Reaching the mobile turning point in e-commerce

Just a quick one: This month something happened we have been working towards and anticipating at CouchCommerce for more than two years. With Shopify the first large international e-commerce platform announced that it has reached 50%+ mobile traffic share across all shops. And even European focused companies like Zalando have reached 40%+ mobile traffic share by now.

E-commerce is now becoming a true mobile-first game and I could not be more excited about it!

Launching our Open Source eCommerce Web App SDK Sofa – already chosen by our new Flagship clients Runtastic & Reno

Alexander:

Sofa is finally here!

Ursprünglich veröffentlicht auf CouchCommerce Blog:

Sofa is here!As you might know here at CouchCommerce we have been working for more than one year now towards releasing our e-commerce web app SDK called sofa. Today we are very happy and proud to announce that not only sofa has been released but we also decided to open source our entire AngularJS web app including a great feature set. You can download it right now and get started in three easy steps!

For developers and agencies this is a great starting point to create e-commerce front ends based on superior web app technology. Sofa cannot only be used to bring great touch driven user experience to smartphones and tablets but also covers in-store and even desktop use cases thanks to the almost complete coverage of modern browsers today. So we are moving towards a unified front end experience delivered by CouchCommerce!

developer_viewFrom today on merchants can start to work with one…

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The video comparison: responsive shop template vs. single page e-commerce web app

As I recently mentioned in a post shop merchants often approach me and ask about the difference between a shop with responsive templates and single page web apps like the ones we offer at CouchCommerce. Because written explanations are not exciting and cannot show all the differences in usability and app feeling we recorded a short video that I like to share with you.

The setup was an iPhone 5c connected to the 3G network. Using this smartphone we are opening the best RWD template available for Shopware and the latest demo web app from CouchCommerce. Both share the same inventory and products.

This was the exercise: open the shop via bookmark, navigate into the categories “Genusswelt” -> “Edelbrände” and select the product “Cigar Special 40%” to add it to the cart. Then go to the checkout and stop at the point where you start to enter personal information as a new customer.

Here is the result:

You can see how responsive shop templates behave compared to a single page web app. The gesture support and speed of single page web apps is, even though they run in the browser, as good as you know it from native apps that need to be installed from app stores. To the contrary responsive templates work like every other website and need to request next pages from the servers on every click. This fundamental difference causes the huge timing difference in our video.

During this test we had good 3G reception. But as soon as you are on the go and have interruptions and slow downs of the connection the difference will be even more significant. Single page web apps even keep working in case you lose the entire connection. You will never see a “404 page not found” error.

A list of all the advantages single page web apps provide can be found here in this German post.

And here are the links to the test shops: RWD Template / Single Page Web App

Warum CouchCommerce single page Web Apps gegenüber Responsive Web Design in Shop Templates überlegen sind

Alexander:

Bereits 2012 hatte ich erklärt wie sich Onlineshops für mobilen Traffic rüsten können: “Mobile Template, Responsive Design vs. Native App vs. Web App”. http://ringsdorff.net/2012/08/26/online-shop-wissen-mobile-template-vs-native-app-vs-web-app/
In diesem Beitrag gehe ich genauer auf die Unterschiede zwischen RWD und single page Web Apps ein, wie wir sie bei CouchCommerce und Sofa.io umsetzen.

Ursprünglich veröffentlicht auf CouchCommerce Blog:

Oft werden wir gefragt wofür man CouchCommerce braucht, wenn man schon ein Responsive Web Design (umgesetzt als Shop Template) hat oder dieses plant. Die einfachste Antwort ist: Um mehr zu verkaufen, denn die Conversion Rate von single page Web Apps ist der von Responsive Web Design überlegen.

Was sind eigentlich single page Web Applications?
Single page Web Apps sind Anwendungen die im Browser laufen, nur aus einer einzigen Seite bestehen und deren Inhalte dynamisch und intelligent nachgeladen werden. Im Vergleich zu einer “gewöhnlichen” Seite wie z.B. einem mobile Template oder Responsive Design welche aus vielen einzelnen HTML Seiten bestehen die untereinander verbunden sind und bei jedem Klick oder Touch einen Server Request auslösen, werden single page applications nur ein einziges mal geladen (außer man drückt den reload button ;) ) und läd unter Einbezug des geräteeigenen Speichers auf dem die Seite im Browser aufgerufen wird die Produkte/Inhalte im Hintergrund nach, so…

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The e-commerce innovation dilemma

Very recently Roman wrote about the lack of innovations in e-commerce and his frustration with the outlook leaders of popular shop systems gave.

Well, I can feel his pain. Since 2010 there has not really been any kind of innovation across the leading open source systems including Magento, Oxid e-sales, Shopware and PrestaShop from my point of view. It seems everybody got comfortable and relaxed once the feature push of Magento got to an end after the take over by eBay. I am under the impression that everybody went focusing on large “enterprise” clients underlining the stability and scalability of their software and therefore lost the focus on innovation. The nice thing about these enterprise customers is that they do come with deep pockets helping to monetize the open source development and attract other merchants. However at the same time they are the ones usually not requiring innovative features but a robust set of basic native functionality. I strongly recommend to read through this (German) post going into more details about the Enterprise direction the mentioned players are taking. Startups and more agile merchants trying to distinguish themselves from the big players are different and suddenly cannot rely anymore on native innovative features to be introduced by the open source shop systems.

And here we are right in the e-commerce innovation dilemma!

You are not convinced, yet? Let’s take a look at the facts.

Here you can find two years of Magento release notes starting in June 2011 and ending in April 2013. There is not a single major innovation I could find – but countless fixes, changes and refactor tasks.

So was all the innovation saved up for the big Magento 2 release? I was curious as it was first mentioned more than 1.200 days ago. Doing the research I came across an interesting discussion on hacker news I like to quote:

Magento 2.0 sounds promising. However, Magento 2.0 is lead by developers-only. No marketeers are involved to communicate merchant needs. I have tested Magento 2.0 dev60 and it is nothing more than a technical rewrite. Magento 2 offers the same feature set as Magento 1. You’ll just need to pay a developer to migrate all your 1.x extensions to 2.x, since there is no upgrade path.

So as much as I loved and praised the features and innovations Magento introduced and made available back in 2009 it seems to be obvious that whoever stood behind them has left and took the magic away.

And what about Oxid, PrestaShop and Shopware?

Taking a look at their release notes and comparing the feature sets with Magento it is interesting to see that most of the new features are not part of the open source solutions but have been released as chargeable modules and add-ons. For example something quite basic as bundled products is not included as native functionality in Shopware but available for €495 as extra charged module developed by Shopware themselves and published in August 2012. Looking at the PrestaShop module collection (78 modules) or the Oxid e-sales modules and their eFire marketplace it is more or less the same picture. The releases of the core open source product mainly focuses on bug fixes, performance improvements and rewrites. Even essential features are published as complimentary chargeable modules and the real innovation has to be driven in custom projects or bespoke agency work.

An additional good indicator of how innovative shop systems are is to look at startups utilizing the software to go to market. For example shopping clubs or subscription based startups used to be able to start into the market with a quite small budget as the shop systems were able to offer them a 80% ready solution out of the box. Over the last 24 months I have not seen new innovative startups in the e-commerce field who chose to work with one of the solutions mentioned above. For example Chloe+Isabel, an innovative social commerce startup from the US, had to build a custom solution with much higher investments.

When we first launched, we had to create all of our software from scratch as it just didn’t exist. While this was a different kind of challenge, what we quickly realized was that though Chloe + Isabel is a jewelry company, we had to be just as proficient as a technology company.

said Chantel Waterbury the founder of Chloe + Isabel in an interview.

Most of the startups I talked to would have loved to work with one of the open source shop systems after realizing that they are forced to build a costly and risky custom solution to achieve their goals. So why could they not utilize or extend the solutions available? Ironically the APIs are not open and powerful enough to support innovative shopping functionality and content segmentation driven micro sites utilizing just as much commerce functionality as they need. So as a result each of the leading systems has built its own eco system not being able to support true innovation. APIs were not the focus but added and enhanced later on in the process. This makes the solutions slow and harms service orientated architectures where merchants heavily rely on well performing and stable APIs to connect all the components utilized.

So the questions I like to ask are: Will there ever be a new shop system leading innovation and bringing it to the masses like it used to do Magento back in 2009? Or are we at the beginning of a larger paradigm change where shop system setups will not be like we know them up to today?

CouchCommerce named as one of 5 German startups to look out for in 2014

Ursprünglich veröffentlicht auf CouchCommerce Blog:

eu-startups CouchCommerce was just named as one of just 5 German startups to look out for in 2014 by EU Startups .

In the beginning of this year, we took a look at major European countries and tried to come up with a list of 5 startups (each country) to look out for in 2014.

EU Startups summarized our vision very well:

CouchCommerce is a cloud based e-Commerce SaaS platform offering responsive shop web apps for post pc devices like tablets, smartphones and smart TVs based on AngularJS technology. CouchCommerce is based in Hannover and was founded in January of 2012. The startup has been bootstrapped by a founding team with longstanding e-commerce experience. The vision of the ambitious CouchCommerce team is to become the leading responsive commerce platform for brands and manufacturers in the SMB sector. In September of 2013 CouchCommerce secured €1.2 million in Seed funding.

As we are…

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Announcing Sofa – The Web SDK for E-Commerce Web Apps

Ursprünglich veröffentlicht auf CouchCommerce Blog:

As already announced in July last year, we are heavily working on a Software Development Kit that makes your life easier when it comes to building e-commerce web applications, optimized for touch devices. We will open source the SDK so that you can use our powerful components, too.

Today, we are happy to unveil the new official face of the CouchCommerce Web App SDK: Sofa!

Sofa Logo

Sofa provides components that make building e-commerce web applications a charm. It consists of two layers, the Core Layer, that is written entirely in VanillaJS and the Angular Layer, which gives you first class AngularJS bindings. We at CouchCommerce <3 AngularJS! This is why Sofa gives you Angular bindings and additional Angular components on top. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to use AngularJS, too. The Angular Layer is optional, so you can also just stick to the Core Layer and use…

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