CouchCommerce recap 2014

How time flies by! It’s already end of January 2015 and we did not publish our 2014 recap, yet. But it’s never too late too share good stories, so here we go!

Our Couch year 2014 started with great new team members.

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Pascal, Judith and Olli joined our team and we couldn’t be happier to have found them <3. CouchCommerce was named as one of 5 German startups to look out for in 2014 – I promise, it’s also worth to look out for us in 2015 ;). We also had our first intern at CouchCommerce.

Our team grew :)

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One of the two big changes for CouchCommerce in 2014 was the announcement of Sofa.io – our SDK for E-Commerce Web Apps.

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Sofa makes your life easier when it comes to building e-commerce web applications, optimized for touch devices. Sofa is open source so that you can use our powerful components, too. Sofa also embraces modularity. We split up each component into its own repository on GitHub, so that you only have to take what you need and nothing more.

For developers and agencies this is a great starting point to create e-commerce front ends based on superior web app technology. Sofa cannot only be used to bring great touch driven user experience to smartphones and tablets but also covers in-store and even desktop use cases thanks to the almost complete coverage of modern browsers today. So we are moving towards a unified front end experience delivered by CouchCommerce!

If you like to learn more about Sofa you can watch our getting started webinar. You can also read how to deploy our single page web apps.

screen_cc_demo_homeCouchCommerce DemoshopWe published our all new web app in March, with a whole brand new design and usability concept. The one step snap checkout was one of the highlights of it, we also integrated a wishlist into our Web App. See for yourself how lightning fast our web app behaves in your browser! We changed the URL structure of our CouchCommerce single page web apps to improve the SEO.
We released Sofa in August 2014 with our flagship stores runtastic and Reno.

The second big thing was changing our business model. With sofa we launched our brand new website, too. Since August 2014 merchants can start to work with one of our partners or in-house developers towards a customized web app experience based on Sofa. Our first Sofa customers were runtastic and Reno.

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We also took part at the Dublin web summit and got to the semi finals of the startup pitch. We were so proud to be one of 250 from more than thousand startups who were able to pitch in front of the international jury and made it to the final 10 startups!

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In November we had our amazing Couch offsite on Mallorca. Our winter escape was one of the best decisions we made in 2014, we had a lot of fun, a very productive time and we enjoyed to be with each other 24/7 as much as the beautiful weather! We can’t wait to have our next offsite with our Couch family <3.

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If you like to follow us, here you’ll find our social media channels. You can be sure, that we have many big news in 2015, so it’s worth staying in the loop ;).

CouchCommerce im Experten Webinar mit minubo: Mobile Commerce und die Zukunft des Handels

Im Dezember haben wir mit minubo das Experten Webinar ” Mobile Commerce und was danach kommt” bestritten.

Wir beschäftigen uns tagtäglich mit Fragestellungen zur Zukunft des Handels und arbeiten kontinuierlich daran die Zukunft der Händler mitzugestalten und Antworten sowie Lösungen für die neue Form des Commerce zu liefern. Gemeinsam mit minubo haben wir uns diesbezüglich innerhalb des Webinars über die aktuellen und zukünftigen Herausforderungen für Händler ausgetauscht.
Es wurden Lösungsansätze für erfolgreichen mobile Commerce vorgestellt und sich außerdem einigen weiterführenden Fragestellungen gewidmet: Was passiert bei neuen Geräteklassen? Wie kann eigentlich die Offline Filiale mit eingebunden werden? Welche Herausforderungen kommen nach mobile Commerce?

By 2016 smartphones will be more important to your e-commerce shop than desktop pcs

Here at CouchCommerce we are closely following all studies and available statistics on the growth of touch driven traffic via smartphones and tablets. One great source is Statcounter that publishes daily updated statistics of worldwide web usage by platform.

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As you can see in the graph above this tool provides a great overview of what is happening on the web since the release of smartphones and tablets. You can also drill down by location to understand better how your target markets are doing.

Now in December 2014 we are looking at the following data:

  • Desktop traffic: 61,98 %
  • Smartphone traffic: 31.55 %
  • Tablet traffic: 6,46 %

This means that the touch driven traffic via tablet and smartphone has reached a total of 38,01 % already and is quickly increasing. Between January and December 2014 desktop lost a share of 13,8 % and touch devices grew their traffic share by 35,2 %.

As a consequence we see that by mid 2016 the worldwide traffic for all websites and e-commerce shops will be dominated by touch driven devices. Especially the smartphone will be dominant as it proved itself as our primary computer.

While we see first topics and discussions about the need of innovation in e-commerce front end technology these days, it is still very surprising to us how this radical change is underrated by merchants and software companies. Clearly the existing template technology from the 90s of shop systems is not going to survive in a mobile-first world.

 

CouchCommerce Mallorca Winter Escape 2014

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A few months ago we planned our offsite for this year. The main goal was to get away once the rain, clouds and low temperatures arrive in Hannover and then work in a sunny environment. We didn’t want to do just a normal offsite for a few days or a week, we wanted to change and improve the way we are working for a longer period. To start this journey we had to find a place where the sun shines most of the time :) that was the main requirement. The next requirement was: it has to be startup compatible, means it has to be cheap but really great ;).
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At CouchCommerce we work a lot remotely so we wanted to combine our offsite with the possibility to work from another place in the world together. We decided to rent a villa for a month to make a nice remote working place available. Luckily we found a great place big enough for all Couchies, owned by lovely people who are not using the location over the winter months but were willing to rent it to us at a friction of the costs you would expect. It’s about half of our monthly office rent for a place that hosts 12 people :).
Following this we decided to go to Mallorca. For one month. To begin with ;).
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While I am writing this blogpost I am sitting in front of the pool, having my Couchies around me (it couldn’t be better!). We have a lot of fun, by the way, that was the most important thing we wanted to intend with this offsite / winter escape. We have the privilege to work from wherever we want, so why shouldn’t we do this!? :) It’s great to work in swimwear in front of a nice villa in Spain while having fun with your friends, going into the pool, drinking a beer in the evening sun, fixing bugs, coding on new features for our web apps or having a chat with our customers via the fully functional VOIP phone station we took with us. 
Currently we are in the 3rd week of November. This is the one week where we coordinated to have everyone here in Mallorca for a shared experience. In the first two and the last week of November we have different teams staying here. That way we were able to combine the typical offsite experience with a remote working location.
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We start our days with an early sport session. Some of us go running, some of us do workouts at the pool. Others sleep one more hour or prepare the breakfast ;)
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CouchCommerce Winter Escape biking
After that we have a nice breakfast together outside in the sun and plan the day. This week every day after lunch we have a workshop for one hour, the rest of the day we are working “as usual”, followed by playing games, jumping into the pool, exploring the surrounding area, having dinner, play monopoly or working in the evening :)
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You may think that our business must be running like hell if we are able to afford an offsite like this, but that is a fallacy :). Renting the villa for a month costs less than an office in Hannover! Flights costs less than a small train ride or even a taxi drive. So again, why shouldn’t we do this a lot more often than just once a year or just for one week if everybody loves it :)!? 
The point is, you are a lot more productive than you are if you work in your regular environment. You are sitting all together fixing problems or create new features. You spend 24/7 together with the most amazing people – for sure you need the right people to stay with them 24/7 for a week and we luckily have them!!
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Maybe we see the things in a different way than other companies do, but the main thing is to have the greatest team in the world and if you found this great team, you will rock like hell <3! So keep an eye on CouchCommerce and the Sofa SDK – there are great things in the works :)!
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CouchCommerce has reached the PITCH semi finals at Web Summit!

Just a quick post from Dublin: We are very happy to have reached the semi finals as one of just 20 startups in the beta track out of thousands that applied. Tomorrow (5th of November) we will do our very best and pitch again on stage 2 at 13:16.

Meanwhile here are some impressions from today:

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Meet CouchCommerce at the Web Summit in Dublin

Arrived at the web summit!Web-Summit-Logo-Dublin-November-2014We have arrived in Dublin and tomorrow (4th of November) the Web Summit will begin. Only tomorrow we have a booth where you can meet us in the eCommerce area, which is located in RDS Main Hall (Town Square). Our booth number is ECM202. Please stop by and say hello. Kai, Nadine and I will be there to talk to you and share information about CouchCommerce and the Sofa SDK.

In the afternoon at 15:08 we will be pitching in the Beta track on Pitching Stage 3. So make sure to stop by in case you are around!

You can follow us on twitter (@couchcommerce) for more updates during the next three days of Web Summit.

CouchCommerce is nominated to pitch as Startup Finalist at the Dublin Web Summit 2014

Dublin Web Summit 2014We are excited to share that CouchCommerce was chosen to pitch as one of the 200 most promising startups from around the world at this years Web Summit in Dublin. Web Summit will take place from the 4th to the 6th of November and host more than 20.000 visitors from around the world.

200 startups will battle it out across 3 days and 4 stages. The pitch is divided into two tracks: Alpha, for those with less than $1 million raised and Beta, for those with less than $3 million raised. CouchCommerce will join the battle in the Beta track.

“Pitch is going to be bigger and of a higher quality than ever this year with 200 finalists pitching this November,” said Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of the Web summit. “Some of these startups are fundamentally changing the world with their ideas.” via Independent.ie

In addition to the pitch contest web summit is known for a great speaker line up and a lot of networking opportunities. We look forward to meeting you there!

 

How we deploy our applications

As we already wrote a lot about our beautiful frontend and especially about our sofa.io platform, we felt it was time to also give some insights about what is running behind the scenes at couchcommerce.

A couple of weeks ago we started to rewrite our API, that is used by our webapp to handle the checkout process (more details on this later). So after a few days of coding, we thought about how and where to deploy our application. As we recently discovered Docker and quickly became big fans, we looked for a way to make use of its power on our test system. Furthermore, we were looking for a possiblity to seemlessly integrate the process of deploying an application into our git workflow. That’s how we found Dokku. Dokku is a “Docker-based mini-heroku”. So what this means for a deployment is, that you simply do a “git push” to a previously created git remote. Then, dokku automatically detects which language the application is written in and serves it to the web from a fresh Docker container. This is a really convenient method to quickly make an application accessible to the web without the need of any additional configuration on the server. For example you could deploy a node.js application and a PHP application on a server without having to install node.js or php-fpm because all the requirements are included in the corresponding buildpack. Also, you can easily remove the application from your server via  “dokku delete <appname>” which will delete the application’s files (including configuration) and its docker container. And again, there is no additional cleanup work needed on your server as all the required software was included in the buildpack / docker container.

Getting deploy-ready with dokku is really easy, it’s basically 3 steps:

  1. Install dokku on your server (this will create a dokku user on that machine)
  2. Add your ssh public key from your local machine to the dokku user’s authorized_keys file (be sure to use sshcommand for that)
  3. Add a new git remote to to your project
  4. push your master branch to that remote

Dokku generally only supports pushing to the master branch of your project. However, you can also use it to deploy other branches or tags. For instance if you have created a new git remote called “testing” to deploy your application and would like to deploy a tag “1.0.1”, then you could do this with “git push testing refs/tags/1.0.1:master”.

Dokku comes with a nice plugin system and there is a bunch of useful community plugins. For instance we are using plugins for rabbitmq, forego, postgresql and redis. In many cases the plugin will just start a new docker container that you can link with your application. For example with the redis plugin, it goes like this:

dokku redis:create myredis // create the new container

dokku redis:info myredis // show info about redis

dokku redis:link myapp myredis // link application with the redis container

Check out the dokku github page for more detailed information. There is also a pretty good video tutorial about getting started with dokku on vimeo. Another article worth reading is “How Dokku Works” from Rico Moorman.

It’s called Open Source

Two month ago we were happy to share with you that we not only released our sofa SDK as open source but also our entire web app as well.developer_view

But open source isn’t all equal. Some projects work behind closed doors and only release the source code for each new version as open source. I like to refer to that as readable source rather than open source.

On the contrary there are projects where the entire development process happens in the open. People can follow or even engage in discussions in the issue tracker to understand how the software is evolving. People can read the commits and learn from them rather than just see the final state of the code. And last but not least they can contribute by filing bugs, writing documentations or even code.

We strongly want sofa and our app to be of the latter kind. Until today, we didn’t fully achieve that. While sofa was 100 % open source our app was more like readable source. We released a snapshot of the code but at that time it wasn’t the repository that we internally used to continue with our work. We wanted to push something out to you as soon as possible but we still had lots of things to solve before.

So what was holding us back you ask? Mainly things that still need to be kept private :) While we want to take open source seriously we also want to take the privacy of our customers seriously. Our issue tracker was full of sensible information and so where parts of the repository, too.

As people started to send us pull requests to our public repository and the codebases kept on diverging, we felt more and more pain. As of today we are very happy to say that we sorted out all issues on our end so that the repository that you already know and use is the one and only repository that we use for the main development of our app.

This is an exciting step for us. We entirely open up. We want your contributions and we are excited to work with you.

Cheers,

The CouchCommerce Team

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CouchCommerce at the K5 conference in Munich

Once again the K5 conference takes place in Munich on the 18. & 19. of September. We are very excited about this years conference and very happy and proud to be part of the K5 junior league including a startup booth where you can find us!

Last year it looked like this:

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This year it will look totally different ;). We launched our Enterprise SaaS platform and will show you the mind blowing fast web app from runtastic and other clients. In addition to that we will show you how you can work with our recently released open source web app SDK sofa.

Alex, Kai and me are happy to meet you and show you what we have achieved in the last 12 months! So please come by and have a chat with us!

For everyone who cannot attend this years K5 conference, we recommend to follow us on twitter to get updates and insides of the conference :).

See you!