The situation created by the coronavirus, which has restricted offline sales channels and caused a loss of sales, shows precisely how important it is to be able to fulfill customers’ needs for online alternatives. In the course of the pandemic thus far, it has also become clear that companies that had a functional e-commerce platform before the pandemic enjoyed a significant competitive advantage. For all other companies, it is therefore more important than ever to create an appropriate infrastructure and focus on an end-to-end customer experience.
There are various possibilities for setting up this infrastructure; these can be divided into 4 categories. One possibility is to use cloud platforms such as commercetools and pre-implemented cloud-based shop systems such as Shopify. Another is the larger, powerful monolithic e-commerce systems, which can be configured and expanded, such as Shopware or Magento, Salesforce or SAP. At the other end of the spectrum are e-commerce frameworks such as Spryker.
These solutions differ especially if you weigh their power and flexibility against their “speed to market” – the speed with which the systems can be implemented so that they can generate added value. Associated with this is, of course, also the effort required to implement the systems.
What is Shopware?
Like Spryker, Shopware is an e-commerce system developed in Germany. In contrast to Spryker, however, it is not a toolbox that offers maximum flexibility, but rather a pre-prepared, configurable, expandable system that is available in different editions for companies of different sizes. This means that the implementation cycles are relatively short and the system can keep up with the needs of growing retailers.
Shopware supports both B2C and B2B use cases and can be operated on-premise or (since May 2020) with an SaaS model. To make implementation even faster, there are some industry solutions and a number of pre-prepared interfaces to external systems. Shopware has a lively ecosystem with more than 1,200 certified partners. A connected marketplace currently lists more than 3,500 plug-ins and add-ons, of which many are certified.
In its Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce 2020, the Gartner Group regards Shopware as a niche player with a regional focus and sweet spots in medium-sized retail and brand manufacturing companies, as well as wholesale. In Germany, Shopware has, according to Datanyze, a market share of approximately 4.7%. This means that the system is the fourth most-used after WooCommerce (a WordPress plug-in), 100sklepov, and Magento.
A webshop depends on customer, product, and price data and is often connected to a CRM, ERP or product information (PIM) system as master of the various data types and for enrichment of the product data. Especially important is order integration into the ERP system, whereby the most relevant of these systems is SAP ERP 6.0.
The integration of these systems is done via webservices and is thus always possible securely and without a lot of work. It can be done via direct calls or with incorporation of various middlewares, such as the SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI) or a SEEBURGER connector.
Using middleware can ensure clean communication and reduce the risk of any data losses that can occur with direct calls between two systems. Furthermore, cleanly implemented middleware also supports the establishment and retention of an enterprise architecture, of which a commerce system is always an essential component.
Why Shopware and valantic?
There are important reasons to prepare Shopware as a commerce platform carefully and to bring in professional help.
Shopware fulfills all the important requirements of a commerce system out of the box and, thanks to its placement on the market, it is ready to use quickly, which makes for a quick roll-out. Thanks to its architecture and strong, lively ecosystem, many add-ons can be used right away without any development work and implementation partners are readily available.
For the technical minds among us, Shopware, in particular the new Version 6, is a state-of-the-art commerce system that pursues an API-first development strategy. Because of this so-called “headless” architecture, Shopware is in a position to support any sales channels; it is omni-channel capable without any restrictions. Furthermore, with Symfony and vue.js, it relies on state-of-the-art development frameworks for which there are many experienced developers in case this easily configurable system has to be expanded.
In addition, with its 20-year history, Shopware has an active ecosystem with more than 1,200 partners who provide many add-ons and have deep implementation experience. The public development road map available on the web is another cornerstone for building trust.
valantic is an Enterprise Partner in the Shopware ecosystem and has many years’ experience with this state-of-the-art platform. valantic is also an SAP Gold Partner, so it has wide-ranging expertise with SAP ERP and SAP CX solutions.