David Brackin is a regular contributor to Tamebay and is the co-founder of Stuff U Sell. He has sold over 250,000 different items on eBay.
He was at Linnworks annual Linn Academy conference this week and this is his summing up of the event:
Reflections on Linnworks Academy 2017
The Linnworks Academy event has gone from strength-to-strength in the years that I have been attending it and this year’s event represented the best I’ve seen yet. This has now gone far beyond the handful of fairly geeky individuals in a hotel in Reading four years ago gathered to hear about the technical aspects of the product and some news about postage, to become a slick industry-defining event with over 600 people at the Vox in Birmingham’s NEC. This is now firmly embedded on the core two or three events each year that I think should be attended by everyone in this industry.
John Lawson – CEO of ColderICE — a wonderfully energetic speaker from Atlanta kicked the day’s proceedings off in perfect style by gazing into the future and revealing how artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality and robotics are already coming into ecommerce although perhaps not in the ways you might have thought they would a few years ago. His infectious energy and relaxed and informative style set the tone for the whole day. There were talks from the marketplaces as well as a range of experts and a second room with more technical topics about the Linnworks platform. Throughout the day, Linnworks customers could book in to have one-to-one events with staff to better understand new features or find solutions to niggling software problems. And a selection of a dozen or so sponsors displayed their wares and met with customers and prospects over tea and coffee.
But this is clearly more than an event for Linnworks customers – there was a strong theme of where artificial intelligence and voice-activated assistants will lead us – and in particular how image search and the technologies around it are likely to insert themselves into the e-commerce flows. If mobile was the thing that we were all talking about four years ago, then devices like the Amazon Echo with its Alexa AI are the focus of attention now – with sufficient critical mass of these devices now in homes they are reaching a tipping point from being quirky curiosities to established channels to reach consumers. Another theme was the relentless increase in data and processing power to manage that data leading to machine learning on ever bigger “big data” sets. Image search is one of the most obvious outputs – commerce discovery is already being freed up from a fairly restrictive text string search that we have grown used to and is moving into contextual and image-based matching. In time I suspect we will look back on our efforts to put meaningless barcodes and 80 character titles on eBay listings and wonder what on earth we were thinking.
Of course the event provides plenty of opportunities for networking, and it’s always a pleasure to catch-up with old friends and meet new ones over the social breaks. Much of what you take home comes from the insights that other people share with you over a cup of tea which is one of the great benefits of taking the time to attend events like this. I’d strongly advise you to pencil in LinnAcademy 2018 – my only question is where will they find a venue big enough to host it next year?