Let’s get connected: Shopware Community Day 2013
1st July Leave a comment
Okay, the punks were on the road again. If you think there can’t be more unlikely place for a recognised ecommerce conference than remote Freiburg in the middle of the friggin’ Schwarzwald (read our post on the OXID Commons 2013), you’re very much mistaken. Now we have Ahaus, a little community in the countryside known mostly for the occasional uranium fuel rods that are being moved through there. A little over two weeks ago, Shopware held their annual Community Day there – and swiped everybody off their feet.
According to those organising the event, there were about 1,000 registered participants on the first day, and about 300 for the first ever developer conference, which took place on the second day. So a staggering amount of people gathered at the ultra-modern Tobit campus which always reminds me of a giant aluminum space-ship, forever stranded in the rural tranquility of western Germany. Where was I?
My first impression shortly after arriving: everybody who is anybody is here. All the people in the industry that you meet through blogs, Twitter, Facebook or other live events were there, not to mention a whole bunch of merchants who were presenting their own firms! So, apart from being eager to find out what Shopware’s vision of the future of eCommerce was, I was getting myself ready for a great long networking session that would last through day one (including the epic beach party that followed) and into day 2.
Against the dark forces of commerce
The day started off with a highly anticipated keynote. The question on everybody’s mind: Would Shopware actually be able to top last year’s keynote which featured the Back-to-the-future-DeLorean? Well, for Star Wars fans (and those of you who are into men in tight-fitting superhero spandex) let me just say that it was brilliant!
During the opening minutes of the keynote, Darth Vader himself took the stage by force (and lots of smoke), preaching proudly of the Death Star-marketplace he had created (featuring the Amazon logo of course) and brimming over with confidence that his company is becoming ever stronger. But wait! It was in that moment, that Vader and his tyrannical plans to dominate the eCommerce world were cut short… Shopman!!
The defender of all independent digital trade marched on stage and drove Amazon’s Darth Vader scurrying away (with the real Amazon sales people that were also in the audience not knowing whether to laugh or to cry). Shopman turned triumphantly to the people, their hopes for the future of eCommerce now restored, and then took his leave, allowing the keynote speaker to proceed (as the audience, now more than ever, was tuned in).
Now that Vader’s plans had been foiled by Shopman, Shopware introduced their newest creation, bepado. This new platform enables a network of merchants to get connected (much like the concept of Facebook) for the purpose of sharing products and items that would be downloaded into their own shops. Thus, the time and effort needed for sourcing additional items to be offered in shops is greatly reduced, and the process is simplified. Moreover, with a technology called Cloud Search, each merchant who has his digital store connected to bepado can have his own search connected to the platform, thus benefiting from the entire network of sellers.
Shopware as commerce hub
But it didn’t end there. During the presentations, a number of shop software companies such as Plentymarkets or Omeco also took the stage and announced close cooperation with Shopware. Remarkably, they also got Libri on board, which is one of the largest book distributors in Germany. Books seem to be a category that lends itself to being added into merchants’ portfolios through bepado. The thing that struck me as the most interesting was that, rather than seeing software producers merely offering new looks and features of their core products, these Shopware guys presented themselves as commerce enablers and trade catalysts. And while so many shop owners out there continue to accept the restrictions and commissions imposed by “imperial” marketplaces like Amazon simply because they don’t see any other viable options, to me the message was clear: strength in numbers. But more on that later…
A couple of talks over (a couple?) of drinks
As the day progressed, I finally managed to get myself on stage and give a talk on reducing complexity in online shops. The rest of the day was a nice friendly, sunny, commerce, talky blur. I met and re-met gazillions of people and simply had a blast. And that was just the conference!
Afterwards, everyone was invited to the now famous Bamboo beach bar. I mean, seriously, how much better can life get when there’s sunshine, sand, cold beer, hot burgers and an intermingling of like-minded people?! Perhaps just a bit. As the night carried on, so did we all, into the Dive club (this, together with the Bamboo beach bar, seemed way too cool to be located in the tiny town around it).
What an amazing event! I had a fantastic time, and so did my punk colleagues Alex and Nadine. We’ll be back!
(Images by Shopware)