If you’re part of the Shopware network, chances are you will know both Sander Mangel and Wouter Dieters. Both heavily involved in Magento groups and forums a few years ago, they have expanded their platform interests and community ambitions to Shopware. Sander is a freelance technical ecommerce consultant for retailers and agencies, as well as a previous GPMD guest author. Wouter, likewise, is an independent ecommerce consultant in Benelux, Germany and Poland, with extensive experience on the merchant, project management and consulting side of ecommerce. Both Dutch ecommerce experts with extensive track records (each boasting at least 10+ years experience) have focused the past two years on building the Shopware network outside of Germany.
Why emphasise the fact that they are not German?
Well, Shopware has spent years fostering engagement within its local market, which has led to a very active German community, but international members have struggled with the language barrier and physical distance. Some programs and communities have also become increasingly competitive, and Sander and Wouter wanted to shape an ecommerce environment with a more open dialogue.
Shopware United aims to close this gap by creating a wider platform that revolves around Shopware for English speakers. On the one hand, they are speaking to Shopware and helping the company improve its international outreach and communication. On the other hand, Shopware enthusiasts from around the world can use Shopware United to find relevant information about Shopware, exchange knowledge and get involved in building local, interconnected communities. This platform will build a network that is all about collaboration regardless of language, location, skill set, or job description (i. e. this is not just a network for Shopware developers).
One major highlight, that both Sander and Wouter are particularly looking forward to, is setting up local in-person meetups. At the moment, they are relying on video conferences and to some extent the Shopware United Slack group. What both of them very much hope to achieve besides increasing connectivity and interaction, is an initiative that will help make the Shopware product more mature for markets outside of Germany. With more plugin and development opportunities, and ideas from the international community, Shopware can use this information to build out and improve Shopware 6 (its current product offering), to the benefit of everyone in the long-run.
The big question we asked them was how can you get involved as a UK merchant looking to engage with others in the Shopware community?
On the Shopware side, Justin Biddle is the main touch point for the UK. Together with Justin and local agencies (like GPMD) Shopware United plans to host localised events once this is again possible. As the global pandemic does not currently allow for travel and meetups, the best way to get involved is to sign up via the website for content and invites to online events. And these are not your run of the mill webinars either, as Sander and Wouter have opted for more interactive round table sessions as they find them more engaging, which is, ultimately, what the community is all about.
Shopware United is certainly shaping up to become the place for the international Shopware community, and the in-person events will undoubtedly become calendar staples. For Sander are Wouter, they can’t wait to see how they can help Shopware develop future products and grow its wider network. In particular, they are looking forward to the release of Shopware 6.4 this spring as it comes with a whole host of new features and improvements.
If you’d like to chat with these good-natured Shopware experts, you can join one of the online round tables to get insights from Shopware fans, or, for more information on what else Shopware United has to offer, do check out the website and stay tuned for local events!