SHOPWARE UNPLUGGED PODCAST

Shopware Unplugged

As community podcast, Shopware Unplugged reveals the current topics of the Shopware platform and the community by sharing experiences, approaches and educating in a funny way. read less
BusinessBusiness

Episodes

#33 New chapter for Shopware with Alexey Pronin
Sep 8 2023
#33 New chapter for Shopware with Alexey Pronin
What direction is Shopware moving in and what does it mean for the industry? Kasia is talking with Alexey, new General Manager EMEA at Shopware.   Kasia Hello everyone. It's a really special episode because I have a special guest directly from Shopware. Hi Alexey, I'm really happy to have you here and can you say a bit of yourself?.   Alexey As you might know I'm pretty new to the Shopware community and happy to be part of that and continue to learn that I started in Shopware first of June in the role of general manager for Emea I think moving forward we'll discuss a little bit more what it means. Before that I'm not new at all to the ecommerce world and to the ecommerce industry kind of turned out to be specialized in this area and in these dimension since 2011 was working in Oracle  before then, hybris, recently Spryker and now it is Shopware so that's kind of shortly my journey between 2011, actually now yeah and the journal in the it industry in different capacities in different roles across Emea since already 18 years so I feel myself a little bit old by now sometimes.   Kasia We'd love to hear more about your background and your journey that led you to join Shopware. What's motivated you to be a part of this organization? Please tell us more about yourself because it's very interesting.   Alexey It's quite simple and straightforward. So as mentioned I started my IT career so to say eighteen years ago. Originally as implementation consultant for the year then I kind of quickly figured it out and got the feeling in all of this. Kind of system testing and writing instructions for the users and analyzing the processes is quite interesting and definitely an area to explore but this is not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I felt myself more kind of closer to the commercial function. And this is where I shifted quite early in my career first and became one of the Microsoft Gold partners and then at the end of 2008 was headhunted into Oracle so I was a part of the Oracle retail global business unit organization for about 5 years taking care of the enterprise retailers. Across eastern Europe within Oracle and then as I mentioned already in my short introduction in 2011 an interesting occasion for my future life turned out to happen. Oracle acquired Atg and the Atg became part of our product portfolio which I needed to position to my customers back then so that's how I started my ecommerce journey. So this was quite a successful and interesting journey. In 2013 I was headhunted by a well-known name I think in the European space, a company called Hybris and they asked me to practically kick off and start their operations in Russia, which is my home country originally. This is what I have done and then the hybris got acquired quite soon by the app group and this was kind of my entry point into scp where I spent 8 years and the scp gave me great opportunity to work in many countries and many geographies so relocated end of 2017 to Switzerland was running in swiss business and there and then had a original responsibility as the ceo for Ema North business how Icp calls it a covering the Uk Benelux Nordics and France then in total was like quite a long corporate journey with Oracle. I started feeling okay either stay in this beautiful corporate world like kind of forever or I want to go somewhere more dynamic where I have got also more freedom to execute and more freedom to build things from scratch and this is where I joined the Spryker team so early twenty twenty one I was in for two and a half years covering the international expansion of the business across various geographies such as Uk, Nordic, France, Middle East, Spain, and lately Apac and with a strong focus on the enterprise segment because I think many listeners of these podcasts know this is exactly the focus of Spryker. Earlier this year we connected with Stefan Hamann whom I guess everybody knows on this podcast for natural reasons and we started exchanging our views on the market and also the experiences we have got. I have learned about what Shopware plans for the future and the ambitions when the company has to expand into the mid market space. I got really intrigued to join the executive team of the company and see how I can best support and make it printed to the next level of the business. Specifically what motivated me I think first of all I would definitely highlight the culture of Shopware which is as some of the listeners might have heard, open, authentic and visionary and I would say that Stefan and Sebastian were really super successful in my view of bringing this to life, and this is what I observe on a daily basis both within the company and within the community that these principles really work and they really move forward Shopware day by day and help. And secondly of course look there cannot be a niche software player where product is not important right? So product is definitely extremely important and has been for more than 13 years by now in the ecommerce space. I can definitely say that what I have seen from the product value proposition so far and the feedback I'm hearing from the merchants is really incredible. So the functional capabilities and the technological backbone which Shopware has is one of the strong reasons which are motivating me and which makes me believe that we have got a lot of success ahead of us.   Kasia Quite an experience. Regarding the culture of Shopware. This is very important to work in a place where culture is good and it's open for open-minded people. So I guess there is a place for your open mind ideas.   Alexey Yeah, so far. There is quite some place for sure. And yeah, look I think it's always like a much more effective approach compared to like the top down motion so to say because the moment you are, you're really doing. It's an open and authentic and visionary way you have many more ideas and many more opinions and suggestions coming from across the organization from across the community which is even more important. So It's not only that we are open to the ideas and the suggestions and thoughts on how to improve for our employees which is definitely the case and they can say that in the last couple of months. I had quite a number of initiatives which were coming exactly from the team and this is incredible. This is perfect. This is what many companies would like to stimulate and are looking for the way to do so and Shopware I would say pretty much succeeded already in achieving this. But what is also even probably more important for the wider community. It's not only about our internal team but it's also about the ecosystem which we have gotten in place. So this also relates to our integration partners, our technology partners and moreover. Of course our merchants and customers exactly.   Kasia The whole community right? Yeah, how has this Shopware structure evolved over time and what are the key changes that have been made? What is your role in Shopware compared to Stefan and Sebastian because I guess it's a very very important question. Have there been any recent changes within the Shopware structure? Please tell us more about this topic.   Alexey Yeah, definitely happy to cover this and explain in a little bit more detail. So my scope of responsibility within the shopware is everything to do with what I would call go to market and commercial operations so this includes marketing business development. Sales integration, partnerships technology, partnerships customer success, customer support Shopware academy and of course our Shopware store or our actual marketplace for our ecosystem previously. All of those functions were reporting directly to Stefan and Sebastian.Through of course the specific leadership and management team. So far so on and with myself taking over this overall responsibility in this part and in this scope of business Stefan Sebastian will be having more and more focus on this on the future strategy of the company on thought leadership and product innovation. That's what I mentioned, that's kind of.   Alexey Our agreement and of course together with that they are remaining the Ceos, coCeos and co founders of the business. They're super actively engaged into the community. They have got their super strong networks of both merchants and the partners whom they know for ages. And of course we are actively collaborating together to make sure that we secure the success and the future vision and the benefits for the community in general.   Kasia That's great that Stefan and Sebastian will have more time to focus on ideas on product and and everything because they have you ah so. To do many important things so that's great. Thank you for sharing this with us as the hype around Shopware has been growing because we can see this. Could you provide some insights into its current state and the direction it is expected to take within the next year Alexey Yeah, sure so look first of all I think it's great to know and to hear that the hype around the Shopware is growing. That's exactly what we need to continue successfully to grow in our ecosystem and grow our business and our ultimate goal. How we recently are formulating this to have more Shopware everywhere practically. That's kind of the ambition where we are standing now. I think it is also quite important because we have got a really strong basis specifically in the media so out of my knowledge of the market and of my observation in the last couple of months we clearly have got the largest digital ecosystem of merchants. And technology providers in the dark space and clearly one of the largest players in Europe as well which is focused in this area so this is like a super strong foundation for us. And moving forward our plan and the bishopness from one side to definitely sustain this foundation and strengthen this. In the markets where we are already present but in parallel also of course expand further our presence into the wider and immediate territories so we have got many new countries and ideas to come and I would suggest the community to stay tuned on that. Of course another important dimension for us is definitely the expansion and growth in the US which is like a strategic project for the company and with the super strong attention from both Stefan and Sebastian and of course also our investors. Last but not least I think it's clear that we are fully committed to stay visionary and make sure that we are always at the forefront of Ecommerce innovation and here I would say that our my peer in the executive team Mark Stanley and our CTO is doing a fantastic job. Together with his guys in really bringing on a regular basis. The most recent innovation is in the ecommerce space into the Shopware product and into the Shopware community.   Kasia That sounds interesting I Guess you can't say more in.   Alexey You will as soon as there are some more detailed questions either from you or from some of the listeners I am always open to to respond to them. You can find me easily on Linkedin or wherever else so happy to discuss in further detail. Anybody who's interested.   Kasia That's great info for our listeners. So thank you for that and guys you can reach Alexey on Linkedin and ask him direct questions. There is an increasing importance of cloud regarding technology and regarding Shopware paths and Saas in the ecommerce industry. How does shopware approach and leverage these technologies from your experience because it's a really important topic regarding e-commerce, our customers and agencies.   Alexey Yeah, thank you for the great question. First of all it's important I think to highlight that. Definitely we are similar to other providers on the market. We have got the cloud first strategy from commercial product and ecosystem perspectives. So we make our various cloud offerings more and more attractive to the merchants and to the agencies and all of our let's say innovation and product investment is going first and foremost into the cloud offerings which we bring to the table. What I think really makes us stand a part compared to the other players on the market. The competitors of ours and the good friends as well. It's definitely the variety of cloud options which we are bringing into play for different use cases and for different levels of complexity of our merchants. So while other players will be highlighting which ones but I think it's clear right. Sometimes focusing on purely single tenant paas offerings and this obviously makes the total cost of ownership for many of their target customers quite high and to be honest, not always effective or quite often. Not effective right. In comparison also to purely multitenant Saas players and there are many of those we are actually providing best of both worlds. So yes, for different use cases we can propose both the paas approach and the multitenant Saas approach. It always depends on the customer, on what the merchant and what the agency is willing to achieve with our platform, with our technology and to make sure that we out of our portfolio of Cloud offerings find the right fit and the most effective motion for them.To optimize the TCO and to achieve the goals of the business which they have got.   Kasia May you agree with the sentence that Saas is the future of e-commerce.   Alexey As I outlined I do strongly believe it depends on the use case if there is no let's say one size fits all right if it would have been the case there would not have been so many different commerce providers on the markets. So yes, Saas is a very effective and good move for the companies who have got pretty let's say commoditized business. From the Ecommerce perspective. So if you have got a limited assortment of products if you have got like 1 country of presence and you have got okay even higher volumes of operations, Saas is a good option for you because actually all of your Ecommerce processes are pretty straightforward and they're similar to many other players you have got but together with that if you have got multiple business models in place if you are present on multiple international markets, if you are combining both products and services, and you have got a large product catalog, and you have got different types of bundles and so on, then I'm not sure that Saas is the way. This is more likely to happen. The Paas option is more attractive and more feasible for these types of complex merchants and complex business models. I think exactly the beauty of Shopware is that we are not saying that here is your like 1 size fits all, your merchant sticks to this and there is no left and right, and there is no opinion from your site. But we really provide the options and really can accommodate the different specifics of our merchants.   Kasia Yeah, and from my point of view it all also depends on costs and a budget because this is also very important right?   Alexey Yeah, definitely look as discussed of course like from a cost perspective Saas would always be the best way to go. If you do the TCO calculation, you need to understand what flexibility you need to enable. And you need to understand what fluctuations from the standard Saas offering you potentially need for your business and if you really need to do your specific extensions and if you really need to tailor the approach to different markets and so on, you just need to do the proper evaluation. Otherwise you can end up with multiple Saas providers which are not integrated with each other and you have got a lot of headaches where agencies can of course help you but will be cost effective I would doubt it. Kasia Yeah, I definitely agree with that. Regarding pricing in Shopware was a hot topic in the ecommerce community since the release of the new approach. How do you perceive the change especially as someone relatively new to Shopware? How will this change help customers and the agencies? Alexey Our new approach to pricing is definitely strongly linked. First of all to the business outcomes which we are driving for the customers and of course it has the cloud first focus as I mentioned also earlier right. We have desperation and the targets to provide our merchants with the best end-to-end shop offering including different scopes of Shopware capabilities hosting devops, responsibility abilities and customer support. So we actually aim to make the lives better of our merchants.Frank has spoken also of our agencies easier and more straight forward by securing this one stop shop service from our side and the super attractive issue and as you mentioned I'm new to the Shopware community but believe me I know the offers and the proposals of other players on this market. The reality is that what we have got in play from price and perspective right now in comparison to the capabilities and the technology innovation which we are bringing into the table is the most effective and the most attractive offering if you look into this. If you don't forget some elements of your TCO when you do the calculations exactly and not only external investment but also the internal one. Kasia That's a very important thing to calculate the investment properly. Alexey Merchants have got a special treatment for the external costs they are carrying but kind of forget that the internal resources also cost them money.   Kasia That's the really popular thing in companies. So thank you for mentioning that. You mentioned that you are bringing to the table a really big thing regarding technology. So in case of that Composable Commerce is gaining traction in the Industry. How do you see this concept in relation to Shopware? Is this the right direction?   Alexey Well yeah, first of all for sure. Composability is the topic in the last few years I would say right and out of my impression. There is a bit of hype on that as well on the market. Again down to the question of like 1 size fits all. So from our perspective when you think about composable architectures. You really need to keep in mind the size and scale of your ecommerce business, your operating and properly balanced sales and your composable approach. So. If you are like a fortune 500 millions company and with the hundreds of team members in your I department substantial online revenues of hundred million Euro and above, multiple different business models, international presences and complex requirements and sophisticated catalogs and so on and so forth. Most likely the approach to composability. For example, our friends and colleagues from the market from Mach are promoting this makes sense for you. Then you can allow yourself to have a dedicated system for ecommerce, a dedicated system for order management and dedicated one for search, for pricing, for promo, for loyalty, frontend and so on. You name it then you have got like I don't know 7 to 10 vendors in your ecommerce landscape. You have got various integration partners who know the technology but don't know each other. Supported by various internal technical teams. If you can allow this and if your business freely needs this then it can be the way. If you are a mid market player and a mid market is clearly our focus at Shopware and cannot allow all of these complexity and you don't have hundreds of people in your department and you don't want to recruit I don't know a few 5 to 7 different integration partners agencies specialize in this other the technology probably you better follow a more opinionated approach with a limited set of composable elements exactly where you need those. To make sure that you actually can achieve the effective TCO and what is probably even more important for the businesses nowadays is quick time to market and that's exactly what we bring into play together with our technology partners and this is our focus area. This is where we see our strength and I would say that out of an already recent observation for me specifically in the last months right it has more and more importance for than customers, for the merchants because many of them jumped onto this composable hype in the good times when ecommerce was going like this as we all know during Covid and now that they figured out that actually this fantastic and massive growth is kind of slowing down from one side to the other side. The overall economic situation in different markets is not as positive as it used to be. They understand that the stacks they kind of created with a super decomposed approach are probably TCO-heavy and then they need to find a way to optimize it and we have got quite a few conversations with the merchants and actually across Emea going exactly in this direction. Kasia Regarding that because you said something about customer support and that you are supporting agencies.I would like to jump into topic related to Shopware 5, and that you announced the end of support of Shopware 5 in 2024 so it's the next year. As there are still around 32000 shops using Shopware 5 so it's a huge amount of shops still. What plans does the company have to help customers with the migration process? Alexey Great question and definitely this migration process is super important for us and we have got a strong focus on making sure that we support both agencies and the merchants the best from this perspective. What I think is important to highlight is that the as everybody knows this migration program was kicked off early earlier this year and so far we are seeing a fantastic momentum and a super strong interest from the community of our merchants to move to Shopware 6, and there is a special attractive migration offering from Shopware 5. For Shopware 5 customers again I think which is pretty visible to the market and in terms of helping both merchants and our agencies in this process we continue to run enablement sessions for both of the segments, for both of the audiences. This shows quite a strong efficiency helping the ecosystem to get up to speed and guiding them within the process together with that specifically for larger merchants with more complex and kind of tailor made Shopware 5 installations. We also established a dedicated Shopware consultancy Services Team who can provide advice both to the merchants and to our partners, to the agencies on what is the best and most effective way to tackle this migration and to make it as efficient as possible. So they have pre-identified packages. Regards to helping the merchants together with the agencies evaluate the readiness of the migration and also give guidance of what is the best path to do so.   Kasia So you are open to help them first of all and you have special pricing for migration. You are open to help all agencies and customers. That's very important because from my point of view when I was working on a project with Shopware we were really happy because Shopware was helping us. With all features and and everything. So from my experience Shopware support is very helpful or regarding support So I hope that everyone who are still on Shopware 5 will have the same support I had once.   Alexey Definitely a very good observation from your site. Thank you and I think together with that is even more important and really cool to highlight is that it's not only about our internal team. It's strongly about the community. So as you know we have got dedicated select channels and dedicated groups where the expertise around Shopware across Emea is concentrated. This is like a super active community where you can actually solve and clarify many of the questions which you have got in place and you can also get the experience of sharing more and more. We are also actively promoting this of course with the larger companies and with the larger brands which are in our portfolio. Kasia What advice do you have for smaller agencies that used to implement small shops? Is cloud a solution for small agencies or or it's not for them?. Alexey I definitely believe that it makes perfect sense for the smaller agencies to really focus on the Multitenant Cloud Saas offering which we have got and to promote it together with us to be able to iterate quickly with their target customers and provide them. With the most effective from Cost-effective ecommerce platform on the market specifically with this in mind we recently launched the Express launch package how we called it based on our multitenant Saas offering which has now been adopted by quite a number of agencies across Emea. With exactly the idea in mind to have like a super packaged proposition for the smaller merchants and help them really iterate quickly and achieve the result quickly which they need for their business. On this topic again the shout out to the agencies listening to this podcast if you have got questions with regards to the Express launch package and the way how we see it and how we can bring it to market together. Please don't be shy, feel free to reach out to myself and my alliances team. Kasia That's really great. I hope that you will have many questions because I know from the community that people are interested in the product and in this approach. With the current crisis and the recession affecting markets, in the US and Germany, are there any visible impacts in the ecommerce sector from the vendor perspective and it changes on the market how you see this? Alexey Look as always as with everything in life. There are, let's say, positive sides to everything and there are negative elements. So I think what is a great use for the US is that we see a lot more positivity if we can say so from this perspective. The reason why is simple so our focus has historically been and what I also mentioned previously on the cost effective on cost effectiveness and the nonreactive TCO and as I mentioned out of my observation of my personal analysis after many years in the industry we have got the most attractive offering on the market. So for us, it's actually quite positive news that we have got merchants from quite a few of our competitors coming over to us and saying that look you know what we're looking for the path to make it more efficient in terms of the cost and in terms of the TCO, in terms of what is automated within the tool, which is even more important with the AI revolution. We have gotten in place and can you help us out and this is exactly our sweet spot so has always been our focus. And that's how we can help the merchants and that's how it is the positive use for us on the kind of the realistic and the downside together with that of course it is clear that any single company nowadays. Thinking about platforming and thinking about overall moving forward will of course think twice or probably win 3 times before they do that and they need first to make this decision to make it happen. They clearly need to have a clear business case internally which they can prove to their CFO. Which they can prove to their leadership team, so the sales processes themselves can take more time but that's kind of the reality of any downturn period in the economy and we are well equipped for that with the team and also with our consulting services organization which I mentioned earlier.   Kasia Thank you for that. We mentioned before that we have hype on composable commerce. But I guess we have higher hype on AI, and this is the buzzword, and everywhere we can see AI and, and using Ai based tools. And this is crucial in the ecommerce landscape as an industry. What AI related features Shopware 6 offers, what are the plans for the future? How this AI will change the platform and the ecosystem because I guess our listeners are very curious about this.   Alexey First of all I think in general I would say I'm super positive around this hype in the AI space because specifically as we just discussed in your previous question with a bit of a downturn. Not a bit but the downturn in the economy. Companies and businesses across any industry need to find ways and need to find paths to become more efficient. And how this is important not only for the ecommerce area but this is important across the board for any type of the function inside of the company. So this is what we are exploring ourselves internally for our own business and this is what we also bring and innovate into the ecosystem. So when we speak about what exactly we from a product perspective are doing in the AI space I think here we clearly prove the visionary play of ours and thanks to Stefan’s and Sebastian's innovative leadership and the fantastic work of our product team. We were actually the first ones who embedded the AI features into the software platform earlier this year. Today we have got 8 precise operational use cases inside of Shopware 6 commercial plans allowing our merchants to substantially raise their efficiency based on our estimates and bursting based on the first cases we see by sixty eighty percent depending on the area of the ecommerce operations. Which I believe is super appealing and super attractive and this is what every single merchant today needs to explore and needs to have on his or her table and the use cases we already implemented are the following like first of all, these are the product review summaries allowing the end customers of our merchants to really have a quick conclusion and aggregated feedback on the product they are considering. So this is 1 interesting feature I would highlight, then the AI generated product properties which is definitely as we all understand on this call as people specialize in ecommerce is super important. To strengthen your search and other capabilities within the ecommerce operations. Generated product descriptions dramatically decrease the efforts for the content teams of our merchants and again it's all down to the efficiency and quite a few more, and we're going to continue to innovate in this area and we have more use cases to come within the next year and within this year and early next year right so stay tuned on the topic. If you want to become cost effective and if you do want to use the AI features in your ecommerce operations I think we are the right address.   Kasia Those features you mentioned are very important, especially AI generated product descriptions because if you have poor description you have a high return rate for example. And it's really important for a business to have a proper product description. Product review summaries are also crucial from my point of view. Thank you for highlighting this and we will wait for more. Looking ahead to 2024, so next year of course what do you envision for Shopware and yourself? How do you see both evolving in the coming year?   Alexey Interesting question. I would love to have the crystal ball and all the details but so far we can only discuss the plans. We definitely have got a lot of plans and ideas for 2024 and beyond which we're actively discussing within Shopware as the executive team. First of all, as mentioned earlier, product is key for us and innovating in the product space. Bringing in more and more interesting new capabilities to our merchants and to the agencies is on top of our agenda. So we definitely want to sustain and improve even further our visionary leadership which we have got in place. Secondly, of course we put a lot of focus on growth ambitions on internationalization and we'll continue to expand into the new geographies so stay tuned. The agencies from across Emea if you are interested to be active with the Shopware technology in your geography, in your home market, in your home country. We are always open for discussion and to find the right model of collaboration for us. For me personally the last seventy days or how much is it by now probably a little bit more as part of the Shopware community. We're just really fantastic. I learned a lot and I met a lot of people and a lot of interesting projects and the initiatives within the Shopware ecosystem and the community space and I'm looking forward to getting to know even more and more people and experts within the community in the coming months to join forces and to actually contribute to our joint success to make Shopware even stronger.   Kasia Alexey I'm really happy to have the opportunity to talk with you today. Thank you for joining us and sharing with us your experience and all your answers. Interesting answers. Thank you for joining me and I hope to see you soon. Alexey Thanks a lot for having me. It was a great exchange and conversation and I'm looking forward to the next meetings. Thank you.
#31 Why do you need a consultant when you work with an eCommerce agency with Laura Kremer
Mar 30 2023
#31 Why do you need a consultant when you work with an eCommerce agency with Laura Kremer
Borys talks with Laura Kremer, an ecommerce consultant, about the interesting challenge why customers and agencies need support of 3rd party consultants. Listen to learn how to do it right and what are benefits for the customer and the agency. Borys We we can start with the with the break hello everybody I usually say we have a special guest but today we have a special guest Lara Kramer it it. is a special hour because we not often have women on podcasts. Yeah. Borys Everything about shopware usually is about guys men discussing about agencies implementations and so on and so on So I'm super happy that you are that you are here. You also work as a freelancer and a consultant. So I think we we might have an interesting topic for for everybody. But I think will be great if you could introduce yourself and say few words, What? exactly you do.   Laura  Yeah, thank you Boris for inviting me and you're so right there are unfortunately and not so many women and ecommerce. Um, so I'm trying to represent today some woman in tech and  Nice to meet you all? Um I'm the founder and Ceo of canlu gi biha based in Germany and um, while trying to explain what I'm doing on one hand I'm working as a consultant ecommerce   Laura I'm advising B Two C and B Two B companies within yeah questions like what kind of shop systems should they use what questions do they have for within ecommerce or within ecommerce landscapes. And on the other hand I'm working as kind of a matchmaker Um, between those companies or clients and suitable um solution for wires. This could be agencies freelances Tech solutions. Everything like that.   Borys - Okay, okay, so so ah, if we look at the typical market. There are agencies. Yeah, who are providing a different type of Services. So How do you see the role of an external consultant like you. You know what are the advantages I Assume for the customer to have an external consultant when someone decides to go with with the implementation shopware or if someone is looking for ah ah for the ecommerce platform. What's better in having consultant versus just going and asking you know 5 different agencies.   Laura  Yeah that's a very good question I think it has benefits for both of them. Um, for me personally I work very independent means I'm using my knowledge or I gain knowledge within the agency side client side and also within. Shopper itself. So um, yeah I'm using all this knowledge from Eight plus years within ecommerce to advice clients. Um independently maybe choosing the right shop system like shopware or maybe a our solution. Whatever fits to their needs and um it could also be a great benefit for agencies because I see myself and um or I like working very close with agencies means I'm maybe a pre-part before their work begins I'm clarifying strategies.   Laura  - I’m helping the client be or to have a more clear vision of what they are needing creating the briefing together and then I can yeah create a perfect match between those requirements and agency who fits very well.   Laura - The client and I think so it has benefits for both sides.   Borys - Yeah, and I see more in the more in general consultants on the market. Yeah why? Why do you think it happens why there is a demand on the market for those type of services or it's more. There is enough knowledge enough skilled people. So they decide to become ah become a consultant.   Laura - Yeah,, that's a good Question. We have a lot of consultants. That's true I Think on one hand we really have great people on the market so they gained experience maybe On. Merchant side or they decided to become self-employed after working for a tech solution Provider. Um, and normally I think there's enough space for all of us on the table and um I Also think could be.   Laura - It’s not possible to advise clients within all specific topics within ecommerce because if we are looking at ah ecommerce and total you could advise within strategy within maybe Marketplaces or afterwards performance Marketing. Whatever is. Is needed on client side and so yeah, we have a lot of and consultants. Um I forgot the question forgot what I asking.   Borys - Okay, we we can cut we can cut at the cut up to this point. Okay, 2 seconds break you set. Um you work also as a matchmaker. Yeah, ah between agencies and service providers. Um, and of course the customer. So how does it work this this matchmaker.   Laura - Yeah, so um, within my experience. So I said I started 2016 in ecommerce and I first started in a big agency and after that I worked on software manufacturer side and later on on merchant site. So what I recognize within this years that there's um, there has to be a great fit between all of those parties means um the the softwares of course has to ah fit for the customer requirements while the custom has served.   Laura  - Should know what exactly he wants to implement and um, the perfect fit between the implementing service provider and the client is also crucial. So we have three parties. Um who and needs to work together and um, what I experienced within all those years were that.   Laura - A lot of projects failed because there was not fit between those three parties so in my new role I now try to help all of those three sides um means I sit down to the client I specify the requirements.   Laura - Um I have them find the right system and do this clear. Um, let me say this clear strategyy. Um I can then find a suitable system or take solution for their Needs. Um. And now the next factor will be who is able to implement this solution. So here I'm using my network of strategic partners and which can be agencies Freelancers Software solutions that I recommend those people I recommend to the clients. And had them find the right partner in cases on budget in cases of specific needs. Um, yeah, and that's that's what I'm doing.   Borys - Ah, so from so from that point a typical agency would focus on just selling. Yeah, whatever they want to sell um and if the customer has you as ah as a matchmaker.   Borys - It’s easier to find out. You know what are the real expectation and what is the best fit here because there's also a challenge of the agencies Sometimes when I talk to customers. They also get confused. Yeah, they have like I met so many agencies everyone is saying something different I cannot. I Don't know what to do? Yeah, it's ah I cannot make myself a good judgment and a good selection of the of the agency.   Laura - True and I think that's that's quite normal once a 1 hand our the whole topic. Our language everything we both are doing is so complicated I mean it's such a specific field of. Yeah, things we are doing and we are talking in our own language. So I think that's the first problem people just visiting websites of agencies asking them themselves like what what the hell they are doing. You don't get it and um, yeah.   Laura - I Um I had the chance to work with a lot of agencies to really visit them on site to see how they work to talk to their clients and that's exactly the way I'm choosing somehow my partners to see what can what are they able to offer because.   Laura - And know agencies. They are so good in um, in creating B Two B Ecommerce Landscapes or to to um to help clients with um I don't know hosting problems. Whatever. And I think it's it's crucial to really match those two sides.   Borys - And would you agree? Ah that in general e-commerce became way more complicated, especially if you look at the implementation. Ah that there are so many different expectations. So many different platforms. Ah. And new technologies and so on everything is changing also so fast then the need for a customer it would be or it is very hard to to really evaluate it. So then in this way, your service is ah is necessary or in general a service of consultant who is. More experience to it for many many years and as you mentioned have a great connection to really be able to evaluate the differences between agencies becomes like a necessity for for a lot of customers.   Laura - Exactly you know everything is changing so fast. Um, think it's um or let me say I see myself. Um or it's necessary that you say like this. It's necessary that i'm. Um, informed I'm I'm really reading all the time about everything in ecommerce. So um I think we cannot expect our clients or merchants to overlook all those specific topics within ecommerce There's so much as you said was. From strategy to social commerce performance marketing. Whatever is within the whole complex of building up a store and having ah clients recognizing the store and having all the third -party systems integrated. Um so I think it's. Helpful to ask consultants for help and also to find good implementation. Partners um, really fit with the yeah specific um requirements you have as a maybe b two b company.   Laura - As that startup as an Enterprise company. Whatever is um, your challenge.   Borys- Okay, so I have I have a tough question then because if you work with many different agencies then what makes a good e-commerce agency. Ah what are from your perspective those those factors.   Laura - Um, will.   Borys - Some agencies are good in doing something. Ah, and also if the client should should only rely on um on the on the on the agency or maybe there are There are also memory Experience. Um. Freelancers that could do the job and you don't really need to to hire a full like agency with all all this type of different people.   Laura  - Yeah, have just smile right now because I I get asked this question so often of course and now. Yeah.   Borys - I will not ask for the names here. Yeah, which probably would be tempting. Um Ata let's not so let's not ask for a good a ecommerce says a name people can come to you and ask it. Ah ask it directly. But in general if you if you see how do you see those agencies here comparing them. What kind of factors or what kind of specific differentiators say make the agency as ah as a good agency commerce agency.   Laura - Yeah I think to answer the first question it always depends I know clients hate is answered and like you know, true. No, but.   Borys - Yes, you are consultants. Yes, yes you all you you have to answer this wait.   Laura - Um, what I wanted to say is that normally when starting to work with clients I Always get a lot of restrict answers on these questions I have clients who made maybe bad experiences with agencies and or an agency and then afterwards they are so.   Laura  - Sorry to say they're so pissed they they they are coming to me telling me like I would never work with an agency again same with freeances. Um I think both of course has pro and cons if you have an agency or let me be very clear I think when it comes to complex.   Laura  - Maybe complex b two b scenarios big big projects I think it would tend to recommend an agency with a project manager an agency who did that like 100 times while on the other hand freelancers are super flexible. They are not coming with this.   Laura - Project management overhead they they are in my experience they are. There are a lot of very good experts being very very good in their specific field. But.   Laura  - Nevertheless and if you're choosing an agency or a freelancer I think it's very very important that um that they are very transparent about the processes Very honest and um, asking questions in advance I Think that's.   Laura  - It’s still a people business you you are working with people and as I said our topic is so complicated if you're not able to um to explain to your customer. What are you doing and why is that so.   Laura - And most cases so expensive what you're doing there. Um that you get a real problem. We have customers who really want to be informed all the time they want to see and which stage is my project. What is going on or going on who is responsible for my project.   Laura  - And you're also experienced customers saying I don't care but that's your topic Just do it I Want to be informed when it's ready and um, this is also a very good factor to match agencies and clients who's able to do it. Borys - Yeah, yeah, true when you when you present it this way that it looks it looks like you know there is a big big space. Yeah in the future also for ah, for such a role as a consultant. Especially that the the systems and the implementations will not get easier in the future. Yeah, they will even become more complicated. We'll have like ah composable commerce. Ah some Mark Mach architectures and so on so it will be even way harder to. To choose the right agency and and find the right. You know the right right? right person for that. So when you when you also work with the agencies. Then? how do you try to identify an agency as you mentioned you visit them, you talk to them you have like ah ah your like. Preset of questions a list or how does this type of interview if we could call it interview looks like.   Laura - Exactly so the core of agencies of freeances and Rica um, um yeah I'm just giving a recommendation to my clients I really worked with them in the last eight years so I had project with them. That's.   Laura - Of course the best factor because then I was kind of their clients too. I can really tell something about their um, kind of work but of course on the other hand I could not work with like 10 plus agencies. What I do is I have a set of questions. So I'm really, it's it's like an interview I'm I'm having video calls then I'm visiting them on site. Really I'm I'm there for full day watching how they work what is this setup. How do they approach clients and then on the other side I'm really talking to the clients.   Laura - Um, asking them and in the best cases those agencies were also recommended to me by maybe also other agencies or freelances work there before um and if I get a good gut feeling I'm I'm totally honest with you. Um.   Laura - And I'm um, yeah, then I think then I can recommend them trying to have first projects to really work with them to see how they proceed. Um, but it's a crucial fact I think all consultants know that your your acting with with your name.   Laura - So I'm giving recommendations I'm really strict about my strategic partners I don't have to tell you how many people writing me with the like Violin that maybe telling me like maybe you can recommend us and yeah, yeah, we will pay you.   Borys - Yeah I can imagine that. Yeah.   Laura  - X Eelon Thousand Euro And even if it sounds a bit romantic I will never do it because I really have the my goal is to really advise my clients I mean.   Borys - Of course, yeah, but this is also also your brand because yeah, if you if you work this way then it's a huge responsibility because if project doesn't go goods. Yeah, then. The customer is not coming to the agency as a first line but. We come to you and say lauraa you recommended those guys and they completely. Yeah they are and they are not a good fi yeah so it's it's a huge It's a huge responsibility on your side also doing a right type of choice. Yeah.   Laura - Yeah, right I think it's necessary that they that they trust you if um, if a client or someone's approaching me didn't get the feeling that I'm really looking for the best solution or really, um.   Laura - Can offer a wide range of experts. Then there is no no way to work together. Of course.   Borys - Yeah, and if you work with some projects as a consultant. Um, do you see like a typical scenarios for hiring a consultant are a certain project more I don't Know. Have more you know predisposition to get ah to to need to need a consultant or you see that there's completely while different ranges of ah of projects that you are working on and and it's more a matter of the of the customer. Yeah who is.   Borys - Ah, enough advanced to be able to say hey I need the help with this.   Laura - Yeah, very very good question I think of course of course it depends on how um, how much knowledge you have with an ecommerce. It's easier for people who are maybe have an enough experience with any ecommerce. But.   Laura - Um, no, there are typical scenarios. Um, mostly when they have the feeling that the whole ecommerce system or processes are kind of stuck they feel like maybe they and there would be um there there are some um possibilities to really.   Laura - I Have more conversion maybe within the store or um, yeah, they often ask for them for shop audits to really see what's the status quo. Um, what kind of systems we are using. Um, maybe we can refresh them and another example would be.   Laura - If they are using um, kind of a shop system and not quite sure if this is still the best solution for them. So when it comes to yeah migration projects. Um, they are often asking for. Um, yeah.   Laura  - Experience with other customers. Um, or they have questions like how how much time will it need how about data data management or data migration within all those projects. Um, yeah I would say that those are.   Laura - To be go to be good questions.   Borys - Okay, yeah, but it also requires you know on the other hand if the customer knows or he's ready doesn't have a problem with asking for help then usually that's that's a very good.. That's a very good symptom. Yeah, um. Ah, for you but also for the agency and for the project Overrolia then it means that someone is really open would like to do it right? Yeah instead of being stubborn and like I know how to do the project and then there is a big big Thing. So is there anything in common with this customers. Do see some some some common think with the customers who are ready mature enough to ask for a consultant help.   Laura  - Um, yeah I think that changed over the years Um, years ago they were um, it was a bit challenging to really advise them because I had a lot of.   Laura - Me personally I and a lot of customers were very strict and their opinions were not that open right now I have a lot of clients being very honest, very honest and with the situation opening up telling me like I have the feeling.   Laura  I cannot overlook the whole ecommerce options we are having. So um I'm relying on you and your expertise your your market view. Um, Nevertheless if it's if it's woman man what kind of ages.   Laura - They are getting them more open nowadays.   Borys - Yeah, okay, and um, because yet for an agency this is or this could be a kind of you know competition or or kind of threat. Yeah. Have a consultant who sometimes not allow agency to do stupid stupid things. So how do you approach you know an agency in such case. Yeah, that to the agency see that there is ah some smart Third -party yeah within all the process who knows what's going on. Um, who can explain many things so how agencies react when they see that there is a customer with the with the consultants. Do they do they take it as a kind of competition threat ah or or they or they like appreciate this. Ah. Ah, the situation that there is someone someone who can also explain the customer you know some that some of the expectations are completely. Yeah useless or there are some other ways to to achieve it. What are your experiences with the agency approach to you with in the project.   Laura  - I had agencies in the beginning who were very concerned about me being a third party as you said and because they thought I'm going to be in competition for them on while talking to them. We could experience that or clarify.   Laura  - And I'm more like an I think additional puzzle piece' I'm I'm even helpful I will say because um I think um, it's easier also for the agency if um, they are talking to a to a customer a potential customer who's.   Laura - Pre-informed who already talk to someone could ask their questions so they are kind of more clear within their goals. They are bringing for the new system for the the solution they want to have and um yeah I'm kind of the lawyer. Maybe for the client because.   Laura  - And normally really if I do this matchmaking thing I'm um, always within the first calls. So I'm bringing them together and sometimes and that's what agencies don't like I'm of course also advising them when it comes to the offer.   Borys p You know? so you you verify the cost and say oh no, no this is too much. Yeah, and then they then they don't like you they're like oh no.   Laura - From the ancient one and they are offering him. Um, yeah I would say sometimes then we have kind of discussions. Let me say like that. But no normally a.   Laura - As I said I know the agencies I know the price range they are operating in and I would never recommend them if I know that it's way over the budget of of my client. But yeah, um, right Now. Um I have very good connection to those agencies. Really appreciating it I think we could. We can be very clear.. There are not only agencies within 50 plus employees. So Some of them are built from people being super super intelligent being technical experts.   Laura - But maybe they're not so much into sales So that's I think that's a good add on to have a consultant who leads potential customers to your agency If that's a good fit.   Borys - So. Yeah, true I mean I agree with you looking from agency perspective to wars type of customer if I could say so yeah is the customer that doesn't have the knowledge and experience. Yeah, because then. You really have to on 1 side spend a lot of time explaining the basis. Yeah, or sometimes yeah it would be so nice to have someone within an experience on the customer side to explain him. Okay, this is how we do the integration. Yeah, it's not like our idea. But this is how in general it should be done that it's ah that it's working properly and if the customer has no experience. No clue then then let's call it like a third -party an independent third party. Ah, who could so. Ah, in some way focus on the the project goals and explain the customer hey it isn't a good idea and the agency is right? Yeah that's how it should be done in many cases I think would help agencies to.   Borys - Solve the problem with how to say a tough customers or or or a complex project for for the customer who doesn't have the the experience. So from my point I Absolutely agree with you. It's ah. For the agency. It's It's a very convenient situation yet that there is someone um, smart who can help customer understand the project who can explain something as being more more trusted. Yeah than an agency where there's always some kind of. Ah, low. Trust that Okay, the agency is trying to sell me more things. Yeah or they're trying to to to convince me to do something which um I might not necessarily need but it will be good for agency because they can charge more for some services.   Laura  - Yes I think they get customers on the silver tray because um I'm not only bringing customers. Okay, bringing customer sounds like yam I'm just giving leads but I guide customers to those agencies with a finished briefing so they know.   Laura  - We know how it is normally you're just really talking one on 2 times with the customer just to really clarify what they maybe want to have and know how it works I have customers approaching me and telling me like I have thirty k budget.   Laura - And my marketing agency said I will now need magenta 2 and then I'm like okay maybe we let's start. Let's start from the beginning so you know where it works and and if this work is done and you really um.   Laura - You can really give some insights to the to the customer and help them to to get a clearer view on the whole system I think then the agency can really concentrate to show their skills to show what they can offer to bring the solution to the customer.   Borys - Yeah, and do you see also looking at the market that there is more and more knowledgeable people on the customer side. Um, because at least what I see is like looking at at least few years back um, in many cases we as an agency start to see the difference. Yeah, that ah, there is more people with the experience on the market in the and in general um like more people understanding. For example. What it means that we are doing an agile project people with with some experience. So overall, the situation is ah is ah is better even though it's not easier. Yeah, because the the overall complexity of the systems is ah is higher. But do you see that the customers are havinging more and more. People with with some experiences and the whole discussions are becoming a little bit easier.   Laura - Yeah, totally agree. So I have customers who are calling me being very um, pre-informed so they know sometimes they are telling me like we Ah, we decided to go with this shop system and in.   Laura  - Right now in a lot of cases I can really agree on their decisions and it's more like really going in detail just um, yeah, guiding them through maybe like third party or the whole the whole project. How can it look to really um, really create the whole project for them.   Laura - Um, but let me be honest I don't know why maybe it is because the shop there at the I'm also talking about this. Um, maybe it's it's because the the shop solution providers or the tech providers. Um, getting more information or they they are providing more information which is easy to consume. Um I think we have a lot of media. Um, also Linkedin is of course a big information platform for a lot of people.   Borys - Yeah, for sure. Yeah there's there's there's small knowledge of course on the other hand if we can imagine even today. Ah yeah, as we are ah probably there are hundreds if not thousands of projects just happening today. Yeah so. So every new project every new day during the implementation that's ah, that's the knowledge that some people are getting it from from what's going on on the progress and so on. So for sure. It's ah it's also it's also that the market is becoming more mature and have and have those experiences. Yeah. If you would look few years back. Not so many people had any experiences about ecommerce implementation now if there's so many shops online someone did this job and some some experiences has been has been achieved.   Borys And yeah, and looking also on the on this consultants. Let's say markets. Do you see like more and more consultants. Um, if you look at Linkedin or some some some other some other location by the way like how people find Julia how how does it work people like just going to Google and try to look like. Ah, good consultants to implement shopware um shop. How do they find you.   Laura - Yeah, more. Um I think I'm very thankful for a broad network I'm just I have a lot of people within an ecommerce. So this. A lot of them. There are a lot of clients coming through word of mouth and still but I'm also trying to put my face in every situation posting myself on Linkedin. So it's just so ah, an important challenge it a channel for me and um I don't like it.   Laura - I don't like saying that but still as you said in the beginning. It's kind of special that I'm a female consultant with an ecommerce especially in Germany. Um, right now I experience you know we both.   Laura - Work for shopping united I'm allowed to see or to visit a lot of european cities and meet people from the ecommerce field and especially when it comes to the Netherlands or Uk I meet a lot of amazing woman working Mecommerce and I feel.   Laura - It’s not I don't know why Germany is not that there are not so many women. So um, ah yeah I would never say I feel like how can I say it I feel like um. Mistreated or something I think it's exactly the other way around. It's it's ah if you are smart if you're really interested interested in your topic and you can help clients then it could be even an advantage to be a woman to be a bit more special maybe in the german market.   Laura  That sounds a bit weird. But I think you know what I mean and.   Borys - Yeah I know I mean still if you look at so I believe there is a lot of like women in ecommerce but not necessarily in E-commerce technology. Ah so if you look at ah, most of the fashion shops a lot of of people working there as ah, product owners. Yeah, Or. Or or or working with performance with some campaigns that would be women but you're right if you look at purely technology if you look at the the systems implementations. Ah, that's yeah, That's ah more this I part there is there. There is less woman there. That's that's that's true. And it brings a lot of like you know diversity because I think yeah you you would have probably a little bit different opinion and it would be very valuable think that if there is ah a male team on the customer side and the mail team on the agency side and and. And a new in between that you can have a completely different view completely different. You know, um, experiences to share. So Overall the project value will be way way better.   Laura  - Yeah I think to sum up my superpower and this is that I'm I think I didn't mention I'm I'm not a deaf I didn't delearn I'm I'm not from the technical side. So originally I did my master within marketing communications.   Borys - Okay, yeah.   Laura - And I'm very honest and transparent about this fact I got when I entered the Ecommerce market or the ecommerce topics I felt so lost in the beginning and I'm I'm always very honest about that because I think that brings me closer to my clients.   Borys - Okay, thank you.   Laura - I know how it feels to be within all those specific you know words and situations and every time back then in 2016 when I every time I saw it now I got it the whole system changed so it was like constantly learning.   Laura - And um, yeah to um I think the best factor is that I'm I'm able to talk within or the the tech language and I'm also able to talk to explain that to clients in a very non-technical way This um.   Borys - Yeah, that's that's that's also a great great experience. Yeah, but ah summarizing it as you mentioned I think as me being a kind of a third party in this case. Yeah I truly believe that having ah an external consultant. Ah.   Borys - Who can help customer make some decisions. Ah, who's also helping agency because it's ah it's explaining. Yeah, it's more trusted trusted site in the project explaining customer. Why for example, some test needs to be done and why they need to allocate some budget for. Some quality testing or some some some other type of Testium or most customers says like why would you do any tests So I truly believe in it that a role of role of consultant is is super important I Also truly believe that. It's also the it will grow a lot. Yeah because the the overall ecosystem will become more and the more more and more complex and people with experience who are ready to share who are ready and have this you know, ah, kind of skills to cooperate with. The customer with the agency and help help to make the project Successful. It's also it's also super super important Laurra So Great to have you here I think it's It's a very interesting perspective here for um, for shopper community Also to be aware that. Such a role as a consultant exists and ah it can help with the with the implementation and I think yeah I keep my finger crossed and wish you a good project at good Agencies. You know for the cooperation and and all the success.   Laura  - Thank you Boris and thank you for inviting me to this podcast.
#28 Shopware hosting and scaling challenges with Benno Lippert from maxcluster.
Nov 29 2022
#28 Shopware hosting and scaling challenges with Benno Lippert from maxcluster.
Borys talks with Benno Lippert from maxcluster about Shopware hosting and scaling challenges. Considering preparations for Black Friday. Learn what’s specific about Shopware hosting, how to approach Black Friday picks and traffic. - Borys: Hello everybody we're recording in the very specific week as we talk with our guest today. Ah this is just the week of black friday and today I have a banner from Max Custer um a hosting company. Who agreed to make the recording just in this crazy crazy week. Thank you very much for finding some time between calls with the customers who are just starting the new promotion and and everything is getting read all the all the servers nice to have you here. - Benno: Yeah, step thanks for all the invitation and great to be here. - Borys: I don't know if you remember we were going on one event back together in one taxi and we discussed that we should record it record it one day I think it was a few months ago. So it's great to it's great to have you here. Okay Benno. Can you say few words about max cluster what is max cluster. Um, what are experiences of max cluster in regards to shopware. - Benno: Um, sure so Marx Cluster is a specialized managed ecommerce hoster and um, we celebrated our tenth anniversary this summer we host more than 2000 web shops mainly in the german speak in. - Borys: Great. - Borys: Okay, okay, so. - Benno: Area and we live and breathe ecommerce hosting. So we really think Ecommerce hosting different from the ground up and that's that's something that's really unique from a hosting point of view. - Borys: Yes I agree with you. We are all wetrix also are working with the hosting providers who really do it for ecommerce because otherwise if you do wordpress and some general things. Yeah, it's. Ah, it's a completely different world. It's it's hard to explain someone um or understand it. It's it's not a normal normal type of hosting call. So we'll have some good some good experiences here to talk about and in general yeah, you're you're from Germany and I have more and more guests from Germany. Ah so I'm very proud of um, ah. How do you see the shopware position right now because you you from hosting perspective will have probably a little bit different perspective than um than anyone else because you see those shops life. Yeah, you see their challenges. Ah if few hosts. Ah. Ecommerces you also yeah, host some other competitors. Yeah, like Magenta or presta shop or some other some other platforms. So how do you see put the positioning and the proposal that shopware has on the market right now. - Benno: Shopper from my point of view has the very good um valid proposition. It's a mature open source ecommerce framework especially the version 6 and especially in Germany. Um. Shopware is gaining more and more traction and taking market share from Magento so ambitious merchants who have achieved a lot on Magento for example. - Borys: Um. - Borys: And. - Benno: Replatforming um towards shopware and this is clients from all sizes and all verticals who are um, transitioning to shopware. Yeah, we don't see as many as big clients. Um on shopware as on Magento this is. - Borys: Not yet probably. - Benno: Um, a matter not yet I Guess it's also um, um, a matter of time because especially um, the open source solution has a very ah predictable price point and merchants together with um, a good agency or a skilled agency. Can. Really achieve a unique um shopping experience with shopware. - Borys: True and as you and as you see from from the hosting perspective. Why customers are choosing Shopware. What would be those the biggest the biggest value um in in this in the system this that it's Opened. It allows to modify Customize. Ah or or some other. Some other aspects. - Benno: So most of our clients um are customized clients and um, they they choose shopware over Magento for example because shopware as a company um cares about open source. - Borys: True. - Benno: And has a very compelling product roadmap so they are listening to the clients and are delivering new features that help merchants to really tailor shopping experiences and this is crucial in order to. - Borys: I. - Benno: Compete with um platforms like Multiji channel platforms Amazon and so on. So if you want to really have a striving ecommerce business. You need to be able to um. - Benno: Come up with a unique value proposition and the the channel and the features and the depths of the of the um knowledge that you share and the experience that you create with your ecommerce shop are setting you apart. So like. - Borys: Yeah, okay, ah, and so looking at the yeah, you probably know with the best right now in this week looking at the hosting of not maybe even shopware but in general as you mentioned you have a focus on Ecommerce platforms. What usually people don't understand what they don't consider you know when when they go with just an average hosting Provider. What is so specific in in you know in ecommerce hosting. - Benno: Ecommerce hosting in general is really complex if you want to do ecommerce hosting and get it right? Um, you have to have to really? Um. Master many different technologies you have to gain deep knowledge of all the various technologies that ecommerce frameworks nowaday use like Redis Elasticsearch Rabbit mq varnish etc and you have to orchestrate all these. - Borys: Um. - Borys: From. - Benno: Technologies for high availability because what doesn't or shouldn't happen is actually that the shop is offline or something is not working and that's ah, that's the next thing that you have to ensure is a very very good monitoring. Not only server stuts you have to have to know about more things. Um, it's not not enough to um monitor only um, standard metrics you have to ensure that the ecommerce framework is actually operating you have to. And ensure that an item can be add to a cart and the checkout is working that the response times are good and so on and so on and that that has to be done 24 hours 7 days a weeks three hundred sixty five days a year um in order to to do the sayers. So if you yeah. - Borys: Jump. - Benno: If you don't have if you don't have a person you can call when something goes wrong and this person isn't able to help you and figure out where is the problem. Between all these various technologies. That's really yeah, not um, not working that's harming your business and many times those problems or cure after regular business hours end. So it's was ah b two c shopping starts at four zero P M and that's ah, that's a timing where many um, many hostsers don't have um the best people on call I would say. - Borys: Yeah, yeah, I also have an experience that a good ecommerce hosting company has to also understand the platform so be in the middle you know between um, between typical devops but also understanding what what kind of the mechanism are working internally. Ah, so to know a little bit in this case of shopper of Ph P and so on to really understand what depends on what and if if something is happening on the hosting Site. You really need to go Deeper. You cannot be just the hoster like okay we put something there and it will be working and you will not handle ecommerce because as you mentioned exactly this is too. Too complex. But. - Benno: Exactly and when when I talk about knowing the technologies like Redis or elasticsearch you have to also know how the ecommerce framework like shopware facilitates. Those. - Borys: Exactly. - Benno: So weather is a session storage in Redis and if you um, try to tackle a problem you have to look deep into um the application itself in order to fix it and um, we achieve this by. - Benno: Very skilled, um service employees. All our linux admins are also trained in 1 of the ecommerce frameworks and many of them are also certified certified chopboard developers or certified magenta developers um, in order to be able to. - Borys: Um. - Benno: Um, Techodos Program Problems. So Our goal is always if a ah client either agency or Merchant gets in touch with us. We try to solve the problem within the first interaction. So That's also something. Um, yeah. Which is with with um, selling stuff. Um, you you want things to be fixed as quickly as possible and even if the hoster is not the the root cause of a problem we try to help together. Um. - Borys: No. - Benno: With the agency to figure out or guide the agency. What's the cause of the problem is it a slow running sql statement or is it a bad um configured. Session storage or is it maybe a corrupt. Um Elasticsearch um Index or whatsoever and therefore you're totally right? We really have to um gain deep knowledge about the framework itself in order to Tackle. Um. - Borys: And. - Benno: The problems that are cure. - Borys: Yeah, true, exactly so looking at the current current week. So how do you prepare for such an event. Yeah um, what do you do? How you how we prepare cle it clients. For and even like black Friday it's more black Friday week. Yeah, and after Black Friday of course, there's a high season till ah, almost the end of ah end of December so how do you approach it to. - Benno: Um, now. - Borys: To make sure that at the same day. You don't have 2000 customers calling like okay, we're down. Yeah. - Benno: Yeah, yeah, um, exactly so um, yeah, what we do is um, every year we form a project group um a black friday or um, sort quarter project group. We call it. And this this group gets in touch with all our clients. So we we do a mailing and asking if they do plan any promotions or um, specific things regarding Black Friday singles day cyber Monday whatever ah, they come up with and um, the way we we do that is um that we try to provide as much context. Um for the client as possible. We have a. Ah, feature which is called shop performance that automatically scans um our client's clusters for common performance issues. So for shopware those are 35 um, different. - Borys: Um. - Borys: Okay, okay. - Benno: Things that we can optimize and those um are then um, put into groups which is critical which is just ah information which is already good and we use this information to to gain. - Borys: Okay. - Borys: And. - Benno: And overview how good and how healthy ah current setup is and this is something that the the agency or also the client can um, look at in our managed center which is a custom build application. - Borys: So. - Benno: And then um, once we do a survey ah basically with our clients. What do they plan and what are their assumptions and in in many ways The the hardest thing is to get the assumptions right. So How many traffic will I see how many cards will that be and so on because this is really crucial to come up with ah um, with the right scaling of the hardware. - Borys: Okay, okay. - Benno: And um also to get an idea whether the Peaks we expect will cause problems or not because if you do performance optimization you optimize for a certain number. - Borys: Okay, so. - Benno: So it can be 10000 unique visitors. Um and 5000 cards or checkouts in a certain amount of time and everything runs smoothly and you don't expect anything to break. But if you hit. A certain number maybe 20000 unique visitors and 10000 um cards that can be a totally different point of view and depending on how big the scale is that you expect. - Borys: Exactly. - Benno: We really um, have this dedicated team that consults the agency and the merchant what we can do to scale. So. - Borys: You know, but on the other hand we have black fridayers. Not it's not like the first year so how do you see? the majority are the customers. Do they really learn out of it that. Have to prepare for it or it's still like you know a completely greenfield like oh yeah, we go with 5000000 ah you know mailings and and we spend a lot of money and they're like surprised to you see that they they're learning because of course within the time I assume the markets the better and better experience. Yeah, how to. - Benno: Um, yeah. - Benno: Yeah, um, so the majority of our clients because those are already most of them are ambitious clients who do know what they are doing. - Borys: How to handle it. So how is the majority. - Benno: And they get better and better each year I think the majority of our clients because of this um actions we take are very well-prepared but sometimes um, you underestimate, um. - Borys: Um. - Benno: The the traffic because maybe you land in such a dear community like my deals in Germany or something and ah then the the traffic that hits the server is just way higher than than normal. Yeah. - Borys: Expect that? okay. - Benno: And um, sometimes it works because you're running out of stock very quickly or see that maybe your promotion is too good, but um, sometimes it just. - Borys: But. - Benno: Breaks and then you need also a skilled team that's able to fix fix the problems and stand the traffic. What we also saw um last year is um that yeah that beside the real traffic. Also get um, ddosed by who who knows actually I'm I'm not um I'm not saying that it's um, competition or something but um, actually ah you know you never know in the end and those are then things that also. - Borys: And. - Benno: Um, come into play which which has to be taken care of so right now. Ah the the question you said asked are in general the clients better prepared or not I would say yes, but many of them. Um. - Borys: Um. - Borys: You. - Benno: Do have problems to get the assumptions right? because the ecommerce is is growing and growing and um, this is something. We also try to help us to consult them. We take um, especially for Black Friday we take - Borys: Okay. - Benno: Um, traffic and checkouts and carts and store them on our cluster. So the the data belongs to the clients and we only use this um in order to prepare for this specific season and then do an estimation um on the on the now. Yeah data. We saw last year so we take the the months before Black Friday then the peak event and the months after and the growth that we saw last year can be extrapolated. Um this season again. So if you're. - Borys: So. - Benno: If your own regular traffic per day was like maybe 10000 visitors and ah the black friday peak was like 3 times as many visitors like 30 k visitors. Um, we would use those numbers um to to. - Borys: So. - Benno: Challenge The assumptions you have right now because um, yeah, it gets harder and harder to get the assumptions right? and see um where where's the traffic going. - Borys: Exactly and looking with your experiences with shopware. So what are the shopware challenges like some typical issues that people don't consider or some typical you know challenges that you have to deal with ah. Um, when you get on board for example, New New shop or shop and you're getting ready for black Friday week. - Benno: Yeah, so the I think the the main things that have to be in place is a proper configuration of all the stuff. So what we see in in many cases. For example, if ah. - Borys: Um. - Benno: If a client was with another hoster and they see performance issues and they fear the traffic increase during Black Friday um we see an increase in clients moving um to us and many of them have. Don't have a really good setup so the basics we see is that lots of the cache and session storage is still in the file system and not in redis so those are the things that we set up um, many many times and and get it right. - Borys: Okay, yeah. - Benno: And there are um, php optimizations regarding regarding the op cache for example to cache the um, the um php. Um. Statements that are recurring and used very often. That's um, one of the most common things we see so getting the opcache right and setting it up properly. That's um, one of the. - Borys: Okay. - Borys: Okay. - Benno: Other things. Um, 1 thing you see in peak scenarios is that um the admin worker so the the job that runs background processes sends email and triggers stuff within shopper that's run when you work. In the admin and working in the admin and um, having the um, um admin worker set up in that way. Um, also leads to really bad performance and when. Yeah, our approach is then to configure. Ah the admin worker to be run. Um as a cle worker and um in general try to orchestrate it with system d for example. - Borys: Yeah, cool. Ah yeah, but those are those are the type of let's say like ah deep in technical things. Um, and what what would you say would be like a 5 top. Things you can do to really increase the performance. Yeah, some some ticks and trips. Also that ah that the customers should consider during this time because Black Friday is the 1 thing it will be really a peak but following next four weeks are going to be anyway. Ah, hi yeah, it's it's not just this week and it's over people don't turn off their computers. They just ah, they just do some shopping and then later on they also still continue on on present gifts and so on. - Benno: Um, yeah. - Benno: Yeah, like um, it's always good to um to fix the the issues you have so the the low low hanging fruits is like configuring Redis configuring opcache um. - Borys: But. - Benno: Trying to ah tweak. Um Mysk Well um to get the buffers right? Um, before the season activates um, slow query lock and see whether you can. Um, truncate tables or also try to optimize the statements within the application those are from my point of view. Really um, lots of lots of still low hanging fruits. - Borys: Okay. - Benno: Have a very big impact um on the overall performance of your store and also ensuring that you you cache the frontend tried cash translations cashche like ah the the parts of the sea. Those are also things that you really should take a look at. When when optimizing for performance I think that those are already ah ah 5 um, 5 ideas or 5 takeaways that are easy to do and which all have an an impact on the performance and they are even more like. - Borys: Um. - Benno: Activating http 2 or um and a bigger or maybe a not too big thing. You could go with webp images and um, use the um friends of shopper extension. Um, for this. - Borys: True true. - Benno: That's that's all things minor things. Um, which can really um, differentiate you regarding the performance from your competition and in order to to get the most out of um, the festive season is to have. Ah. - Borys: Um. - Benno: Yeah, ah, really fast store. Um. - Borys: Know? Yeah, but as you as we talk you, you cannot do it on your own as ah as a shop owner you need to have the right right? partner partner for this. Ah, that's it. So when usually. - Benno: Okay, that but yeah, ah maybe um, when when I say you should do that in general you lock into our managed center. - Borys: I. - Benno: You do the shop performance report and you get in touch with us and our admins will also take care of those things. Those are the the ones if we as long as it's configurations as long as it's like ah configuring ah varnish or configuring Redis or configuring Elasticsearch. Those are all things that we do as a managed hostster and this is also something um, which helps agencies. Um, to yeah to to compete because we are really skilled in this kind of things. - Borys: So. - Benno: And um, and and do it together with your agency or um, solely on um on the merchants inquiry. - Borys: Like yeah and when usually people should do what? yeah because during I mean right now it's already too late. Yeah, you know what? I mean it's It's ah. - Benno: That would be a fix if we if we see this is the bottleneck. Ah, that's ah, a hot fix. Um, and we try to not um, operate in ah such a way. Yeah, because like when we see this is a problem. - Borys: Um. - Benno: Your clients will see it as well as a problem and you will already pay for traffic. That's not converting and that's the the the bad thing you could come up with so in order to um in order to prepared ah to be prepared for the season we start like. Eight weeks ahead of the event. - Borys: So this is the preparation So when is the best time to do the migration or where you when people should start already doing this. - Benno: I think two months and advance is the best thing because that will give you enough time to also plan your promotions. Um or you are able to do even load testing on ah on a proper setup to see. Whether your expected um traffic can be stand and this is like the the best timing I would say two months in advance is a very good timing. - Borys: So if someone who's listening to this to this episode then probably ah no one will listen to us in next few days because of the because of the black friday but they will listen just after. Anything they can do or consult right now or you think it's ah it's a matter of like January of February to to consider. Okay, we failed with ah black friday so now it's a time to to find a better partner. - Benno: A very good Question. So if the partner the hosting partner and the agency is not able to do it. They are not no. Um I would say. No low-hanging fruits how you can really achieve a big a bigger amount in traffic. You can try to scale ah by scaling up resources. It always helps to a certain amount for sure adding more Ram adding more cpu. - Borys: No. - Benno: Ah, that will help but um, only to um, yeah, a lower extent. - Benno: Um I think um Cloud can solve many problems but especially during these peak events. We've seen in the past that Cloud offerings don't stand um to have combined load. - Borys: But. - Benno: Like ah if a cloud offering um has to deal with not like it's not a dedicated cluster that you use as 1 client so everybody has um, highlight scenarios and we've seen that. Apis and response times in the past um slowly um, got worse um to even to such an extent that they broke and then um, this is like the worst case and the worst scenario you. - Benno: Wouldn't want to see because then automatically means you don't have somebody to call that will fix it for you. It will just be gone but those are extreme scenarios that happened in the past. Um. - Borys: And. - Benno: The the things I really see um cloud can't do as good as on-prem right? now is custom solutions and also delivering all the line of business applications. On one host with one. Um, ah one um, company or hoster to call so when I'm speaking off line of business applications. Those are the um. Auto management systems. Those are the ah pim pm systems um cms etc that have have to be orchestrated in the bigger um scenarios and if you have like 2 or 3 cloud offerings and. - Borys: And. - Benno: Have to orchestrate all of them. You have to also glue them together with another software which is then a single source of failure and you have to monitor it and that has to be hosted somewhere. So. Therefore I don't think Cloud is the solution for everything that solves everything automatically, but there are for sure many use cases where Cloud is a very very appealing and right solution. - Borys: Cool, very good very good answer ah yeah so I think yeah at that point it's it's good to like ah I'll keep all my finger crossed for all the hosting companies and all the shops to go well through. Ah, black friday yeah, especially to do all the orders because yeah, it's it's right now. So important to keep the sales sales ah up and running and beno. Yeah, thank you very much I think you are quite good because we are talking for like 40 minutes and there was no calls about and a and they and escalations anything so that's ah. - Benno: Um. - Borys: That's ah, that's I hope a good. It's ah it's a good. It's a good prognostic so it was great and was nice to have you here. Thanks. - Benno: Yeah, thanks again for the invitation and let's see what black Friday holds for us.