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Augmented Reality – A Digital Bridge That Connects The Physical And Virtual Worlds

Apple’s Tim Cook calls it the next big thing after the iPhone.

DHL has already equipped its warehouse employees with it.

IKEA has launched a dedicated app leveraging this technology.

Wondering what it is?

Augmented Reality (AR) it is. A state-of-the-art mixed reality technology that is soon becoming mainstream across the world.

The Pokemon Go app that made people run around collecting virtual characters and badges is one of the most easily relatable examples of Augmented Reality technology.

Is AR’s benefits limited to mobile apps and entertainment?

Absolutely, no. PwC’s Global Digital IQ Survey has found that 24% of executives would make significant investments in AR in the next three years.

Apple’s iPhone X has Augmented Reality as a highlight feature. In fact, the Cupertino tech giant has already invested $390 Million to create AR apps exclusive to Apple. Apple also has a Augmented Reality iOS kit ARKit which allows developers to create Augmented Reality apps.

There is also an Augmented Reality Android SDK ARCore with capabilities for motion tracking, environmental understanding and light estimation.

Industries where Augmented Reality Development is paving new Inroads

AR Technology has applications across all kinds of industries. In fact, Augmented Reality glasses are considered to be the driving force of cognitive revolutionAugmented Reality solves one of the challenging problems that have been plaguing executives – cognitive overload.

Augmented Reality applications overlay digital information snippets above physical objects when they are viewed through device screens.

For example, you can view the star rating or booking rates of a hotel by pointing your phone camera at the building through Augmented Reality apps.

Here are some more industries where Augmented Reality programming can be a game-changer.

Mining

Identifying new locations with mineral deposits is a capital extensive process in the mining industry. There is also the risk of landfill cave-ins and similar tragedies since miners cannot always calculate geo-spatial features. Augmented Reality can help scan a locality without having to penetrate it physically thus preventing the risk of penetrating existing openings.

Defense

In the defense industry, Augmented Reality takes upon an entirely dedicated form called the Tactical Augmented Reality (TAR). TAR takes the shape of miniature eyepieces that can project details like distance to target, 360-degree views of surroundings, 3D surface models, navigation directions and much more.

Education

The biggest draw of AR technology would come in the form of AR apps. Augmented reality app development for the education sector is already a bustling scene of activity. AR delivers an immersive experience to students which lets them learn and reproduce information with more conceptual understanding. Human digestive system, the solar system, chemical reactions, etc. can be shown with vivid detail using Augmented Reality.

Entertainment

Location-based Augmented Reality games will extend the pleasure traditional gaming systems. The rage that Pokemon Go created is a testament to this fact. Similar to Pokemon Go, a good number of other AR games are also being launched that allow players to blend digital and virtual environments.

Retail

Product catalogs, user manuals, help guides, etc. can all be made better and immersive using Augmented Reality applications. IKEA has already launched an AR app that overlays 3D product images on physical spaces to help customer pick the right product. AR in eCommerce would help reduce product churn rate as well as improve customer experience.

Manufacturing

In the manufacturing industry, equipments can malfunction abruptly due to internal issues. AR apps can help technicians see-through the equipment and find out what has gone wrong where. Heavy-duty machine maker Caterpillar uses such an AR app that provides unmatched support to customers and technicians in working with their equipments.

The Road Ahead for Augmented Reality Development

The number of Augmented Reality companies is growing on a daily basis. The technology as a whole is becoming popular, thanks to the rapid increase in digital information as well as computational power accessibility. The road ahead for Augmented Reality looks promising. It will weed out inherent challenges that several industries have been experiencing for decades long.

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Google On The Works To Make Mobile Page Loading Speed A Ranking Factor

Google likes websites that load faster. Now it has a new liking. Mobile websites that load faster.

The latest news from the SEO world hint that Google will soon be ranking faster mobile websites higher than their slower counterparts. The ranking signal is expected to come into play from July 2018. So if you are banking on SEO for your marketing activities there is some time to improve your mobile website performance.

Mobile website performance has remained a critical search engine ranking for the past 8 years. But, it is only now that mobile speed is coming to the center stage as a ranking signal.

The official Google blog confirms  “the Speed Update will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries.”

Should you be worried?

Well, you can check how well your mobile website speed fares using Google’s PageSpeed Insights and also refer to the Lighthouse tool and the Chrome User Experience Report to make improvements, if needed.

Why Mobile Speed Matters?

The Google/SOASTA Research, 2017 has found that as the page loading time increased from 1 second to 10 seconds, the probability of bounce rate increases as high as 123%.

Here is how the page loading speed contributes to bounce rate:

Mobile Page Speed

The average page loading speed of a U.S retail website in 2016 was 6.9 seconds. But, the above chart from Google’s Research confirms that customers would not wait for so long for the page to wait. To make things worse, customers may not return to a slow loading website that they once abandoned.

How to make your mobile website load faster?

The present state of mobile sites is totally different from what they used to be a few years ago. Responsive design has become mandatory to secure a higher SEO ranking. A few months from now, mobile page loading speed would also be essential for a healthy SEO ranking.

Here are some ways how you can make your website load super fast and achieve an SEO advantage.

Cut down on Code Bloating

Crafting an awesome website design might end up with a heavy code. The more code you have on your website slower will be its loading speed. Use a tool like Minify to streamline chunks of code for faster loading.

Have minimal page elements

Too many elements like Javascript, CSS stylesheets, images, videos, forms, etc. can make your mobile look cluttered. And it slows down the page too. Consider having a minimal design with minimal elements and fewer forms/buttons that would load faster on a mobile device.

Use optimized images

HQ images look fantastic on your homepage. But, they are a dampener for your page loading speed. Consider cutting the weight of your images by reducing their file size. There are several free online tools like Compressor.io that compress the file size without killing their quality.

Use essential redirects only

While redirects strengthen your SEO ranking, too many redirects can be taxing on your mobile loading speed. Too many redirects mean your website has to work extra time to fetch and deliver the information that the user is requesting for. Do a complete audit of your redirects of your website to remove unnecessary redirects.

Enable AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages help load your mobile site instantly. The Accelerated Mobile Page Project is an open-source initiative that aims to simplify the mobile-friendly content creation efforts of publishers. By integrating AMP into a website’s backend it can be made to load instantly on all platforms and mobile devices.

Closing In

Google has been emphasizing on page loading speed for search engine friendliness since 2014. With time the mobile responsive design was also looped in as a ranking signal. Now, the next upgrade comes in the form of mobile page loading speed.

Considering the fact more than 80% of searches originate from a mobile device, this is one update that was much needed from Google. Website owners, especially retailers cannot afford to ignore it any longer.

Is your mobile optimized for a less-than-3-second page loading speed?

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How Blockchain Development Could Be a Disruptive Force In The Digital World

Blockchain is a chain of blocks made up of encrypted records. Blockchain development will do to transactions what Internet did to information collection and distribution.

That’s the elevator pitch for blockchain.

Now let’s take a look at how it works in the real life. Imagine you want to buy a car and register it in your name. This requires you to go through several physical checks and paper records to ensure the car’s title and sale worthiness before getting into the registration process.

Apart from your scrutiny process, the records would also have subject to multiple scrutinies by middlemen which makes the process tedious and time-consuming.

The bad news is, despite the record checking and vetting, transactions do end up in a folly.

Information tampering, false information and errors make can make the process unreliable and difficult.

Blockchain aims to eliminate all these difficulties in tracking, recording and vetting ownership of tangible assets and digital information.

Any business that has digital assets ranging from contacts to smart contracts can gain significantly from Blockchain development.

What Makes Blockchain So Powerful?

Blockchain is an uneditable (the technical term is immutable) digital ledger that is updated on a real-time basis. It is stored on a distributed network connected by peer-to-peer systems that no single authority owns completely.

It is decentralized

Nobody can claim ownership over a blockchain neither can anyone take down blockchain single-handedly.

It is time-stamped & cryptic in nature

Every single record in Blockchain is encrypted and time-stamped. It is not possible to edit the record unless it is owned by the user and also the user has a private key to access it.

Records are immutable

Each block of records in a blockchain is linked to its previous block or series of blocks, which when edited, updates all dependent blocks on a real-time basis.

Uneditable records, time-stamping and encryption has led to wide adoption of blockchain for real-life business applications. Before you know it, Blockchain would be influencing every single transaction that you carry out in our everyday life.

Almost every industry that relies on digital data would be disrupted by Blockchain. The positive impact will be evident on two major industries: Banking and Retail.

Reducing Lender’s Risk in Banking & Financial Transactions

In the banking industry, earning and maintaining customer trust is of paramount importance. Existing methods of clearing settlements, trade finance sanctions, syndicated loan processing, etc. are prone to fraud and error.

Blockchain can reduce that lender’s risk by combining databases of financial transactions, loan payables, bad debts, loan defaulters, etc.

For instance, a lender can cross-check if a collateral security is already pledged with any other bank before the loan is sanctioned. Similarly, the creditworthiness of borrowers can also be verified by scrutinizing their past banking and financial transactions enlisted in the digital ledger.

Since all the records are decentralized and cannot be edited easily, it makes a trustworthy source for lenders to rely on for decision making. This also simplifies quicker cross-border payment transactions which otherwise have to be routed through intermediaries.

Who is using it?

The Royal Bank of Canada is experimenting with a Hyperledger based Blockchain system to facilitate cross-border transactions between its Canadian and US banks.

Providing real-time traceability in Supply Chain Management

Supply chain is one sector where inventory traceability needs to be ensured each time the inventory status or value changes.

For instance, perishable items like meat, milk, vegetables, etc. require being transported in cold storage condition until they reach the store rack.

A retailer would want to know all possible details about the inventory like its origin, time when it was shipped, the temperature at which it was stored during transit and similar status updates of the inventory at all stages of the supply chain.

Such information should also be verified and authentic. Blockchain makes it possible by setting the platform for various businesses using the same network to validate the data on a real-time basis. In a supply chain, it would include the farm, the transport agency, warehouses and retail stores.

Each time the block, that is the record is added to the chain, it becomes part of the immutable ledger which can be referred to spot quality issues, end of shelf-life approaching goods or even spoilt goods easily.

Who is using it?

Walmart has already optimized its retail options for the good by implementing blockchain for ensuring food safety and to improve end-to-end supply chain traceability.

Final Words

Blockchain development has numerous practical uses for everyday business transactions. The number of applications to which it is used will exponentially increase in the coming days. The adoption rate will increase drastically as and when business leaders gain clarity over existing security. The day when Blockchain will become the common norm of business transactions is not very far.

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Why Magento 2 Migration Would Be The Best Thing For Your eCommerce Business

Magento 2.0 was released in 2015. The Merchant Beta version was released in July and Merchant General Availability came in force in November 2015.

Magento 1.x has been an influential factor in the massive growth of the eCommerce industry as a whole. In fact, an estimated 200,000 online stores have been launched on Magento till date.

Magento builds upon the existing eCommerce prowess of its earlier versions. From the look and feels to the internal technical advancements, the tech boffins at Magento have really improvised the second version to be a real eCommerce growth catalyst.

This is a blog is a round-up on all that. We are getting under the skin of Magento 2 to bring out the best features that will help you address 3 critical questions:

  1. #1 Should you migrate to Magento 2?
  2. #2 What are the steps involved in the migration process?
  3. #3 Is Magento 2 Migration worth the effort and time?

#1 Should You migrate to Magento 2?

If your store is running on older versions of Magento like the 1.7 Community Edition or its predecessors or the 1.13 or earlier, then an upgrade is recommended.

How about performance issues? If you are running into technical glitches, slow page loading, erratic error messages, and so on, perhaps an upgrade will eliminate all of that in one shot.

Do a Magento site performance audit to know where your Magento website currently is and how it can be improved in terms of performance.

Turbocharge your Magento website performance Talk to our experts

#2 What are the steps involved in the migration process?

Magento 2 migration goes through four major processes:

  1. Theme migration
  2. Extension migration
  3. Code Migration
  4. Data migration

Theme Migration

Fact: Magento 1 themes cannot be migrated to 2nd version directly. What you can do is:

  • Work with a Magento frontend developer to replicate the theme for Magento 2
  • Check if the Magento 2 compatible theme is available in Magento marketplace. Under the platform section, you can filter out themes applicable for Magento 2
  • Tweak the Magento 2 default Luma theme to make it look and feel like your Magento 1 theme

Extension Migration

Magento has not released any tools for moving all Magento 1 extensions to Magento 2. You can check if the extension provider has released a Magento 2 version in Magento marketplace. If not, it would be necessary to create the extension from ground up. Ensure it is in compliance with the Magento 2 coding standard.

Code Migration

Magento 2 follows a modular and better-organized file structure. This requires reworking on your Magento 1 code to make it compatible with Magento 2. Magento has also released a code migration kit to make the process easier.

Data Migration

The longest of all steps is perhaps migrating all Magento 1 data to Magento 2. You will need a Magento Data Migration Kit which can automate some of the code and data migration to your Magento 2 database. The data migration process would also require you to provide network access to both Magento 1 and Magento 2 databases among many other permissions.


Ziffity’s Magento 2 Migration kit

A quick, hassle-free & effortless way to migrate to Magento 2 Learn More

#3 Is Magento 2 Migration worth the effort and time?

By all means, yes! If you are an omni-channel eCommerce business, then Magento 2 will be a perfect choice to springboard conversion rates and improve customer experience.

Of course, you do not have to upgrade today itself. Magento is going to continue providing support for the older versions for the foreseeable future.

But, with competition getting fiercer by the day, it is ideal to make a move now or be left hanging at the tail end of your rivals. Magento 2 has some striking features that will definitely put your business performance on steroids.

Here is a quick list of all major Magento 2 benefits:

Features to look out for in Magento 2.0

Magento 2.0 is literally a strip down of the earlier versions to weed out the deficiencies and to build something even better for eCommerce. The long list of benefits include:

Open & Flexible Modular Structure

Magento 2 is powered by a new open and flexible modular file structure that gives much convenience for developers to create custom Magento themes. The base theme is replaced with a modular structure that is flexible yet sturdy in performance.

Magento Cloud Deployment

Magento 2.1 Enterprise Edition comes with cloud hosting. This helps you scale and craft amazing brand experiences without being burdened with infrastructure demands. AWS cloud platform gives you the best possible cloud tech stack that offers the combined benefits of scalability, security & flexibility. You also have the option to deploy your site in other deployment models including on-prem or hosted premises.

Streamlined Checkouts

Braintree, Authorize.net and Paypal payment gateways come as built-in integrations. New hosted fields are set up to allow payment gateways to securely collect customer payment information. This makes it easier to attain PCI compliance too. The payment gateway integrations have also contributed to improving checkout speed by 50%.

Ramped up page loading speed

In the Magento 1.x, too many JS made the site load slower. It had a negative impact on the customer experience and also SEO ranking. Magento 2 has weeded out the biggest drawback of Magento 1 by replacing JS with JQuery and Requirejs. JS Bundling has also been enabled in Magento 2 to quicken the page loading speed.

Testing-friendly environment

Magento 2 comes with Functional Testing Framework (FTF) which is designed to run automated testing processes easily. Smoke testing, regression testing, User Acceptance testing, etc. are easier to run with integrated PHPUnit, Web browsers and Selenium Standalone server. There is also the facility to run tests independently, many tests at once or all available tests at once.

Heightened Security

Magento 2 developers can be assured that all their hard work in creating custom codes will remain intact from breaches and unauthorized access. Magento 2 comes with a ‘pub’ directory which developers can use to protect their code from security breaches.

The Way Forward

Magento 2 brings to the table a whole suite of benefits that retailers cannot simply ignore. If your store is suffering from performance issues or a need for revamping is felt, Magento is definitely an ideal choice to go with.

The migration process is definitely worth every single second and dollar invested. The returns would come back in the form of easier administration, better customer experience (which leads to more conversions) and a simplified maintenance environment where everything seems under total control.

So, stop waiting for too long. The support for Magento 1 will reach its end-of-life anytime. Don’t be caught off-guard. Be ahead of the curve by migrating to Magento 2.

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How do you champion B2B eCommerce initiative?

Forrester estimates that B2B eCommerce will top $1.1 trillion and account for 12.1% of all B2B sales in the US by 2020. While the opportunity is big for everyone involved, there are quite a number of challenges across management, technology and people in getting a B2B ecommerce project approved. And if you are one of them who believes B2B eCommerce is beneficial for your organization and wants to champion it, here are few tips on how to get over the challenges.

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Upgrade Endeca Indexing Method – Why and How?

Upgrading Endeca Indexing design from the old forge process to the new forge-less model, helps business align with the product roadmap with an improved indexing strategy. One of the major design changeofficially introduced in Oracle Endeca v11.1 is the elimination of forge from the process of indexing and uses content acquisition system instead. Oracle recommends following this approach going forward for all existing and new customers while implementing Oracle Endeca Guided Search. To understand the new recommended way of indexing, it is important to know how the conventional indexing process called the ITL functioned.

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Oracle Commerce – Bird’s Eye View

Oracle Commerce is a leading eCommerce platform focused on providing a secure, performance driven and scalable architecture with unique features around hyper personalization, Omni-channel experience, segmented pricing, search, merchandising, seamless integration with third-party applications or channels, product management among others. Oracle Commerce Platform provides capability to deliver a unified buying experience across all touch points, including the web, contact center, mobile devices, social media, physical stores and more.

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What it takes to replatform your eCommerce platform

Replatforming is a process by which you enhance your eCommerce platform’s capabilities. It is required if your

  1. eCommerce site is built on a platform which is no longer supported by your vendor.
  2. eCommerce platform is custom developed and you don’t wish to invest further on it.
  3. eCommerce platform is not scaling to your needs.

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Oracle EBS and Oracle Commerce Integration

Oracle EBS (E-Business Suite) is a comprehensive suite of integrated business applications that helps manage information about customers, products, catalog, discount policies, pricing, contracts, inventory, invoices, customer service, logistics, human capital, financial management etc. Oracle Commerce (ATG + Endeca) is an end-to-end eCommerce platform focused on providing personalized experience to shoppers and can be leveraged by both B2C and B2B businesses.

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How eCommerce Predictive Analytics Can Arm your Businesses With Data Intelligence?

Data will talk to you if you’re willing to listen to it.

Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone” says IBM.

Data has grown out of its avatar as information in bits and bytes form. Today, statistical tools help businesses visualize data in bar graphs, charts, trends, curves and many other forms that quicken decision making.

Unfortunately, despite the increase in data creation and accessibility, enterprises are yet to leverage it as a strategic benefit. Too many businesses underestimate the power of data to give insights. especially eCommerce stores where every single inch of the website creates and archives some of the data.

Of course, most eCommerce store owners follow the good habit of taking MIS reports based on top 100 eCommerce metrics.

Your MIS reports will tell you where you are with your eCommerce business, but the bigger question one might have is ‘What will be the future of my eCommerce business?’

Some of the questions eCommerce predictive analytics can help you answer:

  1. List of customers who will have a higher propensity to purchase from us again?
  2. Top 5 products which might need a change in Reorder level to avoid revenue leakage?
  3. How many subscription cancellations we might have in the forthcoming quarter?
  4. What kind of impact will the current social media image have on our future revenue?

Techniques Used For eCommerce Predictive Analytics

There are quite a number of statistical modeling methods which can help in eCommerce predictive analytics. Here are a few techniques that can help you develop insights about your eCommerce business.

  1. Linear Regression
  2. Logistic Regression
  3. Correlation analysis
  4. Time series regression analysis
  5. Repeated Measures ANOVA
  6. Binomial Logistic Regression
  7. ARIMA model
  8. Point-Biserial Correlation

Imagine a big LED display in your office with the most important predictive metrics, wouldn’t that be good? It will give a periodic display of your most important metrics that you should track and stay updated. Compare them against benchmarks and whenever there is a deviation, corrective measures can be taken.

Inputs from predictive analytics can help scale your business and stir towards the right direction.

Most eCommerce platforms don’t have built-in predictive analytics; you either have to build one ground-up or go for an independent eCommerce reporting tool which can be customized to your needs. Whether you buy or build, make sure the solution is scalable and can integrate with existing systems.

Big Data technologies like Apache Cassandra, Spark, MongoDB can help you manage and process a lot of structured and unstructured data quickly and enable real-time predictive metrics. With their capabilities, you must be able to find insights out of chunks out of data even if they are scattered and heterogeneous in nature.

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