shopware: ultimate merchant guide
What is Shopware?
With over 15 years powering ecommerce shopping, Shopware has proven itself as a platform you can count on today and in the future. Shopware provides a flexible, feature-rich, and cost-effective option for store owners to run their online shops. This technology offers quick development times which means: your website launches faster with tons of useful features, all ready to use on day one. As a store owner, you reap a return on investment faster. See the “What is Shopware” by Ben Marks video with transcript here.
Founded in Germany in 2008, Shopware is a 300-person strong firm whose stated values include: openness, authenticity, and vision. Given its roots in Germany, the software has a strong and loyal merchant base in Germany and the rest of Europe. The Shopware team firmly believes in empowering merchants with the freedom to grow.
The latest version of the software, Shopware 6, was released in early 2020. This version update represents a full-scale overhaul of the architecture. It utilizes the stable and forward-looking programming languages of Symfony and VueJS.
Early in its history, Shopware committed itself to the open-source ethos of community involvement and open licensing. Licensed under the AGPL v3 (Affero General Public License), anyone has the right to download, run and even modify the software. Community involvement surfaces bugs, potential security issues, and feature enhancements. The entire Shopware community benefits from more ‘eyes’ on the code. However, Shopware maintains the right to control what goes into the freely-available core components.
Who uses shopware
ECOMMERCE BASICS: HOMEPAGE, CATEGORY Pages, & PRODUCT Pages
Creating and editing a homepage is a snap. Taking advantage of the powerful Shopping Experience functionality (more on that below), the store owner can create a home page that fully represents the store’s brand with just a few clicks. This is the same functionality that allows store owners to create landing pages of all types. The following home page was created in less than 3-minutes
With category pages, store owners get numerous configuration options – see the Shopware 6 category edit process here. This means store owners and their teams do not need to engage development teams to make some basic changes to layout and design.
Here are some of the configuration options available:
- Option to show products or child categories, here we show products
- Placement of image and text on top of the page
- Position of the filter navigation – above the products or on the right
- Availability and position of the category navigation on the right
Out of the box, you get all the basics in an easy-to-use layout. As with the other pages on your site, you can fully customize this layout to suit your requirements. Check out our video on the Shopware 6 product admin.
With Shopware you control your destiny. Always having access to the source, you own it. No lock-ins, no compromises, no limits. Your freedom to grow.
Shopware 6 offers a fast and efficient shopping cart and checkout functionality out-of-box. And, as with many of Shopware’s core functionality, you can customize it to meet your business’s needs.
Some notable features in the shopping cart include the ability to configure default settings globally or per sales channel (more on that below). For example, you can choose to show estimated delivery times or an add-to-wish-list button in the cart per sales channel.
Out-of-the-box checkout configurations include the ability to add a comment field for your customers in checkout and also the ability to logout guest customer sessions.
Shopware's mission is to provide our merchants with flexible and future-proof ecommerce solutions that quickly and easily leverage their growth potential.
With over 2,000 options, the Shopware Store offers extensions across dozens of categories, including B2B, SEO, marketing, payments, customer support, shopping experience, and more.
For the store owner, the Shopware Marketplace allows you to deploy proven functionality at a fraction of the cost of developing yourself.
Some useful extensions include the freely available blog extension, which allow you to post content within the Shopware admin. Other options include several low-cost lazy loading options for images and Google Tag Manager integration.
Everything around us is evolving: Technology, products, entire markets are constantly changing. But one thing remains the same: our attitude and openness to the outside world.
- Sebastian Hamann
Executive Board & Co-Founder
Merchant Admin Interface Look & Feel
Shopware 6 Admin
Rebuilt during the Shopware 6 upgrade, the admin panel has a modern, clean, fast, and intuitive look.
Built around a two-column layout, the left-hand navigation pane offers links to important sections – orders, products, customers, marketing, and more. Many important configurations and controls are located under the ‘Settings’ menu.
The second (main) column offers users a contextual work area to make admin changes.
In the admin you can manage customers and orders, schedule and manage promotions, assign images and videos, and easily create customer shopping experiences and merchandising pages.
Shopware 6 offers a complete product management console within the software. Out-of-the-box, store owners get the typical functionality – title, price, product attributes, image management, etc. Additionally, Shopware 6 offers store owners the ability to add custom entities to fit their business requirements.
Below in yellow is the individual product’s navigation, notice that you can control a number of aspects of your products – from basics to SEO to cross-sells and beyond. The layout is clean and intuitive.
The area in light blue (or maybe it’s turquoise) is where the work and inputs are done. See behind the scenes here in the product management merchant admin video.
Based on our client’s analytics, we see that, on average, 20% of site user’s sessions include on-site search, some clients are 50%+. Further, we find that searchers are 3x to 5x more likely to convert. Perhaps needless to say, a great search experience is key.
Shopware integrates the open-source search tool, Elastic Search, to provide a world-class site search engine.
Merchandisers can define what is searchable, boost results, define synonyms, and more to fine-tune the site search.
Site search is not just limited to products. Search results can include categories, blog posts, content pages – really anything in your Shopware store.
Shopware is the highly customizable, future-oriented open commerce platform that turns ambitious business ideas into inspiring success stories. Set your own rules, innovate fast, and stand out with an expertly executed brand strategy and a powerful platform to support your vision.
A linchpin to Omnichannel Success
A key concept in Shopware 6, and one which provides tons of flexibility, is Sales Channels.
Think of different Sales Channels as end-points for your product data.
For example, your website is a sales channel. The data feed for Google Shopping is a Sales Channel. Marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart are Sales Channels. Social shopping options like Facebook and Instagram are Sales Channels.
For the store owner, Shopware becomes a foundation realization of an omnichannel strategy; specifically, all things digital can be managed out of the Shopware backend.
Further, all of this can be done with no developers. Shopware syndicates product data to any endpoint.
Another piece of foundational functionality in Shopware is Rule Builder. Utilizing an easy to configuration wizard, the rule builder allows store owners to shape what their customers see on the website. Rules are used extensively throughout the Shopware admin – promotions, shipping, Flow Builder, and more. Generally, rules define the ‘when’ or ‘who’ and the other admin functionality defines the ‘what’.
Here are some examples. Rule builder would define the following:
- Shopping carts over $100
- Customer in the US
- Customers in B2B Customer Group
- Product Weight is Over $100 lbs
With the above in hand, store owners can create scenarios that shape the customer’s journey. To carry the example above forward…
- Shopping carts over $100, offer 10% off in the shopping cart
- Customers in the US, offer USPS
- Customers in B2B Customer Group, do not charge Sales Tax
- Product Weight is Over $100 lbs, only show LTL shipping
Launched at the end of 2021, Flow Builder allows shop owners to create complex decision tree workflows utilizing the model of “triggers”, “conditions” and “actions”. Similar to what you would see in a marketing automation tool, Shopware provides a GUI to build if/then statements for trigger-based interactions. Flow Builder will often use rules created in Rule Builder.
Shopware characterizes the functionality as:
The no-code Flow Builder facilitates our merchants to automate and easily adapt their business processes without programming knowledge.
Triggers: Some sort of action aka “Business Event”, like customer registration or checkout. Future plans include: time-based events, external system based events, change in state (in-stock or out-of-stock)
Condition: Think of this as an “If statement”, for example: if customers are from USA
Action: Think of this as the “then statement”, add/remove tag on order, send email, set status, webhook for third party systemFuture plans include: delayed execution, composable interactions
- If customer is B2B and payment option is “pay on account” = TRUE, send invoice email with bank details and tag order “invoice sent” and set order status “in-progress”
- If customer is B2B and payment option is “pay on account” = FALSE, send paid invoice email notification.
- Web Hook (only available in Professional or Enterprise) Example – if new order is placed, send a notification to Slack with order details.
Shopware offers a massive array of out-of-the-box functionality when it comes to B2B. Part of Enterprise level, Shopware includes some of the most important B2B features:
- Rights & roles management
- Quick re-order
- Full account management for sales reps
- Individual price catalogs per customer
For the B2B store owner, this means that their website can match their business processes instead of having to change processes to match their ecommerce platform’s limitations.
Being open-source and with an API first approach, integration with any 3rd party, whether it is an ERP, OMS, WMS, accounting, etc. is no longer an issue.
Check out our full review of Shopware 6’s B2B functionality here.
B2B improvements: For 2021, Shopware has continued to enhance its B2B capabilities, first introduced in 2019, and clients can provide both B2B and B2C digital commerce in one instance.- 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant Report
Out of the box, Shopware offers basic shipping configuration. As a store owner, you can easily configure simple shipping rules based on price or weight.
The Rule Builder can be deployed in conjunction with the shipping admin to configure more complex rules like, if user shipping to the US add $5 handling, if user shipping to Canada add $8, else add $10.
Configuring sale tax rules for ecommerce is never fun, however, it is one of those necessary evils. As ecommerce has evolved globally, and in particular the US, merchants require much more flexibility than ever before. As an example in the US, each state can have its own tax rate, and it can even go down to the county level.
Shopware has 2 options for merchants when it comes to the tax configurations
- Out of the box: Shopware has advanced tax rules and rate configuration. This is functionality works well in jurisdictions with simple sale tax rules – like single-rate VAT jurisdictions.
- 3rd party integrations: Generally standard for US ecommerce, store owners can offload sales tax calculations to TaxJar or Avalara. Both have easy-to-deploy Shopware 6 integrations.
As you can see, Shopware has the flexibility to handle the tax rules and preferences of any merchant.
Ease of use: Shopware 6 has a good, simple business-user-friendly UI for small and midsize businesses. The new Enterprise Search functionality is well-integrated within the admin console.- 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant Report
Shopware is built with flexibility in mind. The core architecture puts APIs first, which means integrating and extending the system using those APIs is inherent to the platform. Further, the team at Shopware picked the Symfony PHP framework to build the backend, and VueJS to build the frontend. Both have robust development communities which means onboarding new Shopware devs is easier compared to other platforms built on different tech stacks.
From a store owner’s perspective, the technology foundation is rock-solid with a ready army of devs who can service your project.
See a video on Shopware 6 technology stack here.
Adapt fast and test various business models on-time: Digital events, subscription services, consultations, and highly customisable goods – whether to buy or to rent.
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