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eCommerce 101: the benefits of open source software

eCommerce 101: the benefits of open source software

To break the ice with a nice freebie, here’s our software, the product our team of programmers spent the past 15 years developing so that you can sell goods online.

Shopware is free because it is an open source software program. Open source means we make our entire source code – the DNA and basic structure of our software – completely accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Anyone has the right to use, adapt or customize our software, following these three basic rules:

1- Users must agree to make the source code available for free
2- Users must agree not to impose licensing restrictions on others
3- Any alterations or enhancements to the code have to be licensed under the same terms

Are we crazy? In some ways, sure, but not when it comes to the open source movement. This is because the impact of open source is quite significant once you look beyond the eye-catching “free” price tag. Check out four major reasons why open source is good. Really, really good. 


1. Cooperative development

Let’s say we hold the blue prints for the “City of the Future”. Instead of keeping the plans secret and attempting to build a massive, rather influential project alone, we make them public so that anyone interested can join the construction process.

How is this beneficial? Well, our “City of the Future” better reflects the needs of a greater, more diverse group of people. Without doing so, the city would be limited to what the founding group drafted alone in seclusion. Our “City of the Future” is then a more sustainable project, as people want to contribute so that others, perhaps many years from now, can also enjoy the results.

We can see this in the 60s and 70s – the early days of software development – when researchers in both academic and corporate settings were openly sharing code as a way to both accelerate the transfer of knowledge and foster more talent. So since an enormous pool of people are familiar with the project and code, customization possibilities are only limited to the creative reaches of the users. 


2. Stronger product overall 

People are psychologically motivated when it comes to coding on a cooperative level, as there are major social rewards. Along with seeing relevance in their work, people are able to build relationships and foster connectivity, simply through exchanging information. Since the code is completely transparent, programmers can learn from the processes of others and improve upon their own skills. This means people find meaning in their work, which translates to better quality programming. 

Take a look at Wikipedia, currently one of the most well-known and celebrated open source projects. If you want to learn something about the white rhinoceros, Wikipedia will not only give you information about its taxonomy, subspecies and behavior, but also information regarding the controversies of poaching and its approaching extinction. This variety of quality, detailed information is possible due to the diverse minds contributing to the article.

In the computing world, these open source contributors are appropriately called the Community.Currently Shopware has nearly 40,000 Community members, each contritubing to Shopware in their own unique way. 


3. Modern and cutting edge 

Huge community involvement makes for “user-driven innovation”. Individuals are able to fix a bug or create a new feature from which they benefit, then share with the public. Open source also means that we regularly integrate the work of our Community into the software, which then becomes available in major and minor software releases.

The idea is to always move forward. And with the different ideas, perspectives, educational and experience backgrounds of over 40,000 different Community members, Shopware is able to continuously evolve into an overall more robust product.

If you have 17 minutes to spare, we recommend you check out business guru Yochai Benkler’s truly inspiring TED talk about open source economics: 


4. Ongoing development & innovation

Simply put, an open source project will live as long as the Community shows interest. Even if our headquarters is hit by a meteorite, Shopware will continue to thrive, thanks to the Community who continue to work with the code. 

In term of innovation, look over to the automotive industry, where Toyota, Ford and BMW have all made patents for electric vehicles openly available. Why did they do this? One of the main motivating factors was to encourage people to start innovating in electric technology. Kevin Layden of Ford said, “By sharing ideas, companies can solve bigger challenges and help improve the industry.” 

This can also be applied to open source software, where the free sharing of code invites more creativity and pushes the boundaries of competition even further. In his announcement of Alphabet, CEO Larry Page so eloquently expresses this by saying, “In the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.” What he means is that a company has to be hungry for progress; complacency is poison for innovation.



Open source development is the antithesis to industrial, production-line method. We do not stamp our software with a seal of inspection and send it out for delivery. Rather, together with our users and Community, we building something open-ended.

We maintain open gateways so that people can connect and collaborate it the growth of their eCommerce platform. And we proudly refer to ourselves as a platform – something that can be continuously improved and built upon. Join us now - you can get started with Shopware in any number of ways. 


Download Shopware for free 

Source code on GitHub

Documentation for users and developers  



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