarios in 2D; displaying the scenarios in AR to look like they did in 2D; programming the app to recognize the bottle moving as a controller for making the experience change in AR; pulling data from Contentstack, and so on. “Integration!” meant actually combining all of it together — is it any surprise that we were expecting to run into some weirdness?
Design: Fusing brand with functionality
The plan all along was to show the app working with three “generic serums”: To simulate one beauty brand’s different serum product offerings, and thus illustrate how a customer could browse between them using the AR experience in-store.
The thing is, Svante, our designer, had been working on beautiful serum labels, while Alex, our developer, had been figuring out how to make the information we needed display (and persist) in AR using clear markers. (More on that in our week two post.) Since we chose to work with fiducial markers, which are essentially big black boxes with asymmetrical shapes or content inside, Svante’s task became to fuse — or integrate — these marker “boxes” with a custom, and beautiful skincare-like, label in the beginning of the week.
Needless to say he was up to the challenge, and he created three beautiful label designs that worked seamlessly in the AR app. So people could access the AR experience, and it looked like a real beauty product. Check!
Print these labels at home to try out our AR app.
The rest of the week was a game of expectation vs. reality for design. Prior to this week, Svante had only been designing in 2D, so once the designs went “live” into the 3D AR experience, Svante needed to make quick adjustments on the fly so things could look and work the way they were supposed to.
For example, we had originally planned to have a “recommended” ribbon in Scenario 1 which appears wrapped around the bottle that the app recommends for the user accessing the experience. It turned out that it’s pretty tricky to wrap a 2D object around a 3D one, so our wrapped ribbon tails turned into more of a crown.
Development: Will it run?
The week started with Alex building out the A-frame skeletons for the AR experience. Danielle explains:
“For rendering content in 3D space, we used A-frame and AR.js libraries (see the research on the different frameworks we considered here). AR.js is the Augmented Reality component — it makes use of the camera to do computer vision, recognizes markers, and places content on top of the real world. A-frame allows us to describe a 3D scene with HTML-like components. Essentially, you can tell the experience, “there’s going to be text here, and a graphical element there, and something else here”. A-frame can also be used to define gestures, like the rotation and tilt of the bottle. It’s a higher-level programming language than if you were to go straight into WebGL and try to define all these components and sections. So before we could actually start working with the content from Contentstack and the visuals and assets from Svante, we had to actually lay out the skeleton, or template, for where all those pieces would go.”
Integrating HTML elements into the AR experience
On the HTML side of things, we added some cool graphical HTML elements to the experience, especially noticeable in Scenario 1, where a pop-up in the lower third of the screen gives a fuller context to the shopping experience. It can tell you which part of the “skincare routine” you are shopping and lets you save selections.
Here is where we started to hit some road bumps. Blending the AR.js together with the HTML elements turned out to be trickier than we expected. We discovered that AR.js, as written, adds A-frame elements to the document body, and then sets the size of the body to the dimensions of the web cam, which makes it tricky to integrate properly positioned HTML elements atop an AR scenario.
It wasn’t planned, but the team ended up forking the AR.js code and making a local branch that fixed this issue, so that we could render 2D HTML elements and our 3D AR content as expected.
|Note: We love and are fully committed to the open-source community and its practices, and as a next step, we plan to commit these changes as a pull request back to the AR.js library.|
Another thing that we ran into was some issues with tapping gestures, because raycasting (which is how you can click on objects in a 3D scene) was not working properly. This was due to some customizations in the AR.js “scene camera” setup (the view into the 3D world). Once again, we knew how we could fix it, but we didn’t have time in this final week of development. Luckily, the team came up with the idea of using a “swipe” gesture instead, and this worked really reliably and felt natural in use.
|Note 2: These kinds of issues could also be resolved by working with “native” AR tools, i.e. ones that leverage Android and iOS AR frameworks. We chose to use a mobile-web-browser-based experience to make user access as seamless as possible. We knew this would come with tradeoffs, and these are just a couple of examples. Building mobile-web AR experiences is still a little bit of a “wild west”, and we are all still learning about how to make them better.|
An unfortunate reality of working with 3D graphics is that unlike 2D browser renderers, A-frame (and a lot of other 3D libraries) don’t automatically figure out dimensions of elements and make them flow and stack within a document-object model. Which was of course an issue when getting text from Contentstack that might be dynamic, changing, or simply not come with a known “text height”. This was a time constraint that drove us toward the decision to hardcode the text layouts in an effort to complete the work in time for the end of week three. However, this issue has since been addressed and corrected through a few sneaky post-week-three hours.
We also had some weird, unexpected bugs with our build tool Parcel.js, such as it being unable to use our custom fonts (fixed through hosting the font files on Contentstack assets), and also referencing HTML files incorrectly (addressed by debugging the command-line parameters for Parcel to make sure the paths in the built files were generated correctly). We figured it out, but it was another eleventh-hour surprise... exactly the kind that is relatively expected in fast-clip software development!
When it came to actually using the application, we wanted to put everything into a single HTML file, accessible from one button, so that we would only have to ask for permissions to use the camera and the sensors once, and leverage a lot of the same elements. The problem was that re-using a marker and associating it with different 3D content for different scenarios was really tricky and created conflicts.
This would have required a lot of code to make work that we didn’t have time for, so for now, each of the three scenarios are separate documents and require unique permissions — though they can all be accessed through in-experience buttons once you’ve launched a scenario.
We did it!
The team pulled together and with the help of Ben & Gal at Contentstack, Alex, Jason, and Svante pulling a few final late nights, and everyone else cheering them on with fingers crossed... we built the thing. It’s working and it’s live.
Check out the demo video below.
And of course, try it for yourself: Go to spyglass.valtech.engineering, print the labels, and see the magic happen!
Stay tuned for our lessons learned summary with lots more details on how we built this Augmented Reality demo, what enterprises need to know about building out AR experiences, and why we believe there’s endless opportunity to explore emerging technologies with MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless) architecture.
Automated Content Management: How Technology Can Make Life Easier
What Is Content Automation? Content automation is a digital marketing strategy that replaces human intervention in the content lifecycle with an automated alternative, saving time and money and freeing up resources. Sounds vital, right? In content marketing there are many opportunities to program or automate repetitive processes, allowing marketing agents to focus on more important tasks such as strategy and planning. Here are some examples of tasks a content marketing automation platform can perform: Publishing blog posts and distributing content on social media sites Tracking and monitoring user behavior and engagementProofreading content for grammar and spelling mistakesCreating and sending automated emails to a targeted audience, based on behavior and triggersTranslating text into other languages and natural language processing (NLP)Writing content that does not need human interventionWhat Is Automated Content Management and How Does It Work? Automated content management is the human element required to set up and manage automated content. Before any automation can occur there needs to be a well-planned strategy that defines the goals and the method of achieving those goals. There are a wide range of content automation tools available, so step one is for the executive marketing team to agree which tools are necessary and which tools will justify themselves in time and money saved in the long run. Once the tools are in place, users need to be thoroughly trained to ensure that your organization can reach the full potential of the automation tools. Once the training is complete, the creative work, the fun stuff, begins. Creating written, video or audio content to push out to the audience, in a way that keeps them engaged and results in conversions, is at the core of marketing. Using automation, content can be personalized to a degree that would never be possible if an individual had to carry out the work, but it takes a human to design the process and set up the triggers and options that will keep on delighting your customers. What a human can do when managing content automation: Identify the optimal tools to use for the organization.Establish goals and a timeframe for measuring success of the tools.Train the individuals or teams who use the automation tools.Map out the touchpoints of the customer journey.Create the assets the automation tools will publish.Analyze reports generated by the automation tools and make data-driven business decisions. Push the automation tools to do more and achieve more.The Benefits of Automated Content Management The benefits of automated content management are multiple and can be clearly measured: Save Time Content automation is the answer to those repetitive but time-consuming tasks. Rather than asking your team to laboriously set up individual email newsletters, publish individual social media posts and search for qualified leads, item by item, they can focus on what they do best: creating dynamic content. Leave the machines to the automation and the humans to high-level thinking that will grow the business.Save Money With saving on time comes a saving of money — and less need to have an ever-expanding team. Now the business can employ the right people to manage the tools but will save on a wide team of employees doing the time-consuming tasks. Time will be saved, productivity will increase and as a result the organization will save money.Boost Creativity Relieve your team from the mind-numbing boredom of repetitive tasks and ask them to bring creative ideas to the table. This will inspire and empower workers to engage and will boost creative energy and morale. This can help reduce turnover and the associated costs of replacing staff.Improve Workflow When the individuals in the team know their roles and responsibilities and are free of mundane and time-consuming tasks they can work faster and more efficiently. Ideas can flow, the process of marketing campaign creation can speed up and client relationships can flourish.Nurture Leads Never miss an opportunity again with automated tools that can score new customers and send out handy reminders and timely communications. Automation tools can curate, manage and nurture high volumes of potential leads before they even hit the inboxes of the sales team. No more sifting through a mountain of emails or paperwork; sales teams can focus on the cream of the crop, presented to them clutter-free. How to Get Started With Automated Content Management The first step is to identify the task that best suits automation. It should be a task that is time-consuming, possible to automate and will bring faster and cheaper results. Once you identify the task and goals, you will need to map out a workflow and create any assets that are required. It is key that the results of the automation are measurable so the programs can be constantly updated, monitored and improved upon.Examples of Automated Content Marketing Tools Vendors in the content automation space have two basic business models. The first is to create simple tools with a single functionality, such as Grammarly for editing and proofreading written work. Another popular choice among vendors provides entire platforms where users are able customize every aspect of their website, such as Marketo, which also includes marketing automation, email marketing, lead management and revenue attribution. Hubspot, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, has all the tools and integrations required for marketing, sales, content management and customer service. The Future of Automated Content Management Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm and the potential it brings is evolving all the time. The combination of automated content management and artificial intelligence is a great tool for giving workers back the time they need to perform more complex tasks that still require a human brain. Here are some examples of ways automation can make life easier: Machine learning: A machine automatically learns new things without being programmed. Interaction between AI tools: A voice-activated smart speaker to control household appliances is one example. Automated content creation: AI can now create content from scratch, such as writing articles, reports and transcriptions. Natural language processing and generation: A machine reads or speaks in a human language. On-the-spot SEO improvements: AI enabled CMSes are able to identify real-time SEO improvements Content gap identification: AI can spot gaps in content and alert the business to fill the gap Customer service automations: Chatbots are already commonplace, but they are advancing to the point where they can provide around-the-clock support without routing back to human agents.Conclusion When automation is used intelligently it can engage and retain customers and lead them down the funnel with almost no human assistance. The savings in time and human resources are undisputed and the real win comes from being able to do more with less. With automation, the blue-sky thinking can really take flight. Get started with automated content management and AI with Contentstack. Your organization can push boundaries by adopting a composable CMS that’s built to integrate with AI-enabled content management tools. Contentstack is an agile CMS that’s part of the MACH revolution. It’s microservices-based, API-connected, cloud-native, and is built on headless architecture from the ground up. Contact us today to schedule a demo.
The Benefits of an Enterprise CMS
If you're a marketer, you know how important it is to have an enterprise content management system that can handle all of your content needs. But what makes it an enterprise CMS (eCMS) instead of just a CMS? The main difference is that an eCMS can manage multiple websites and large volumes of web content, through a single interface and a single sign-on. Enterprise CMSes provide organizations with a tool to capture, organize, store and deliver an ever-increasing volume of digital information — documents, images, emails, rich media and other types of valuable business content.An effective eCMS should allow you to manage your website's content easily and efficiently, without having to go through a web developer every time you want to make a change. Training people to use the eCMS effectively is vital for the success of your website, and when done properly it will save time and money in the long term. Should you invest in an enterprise CMS? With so many different CMS options available, how do you know which one is right for your business? Here are the top 10 benefits of using an eCMS for your company website. 1. Increases efficiency. An enterprise CMS can automate many tasks related to managing and distributing content, which leads to faster turnaround times and fewer errors. The more critical information there is in the business, the more time it takes to keep it organized and accessible. An enterprise CMS efficiently organizes content, making it easy to locate and access, which in turn means you can save time, increase productivity and focus on more important tasks.2. Keeps track of all your information. Enterprises keep track of a large amount of information. There needs to be a way to store and file this information that prevents lost man-hours, shuffling through paperwork or searching for missing or misplaced items. An enterprise CMS offers efficient, accessible and secure document management, giving all stakeholders a smoother experience. Here are some examples:A marketer working on a new campaign can find and take lessons from previous campaigns.A software designer can access customer problem reports before working on solutions.Purchasing agents can access previous purchase orders.Customer support staff can view customer records quickly to offer better customer service. 3. Reduces costs. Investing in an enterprise-class CMS can help you save money long term by streamlining content management processes and eliminating the need for multiple third-party software applications. With the vast amount of digital content created and maintained, it is important to keep track of storage costs and know your cold from your hot data. An eCMS gives fast access to this data, allowing you to save money by storing cold data at a lower cost. An eCMS can also save time for your team by reducing man-hours spent on projects. As fewer people are required to manage the system once it is set up and running smoothly, your teams are free to focus on more productive tasks.Having an efficient eCMS can also create the environment for a paperless office — saving money on physical storage and reducing your organization’s environmental impact. 4. Allows document version control. With an eCMS your organization can experience seamless teamwork and you’ll have more control over important documents. Your team can track notes and comments simultaneously while collaborating on documents. You will be able to access previous, time-stamped versions and revert back to them if necessary. 5. Improves collaboration. An eCMS gives teams the platform they need to be more productive, with tools that allow them easily organize and track projects and collaborate efficiently from any location.6. Offers greater security. An eCMS can help protect your company's confidential data by implementing strict access controls and tracking user activity, as well as providing reporting and auditing capabilities. Strict access control will ensure that only authorized individuals can create, edit or delete sensitive assets, and tracking user behavior gives an additional level of security by reinforcing accountability.7. Improves regulatory compliance. Compliance regulations are constantly evolving and the penalties for failure to comply can be huge. An enterprise CMS gives the tools and framework to instill data management policies that control the creation, retention and destruction of sensitive information. 8. Improves customer service. Getting real-time visibility into the status of customer enquiries, requests and transactions allows you to respond quickly to their needs. Online forms and requests speed up interactions, and with trackability comes useful insights for improving the customer experience. 9. Helps with sustainability. In the current climate all organizations need to consider the effect of their impact on the environment. Cutting paper usage, reducing the carbon footprint of storage facilities, printed goods and transportation all help toward a greener future.10. Allows automation. One of the great advances of modern technology is automation, which gives organizations the ability to save time and resources by removing repetitive manual processes. This can be anything from simple document routing and document approvals to workflows and email customer journeys. What Can an Enterprise CMS Do?Capture: Capture content as it enters the systemManage: File and categorize the content Store: Keep active, hot data and content readily available Preserve: Archive cold dataDeliver: Present the right content to the right user at the right timeWhat Should You Look For in an Enterprise CMS?The question remains: How do you choose an enterprise content management system? How does what you currently have in place compare to what’s new on the market? And if you choose to invest in something new, how can you be sure it will be worth it?2-minute guide on how to choose an Enterprise CMS A cloud-Based SaaS solution: Content Management is constantly evolving and you shouldn’t have to replatform every few years just to keep up. Enterprise CMSes needs to stay cutting edge right into the future and with a cloud-based SaaS solution your enterprise CMS will frequently and automatically be improved and updated without disrupting your workflow - so no more expensive upgrades.Customer support that actually cares: You shouldn’t have to fight for your provider’s attention — you need to find a CMS that has qualified people available to answer your questions quickly.Sky’s the limit scalability: With so many customers relying on your CMS, you need a platform you can rely on to run smoothly as your business grows. Why Choose an Agile, Headless CMS for Your Business?Assuming your business has multiple websites and a high volume of content that needs constant updating, monitoring, editing and refreshing, you should be looking at the most flexible and future-proofed eCMS. Opting for an agile headless CMS you get the benefits listed above, plus more:Integrations with extensions and apps via API: The beauty of headless is the flexibility to integrate with third party platforms and tools. Omnichannel for all: Have one central content hub with a unified user experience across the marketing stack.MACH: (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native Saas and Headless) is a set of principles behind futureproof best-of-breed software. Agile, nimble, always up-to-date technology that you can add, replace and combine for your evolving business and customer experience.Speak to us at Contentstack about how using an agile headless CMS can help your organization. Book a demo today.More About Enterprise Content Management SystemsTo learn more about enterprise content management systems, see these articles: What is the Best CMS for Your BusinessWhy Every Enterprise Should Choose a Headless CMS
Agile CMS: The Best of Headless
If you're a marketer or developer who's been searching for the best of both worlds, then look no further: An agile CMS is the perfect solution for you. An agile CMS gives you all the power of a traditional CMS while also offering the benefits of a headless setup. Whether you need to manage a large website or simply want more flexibility and control over your content, an agile CMS is the perfect choice. What is a Headless Agile CMS?A headless agile content management system (CMS) is a decoupled CMS that delivers content through APIs instead of rendering it on the server side. This API-first approach makes headless architecture ideal for agile brands that need to deliver personalized experiences across different consumer touchpoints.The agile CMS is well suited for digital experiences that are built using modern front-end frameworks such as React, Angular and Vue.js. Headless agile CMSes provide a flexible and scalable approach to delivering content, and they allow developers and marketers to create unique and engaging digital experiences. In addition, headless agile CMSes are often more affordable and easier to maintain than traditional server-side CMSes. As a result, headless agile CMSes are becoming increasingly popular among organizations that are looking to build next-generation digital experiences.What Are the Benefits of a Headless Agile CMS Over Traditional CMSes?Agile CMS is a type of content management system that emphasizes speed and flexibility. Unlike traditional CMSes, which can be slow and inflexible, agile CMSes are designed to be quickly updated and easily customized. This makes agile CMSes ideal for businesses that need to frequently update their website content or make changes to their website design. Headless is a core principle of MACH, which is making major waves with its revolutionary approach on a microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native and headless architecture. As a result, agile CMSes offer several benefits over traditional CMSes.User-centered content hubBuilt-in planning and real-time collaboration toolsEase of use for marketers and developers alikeTime savings on projects Content delivery flexibilityIntegration to existing development stack via APIWhat Industries Are Best Suited to Agile?In the world of software development, agile methodology has become widely adopted as the preferred approach for designing and building new applications. Agile CMS is a relatively new approach that combines the benefits of agile methodology with the flexibility of a headless content management system. This makes headless agile CMS well-suited for industries where speed and flexibility are essential, such as media and publishing, e-commerce and marketing. With a headless agile CMS, developers can quickly and easily make changes to the front end of an application without affecting the back end, and vice versa. This allows for a more agile development process that can respond quickly to changing needs and requirements. In addition, headless agile CMS provides greater flexibility for hosting and deploying applications. This makes it an attractive option for companies that want to avoid the hassle and expense of maintaining their own infrastructure. Headless Agile CMS Case StudiesCovea InsuranceCovéa Insurance offers commercial and personal insurance products to customers across the UK. They needed a CMS to consolidate multiple CMSes, integrate with their chatbot, and support the launch of their insurance-as-a-service platform.What did they achieve?Enabled developers to release code within one sprintReduced call center costs through chatbot integration with IBM WatsonOffered a customizable white-label solution platform for individual clientsShaw Academy Online EducationShaw Academy experienced a massive influx of new learners, educators, and course materials due to COVID and desperately needed to upgrade their traditional CMS from the homegrown solution they were using.What did they achieve?50% faster course publishing time; releasing 90 courses in 9 months5 new languages launchedAbility to release content 2x per weekHealth KarmaA fast-growing startup that was mired in the ticket-based content publishing quagmire of legacy CMSes. They needed a content solution that would empower their teams to scale up personalization, allow marketers and developers to work together efficiently, and lay the foundation for sustainable future growth.What did they achieve?Reusable templates that let marketers directly publish contentEasy to create and test variations for personalizationModular infrastructure that strengthens data securityAre There Any Downsides to Using an Agile CMS?An agile CMS is a viable option for developers who are looking for a content management system that will allow them to move quickly and efficiently. It is also a good choice for developers who want to take advantage of the latest technology trends. However, there are some potential downsides to using an agile CMS: Not as widely adopted as other content management systems No built-in user interfaceMore expensive up front than traditional CMSes (but more flexible and future-proof)How Do You Get Started With an Agile CMS?We have a simple-to-integrate and agile CMS that can help bridge the growing divide between traditional and modern marketing management. Watch our agile CMS demonstration. Find out more about agile marketing from And learn the ins and outs of an agile CMS for enterprise businesses by reading See how easy and creative composable commerce can be, at enterprise scale. Using agile headless technology, watch Contentstack build a shop in real time during this webinar series "The ABCs of Composable Commerce."
What Is a Content Experience Platform?
As more companies pursue the best approach to create better digital experiences, content experience platforms are on the rise. Today’s consumer expects the research and purchasing journey to be seamless between devices, channels and content. They expect to be recognized and have their loyalty rewarded. Using artificial intelligence, content experience platforms (CXPs) deliver an omnichannel experience, taking customers to next-level interaction. A CXP focuses on the individual user, tracking the unique journey through web, mobile and other forms of customer experience. So now we have a new acronym to add to the multiple-choice as listed by CMSWire: WCM, WEM, CMS, DXP, agile CMS and CSPs. CXP replaces older approaches such as traditional CMS and connects audience interaction across devices and rich content. Businesses can’t afford to stand still. They need a CXP that rises to the challenge and recognizes that no two customers are the same. What is a Content Experience Platform?The CXP is the latest in content management technology: a CMS, but taken to the next level. A content experience platform has speed at its heart and allows companies to create personalized experiences that are designed to retain and engage customers — across multiple channels. In its listing of Top 20 Most Compelling Examples of Personalization Forbes cites Grammarly in the number one position: Grammarly, an app that helps catch grammar mistakes and improve writing, sends weekly reports to users on how their writing has improved. The reports include how many words the user wrote that week, how many mistakes they made and mistakes they made frequently. The report also highlights potential areas for improvement, which helps customers better use the product and improve their communication. A CXP is a centralized tool that organizes assets based on tagging, segmenting, categorizing, individuals, audiences or use cases. When content is organized effectively, personalization can provide custom experiences for audiences. Content can be created and distributed with the aim of capturing leads and driving users to a defined call to action. What Types of Content Can Be Managed With a CXP?VideoAudioImagesArticlesE-books & white papersInfographicsNews feedsInteractive content (e.g., quizzes, surveys, polls, calculators)ChatbotsE-commerce product recommendationsWebsites or blogsHow Is a CXP Different From a CMS? To answer this question we need to take a look at the various types of content management systems that exist today. First, we have the traditional CMS, a low-barrier solution for simple websites. These monoliths deliver editorial content, reporting, customer data, security and administration. The basic CMS provides the software that is the foundation for digital identity, strategy and engagement. However, setting up a traditional in-house CMS, such as Adobe Experience Manager, OpenText TeamSite, Drupal or SDL Tridion, is time-consuming and costly, and these systems can limit creativity by being restrictive and slow. Headless CMS is a different approach using microservices — single-service applications — that you can add, remove or rearrange in a composable ecosystem. This frees you to choose best-of-breed applications that suit your business instead of being limited to solutions prepackaged by a vendor. The headless CMS uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to distribute content to anywhere and everywhere you need it, such as your website, mobile app, email marketing or customer relationship management system. Headless CMSes are easy to use for both IT and business users and streamline content operations to enforce consistency while remaining agile — hence the coining of the term agile CMS or agile headless CMS. This allows companies to connect with customers at scale and respond quickly to market opportunities. The latest technology in the evolution of content management systems is the content experience platform (CXP), not to be confused with a digital experience platform (DXP) — which, according to Gartner, is “an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.” Aragon Research defines the content experience platform as the “next-generation offering to address the age-old enterprise need to create and deliver dynamic experiences to users on any device” — including content experiences — in a multichannel world.” The key difference with other CMSes lies in the “content experience,” and this is where it widens the scope and introduces new possibilities. A CXP must by nature be omnichannel and must be quick, flexible and able to adapt to new channels quickly. It must sync with touchless, voice-driven and extended reality experiences. It must be possible to integrate it with any tools and technologies to empower analytics, personalization and localization. And it must be easy to use for both content creators and end users so the process of creating content is seamless right from the first idea, through testing and on to publishing. In summary, it offers much more to make composable much easier. What Can a CXP Do? With any kind of technological development it pays to be at the forefront — always surprising the customer and inviting them to engage, convert and remain loyal. Getting ahead of the competition is vital and with a CXP the world is limitless. Anything can be built, published, delivered and distributed. Based on the principles of MACH (Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, Headless), the CXP is a diverse and ever-changing ecosystem that allows innovation and integration. Creativity can flourish without limits. Take the example of Gatorade: Gatorade Tracks Users’ Sweat Gatorade’s Gx platform tests and analyzes how high-level athletes sweat to deliver personalized sports fuel recommendations. Users apply the Gx Sweat Patch before a workout, then scan it afterward to get their unique sweat profile, including how much fluid and sodium was lost and how quickly compared to other athletes. That information creates personalized recommendations for sports refueling to reach their optimal performance and nutrition. A CXP enables you to:Self publish within minutesBuild personalized experiences fastIntegrate with third-party content platforms, such as RSS, YouTube and morePersonalize content into campaign destinationsDeliver real-time, dynamic personalization Leverage the power of AI to predict content recommendationsDrive and capture leads seamlesslyIntegrate with marketing automation platforms such as Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot and HubspotConnect customer behavior with content performanceGet insights that show what content drives the most salesHow to Choose a CXP Now we know a CXP is vital to the success of creating content and retaining customer engagement and loyalty — but how to go about choosing the right one? The important elements to consider are: Integration with legacy software: Does the CXP integrate well with all the marketing, sales or design software your business is using? And can it push content out to your social media channels? Scalability: How much content does your business produce and can the CXP meet the needs of your content creators, marketing and sales departments? Customer support: Does the CXP have a good rating on review websites such as Trust Radius and G2? Is there good collaborative support during integration and continued support for your admins? (i.e., solution-focused vs. vendor finger-pointing) Cost comparison: Does the CXP charge on a monthly or yearly basis, and are the number of licenses restricted? Costs can vary enormously so it is worth researching and comparing vendors.Take the Next Step Today Ready to level up your omnichannel marketing? Schedule a free, two-week trial of Contentstack platform and see why top brands are choosing our content experience platform.
6 ContentCon Lessons on Content Experience Success
There’s nothing like the high energy of an in-person event where people make connections, trade insights and ruminate on innovation together. And dancing. Lots of dancing. That’s how we would describe the atmosphere at our first-ever ContentCon customer conference in Austin this week. We heard from our CEO Neha Sampat on key trends shaping the industry and our evolution from a digital experience services company in the early days of the cloud to the CXP category leader. We also heard from customer speakers like Zach Crittendon, software architect at Levi Strauss & Co, Jon Richards, head of Digital at Golfbreaks, and Edvardas Paskevicius and Óskar Völundarson from Icelandair about their successful composable journeys and lessons learned. 6 Key Takeaways From ContentCon We could share a lot of takeaways from our two-day event, but we settled on our top six. 1: Lead With Technology, But Put Your People First While technology is a great tool to help organizations execute creative campaigns and projects, innovation is driven by your people. Danielle Diliberti leaned on her learnings from implementing Contentstack as CTO at The St. James to build Sommsation from the ground up. Her journey reminds us that technology allows us to rethink the norms of what our people do and enables them to set the bar higher and achieve those aspirations. 2: Work Through Digital Transformation in Phases Digital transformation is just that — a transformation. It takes energy and resources across departments. Levi’s Crittendon emphasized the importance of small phases to accomplish the journey. Start with the homepage, move to a small headless site and only then roll out to major markets, for example. 3: Adopting MACH Can Be Complex. Tap Into the Support! Bob Howland, Chief Digital Officer of Dawn Foods, said in his session: “It takes a village to successfully implement MACH, and you’ll need everyone on the bus.” We feel a sense of responsibility for that bus. That’s why we were proud to unveil Connect without Compromise™ — including Automation Hub, Marketplace and Blueprints — at ContentCon. Worry-free adoption of MACH architecture starts here. 4: Complex Doesn’t Mean Long Turnaround Times In fact, speed is one of the main reasons to move to MACH. We brought together Catalyst partners Algolia, BigCommerce and Cloudinary for a live demo of a PoC we built in four weeks to show that it’s not as challenging as you think. We implemented all of our solutions, including content, search, commerce and digital asset management — and walked away with a working swag store attendees ordered from. 5: Composable Helps You Achieve Business Goals Golfbreaks shared that moving to MACH led to a 67% increase in organic traffic and a 35% increase in site conversion. Richards elaborated on speed, too. Golfbreaks now publishes content 90% quicker and reduced development time by 80%. Where does all this extra time go? Innovation. Crittendon said personalization on the homepage, improved pre-production for the branches and enhanced preview services are what’s next for Levi’s. 6: The Unimaginable Is Possible Icelandair moved from content turbulence to “smooth sailing,” including streamlined translations for 12 languages across 15 locales. Dawn Foods moved from manual, pen-and-paper ordering to a robust, self-service e-commerce infrastructure. Levi’s previously took 20+ weeks to launch new pages with siloed content and commerce. Now they can launch in days, including shoppable editorial. Yes, there is life way beyond the status quo.Our CEO Neha Sampat said it best: We are “super motivated to continue the journey of challenging the status quo and empowering the community to build the best digital experiences on the market.” We’ll take everything we learned to spur innovation, influence our product and customer success teams and better serve our customers. Our first ContentCon was one to remember, and we hope you’ll join us May 8-10, 2023 for the next one!