Akamai Diversity

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Platform Update Highlights for eCommerce

Akamai's October Platform Update offers a ton of new features for our customers across all industries. But if you're an online retailer, you should really be paying attention to improvements to EdgeWorkers and Image & Video Manager, which provide expanded capabilities for creating new microservices and managing video and image delivery at the edge.

As we've said before, our customers are embracing a build culture, which has fueled Akamai's investment in edge compute solutions and capabilities. Deploying logic at the edge brings data, insights, and decision-making closer to the things that act upon them. This means that data and computation are not hampered by latency issues that can have a negative impact on digital experiences. 

Which can directly impact revenue for online retailers. Just look at one of the highest-growth sub-verticals of e-commerce during the COVID-19 lockdown: grocers (have you seen Kroger's Q2 results?). If a consumer is doing all of their grocery shopping online, they expect a high-performance experience. Because shopping online for groceries is new to so many, it can take a long while to fill up a cart, and it's not necessarily a purchase that happens in one session. So let's say I start filling up my cart and then I'm distracted and come back to it a few hours later, or even the next day. I put 35 items in there, and now I've decided that I have everything I need and click "proceed to checkout." Suddenly, because there was a lapse in the time that I put the items in my cart and when I decided to make the transaction, several items in my cart are no longer on sale (discounted). With the latest release of EdgeWorkers, and the ability of developers to code dynamic content assembly at the edge, this doesn't need to happen. Clever dev teams using EdgeWorkers can build unique solutions to keep customers happy. For example, I can either be notified of changes before proceeding to checkout, or I can be dynamically offered comparable items that are discounted. Each business can apply the logic that makes sense for it and know that the experience will be seamless for the consumer.

There's also a very high expectation when it comes to the images and videos that are served up alongside the listing of products, particularly now that so many consumers are going through the entire process online, not just browsing online and shopping in a store. Let's look at the grocery example again. I put groceries in my basket on my laptop. Thirty minutes later, I have sourdough bread buyer's remorse because of the number of calories per slice, so I reach for my phone to confirm the nutrition info. Unfortunately, the image of the bread label isn't optimized for my iPhone, so I can't read it. So then I have to go back to my laptop that I promised I had shut down for the evening, or I do a separate search to find my answer. Either way, it's not a strong experience.

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Another sub-vertical that is near and dear to me is apparel. I rarely shopped in-store for clothes prior to the pandemic, and I'm definitely not going to anytime soon. This means that my online experience when it comes to images and videos on apparel sites is absolutely vital to my purchasing decisions. I want to see images, I want to see models, and I want to read customer reviews with images and videos. And I want to look at all of this on my laptop, and then on my iPad, and then on my iPhone, and I want to be able to jump around all of those images and videos seamlessly with quick load times, clarity, and video quality. 

These are merely two examples of why we've upgraded Image & Video Manager. It utilizes Akamai's edge compute capabilities to optimize image and video files and automatically creates, stores, and delivers file versions that are optimized for the combination of hardware and software used to access a site at that very moment. The optimized copy is then delivered to the end user without the need to create multiple versions housed at origin. 

With the upgrade, there's a new video optimization status API and an expanded ability to prioritize video quality. Along with new metrics for the Images Dashboard, extended video analysis reporting, and intelligence on controlling the rollout of changes to policies, this update helps retailers deliver the highest quality and best-performing image and video delivery to their consumers.

For more details on the updates to EdgeWorkers and Image & Video Manager, please read the recent blog post by Greg Griffiths.

For more information about how Akamai works with its retail customers, please visit akamai.com/retail. 

There will be more opportunities to engage with us on this and more at Edge Live | Adapt. Sign up to see how customers are leveraging these improvements, engage in technical deep dives, and hear from our executives how Akamai is evolving for the future.