E-commerce and open source development moved closer together with the release of Shopware’s online retail platform v5.2 this week.

The Schöppingen, Germany e-commerce software developer claims it has pushed its own boundaries in a “major step” toward a fully open source model. 

In a statement, the company said the principal move toward open source in this release is the elimination of encryption software from ionCube. Kent, UK-based ionCube was founded in 2002. It provides tools to protect software written using the PHP programming language from being viewed, changed and run on unlicensed computers.

Shopware also integrated its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Pickware, into the backend of Shopware Professional and Professional Plus editions, and extended its address at the front-end. It also revised its plugin system and made extensions more deeply integrated in the core.

Dumping Encryption

Asked why it had dispensed with the encryption software when most companies are trying to add it, Jessica Homan, head of international product marketing, said the company wants to give its customers and developers "every possible opportunity to mold our software to meet their exact needs."

"We’re giving our code away to the community because we want to see projects thrive and grow. By unencrypting our code, we are following our community driven approach, which puts the needs of those using our software in the forefront,” she said.

Shopware's software has been primarily open source since 2010. But it encrypted its 12 premium plugins, which are plugins developed in-house at Shopware, she added.

“By gradually releasing unencrypted versions, we open up completely new possibilities for our community to customize our plugins to meet specific webshop needs. As a company, we are focused on pursuing open development, as this offers more transparency and, thanks to contributions from the community, improves the software in the long run,” she said.

Learning Opportunities

Shopware E-Commerce

Shopware, which offers modular online shopping systems, claims to have 54,000 installations, 2,000 plugins and 1,200 partners.

With the latest version, the company focused on improvements to its “emotional” shopping experience, which is enabled by features like optimized accessibility across devices, better previews and customer "groupability."

In addition, its subshop licenses are now a part of the Shopware core, making it possible to create sub shops that each have their own individual URL. This means users can create additional brand shops, language shops and more.

Addressing E-Commerce Challenges

“One major topic in e-commerce concerns brand representation and product display in a digital environment. Retailers are all looking for a way to make themselves stand out from the competition and secure their place in the market. That’s why we’ve developed features such as Storytelling, which makes it easy for brands to develop marketing content,” Homan said.

The release also responds to the need to build e-commerce sites that enable cross-border sales and brand marketing. Homan said the company will continue to work with its community to develop products that respond to customer needs.

“We are also currently developing Shopware Connect, which is a solution that networks retailers and allows them to exchange products with one another by means of drop shipping [putting customers in direct contact with manufacturers],” she said. “We’re also focusing on the needs of the business-to-business segment, such as merchant integration, the creating of marketplaces, rights and role assignment and much more."