Shopware Comes to PushONCharlie Hankers | October 31st 2017
Over the past year, PushON has been forging a partnership with Shopware, a German eCommerce platform. We’ve always been impressed with the quality of the development and have been lucky enough to pay several visits to their HQ in Schöppingen, 20 km from the border of the Netherlands. We thought it was about time we returned the favour, so asked Shopware if they’d like to send some developers over to PushON’s offices for a few weeks to embed themselves into a working eCommerce developer so we could learn from each other. Of their volunteers, Timo Altholtmann and Jess Robering drew the long straws and were soon jetting over the North Sea to spend four weeks in our Manchester office. So let’s meet them.
Jess: I’m a media designer at Shopware.
Timo: I’m a core developer. I write plugins for Shopware. They’re known as “premium plugins” because they’re made in-house. There are third-party plugin developers, too.
Why did you decide to come to PushON?
Timo: The company sent out a message asking if anyone would like to spend a month in Manchester with one of our partners. It was obviously a great opportunity and there were plenty of volunteers, but we were picked!
Is it useful to work closely with the PushON team? Is there any mutual learning?
Jess: I’m mainly working on designs for Shopware projects from Manchester, but mixing with the PushON team on a day-to-day basis.
Timo: I’m working on Shopware projects too, but I’m working with Scott [Murray] on a particular plugin for one of PushON’s Shopware clients. Specifically, it’s a financing plugin that will allow the client’s customers to pay for the products in instalments or a lump sum.
Are there any differences between the PushON offices and the Shopware offices?
Timo: Well the main difference is the size. Shopware has about 130 employees in its offices [PushON currently stands at around 30]. The hours are much different too. We can work much more flexible hours, so some of us start work at 6 a.m., which means we can leave early in the afternoon; others have a later start [PushON’s offices are open between 8 and 6].
A big difference is a policy that Shopware has whereby all employees get time to basically work on any project they want to, usually amounting to three days per project, with about three projects per year. It can be directly related to your work or something completely different, perhaps in collaboration with other staff members.
Timo: Well … we do all sorts of projects to push ourselves out of everyday work. One recent example has been a computer-controlled cocktail mixer. You basically attach several bottles to it and they all feed tubes that go into the mixer. So we’ve programmed a bunch of different cocktails and you just have to push a button and it automatically mixes the one you want. And because we are such perfectionists, we have spent plenty of time testing it. (You can see it in action here.)
How are you finding Manchester? Have you got out much?
Jess: We’ve only been here just over a week, but we’ve seen a bit of it. We experienced the Trafford Centre the other day and we’ve ventured into the Northern Quarter in the evening, but the highlight so far was going to the Etihad to watch Manchester City play Napoli in the Champions League.
Timo: Manchester is very different to where Shopware is located. Schöppingen is a small town with quite a rural feel, population 7000, and there’s really only a hotel if you want a drink. It’s a nice contrast.
What learnings will you take back to Schöppingen?
Timo: We’re picking up things all the time, but a good thing about living over her for a month has been the opportunity to work on languages and do our own things. Let’s see what the next few weeks brings.