PrestaShop landed in the U.S. this past week with an intimate conference in SOHO, NY. While it may have been a smaller event than some other shows, it had an energy that seemed larger than expected (especially from their own people!)
Barcamp.5’s latest feature on the French-based five year-old company PrestaShop was meant to be their stake in the ground in the North American market, but it was also used as a team-building event for the company. They brought the whole gang to New York on Saturday, giving them a few free days to explore the city, before getting down to business on Tuesday.
To me this was symbolic of the strength with which PrestaShop intends to merge into the North American market. More on that later.
When I arrived early to set up my booth I was greeted by no less than four employees with genuine, welcoming “Hello’s” (not to mention some charming French accents). This right away was a different start than any other conference I’ve attended. Usually its hired event staffers who meet you with the warmth of a big box store greeter. It was unique.
Who am I? Why was I there? Glad I asked.
I’m Nathan Ciprick, Director of Consumer Products for Points.com. Very briefly, Points Intl. powers key parts of the loyalty business for many of the world’s largest airline, hotel and retail chains. Chances are if you hold one of their cards, we play a part in it. Points also has a corporate program which allows companies to purchase volumes of points/miles to distribute to their customers or employees to reward behavior. Lastly, I head up Points.com, a consumer portal which allows users to track their balances, trade or exchange points/miles, and redeem their balances for gift certificates, online subscriptions, and more (more = points/miles converted to PayPal money, the first of its kind).
Also in that ‘more’ category is Points.com’s entry into the e-commerce space, and the reason for us to travel to New York from Toronto to the PrestaShop show. Internally called, “Distributed Earn” and part of ongoing move into an externally focused e-commerce plan, Points.com now gives merchants of any size the ability to reward their customers with loyatly currency from some of the world’s largest loyalty brands.
Ok, since I asked: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage, Best Buy Reward Zone, Frontier Early Returns, Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Miles, Icelandair, Priority Club Rewards, U.S. Airways Dividend Miles, and Virgin Atlantic. And more to come.
Points.com has partnered with Sweet Tooth Rewards as the platform that merchants install through PrestaShop. With that single install, they then have the choice of loyalty currency: either create a white label self-serving brand through Sweet Tooth, or use Points.com’s integrations to the above mentioned loyalty brands.
My intent at the PrestaShop show was to hear what they and the other speakers attending had to say about the e-commerce space, to meet with merchants who are PrestaShop users or looking to be converts, and to see the landscape of other service providers circling the PrestaShop world to see how we can interact.
For what was available I felt I had success; so thank you PrestaShop.
This Barcamp presentation was put together quickly, within 90 days, and they’ve already stated they intend to have a larger show presence later in the year with stronger marketing support.
North America is in their sights to conquer. Where their geographic stamp stands right now is: 14% North America, 6% South America, 66% Europe, 1% Africa, 12% Asia, 1% Australia.
Prestashop has impressive growth: 200 stores in 2007, and now 120,000 stores so far in 2012.
They have varied leadership: Founder/Co-CEO Bruno Leveque as the young brain behind the original idea and code, paired with Christophe Cremer with a strong business acumen to lead [I’m missing the accents on their names; apologies].
They also have big plans. I paraphrase, “This Barcamp session is held in the same building where Facebook first announced themselves to the world.”
So lets get into the show, who was there, and what they were saying.
“PrestaShop is very easy for a merchant to get up and running with limited technical barriers.”
“I only develop for PrestaShop.”
“PrestaShop’s has proven they’ll keep innovating to provide me more to give to my clients.”
I spoke to a few system integrators who work solely with PrestaShop. Personally, I am not handing them the crown just yet. They have steep competition from others who are already doing a fantastic job delivering e-commerce solutions to online merchants. I’m also not saying that just because Points.com works with these other merchant networks as well.
We are agnostic and want everyone to do well.
Different problems have different solutions.
PrestaShop knows they need to impress themselves upon the Enterprise-size companies to make a quick and noticeable dent in their competitions lead. They know they need to gather many (many) small to medium sized merchants to organically grow their N.A. presence. They know they need to put on a grander show to really splash into the scene.
While I wish there were more merchants to show off our Points.com solution to, I know I saw lightbulbs go off over the heads of the other developers there when I told them of our offering. The wheels turned on how we could work together.
I also appreciated the intimate setting/opportunity of the event to personally get to know some of the staff, community managers, and developers that will also help me succeed along with PrestaShop.
Authorize.net, their Platinum sponsor, gave an insightful talk on notable trends in e-commerce. Templatemonster.com demonstrated how they believe in this space as well, since they lead the innovation of making it easier for companies with small budgets to become online players.
I left the show feeling I achieved my goals. I know I gained a greater insight into PrestaShop’s world, and world domination plans. And I am increasingly encouraged that Points.com is continuing to play a significant role in loyalty and the evolving e-commerce space.