Recap: Shopware Community Day
4th June 4 Comments
The last part of the commerce spring was the Shopware Community Day. The shopware AG (a provider of shop software that we have talked about already in our report about the Exceed Conference in Berlin (Exceed 2012 Recap: Day 2) had invited shop owners, community members and service providers alike to Ahaus, a small town in the German countryside.
However, the conference itself was all but conventional and small. Set in the ultra-modern atrium by the local software giant Tobit, more than 800 guests experienced the unlikely feeling of seeing a gigantic lcd screen in front of them but acres of grass when looking out of the windows. Since the stage, the audience, the exhibitors and the catering were all located in one big hall, one had the feeling of constantly being part of the conference wherever you were, a concept that worked very well. Catering was a mixture of fruits and German sausages, the latter being handed out from a little snack bar outside the hall – very fitting for a company that sends out crates of beers as christmas presents ;) If organisation-wise something can be critised at all it’s the missing WiFi and the bad mobile data reception; I could imagine that a lot more images and infos had been twittered and facebook-ed out if people had had better access to the web. And there surely was stuff to be sent out.
The show began with a tiny bit of Hollywood, when the replica of the DeLorean time machine from Back To The Future made its roaring way to the stage, letting Stefan “Marty McFly” Heyne, member of management out to present the star of this day’s event: the beta version of Shopware 4, the latest relase of their software.
This marked the begin of the keynote held by André Schultewolter, Manager Customer Relations. And really, he talked about: the product! Having seen both keynotes at Meet Magento (Thoughts on Meet Magento 6.12) and at OXID Commons (Next Stop: OXID Commons 2012) the week before, where the focus was on talking about strategy and eco-systems, this came as a fresh breeze. Schultewolter presented the backend of Shopware 4 (amazingly fast, frigging eye-candy!), its new features and the improvements to the software itself – performance, code quality, testing and refactoring were the keywords in this respect. This became more detailled when Stefan Hamann, Shopware director and lead developer hit the stage and spoke about the technical background and the fact that Shopware 4 would be released in August.
After this, Schultewolter quickly went over who Shopware is (40 employees, no outside capital involved) and how the numbers of partners (from 110 last year to 250 currently) and plugins (from 40 to 200 currently) have developed. Finally, he asked the audience to help testing the current beta-version and invited everybody to have it explained at the Shopware stand and during the developer sessions.
Talking of which: Originally, the organisers had planned for two developer sessions. However, since the demand for those was unexpectedly high, they quickly whipped up two extra sessions and, as I was told, are seriously considering having an Unconference next year as well to account for the interest by the technical community.
A great location and an interesting keynote alone do not make for a great conference. One also needs a couple of good presentations, too. The first half of the day was marked by the usual sales pitches of the usual companies, delivered by the usual people. (I’ve had my fair share of those in the past, so I cannot really be objective about these things anymore; however, seeing that there was an astonishing and unusually high amount of online shop owners in the audience, those presentations might have actually been helpful.)
The second half of the day, however, was much more informative and entertaining, which of course had something to do with the fact that two ecomPunks were on stage :) I delivered a mindblowingly good speech on strategic decisions for shop owners, Alex told an amazed audience all about the wonders and miracles of mobile and couch commerce. And we even did it twice by being part of a session on the impact of tablet commerce. (The best commerce blog in the world is written by the humblest people.) Last but not least, Johannes Altmann, one of the best-known speakers in the German commerce scene delivered an insightful presentation on the importance of usability for customer loyalty.
After the show
As far as conferences are concerned, the really really interesting bits happen at the aftershow parties. If the location is great and the right people are there, fruitful discussions and utter insanity form a compelling mixture. And this was certainly the case at this conference. Starting in the BamBoo! grill and beach club and continuing in the dive disco, everybody got together to provide a worthy ending to this day.
I’m deeply impressed by what the Shopware guys have pulled off last week (and everybody I’ve talked to about this feels the same) and I’m looking forward to what is to come in the future. I’ve tried to give a rough outline of the conference here, but will go into more detail when comparing the three events of the Commerce spring a bit later. Stay tuned!