The Tribes model completely changed the way the Divante works. What are the differences? Let’s have a look at some real-life examples which may change the way you look at working in IT.
Divate has been using the agile Tribes model for almost 3 years now. It’s how Divante managed to scale agile – without losing the company DNA. The Tribes model in Divante offers many benefits to the employees. In fact, it is all about people. I talked with some of them and listened to their stories. I found out about the real-life changes that the Tribes model brought in their everyday lives.
The tribes have made the employees’ world smaller
Iwona Jóźwiak, PHP developer, started working in Divante in 2013. Six years is donkey’s years in the IT world. During that time she was witness to huge structural and cultural changes in Divante. These days, she works as part of the Tribes model, a model which has changed everything and helped us to solve many long-standing problems for good.
Iwona told me that in the beginning, she was working in a small group, sitting on the first floor in Divante’s beautiful office building in Wrocław. Groups were small, people knew each other very well and they had a great atmosphere. Around this time, the company started to grow fast and hire new people. Three years later, Iwona changed her desk several times. Each time she also had to become familiar with new people around her. That wasn’t comfortable for her at all. Luckily, as it turned out, the change to tribes was very good.
Iwona Jóźwiak, PHP developer at Divante
“When I started working at Divante, one person was able to manage the hosting and development department. Soon, he needed support, and after some time, even that was not enough. Divante was growing very fast. The hosting and development department split up. Both departments had directors and, additionally, vice directors. For some time, colleagues managed well but they had more and more responsibilities that soon outgrew them.” – Iwona Jóźwiak, PHP developer at Divante.
That was also a time of technological changes. IT doesn’t like stagnation. Many different developers had many different ideas. Problems deepened everywhere: from feedback, through code reviews and the work of the emergency team, to sharing knowledge and experience. People didn’t know each other well. That was the time for changes. The current structures had to go.
The first tribe, with the proud name “The A-Team”, was experimentally introduced – and changed everything. It was a perfect fit.
“The tribe has made our world smaller. It was like at the beginning, or even better. We’ve created our own small company, kind of a family, our brand, our principles. Projects change as before, but people stay in one tribe. This is a huge advantage. We know each other very well and we are aware of our strengths and weaknesses. We know what we can do and what we should change for the better. Within the tribe, it is much easier to create common rules and procedures. The Tribe Master has the opportunity to introduce changes in which he sees potential for the entire company. Each of us has an impact on how our workday looks.” – Iwona Jóźwiak, PHP developer at Divante.
The changes had the greatest impact on the sense of security and growth of individual developers, like Iwona. Before, directors were overloaded, so employees received feedback from them less and less frequently. They didn’t know what to change or how to improve their work. It’s a daily problem that many companies struggle to deal with. Iwona told me that the Tribes model has made people close to each other again. It’s much easier to give and receive feedback. Employees feel secure and comfortable.
“It’s the middle of May 2019, and I don’t know everyone in the company because there are too many of us. Yet, I work within familiar people, I am part of a larger family. I am glad that my Tribe Master knows my potential. I’m not anonymous, I do not work with random people. We care for each other. We have created a team within the tribe (5 people) which backs each other up during holidays and sick leave. With all the benefits of a small company, I feel safe because Divante is a mature, large company.“ – Iwona Jóźwiak, PHP developer at Divante.
Grzegorz Bandurowski (left) & Patrycja Wieliczko (right). Her way to the Tribe Master is very short and natural Quick decision-making process makes a difference
I asked Patrycja Wieliczko, Project Manager at Divante, what is the most visible, real-life difference between working in a regular departmental system and in a tribe. She answered, without hesitation, that it is the quick decision-making process.
“The way to the Tribe Master or Tribe Leader is very short and natural. In most cases, we sit close to each other and stay in contact. That helps so much in the daily functioning of the team. All matters related to leaving, formalities related to contracts or daily challenges at work can be solved in one conversation.“ – Patrycja Wieliczko, Project Manager at Divante
As a Project Manager, Patrycja focuses on being closer to the team and its needs. The tribes definitely help her with this goal.
“We have a common communication channel on the technical aspects of projects. It is mainly used to share knowledge and help in solving everyday challenges in projects in which teams work. Developers share their knowledge with testers, leaders and analysts. This helps to find answers to many questions much quicker.” – Patrycja Wieliczko, Project Manager at Divante
What’s more, the managers have weekly planning meetings. They share knowledge in the field of project work, assign specialists to projects based on their skills and in accordance with the planned individual development path. Meetings give the opportunity to share experiences among managers and provide effective work planning.
If you have an idea, it’s much easier to put it into practice. The doors to your own project are open
The Tribes model helped Tomasz Basiura, Lead Developer in Divante, to start his own project: “The Rooms Project”, as it’s called internally. The final result of his work is the answer to the real needs of people working in Divante.
Tomasz came up with the idea of creating an internal system to book and manage conference rooms in the office. Each room has its own little touchscreen mounted next to the door. It displays information about current reservations with the option of checking basic data about upcoming events and creating a quick reservation. In the main screen view, we can see a list of the next few meetings taking place in the current room. The status of the room is indicated – half of the screen displays a green or red color depending on whether the room is free or busy. People can see how long it will take for the current meeting to finish and when the room will be free.
“I came up with the idea of such a tool while going to one of the meeting rooms in Divante. We use Google Calendar for reservations. This has its advantages, mainly due to the fact that we use many Google Tools and Google Calendar is one of them. It also has its drawbacks because you can easily book overlapping events. In the case of one-time meetings, it is easy to capture. In the case of recurring meetings, it requires you to scan many virtual calendar cards forward.” – Tomasz Basiura, Lead Developer in Divante.
When standing in front of the conference room, it’s much easier to use a touch screen next to the door rather than pulling out your laptop or clicking on Google Calendar on your smartphone.
We used Google’s API, so we were able to create a system of screens on conference rooms without any interference with the existing solution. Thanks to this, no one in the company has to change the way in which the meeting room is being booked.
“The system helped me a lot in everyday work. There are no overbooked conference rooms anymore. I organize and take part in many meetings, and I also like the clock on the tablet screen. It counts down the time to the next meeting, which helps to stay organized and finish the meeting on time. Many times I could also quickly book a meeting room without pulling my phone out of my pocket or reaching for a laptop. This project really simplifies our lives.” – Tomasz Basiura, Lead Developer in Divante.
“The Rooms Project” is in big part a result of working in the Tribes model, which supports what Divante calls “Drive”. It means that if you have an idea, it’s much easier to put it into practice in a small organization, as a tribe.
People using The Rooms Project – booking system at Divante
Tomasz told me that he didn’t have any problem presenting his idea to his Tribe Master. What’s more, the event encouraged him to start. It’s hard to imagine such a situation in a regular departmental system with several very busy managers and directors.
“I was able to discuss this idea with the Tribe Master. I didn’t have to give any presentation, wait for several approvals, talk with several managers or vice-directors. The path to the supervisor is much easier and shorter. This helped me to implement this project and slowly develop it over time.” – Tomasz Basiura, Lead Developer in Divante.
When the project became bigger, people from a few different tribes provided help and added their ideas. Anton Kryvokhat, a Frontend Developer at Divante, had a very important role in the system’s creation. He created the appearance and visual functions that can be used on the screen. The current interface is designed by Agnieszka Janich, Product Designer at Divante. Without these two people, screens would simply be ugly and nonfunctional.
Would you like to add your real-life example to this list?
The Tribes model at Divante changed the work culture in Divante for better – although it was always good. The company employees enjoy many benefits. They are more productive at work, feel secure, spend their time with familiar, small groups of people. Would you like to add your real-life example to this list? Read more about people in Divante and drop us a message.
In this episode of eCommerce Talks, we talk with Felix Kreyer, the founder of Digital Spike and ex. VP Markets Zalando, on the impact of innovations in today’s fashion eCommerce market.
Along with our host, Marcos Bravo C., we ask about the role of technology and innovations in the growth of fashion brands, like Zalando or Marc O’Polo, and discuss the journey from a small platform to market behemoth. What is the winning approach that the founders should take? Who are the people that should be hired first? Can these business models be successfully copied in other companies? And can rising brands compete with giants like Amazon?
Watch the full episode or dive into our transcription of the talk.
eCommerce Talks – video:
Taking a retail brand to a worldwide phenomenon - Dr. Felix Kreyer | eCommerce Talks #1 - YouTube
Marcos Bravo C.: Felix, thank you for having you here.
Felix Kreyer: Thank you to be here.
– It’s an honor. First of all, because I’ve been reading through your experience and, as a marketer, there are tons of things I would love to ask you. We’re going to try to organize it pretty well and start with a little introduction from yourself. If you can tell us more about the last 10 years of your life, and how they looked.
– Sure. Good to be here. I’m Felix Kreyer, I’m a German and have been in eCommerce, mostly fashion eCommerce, for about nine years now. Originally I started my career with McKinsey, as a consultant in Berlin, and I’ve been working with a couple of startups. Then I spent over two years with Zalando and, I mean there’s never been a non-heavy growth phase, but that was really a heavy growth phase from 2012 to 2014 when I was there. Then I was a managing director with Marc O’Polo, a German fashion brand, where I was taking care of all the digital parts of the business, own e-commerce, wholesale eCommerce, multi-channel, loyalty, and then I founded my own company Digital Spike, last summer, which is sort of a consulting company, with a bunch of people with heavy experience from the industry, eCommerce professionals trying to help mostly brands, also some retailers, and accelerating their digital business.
– I have to do my job and ask you about Zalando. It is one of the most recognizable fashion brands for online shopping. The way they grew, from a small platform to behemoth right now, it’s amazing. You were there through the whole transformation, the whole growth. What do you think played a key part in this growth, what actually made it happen?
– Zalando is amazing, it is still amazing today that after all those years, they still manage to be quite fast and agile, and still grow at a very heavy pace. The time I joined Zalando, around 2012, the company was around four years old back then, it was like a steady flow of new faces from all over Europe, building up IKEA tables and chairs every week. They had a fantastic track [record] of hiring talent and good people into the company. I think it was one of the first companies where you could actually work and live in Berlin without speaking a word of German, which was really great.
I think there are a few factors that Zalando benefited from. One thing is management. Really big KUDOS to the founders, Robert Gentz, and David Schneider, and also to the third managing director. They really put up pretty bold targets, all the time, and they managed to achieve and overachieve them. They really believed in it. I think also time was right, to be honest. It was perfect timing. In 2008, it was not a crystal clear that fashion would become the next big vertical in eCommerce. Everybody was very skeptic about return rates and everything, and Zalando did the opposite. I mean, actually the free shipping and free return were one of the main UPS’s of Zalando. They actually for some extent took away the fear of many first-time fashion eCommerce buyers. Then I think, also the time was right in terms of the approach to marketing. Zalando was one of the really first startups that went for TV advertising big time. They had very loud, and very different TV campaigns which really helped to boost the awareness for the brand, and in no time in Germany and also in other markets. I think that’s something, if you do today or even just five years later, no way, you wouldn’t have been able to create such a buzz and awareness with TV advertising. So yes, I think there are a few factors, but it’s certainly a very unique case in Europe.
– For sure! Something that calls my attention a lot is: I was in Berlin last year, and I remember joining a Zalando meetup. There was like five or six data scientists from Zalando. For me it was very like: why do you have so many data scientists? So, what is the role that tech is playing in the innovation of Zalando?
– You know, I think the interesting part is that Zalando never really started as a fashion company, and I think that’s the reason why it was so successful. It was also really disrupting the industry. It was in the beginning, in the early days, it was a performance marketing machine and it was a tech company. I think those were the two core competencies that Zalando really had.
No logistics, no fashion know-how, that was something that was built up over time. Also the first people that worked for Zalando, they had no clue in fashion, really, but it’s more about that they had an idea of internet business models, they had an idea of how you work with data, how you acquire customers on the performance marketing side, and then also how important it is to have technical know-how in the company to really grow and scale the business. Zalando is very famous today for trying to do, not everything but pretty much everything, themselves. They’ve also started up tech hubs in Finland, Portugal, and other markets. I think that’s really the core belief – that tech as the driver of the business, and it’s almost like a fashion tech company. That’s a term that was used quite often.
– So, there’s almost like tech was beyond the actual product.
– Yeah, I mean, to some extent probably yes. If you told this to the ordinary, old-fashioned fashion guy, either from brands or from fashion retailers, they would all laugh at you. In these companies fashion, as the core competencies, is so deeply embedded in the DNA of most of the companies in the industry. Zalando really had a very different approach there, and it made them ultimately so successful, I think.
– When companies, Zalando is already a massive name, but there’s still a lot of startups trying to do what Zalando did or trying to replicate the model. Where do you see that they’re actually moving forward or not moving forward? Is there something stopping them to reach this Zalando model or do you think it’s just because the market is full?
I don’t know to be honest. Probably copying the model in some other verticals, you can see that. In fashion, it’s becoming more and more difficult. Zalando is the market leader in most of the European markets and it’s going to be more and more difficult to establish the same kind of business model besides Zalando. Especially this approach of really optimizing performance marketing to the max is something that was obviously much easier some years ago, compared to today, where all brands have their own eCommerce and you have tons of different multi-band providers. They’re all bidding on Google keywords at the same time, the search is moving from Google to Amazon. I don’t see the potential to still optimize in a field where pretty much everything’s opportunist already. To that extent, it’s actually quite difficult. Fashion is being a really big vertical, to be honest, but this idea of being a specialist eCommerce company, let’s call it a niche, be it in beauty, sports or special sports categories, be it in pet food or any kind of verticals you can think of – I think this idea still works. Especially when, in a world where, from a retailer perspective, the biggest threat is obviously Amazon, which is a big-box everything store, but which is not as specialized on the customer experience in a specific category that has certain needs for all sorts of elements of the user experience.
– To me, the very key is customer experience. Amazon still looks almost the same, even though they try Prime and a bunch of different things, it still looks very similar to what it was a long time ago. Zalando on the other hand, and not only Zalando, but the experience that you had after with Marc O’Polo, it was more customer-centered, it was more about the experience.
– Yes and no. I wouldn’t say it’s more customer-centered because, to some extent, you can’t be more customer-centered. But it’s true that Amazon is more about the convenience aspect of it. If you just take the example of buying clothes on Amazon, the shopping experience is much less of a pleasant one, and you would also probably be less likely to use Amazon as the first destination for discovery, while it’s for search is great. It’s the area where Zalando can still stand out, compared to Amazon, it’s just much more fun to shop fashion on Zalando.
On the other hand, everything around convenience, be it delivery convenience, be it customer service and service levels on Amazon, also that fact that so many services create a lock-in effect . It’s not only about shopping, but it’s also about shopping in many categories: you can buy your firewood on Amazon, as well as your clothes, but also in terms of video streaming, you have Audible, you have Prime Music, you have all sorts of add-on services which create a lock-in effect. I would definitely not say it’s not customer centric, it’s very customer centric, but I agree that the frontend and the user experience on the side or in the app is much more tailored towards the specific category in companies like Zalando.
– What are the things that you could replicate into a fashion brand, like Marc O’Polo?
– It’s obviously a completely different world. On the one hand, it’s a brand versus retailer or marketplace, but more importantly, it’s also the old economy versus the new economy.
The good thing about brands, as opposed to retailers is, if you’re a retailer today with a history and a legacy, and you’ve been out there 20 – 30 years ago, most of them are having a really bad time and really hard time also finding their USP today, and just finding any aspect, any argument WHY customer should buy from them instead of Amazon, Zalando, and the other pure players. If you look at brands, it’s a different story.
Brands still have a product, a product that no one else has. The product is a brand heritage, so it’s a healthier position. What you find in legacy companies is obviously a completely different speed, completely different approach also to priorities. Thinking about the discussion we just had on tech, I mean, look at any fashion brand, and Marc O’Polo is not an exception, I would not say that tech is at the core of their skillset and of what they believe in. Neither is data, business intelligence, or simply using the data that they sit on. And brand sit on tons of data. Bringing a bit of this perspective from a pure player companies, like Zalando, is super helpful for old-economy companies and also having people on every level onboard that have experienced on the speed, agility, and approach of young startup pure play companies, and creating a bit of uproar in the organization, and make sure that the established companies also get a feel of what the speed is out there, and to what extent they need to change. That’s very helpful.
– You have accumulated a lot of experiences from Zalando from Marc O’Polo from all your previous jobs as well. You bring this to Digital Spike, I’d like to call it a full-stack consulting services, covering everything, how do you approach companies? What kind of problems or what kind of consulting do companies need nowadays? What do you see companies asking for?
When you say covering everything, it’s probably true to the extent that I have been very much of a generalist management person all the last years. There are certainly quite a few areas where they’re much better consultants out there in areas I wouldn’t cover. My approach to marketing is trying to bring really hands-on experience from the field to the companies, where you say: “Hey we’re not born as consultants, but we have all done it ourselves, we’ve been there and we know the issues. We also know how to solve them because we have made all the mistakes that you can possibly make”.
There’s something much better than just saying: “Yeah it saves a lot of time and money”. I work with quite a few companies that have been around before the internet, before eCommerce was a topic. It’s very important to have those two perspectives. On the one hand to understand their specific challenges, which are much different from a challenge that a pure player company or startup has. At the same time also be very honest with them and tell them: “look we understand this perspective and that’s why we might have to find sort of different approaches, but the goal and the way of doing things are pretty much the same. If you don’t go with the speed of the market, then the others will eat you”.
I think it’s very helpful to have those two perspectives on most of those companies because some of them might be struggling, might not be doing very well. I’m working with retailers and brands who have a big portfolio of bricks & mortar stores. It is quite a burden these days because they have to pay rent, and many of them losing footfall and money. Then you have a legacy IT architecture, sometimes even without a person that really has the overview, and is driving the technology as a business driver rather than a support function.
Telling these companies that you have to be there, where Zalando and others are, while today you’re here, is up is not very helpful.
You have to find ways with them to solve it and to make progress and give them their current state and set up.
– I can imagine most companies will come and say things like “we want to be the next Zalando”. What sort of plan would you set in place? What would be the first step that you recommend the companies before they go global?
I think the companies that want to be the next Zalando would probably have a hard time helping them achieve that target to be very honest. I’m also wondering if that’s always the best target for them.
The most important question to me is always what’s your USP as a brand. Why has the world been waiting for you or why can’t the world do without you, or the customers do without you. I have the experience that many companies are already struggling to answer this question. There’s obviously an idea and there’s a heritage and something around it. The internet does one thing, I think it creates a massive amount of transparency.
Maybe 10, 20 years ago, let’s say in fashion for example, it was easy to say “okay, we have a pretty commodity product and we put a logo and on it a label and then we do a bit of marketing around it. That would usually do the job, at least for some time. I think now it’s impossible to stick out if you just do a commodity job on anything. You have to be special and you have to stand for something. You really have to not only have a message but also a product that stands out.
I think is the first question before you even start thinking about technology know-how or digital sales channels, whatever the specific question is. Once you work on this with a company then I think it gets much easier also to solve all the different steps that you need to solve on the way to whatever the target is, maximizing revenue or optimizing profit.
Then you can start thinking about what are the right sales channels for you as a brand. You can think about how do I do selective distribution.
I mean it’s not that you say “everybody has to build up tech know-how, nobody knows really why but you have to build up because everybody does it.”
Then you also have to say “OK, what do you need tech capabilities for, who might be the right partner for you if you don’t have the resources to hire 20 tech people, and you will not find them anyway.” I think that is the first starting point and it’s not so much about “hey everybody does on webshop, everybody does marketplace, everybody builds an app, everybody is great on social media. Everybody needs to do it. We also have to do it, we don’t know exactly WHY, but everybody does it, so it seems to be the right thing.” And in the end, the result might be the same. They might end up with social media and with the webshop and all these kind of things, if they don’t have it anyway. I think it’s much better if you develop this really from the core and not just as a “we need to do it because everybody does it”.
You mentioned about the human talent to find the right people for the right operation or growth or whatever you have in mind as a brand. There are two ways nowadays, you can either spend a lot of time trying to find the right people and hire the right people, teaching the culture of the company. On the other hand, you can just go and try to outsource everything. You’re in the middle of there because people will come and ask you like: “what should I do, point me in the right direction of what’s my next step”. How do you see it, should companies build their own teams and spend all this time and effort to get them their own, or just try to find people with experiences and just get it done?
I think, there’s no black or white answer. It really depends. What I observe is, let’s say the lesser skills are in an organization in the required areas, the more difficult is that for companies to find the right partners. It does not help, if you have five different external partners or a team of 20 freelancers, if you have no one in the company who actually knows who the right people are, and what we want them to solve.
I mean, also an agency or freelancer is just as good as he has a clear understanding of the objective and what needs to be done. I think companies need definitely more and more to work in a sort of flexible models. Any company will not find full-time employees and every requirement they have, and they don’t have to. They will have to find ways to work with freelancers externals. What I often observe, is for example a lack of a tech know-how or right resources, then you just hire an agency or some freelancers but in the end, the first thing you should do is hire a CTO or CIO, to make sure that someone in the company has their hat on, in terms of technology, and this person can then decide about right setup, and partners, and what do we need to do ourselves, what do we need external. This is the first step, and then you can do the second step.
I have the impression that many companies do the second step before the first and then end up being unhappy with whoever they have taken on board, because there’s no clear communication of objectives and someone holding it all together.
Probably it will be better to have some sort of a link between what your company means and wants to sell towards any group of freelancers or whatever.
Yeah, I mean it’s also again around core competencies. I think in the short to mid-term, tech has to be a core competency of pretty much any company that’s producing and selling products. Is it the right approach now to say, okay we have to build a hub with 30 tech people for tomorrow, without really knowing what kind of profit we need and what we need? Of course not. If you look into those companies and the board and who’s part of the board and what capabilities they have, then you have sort of product capability, sales capability, and might have good marketing capabilities. But then tech sometimes is a support function somewhere under the CFO or wherever you want to put it, then they are the people that repair your laptop, but it’s not the people that drive innovation in the company.
– Exactly! I asked you in the beginning like the role of innovation and then that role towards the future – how do you envision the eCommerce and retail world in 10, 20, 50 years from now? I mean obviously, there’s tons of tools every day. They’re happening a lot of startups offering microservices and this and that for companies like any retail company, anyone who was selling a product. How do you envision the future, not only for these kinds of approaches but also for brick & mortars for example. How do you see we’re gonna be buying our stuff from 10, 20 years from now?
– To be honest, in 20 years, I’ve no idea. It’s too far away. The boundaries and differences between channels disappear and that’s also probably not a very bold statement because we see it happening already. It’s not about “do I buy offline or online”. Today already everything is mobile and customers don’t want to walk somewhere see, if it’s available, and if they’re lucky, and if it’s available, take it with a big paperback or whatever. There it’s clearly not going to be about channels, but it’s going to be about creating customer experience that’s, and I hate to call it “omnichannel” and “multi-channel, because the word channel is, in the end, not relevant, but it’s more about making sure that you are where the customers are – this might be on the smartphone – it doesn’t have to be in a specific location, and that you actually make it as easy as possible for the customer to run a transaction and buy your product.
It’s true. It’s a mix about getting sales, marketing, tech, everybody together to figure out how is our customer acting towards our brand and where are they buying our brand.
– Absolutely! I think it’s all about thinking from the customer side. If you can have tons of shitty multichannel examples today, and you go into a store, and the technology doesn’t work, or there’s no one who can check if something’s available online, or they might actually have the wrong incentives – they don’t want to check (because then it’s not their sales), or you can’t return something, that doesn’t work, or if it works, you don’t get your money back – you have to find a different way of reimbursement. There are tons of examples why it..
There are between 128k and 260k online stores built upon the Magento platform, some of them with traffic above 20 million visitors monthly. Which global eCommerce brands have decided to build their business upon Magento? Here’s the list.
Magento is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms worldwide. This open-source solution allow us to set up an online store and complements it with all the features necessary for a business, like handling online purchasing, shipping or returns.
In Similartech’s comparison of eCommerce platforms used across the world, Magento is in the top 5, along with WooCommerce, Shopify and Squarespace. This technology is often used by small and medium-sized businesses, but thanks to its flexibility and simple scaling, it is also an excellent technology to use in large eCommerce projects. Walmart, Staples, Adidas, and Kroger are among key clients of Magento.
Narrowing the range of investigated online stores to include only bigger players moves Magento to the forefront:
Source: Similartech, July 2019
At the same time, Internet Retailer Report compared eCommerce platforms by end-user sales figures and puts Magento in first place. With $51.89B sales yearly, Magento was placed in first place by a tidy margin.
Why do global businesses choose theMagento platform?
Operating globally, enterprises struggle with safety and constancy of solutions in their businesses. Another issue is scaling and shortening the time-to-market, which allows companies to quickly enter new markets or introduce new products and concepts before the competition. To do this, it is essential to analyze proposed solutions using real-time data and adjust them to the needs of local users without unnecessary costs. Magento addresses all of these concerns.
Magento strongly focuses on the highest security standards – it is PCI-compliant, it also adopts the latest changes in global legislation (like last year’s GDPR). At the same time, Magento works well with multiple third-party integrations, making it easy to connect existing ERP, delivery, or PIM solutions.
The whole Magento eCommerce platform seems to be designed to grow in step with your expanding eCommerce business. Adding multiple stores or brands, as well as channels and product configurators, is possible and supported by global customer services. What’s also important is that it is widely supported by an active community of over 300k developers and merchants.
But there is more …
Magento connects with Adobe Commerce Cloud
Another strong argument for using Magento in enterprise-level eCommerce projects is its relation with Adobe.
After the acquisition by Adobe in 2018, Magento entered into a powerful union and gained access to an entirely new set of tools for analyzing and improving the user experience. Adobe Experience Cloud is only one of them. Although the full transition process might take another year or two, the Magento community can already incorporate these tools tino their online stores. Merchants and developers working with Magento can already use solutions like Adobe Analytics, Adobe Sensei and Adobe Commerce Cloud, whose integrations were announced at the Magento Imagine 2019.
“Combined, these new capabilities will drive the ability to create seamless shoppable experiences for customers across channels and platforms.” – Brian Green, – Head of EMEA Sales at Magento Commerce
Merging Magento and Adobe solutions creates a proven toolset with the utmost power to provide unprecedented user journeys and entirely new shopping experiences, which are undoubtedly key elements for winning in the fast-changing eCommerce environment.
The 50 largest Magento-based online stores worldwide
Magento is used widely across the world, but when we look at the global stores with the highest sales or traffic, we observe higher density of use in the U.S., United Kingdom, as well as Hong Kong, France, Brasil, Vietnam, Brasil, and Poland. The majority of these stores operates in the clothing, home & garden, consumer electronics, and health & beauty industries.
What is the biggest global business based on the Magento platform?
Ranked by the number of monthly visits in Millions:
It might seem that Magento Commerce would be the best match for global businesses, but taking a closer look at the top 50 global companies reveals that in practice, it is different. Magento 1 and Magento 2 are also in use among the biggest Magento-based stores. Regardless of the version used, Magento meets the needs of enterprise-level companies well. Will it serve as well in the future?
The survey run by Internet Retailer states that for 49% of merchants, an eCommerce platform is among the top three budget priorities (the other two are social media and e-mail marketing). For most of them, these are license and maintenance costs, but at the same time, more than one-fifth of merchants are looking for a change and migration to another eCommerce platform, with the majority looking for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, where the eCommerce platform provider offers hosting as well as other complementary services.
Luckily, in addition to its basic version, Magento also offers a SaaS option within Magento Commerce Cloud.
As we regularly work with global companies on PIM implementations, I observe that the benefits of a PIM solution vary greatly. What are the actual gains of adding Product Information Management systems for wholesalers and retailers operating in B2B segments? To find out exactly what these are, I analyzed our past projects…
Nowadays, the eCommerce market is a lot broader than just landline markets and webshop owners looking for vendors that will provide them with rich and high-quality product information. Failing to understand PIM could cause wholesalers to lose revenue due to inconsistent product information, mistakes in translation, or even cause serious delays in launching new products.
Product Information Management in B2B
Product Information Management, in short PIM, gathers all processes and technologies in the eCommerce system that aim to deliver the required product information to the market and end customers. In general, by adding PIM, companies gain:
One single trusted source of product data, which minimizes incorrect data, avoids duplicate of work, reduces errors and provides consistent information across all channels.
Control over product enrichment process, which allows vendors to reduce time-to-market, find bottlenecks in their process and check which data really matters for a customer group.
Control over publishing channels, with automatic publishing procedures, consistent product data across all channels and the ability to show users where products are currently available.
The quality of this information could be the deciding factor when it comes to proper product discovery or a purchase decision, especially when the potential client can compare two products with different levels of detail. In the past, detailed information was required mostly in the construction and manufacturing industries so the customer could ask his sales representative about the required details. Today, when most sales channels are remote, product information has to be available here and now, otherwise the product will be purchased from other vendors.
The fashion industry is innovating and making a big impact on today’s eCommerce. What are the new, and surprising business models that stand behind this development?
The scale of eCommerce in the fashion industry
Before 2022, worldwide revenue is expected to increase to over $765 billion. This increase is the result of the ever-growing number of consumers shopping online. Companies are introducing new eCommerce solutions and encouraging customers to try them out.
6 startling business models in the fashion industry
Below, you will find brands that have brought something new to the fashion market. I wonder if their solutions will become the general standard – available in every online store. Some of the models may be surprising. But maybe in a few years, we will wonder how we lived without them.
Giving luxury products a new lease of life
Returning unwanted items and receiving points or discount vouchers for your next purchase is nothing new. H&M has already organized such an initiative with its Garment Collection Program. After the success of the campaign in 2013, the brand introduced the possibility of returning clothes permanently. In return, H&M offered a discount card for 15% off the next in-store purchase.
The Italian brand, Intimissimi, has added a similar solution to its offer. During a donation, for every five items of clothing, customers will receive a voucher or points on their loyalty card.
What if there was a luxury version of this solution?? Farfetch created a platform that allows you to donate old designer bags. In exchange, the company offers credit to fund the next purchase on their website.
Farfetch is an online luxury fashion retail platform that sells products from over 700 boutiques and brands from around the world. The company was founded in 2007 by the Portuguese entrepreneur José Neve.
The Farfetch Second Life program gives bags a second life. For returned bags, customers receive a voucher for shopping in the online store.
“Luxury fashion is increasingly geared to sustainable fashion. Resale is an area that is becoming more and more interesting to our customers. Like the online luxury market, the used luxury market is growing rapidly and is expected to double and reach over 45 billion euros over the next five years.” – Giorgio Belloli, CCO at Farfetch.
According to Farfetch CCO, Giorgio Bellolii, the luxury goods market is growing and will double in size in the coming years. Can we, therefore, expect an increase in the number of such solutions among luxury brands and thus an increase in used luxury goods?
It’s a win-win situation. Customers will get rid of unwanted products that someone else will be happy to buy for a lower price.
Watch shops are also using the sale of pre-owned luxury products. One of them is Tourneau. The company runs a certified sale of used watches with a 2-year warranty. Tourneau offers watches from such brands as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Rolex.
This growing trend might be worth considering.
The subscription model for fashion
Another solution within the fashion industry is Rent the Runway. This solution has been available on the market since 2009. This year, the well-known American company Urban Outfitters decided to introduce a similar solution to its store – the Nuuly program. Rent the Runway is a service that provides designers with the rental of clothes and accessories. Similarly, Nuuly is the answer to a problem that appeared a few years ago – namely, the purchase of clothes just for a photo on Instagram, followed by their return. Nuuly allows you to rent clothes for 10% of their value. In addition, the loaned item can be bought. By purchasing a monthly subscription, UO clients will be able to use over 3,000 different outfits by the end of 2019.
Seems too niche? Well, according to a survey commissioned by the Barclaycard credit card company, almost one in ten buyers in the UK admitted that they were buying clothes only to take a photo on social media. And after sharing the ‘outfit of the day’, they returned it to the store.
Shopping via social media
One of the most exciting solutions is Instagram Checkout. That is not an entirely new solution anymore, but it is still growing, and more and more stores are choosing to implement it into their offer.
I must admit that this is a business model that will stay with us for longer. The Instagram community is increasing, and in the era of influencers, this is a practice that will benefit eCommerce.
If you do not know how it works yet, watch the video below:
If you are not ready for Instagram yet, then maybe you will be interested in the sales platform offered by Facebook. Add a store card to your website and follow the instructions on the screen. Instagram, Facebook…Which social media platform will be next? Any guesses?
The Highsnobiety business model
It is common knowledge that limited-edition offers bring benefits to retailers. A company that we worked with, Highsnobiety, built an impressive model. Luxury brands create a unique line of products for Highsnobiety.
Users subscribe to individual campaigns called drops and wait for the sales to begin. It is worth noting that users often don’t receive information about the brand of a given campaign. The campaign counter counts down, the countdown ends, and shopping begins. First come, first served!
You can read more about the Divante project with Highsnobiety here.
3D body scanning
At the end of March 2019, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) announced the finalists of the third edition of the LVMH Innovation Award. LVMH is a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate headquartered in Paris.
The winner of the LVMH competition this year was the American mobile body-scanning start-up – 3D Look. The application allows you to create a three-dimensional body model based on two photos taken with a smartphone. Using the photo from the side and the front, 3D Look calculates the dimensions and shape of the body. This solution can be especially useful in the fashion industry. The application allows you to find the appropriate dress size, and perform a “virtual try-on,” that is, visualize how the item will look on the client.
In addition to measuring the entire body, it has become trendy to measure the foot to find the ideal shoe size. Nike Fit is a perfect example of foot scanning that uses AR technology; you can read more about augmented reality in the next paragraph.
In the meantime, have a look at a movie showing how it works.
Nike Fit - YouTube
If you want to be like Nike, you should think about this technology. It can be a game changer. Many startups have a foot scan in their offers: Volumental from Sweden, Wannaby from Belarus or Vyking from the U.K. Startups offering foot scan apps are springing up like mushrooms after a heavy rain.
Building a successful buyer’s journey that begins with Instagram
Redefining the Fashion Industry with AR
Last but not least, AR – augmented reality. One of the technologies that makes the biggest impression. This solution will revolutionize the fashion industry, and not only. The experiences accompanying the use of augmented reality take eCommerce to a whole new level.
AR permits you to create an entire look. Starting with virtual makeup from Sephora Virtual Artist, this app will allow you to try different cosmetics based on a frontal portrait photo. Then, it’s time for a hairstyle with L’Oréal Professionnel Style My Hair. Check how you look with a different hairstyle or color, and if you like it, show the result to your hairdresser. It’s time for a new outfit with GAP’s virtual fitting room. Let’s see how different sizes, styles and patterns will look on your body shape. This app changes the experience of online shopping.
What else? Wanna Kicks from Wannaby and new shoes! Give the virtual “try on” a go, and choose the perfect pair of sneakers from the available 3D models.
You are ready now, but how about adding some accessories? Buy a new pair of glasses from Quay Australia. In this case, augmented reality technology allows you to try on sunglasses virtually. Put your hat on with Tenth Street, and now you are fully ready.
Now you see that more and more stores are implementing augmented reality technology for their customers. And there’s nothing strange about it, because AR will have the most substantial impact on eCommerce of all.
Do the above technological innovations have a chance to appear in online clothing stores permanently? Or is it just a temporary hype? I think we’ll find out in the years to come. And so far, we can follow new reports from the world of technological innovations with bated breath.
Small teams, a great atmosphere, and drive. The tribes model in Divante is all about the people.
The tribes model has helped Divante to grow and build an agile, modern organization without losing the company’s DNA. I asked Divante employees how it works for them – what are the benefits of the agile tribe model from their perspective?
Small company culture with the advantages of a large organization
The agile tribes model combines all the benefits of working in a small company, like a start-up, with the advantages of working in a large company.
— You are part of a small, close team in which decisions are made quickly. There is no bureaucracy, people listen to ideas. You have a path of development, and all the benefits of a large company. You can grow, but if you fall down, we’ll catch you. It’s development with less risk – said Tomasz Karwatka, CEO at Divante.
Growth, Drive & Knowledge Exchange
Tribes support what Divante calls “Drive”. If you have an idea, it’s much easier to put it into practice in a small organization; you can discuss it with the Tribe Master who is sitting close to you. Then, if everything goes well, you can implement it, or work on this idea slowly, gradually and over time, create something big.
In Divante, some projects come from the employees, from the bottom up.
— There is a programmer who made a great system for booking conference rooms. The previous one annoyed him. It took one year for him to finish it. Now, at the door to each room, we have a tablet with a simple, clear and nice reservation program. Nobody ordered it, but the value is huge. And everyone likes it – says Tomasz Karwatka.
It’s a win-win situation. Employees see they can do something important, and interesting. If that works well they can continue to develop their ideas on a larger scale.
The company is also more open to their employees’ growth.
Let’s forget about the agile tribes model for a minute and move to the departments model. If you are a backend developer, you deal with backend development every day. Frontend development may also be interesting for you, though. Unfortunately, your boss doesn’t want you to learn frontend. He handles the backend. The frontend is not the area of his interest. That kind of approach may kill your creativity and desire to develop. Especially if you are particularly ambitious and want to learn different things.
— Such an employee, who is, for example, Senior Backend Developer and wants to learn frontend, must change departments. But as a Backend Developer, he doesn’t have much experience, so he will start from a junior position. That means a much smaller salary. At that point, most of the discussion about changes finish — said Tomasz Karwatka.
Now, let’s come back to the tribes model.
— In Divante, if developers want to grow and learn new things, they can do just that. Those less experienced can cooperate with more experienced colleagues. They learn, grow and finally do something together without the need for great life and financial changes. This is a real human approach. That’s natural. We are all interested in many things. Hardly anyone wants to be a specialist in screwing one screw on the production line. This is not cool — said Tomasz Karwatka.
— The tribes model simplifies the flow of knowledge between teams operating on the same technology. People have the opportunity to learn – not only within one squad or team. We can learn from many different specialists within the entire tribe.
Local culture, friendly atmosphere in small groups
In a corporate, large organization, people don’t know each other. Employees move from one desk to another. From floor -1 to +2. From one group to a different one. It’s a corporate reality that I personally faced in several companies. Employees have a different perspective when working in tribes.
— I started working in Divante in 2013. At that time, we were sitting in a small group on the first floor. And then we started to grow fast. Three years later, I changed my desk and the people with whom I spent a lot of time. I had to do this again. I wasn’t happy about that — said Iwona Jóźwiak, PHP Developer at Divante.
Luckily, it was the last such change for Iwona. She has now been working in one place for a few years together with friends.
— The tribe has made our world smaller. It was like at the beginning, or even better. We’ve created our small company, kind of a family, our brand, our principles — said Jóźwik.
Grzegorz Bandurowski, Divante the A-Team Tribe Master, says that the tribes model gives more joy from everyday work.
— You come to your desk and concentrate on work. Your perspective is your desk, your colleagues next to you and a 20-30-person tribe, not a 200-person organization. You enter a room where you know everyone, and everyone knows you. They are familiar with what you like, how your family is, what your passions and hobbies are. These are the aspects that give joy during everyday work. Local culture is being developed.
All my interlocutors agreed that the atmosphere at Divante has always been good. The recent surveys among employees show that now, with the tribes model, it is even better. That’s a benefit that is not common in many companies.
5 things in a software house that make developers thrive
Projects change, but people stay
In a corporate structure, the team gets half a year to implement the new project. It takes one third of that time just for people to get to know each other and start some real work.
— We noticed that after the end of the project we lost all good practices and relationships between people. With every new project, we had to start everything from the beginning. This took time and resources — said Natalia Urbańska, HR Director.
The Agile tribes model helped to solve that serious problem.
Iwona Jóźwiak: — Projects change as before, but people stay in one tribe. This is a huge advantage. We know each other very well, are aware of our strengths and weaknesses, know what we can do and what we should change for the better. Within the tribe, it is much easier to create common rules and procedures. Each of us has an impact on how our workday looks.
The Tribes model is all about people
— I don’t know everyone in the company, because there are too many of us. Yet, I work within familiar people, I am part of a larger family. I am glad that my Tribe Master knows my potential. I’m not anonymous, I do not work with random people. We care for each other. We have created a team within the tribe (5 people) which backs each other up during holidays and sick leave. With all the benefits of a small company, I feel safe because Divante is a mature, large company — said Iwona Jóźwiak.
This agile model combines most of the benefits of working in a small start-up with the advantages of working in a large, stable organization. It gives greater autonomy, more freedom, motivates and makes work fun. Drop us a message if you want to find out for yourself.
Progressive Web Apps are flourishing and online stores are leveraging them to improve their performance, UX and conversion rates. Luckily, they don’t have to develop them from scratch anymore. There are several ready-to-use solutions. We set out to compare them!
Why should eCommerce care about PWAs?
Progressive Web Apps, as we know them today, made their appearance on the technology stage in 2015. At first, PWA technology was implemented by teams working on bespoke solutions. That’s how the first social media providers, Twitter and Pinterest, to name just a few, started to serve their users an ultra-fast user experience based on Progressive Web App technology. Very soon, eCommerce players followed, and companies like Trivago or AliExpress shortened their loading times to below one second and doubled conversion rates as well as user engagement.
As the Top 30 PWA report notes: “Trivago saw an increase of installations, by 150%, among people who added its PWA to their home screen. Increased engagement led to a 97% increase in click out offers. Users who go offline while browsing can continue to access the site and 67% continue to use the site when they come back online.”
Changes in Google’s search politics (just check Mobile-First Indexing announced in 2018) and the adoption of PWA solutions in Microsoft and Apple’s operating systems were another milestone, after which more companies took the mobile-first approach and turned toward PWA technology.
The maturity of PWA solutions
Nowadays, you can still build your own PWA from scratch, but as this technology has become more popular, companies can shorten the time and costs of implementation by using ready-to-go solutions.
Investing in one of the available PWA solutions can be at least 75% cheaper than building one independently and have a time to market as low as 2-3 months. We estimate that with an existing PWA solution you can reach a positive ROI after 4-9 months.
The time since PWA technology’s first appearances isn’t too long. Some might say that it is too short for a fully matured and proven solution to be available on the market. And, to some degree, they are right. Although there are several proven solutions with webshops in production to use, we have had insufficient time to judge their performance in the long run.
On the other hand, there are other aspects of these brand new solutions which give a good account of their readiness for the market – this includes basic frameworks, technology stack, architecture and community.
We decided to compare these factors for various eCommerce PWA solutions.
What PWA solutions are out there?
Looking only at the eCommerce field, there are at least several solutions worth mentioning. These are (in alphabetical order):
Angular Storefront – issued by Flagbit in 2018. This is the youngest solution among all presented and it is still waiting for its premiere.
Deity Falcon – this is a PWA solution for all sorts of online sites – webshops, blogs and bigger platforms. The solution was issued by the Dutch startup Deity in 2017. https://falcon.deity.io
Front-Commerce – a ready-to-use storefront solution created by a French agency. At first, built for Magento 2 and now compatible with Magento 1. https://www.front-commerce.com/
PWA Studio – more like a set of tools, rather than a ready-to-use solution. Still, it’s worth mentioning as it is developed by Magento, the eCommerce platform. The solution is in its alpha phase. http://www.magento.com/
Scandiweb PWA – developed by Scandiweb agency in 2018, the solution provides a PWA for Magento-based stores. https://scandipwa.com/
Vue Storefront – a PWA solution dedicated to multiple eCommerce platforms, which is strongly supported by the developer community. https://www.vuestorefront.io/
It is worth mentioning that most of the PWA solutions presented above were issued by eCommerce agencies that noticed the great potential of Progressive Web Apps for online sellers. They were the first to build dedicated solutions.
Very soon, owners of the major eCommerce platforms followed in their footsteps. And so, PWA Studio by Magento and Spartacus by SAP Commerce Cloud are examples of tools created by and matched with exact eCommerce platforms and their specifics.
How to compare PWA solutions?
As we already mentioned, PWA solutions are quite new to the market. It doesn’t mean, though, that we cannot put them together and compare.
“Compare software not only by its age or vendor but look at its feature set, clarity of code, and above all, how it fits users’ needs. Take everything into account.” – Bjorn Meyer, developer at Flagbit GmbH & Co. KG
Technology & integrations
As PWA solutions are still in their infancy, developers often have to develop them in a very ‘old-school’ way. This is based on the problem-solving and solution seeking pattern. What can help a lot here is a technology that they are familiar with, or which has a low barrier to entry.
Another aspect worth investigating is the number of integrations with eCommerce platforms and external solutions. The more additional modules solutions bring out-of-the-box, the faster the PWA implementation process will be.
If you are looking for a more detailed tech comparison, with middleware, server-side rendering, and test tools, there is an excellent summary prepared by Bjoern Meyer.
Another thing that gives a great measure of the rising solutions state is its community. The more people support a certain solution, the more vibrant and engaged the community is. Reach out to them, ask questions and talk about your concerns.
It is very likely you’re not the first person, and you will find many answers there. Oh, and you may come across ongoing projects that can give you valuable insights for your own project.
The thing with solutions in their early stages is that usually, you won’t find any case studies or live stores. Sometimes there is even no production-ready version. In that case, always look for a demo version and run tests against it.
It might also happen that case studies are not published yet. It is always worth asking about it.
Which PWA solution is the best?
Well, it depends. Each of the presented PWA solutions can improve online stores and give them the best of Progressive Web Apps. Your choice should be aligned with the specifics of your business and with the team behind the implementation process. By choosing any of them, you might get the feeling that you’ve just entered an amazing project and become PWA pioneers.
Regardless of the selected solution, one thing is sure: early adopters of PWAs will have a great chance to win over mobile users and set a significant gap between themselves and their rivals.
This is not another rags to riches story of a modest start-up and its bumpy road to unexpectedly flourishing into one of the leading players on the global IT market. Divante’s sights were set high from the very beginning.
“We are technology enthusiasts and innovators who are eager to see our ideas positively impact the everyday lives of people around the globe. Commerce is the field for this to happen” – Tomasz Karwatka, CEO and co-founder of Divante.
Even today, when Divante has over 200 people onboard, 400 clients served and over 1000 projects successfully delivered, it is a very ambitious approach – but a few years ago, when the company operated locally with merely half of today’s resources, it was a bold vision, especially since Divante’s focus on eCommerce technology, which laid the groundwork for creating original solutions like Vue Storefront or Open Loyalty and which won a major SAP collaboration, wasn’t always its trademark.
In the beginning, Divante was more of an eCommerce agency gathering a variety of different competencies from IT to UX, with a pinch of marketing. Back then, even operating on a success fee basis seemed reasonable for Divante, which was still finding its way by combining the previous experience of Tomasz and Piotr Karwatka.
The Founders’ Story
Despite the fact they both graduated computer science, their career paths unraveled differently since Tomasz decided to focus on the business side of projects, with a strong emphasis on UX, while Piotr was absorbed by the world of open-source IT.
That mix of diverse know-how allowed them to build a company in 2008 which became successful very quickly but mostly locally. At some point, the Divante Group included several different ad tech companies like Ideacto, an interactive agency; Quartic, a recommendation system; Sendingo, an email marketing system, and WellCommerce, a shopping platform.
Redefining Divante’s Goals
In Poland it was impressive but Poland never was the endgame for Divante’s team. Going global, however, turned out to be more challenging than it seemed from a local perspective.
“It became clear that a big part of our services simply couldn’t face foreign competition. We did not know the specifics of these markets. We reached a dead end and were forced to make some difficult decisions.” said Tomasz Karwatka.
That was the time when Divante redefined itself by focusing strongly on technology, narrowing it to eCommerce software and – last but not least – replacing the UX design department with a Product Design team. All of these changes implied a shift towards delivering fully close-to-market solutions that met the goals of both users and businesses. eCommerce was also a thoughtful choice, not only because of its dynamic growth measured in dollars, but also due to its specificity which requires a short time-to-market and rapid innovative cycle which, combined, give Divante a chance to make a significant and almost real-time impact on the way people get in touch with online brands.
That decision, however hard, allowed Divante to avoid work for hire and focus on creating a scalable technology enabling merchants – both large enterprises (Bosch, Wurth, Carrefour) and startups like Highsnobiety or Helloprint – to build and manage digital storefronts for their products or services.
A Company where the Culture is Open
Considering the current state of Divante, with over 200 people onboard, headquarters in Wroclaw, an office in Berlin and offices in Amsterdam and NYC on their way, the redefinition was a bullseye, but in spite of its dynamic growth, Divante is a far cry from a corpo-style company. However corny it may sound, people remain Divante’s most important asset.
“The growth of scale always generates demand for talent and we were no exception. To maintain creativity, commitment and ownership among team members, we decided to adopt the tribal leadership system that divides the organization into small units, allowing us to allocate the right people to the right roles based not only on their skills, but also on their individual goals and potential.” – Wojciech Gajewski, Head of Delivery at Divante.
The tribal leadership system, which enables every team member to work closely with local tribe management, helps to maintain the scrappy energy of small organizations.
Guided by Modern Technologies
That also explains why a huge amount of Divantes’s technologies are open source and the company sees investment in the R&D department as a way to gain an advantage in attracting the best employees and clients willing to break boundaries.
“We always wanted to make a clear stand in the tech world but without gathering a community of people aiming for the same, we would never have a chance to do it,We are constantly looking for passion-driven people who are truly invested in creating technologies that bring about changes. Now we have the luxury of working that way on our own projects and cooperating with clients who share that goal, clients who – even if they are not yet online leaders – have the ambition to become them tomorrow” – Tomasz Karwatka.
With a broad portfolio of accomplished projects, it sounds reasonable, especially since the likes of Open Loyalty attract a mass of clients from all over the world including Asia and the U.S., the most innovative eCommerce markets, and Vue Storefront is the fastest growing open -source eCommerce project on GitHub.
The beating heart of eCommerce
The heart of Divante is an ecosystem of eCommerce products.
The first one, created in 2017, was Open Loyalty, a loyalty platform with an open architecture and ready-to-use gamification features. It achieved huge success among Asian retailers who are constantly looking for a way to create and maintain long-lasting relationships with their customers.
Just one year after its debut, the platform attracted one new client per week. Since then, major agencies, like MotherApp, Scan Trust, ITC Group and Densu have already implemented the solution for their partners, representing worldwide leaders of eCommerce. Only last month, Open Loyalty was implemented by two leading financial institutions based in Vietnam and China.
Vue Storefront, in turn, is the fruit of the bottom-up initiative of employees who assembled around Piotr Karwatka to explore an approach to front-end development that just might eventually become profitable but was, without a doubt, bold and unconventional.
“It was fun to work on something completely fresh and unpredictable, on something that actually changes the game. But it was even more satisfying to release our work and watch it grow and evolve into an open source community. The engagement of developers from so many different countries was proof that what we do here can matter all over the world.” – Filip Rakowski, Senior Frontend Developer.
Today, there is a whole ecosystem around Vue Storefront. Clients from the US, Europe, and Asia are launching stores based on this platform and are looking for developers with specific knowledge of it; there is already a marketplace with plugins and a vivid foreign community which organizes hackathons on a regular basis, in Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Stockholm, etc.
To deliver an even better customer experience, the Vue Storefront Team at Divante, along with contributors from the community, is developing the next open-source product based on Vue.js. The idea of Storefront UI is to deliver a flexible toolset for building a performance-oriented UI for eCommerce. This is a fresh approach to building a UI, oriented around customization possibilities, rather than out of the box possibilities, and so the Vue Storefront Team encourages developers to join them in exploring it.
Transforming the future of industry leaders
Just a few months from the start, and a few hours of last-minute debugging on the plane later, Vue Storefront was presented in New York and quickly became a pass to a major future collaboration.
“Vue Storefrontput us in the spotlight and attracted tech giants, like SAP, with whom we are currently working. All the good work we’ve done turned out to be the best marketing strategy for the company.” – said Piotr Karwatka, CTO and co-founder of Divante
The key players on the digital market are not very keen to make external partnerships which certainly makes the collaboration between SAP and Divante quite exceptional.
SAP, however, wasn’t looking for an outsourced solution or a subcontractor but a partner to cooperate with. When the vision for Vue Storefront proved to be aligned with SAP’s R&D work for its own product, partnership with Divante became a chance to speed up the TTM.
Divante’s 10th birthday finds the company with a bright future ahead. Divante is entering the new decade with strongly outlined core values, clearly defined business goals and – above all – the right people in the right place. But the hunger for more remains.
“We are celebrating not only the closure of our first decade but also – far more importantly – the beginning of a new chapter. We are looking forward to thrilling, new adventures” – Tomasz Karwatka, CEO and co-founder of Divante.
Pimcore has released a new version of their PIM, CMS and DAM solution, and turned it into a digital experience platform (DXP). With Pimcore 6, users can also enter a redesigned user interface and new admin panel. We took a closer look at it…
Overview of changes in Pimcore 6
The last upgrade was launched in mid-June, 2019. In general, the changes include an upgraded technology stack, a multitude of new features for professionals and a brand new user interface.
Along with the new edition, Pimcore has moved to the Symphony 4 framework – currently the fastest PHP framework, and the leader among the many PHP frameworks. Symphony was a natural choice as, just like Pimcore, it’s an open-source solution supported by thousands of developers globally.
The technology stack used in Pimcore 6
The new engine makes Pimcore the ultimate, predominant platform for enterprises looking to leverage open-source technology and take on technology leadership in their industry. Using this micro-framework improves the performance and scalability of your projects. Pimcore ensures full backward compatibility and updating to the latest version is a simple task.
What’s more, usage of the Symphony 4 framework enables users to leverage all the great features available in Symphony 4. With these features, making projects, from a small API to a big web application, will be much easier.
Another important change is the cleaned up source code. With this change, Pimcore’s team removed all code clutter and thus made it lighter, more transparent and easier to work with. This is something that developers should greatly appreciate.
And last but not least – a redesigned user interface and new admin panel.
The new admin panel of Pimcore 6
We craved the rebuilt admin panel for a long time, and finally, it is here. Pimcore put a lot of effort into redesigning its user interface and improving the user experience for editors and admins. What did we like most?
In the new admin panel, Pimcore resigned from any drop shadows, gradients and textures. This minimalistic approach is highly enjoyable and fits perfectly into the latest design trends.
A new set of icons
With the new user interface, Pimcore introduced a new collection of icons that are matched with the flat design approach. Now they are simple, clear and easy to spot. A great improvement for anyone working in the panel on a daily basis.
Along with a bunch of improvements and new features, the admin panel is now much more than just a CMS. From now on, Pimcore is calling it a WCM – Web Content Management system ♡.
Pimcore 5 / Pimcore 6
The new admin panel has been cleaned up, and it feels good. With fewer icons and less information, the interface has much more clarity.
Full range of UTF-8 characters
Working with a Latin alphabet is convenient, as I’m sure you all know, but quite often we had to leave out significant information when we transcripted data from other alphabets. Well, no more :)
With Pimcore 6, you can use the full range of UTF-8 characters for URLs and names of documents, apart from digital assets and data objects. These changes will be helpful for non-latin language installations. It is also good news for anyone working with Chinese and other logographic languages as it improves Pimcore’s compatibility with them.
Pimcore has improved the compatibility of ‘data objects’ by adding support for adjustable tab positions. Now ‘Tab panels’ and ‘localized fields’ can be displayed on the top, bottom, left or right.
Pimcore 6 – oriented towards the community
Although some Pimcore 6 changes might be small, in total they make a great difference. Thanks to these changes, daily work with Pimcore 6 is much faster and smoother, and significantly improves working with millions of product data records or managing thousands of websites.
But what’s truly important is that all these changes reflect the needs of Pimcore’s community.
“The improved admin panel interface is a great choice as a milestone for version 6.0! I really appreciate how Pimcore’s new features always reflect any new needs from the community. The feedback oriented approach, coupled with the open-source philosophy is what makes Pimcore an awesome solution to work with” – Tomasz Widliński – Software Delivery Manager at Divante
If you wish to see it for yourself, just click through to the Pimcore demo.
For Divante, Agile is something more than just a buzzword. It’s a culture, the way the company works, and grows, without losing its DNA. The key is the Spotify tribes model.
What is The Spotify Tribes Model?
The Spotify Tribes Model or the Spotify Agile Model is the way Spotify found to scale agile to a larger organization. It’s a setup with autonomous teams. Each team consists of squads and tribes (larger units). There are also chapters and guilds — structures to help knowledge sharing.
The whole idea of agile tribes and squads comes from Spotify and it’s two influential Spotify Engineering Culture Video’s. An agile tribe structure is the sweet spot between making teams very independent while still enabling the sharing of knowledge between people not working together on a daily basis.
Spotify Engineering Culture part 1 - YouTube
For almost 3 years now, Divante has been using this agile team structure. Let’s see why Divante works with agile tribes and squads. What is their structure? Finally, what are the advantages of tribes for the company?
“The A-Team” helped to start the Tribes Model in Divante
It was 2016 when Tomasz Karwatka, CEO at Divante, faced some issues in the company. Divante had started to grow fast. At that time, the company exceeded about 150 people and he discovered that there were more and more silos. As it later turned out, he needed the help of “The A-Team”.
— People started saying things like “they did not check, they did not test, it’s their fault”. These are typical silo problems. Each department dealt with part of our manufacturing process. We didn’t have one team that knew exactly what we are doing — said Tomasz Karwatka. — We were looking for a solution. We noticed that a similar problem was solved by Spotify by organizing Tribes. It inspired us. We took a look at this idea. It turned out that this approach, that we have all the competencies needed to create software in one Tribe and not divided into several departments, breaks these silo problems — explains Karwatka.
Divante started with just one test tribe in 2016 — “The A-Team”. After a few months, the company analyzed how this system was working. The results were promising.
— After a presentation about the benefits of the tribes model in Divante, employees began to report to us saying that they would like to work in tribes. People had seen that it is great to work in such an organization. Further development was a response to the needs of people — said Karwatka.
What is Agile Tribe Structure like in Divante? It’s not exactly like in Spotify
The Spotify Agile Model became popular around 2014/2015. From that time on, some well-known companies like ING have started to change their businesses to suit.
Over the past couple of years, ING has reinvented its organization from the ground up. They moved from a traditional organizational model to a completely agile model – a model that shares much in common with the Spotify example. Bart Schlatmann, who was the COO through the transformation, said:
“We gave up the traditional hierarchy, formal meetings, overengineering, detailed planning, and excessive “input steering” in exchange for empowered teams, informal networks, and “output steering.” You need to look beyond your own industry and allow yourself to make mistakes and learn. The prize will be an organization ready to face any challenge“.
The Spotify Agile Model isn’t copied 1:1 in Divante. It was modified to meet the company’s needs. In Spotify, tribes work on different areas of one product. In Divante, tribes were created mainly on the basis of technology like Magento.
— In our tribe, everyone can work in different functional areas and specialize in other aspects or jump between them. The technology is the key. It gives you more options and it’s easier to maintain — describes Grzegorz Bandurowski, Tribe Master of the first Tribe in Divante.
Are there any more changes to the Spotify agile model in Divante? Let’s dig deeper and see how the structure looks.
Tribes & Squads
A tribe is a full stack autonomous team in which there are all the different specialists necessary to create a product. There are testers, programmers, Product Design specialists, frontend developers, backend developers, managers, and business analysts. Each of these roles is essential.
— My team, which is “The A-Team”, currently consists of 25 people. We have been working together for 3 years now. It’s like a small startup but tied into a much larger organization, one which has an agile culture and greater operational capabilities— says Grzegorz Bandurowski.
Currently, in Divante there are 5 tribes and another two are on the way.
Tribes consist of squads. A squad is the primary dimension, a basic, self-organizing structure within agile tribes. They’re focused on product delivery and quality. In Divante one squad consist of 3-11 people. Each squad works on one feature area and it’s managed by a Project Manager. There are many loosely coupled, but tightly aligned squads in one tribe. They all are autonomous, like the whole tribe, but play in the same band, and have the same mission as the company.
A Tribe Master is like a CEO in a start-up company. He is the real leader and teacher, who does not impose, but leads the team and manages the entire tribe structure. He provides the tribe with a development path. He cares for the development and well-being of employees. Thanks to him, people know what the priorities are, in which direction the tribe and company are heading, and what projects they will work on. The Tribe Master also represents the tribe outside at conferences, but also meeting clients. Tribes have the visible character of their Tribe Masters.
Project Manager vs Wódz Plemienia - Divante Kariera - YouTube
A Tribe Leader is the “right hand” of the Tribe Master. A person who is an architect of the solutions and technologies around which Tribe was established (Magento/PimCore/VueJS). He sets the direction of development, determines the manner of implementation of the most important projects, ensures the quality of software, advances the technological development of developers, gives them technical feedback, and helps them to select and maintain quarterly goals according to their level of experience. The Tribe Leader can be considered a CTO of a small software house or start-up.
Why do we work using the agile structure of tribes? The Advantages of Tribes in DivanteIt’s a scalable model which helps us to grow and keep our DNA
From the company’s perspective, the tribe system means that with the rapid growth of the organization, it will not be necessary to create another management line.
— Over time, the tribes grow, with one becoming two. Adding another tribe will give us a flat structure. We don’t have to build extra management levels. It gives us peace of mind that we will be able to grow for a long time without losing our company’s DNA. We will never become a corporation. The tribes model will protect us from this — said Tomasz Karwatka. — Divante currently has about 200 employees. Over time the company could grow to four hundred or even eight hundred people. The employee’s perspective in this situation will not change. The employee will still feel as if he is working in a small company, but with even more benefits coming from a large and resilient organization. It is growth in breadth and width, not height.
The Tribes Model helps to be fast, effective and efficient
In a classic structure, the team gets 6 months to implement a new project. It takes at least 2 months for people to get to know each other, then share responsibilities, and familiarize themselves with the project and technologies. During that time, they can become a real, effective team. We omit this whole aspect of discovery with the tribes model.
— The same team that worked on one project goes to a new project. These people do not have to get to know each other anymore, because they are friends. They know each other’s style of work, they know who is good at what, so they can share tasks. Additionally, in one tribe we have many different specialists from one area of activity. In the tribe, everyone sits next to each other. You can turn around and quickly ask: “Mateusz, I know you had such a problem in the project, please tell me how to solve it” — explains Grzegorz Bandurowski.
We can be closer to people
Directors of a big department are not able to take good care of their group and respond to the needs of each employee.
— Before the introduction of tribes, we had specialized departments. The software development department was about 90-100 people. The department had a director and deputy director plus project tech leaders, but it didn’t all work as it should. It was difficult to look after such a large group of people, create a sense of attachment to the company and give them substantive feedback – says Natalia Urbańska, HR Director at Divante.
Tribes changed everything.
— The tribe has made people feel more taken care of and their needs are heard loud and clear. We haven’t solved all problems, but employees are now more informed, they are closer to decision making— adds Bandurowski.
The Spotify Agile model works in Divante because it is layered on top of the corporate culture, one which values agile processes, autonomy, democratic teams, a good atmosphere, and servant leadership, amongst other things.
The agile tribes and squads system gives a lot of benefits – not only to the company but also to the employees. At Divante, the tribes model has helped the company grow and build an agile, modern organization, without losing its DNA and good atmosphere. Of course, not everything is perfect, there are still some issues to solve, like in every company. But the difference, between before tribes and now, is huge. Let us know if you want to taste that difference.