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Stefan Hamann on ecommerce evolution and AI's role in 2024 and beyond

Stefan Hamann on ecommerce evolution and AI's role in 2024 and beyond

"I'm 100% sure that ecommerce will have exactly two major motions. The one motion will be completely automated ecommerce. And the second motion will be experience driven ecommerce." - Stefan Hamann

Commerce Famous Podcast, episode 15: Stefan Hamann on ecommerce evolution and AI's role in 2024 and beyond

In this episode of the Commerce Famous Podcast, host Ben Marks sits down with a special guest who's not only shaped the ecommerce landscape but has also been a significant part of Ben's own ecommerce journey: Stefan Hamann, the co-founder and CEO of Shopware.

Stefan joins the conversation to share the incredible story of Shopware's inception and evolution; from humble beginnings as teenagers starting a media and design company to pioneering one of the most influential ecommerce platforms. This episode promises to delve into the technological advancements, the vision for "spatial commerce," and the future of ecommerce as seen through the eyes of a leading industry innovator. Join us as we explore the past, present, and future of online retail with Stefan Hamann, a true pioneer in the field.

Listen to the episode right here or subscribe to Commerce Famous on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your preferred podcast player

"So every time some new thing is coming that is adding convenience, it's definitely always winning. That is much more important than everything else, especially for developers." - Stefan Hamann

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Transcript of Commerce Famous episode 15, an interview with Stefan Hamann, CEO of Shopware

Ben Marks: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Commerce Famous podcast. I'm your host, as always, Ben Marks. It is a brand new year, 2024, and we couldn't think of a better way to kick it off than with someone who has been a part of ecommerce and if I may, a part of my own journey in e commerce. So this goes all the way back to the changing of the millennium. So I'd like to welcome Shopware co founder and CEO Stefan Haman. Stefan, welcome.

Stefan Hamann: Thank you so much, Ben. Hi, everybody.

Ben Marks: So, you know, my journey into the Shopware world was, let's see, that began, I think, almost a few years ago. We had known each other sort of informally. I think I'd met you and your brother at a community day back in 2016, back when I was working for that other ecommerce platform. And over time, I've watched Shopware continue to grow and grow. But that growth started somewhere, right? And that story, as I mentioned in the intro, goes all the way back to the year 2000. What was it like? This was the Haman media and design company that you and your brother started, I think, when you were both teenagers, right?

Stefan Hamann: Absolutely. Yeah. I was 16 years old back then, my brother, 14 years. And to get the permission to start a business, you have to be at least 18. That means in Germany, we had to go to the government and get a kind of written permission, as it is for everything in Germany, that we can start a business and that we are already in the right condition to do so. And in the beginning, it was more or less, if you think around the time back then, early days, so to say, in e commerce and the Internet in general, and therefore many companies around asking for help. And, yeah, that was basically how we started. So we already had a lot of experience with myself in programming stuff and doing websites, but also individual programming in visual basic back then.

Stefan Hamann: And my brother was also already very interested in Adobe Photoshop, in creating designs and things like that. And that was also, back then, I would say, a great combination in one family, the setting of having one brother really interested in technology, being the nerd, so to say. And on the other side, somebody who is more or less a complete opposite as a super emotional creativity, design and things like that. So that was pretty much a good starting condition, I would say, for our business.

Ben Marks: Yeah. I mean, you do. It's almost a cliche if it weren't so cool, right? Because you have the one brother who's really tech focused. And for the record, folks, I've actually seen Stefan's workshop, and it is filled with capacitors and resistors and every AI gadget imaginable. We're going to get into that in a bit. You all were essentially like a lot of us who were of a certain age at that point in time, just immersing yourselves in all things technical for context.

Ben Marks: Again, commerce famous is all about talking about how this industry became what it is back in those early 2000s, everything was open, the horizon was out there. It was completely unlimited. So you could be a guru of sorts, just digging into every corner of technology, especially where technology and technical solutions were leading people more and more online. So you were consulting with, I think, a local business and eventually built a website. And then over time, like this website, I think you realized like, hey, this is an ecommerce platform. Anyway, this is the legend I've heard. You can confirm or deny this right here on the podcast.

Stefan Hamann: Yes, it goes a little bit in this direction. So it was basically the first ecommerce site that we built was for my uncle. He was selling everything what you need in an office environment, and he didn't want to add the product catalog on his own, so he had different suppliers. And therefore we wrote like a migration tool that automatically was grabbing all the products from the existing shops of the suppliers of my uncle. That was basically the first time we got in touch with downtimes and how important performance is because of all the shops of them went offline, always in the moment. We tried to get all the products out of the website. And that was basically the first time where we had the feeling, both together, that ecommerce is, let's say, a super interesting field from the tech perspective, but also from the experience and design perspective, if you want. So we screened the market.

Stefan Hamann: We had a look on every single solution out there, like OS commerce and XT commerce and everything else. And it was for us, like, either the technology was shit or it looked like shit. So that was the starting point where we thought, let's really start to create something from scratch that is meeting power requirements from a nerd perspective, so to say. And the requirements that my brother has. Yes. And that was in the very beginning, it was still more like a framework. It was not planned as product in the very first iteration that was later. So we thought, okay, let's create something where we can build on top for the different kind of projects that are coming in.

Stefan Hamann: It was the time, I would say, 2001 to 2002, 2003. And after doing some of these projects, we thought, okay, guys, ecommerce is in the very beginning. There will be a hell of a growth in the upcoming years. And what would be if we would do, let's say, if we would create a product for it. And the interesting thing is, we had a little bit product experience already before. So before we started the company, my brother and I were both really strong in this gaming community. So we organized lan parties, events where people were coming together with their pcs, playing counterstrike, and all the different things. And we also wrote, let's say, different products.

Stefan Hamann: One product was the half life launch pad. It was an application that you could use to configure like half life. So this very famous ego shooter. And that was then, as we released version two, we got $500 on one single day. It was mentioned in one of the pc gaming magazines in Germany. So it was the first time that we got a feeling what scale means in direction of having a standard product. And that was basically then, I would say, very important component in the decision making, getting out of the agency business and becoming a product. Company.

Ben Marks: This is not an unfamiliar story. In some ways, I think there are some other solutions out there where people were just trying to solve first recognized that this was a problem that could be solved, and solved for many. If you take a hub approach, build a hub, build a flexible enough application around, you know, just as an aside, it's nice to see that Andreas Wolf keeps the lan party tradition going at my, I hope to be there at headquarters.

Stefan Hamann: And I'm also still joining probably one of the not too much, let's say, bigger software companies where the CEO is still playing evil shooters together with his employees.

Ben Marks: Outstanding. I can't wait to own you sometime. Yeah. So that's the basis for our conversation and fast forward. I'm going to skip over 20 years of history and fast forward. And we've got tens of thousands of brands in dozens and dozens of countries around the world, this industry. I actually recently posted something on Twitter that I continue to see. A career choice of e commerce, or I guess I should say I consider e commerce to continue to be a great career choice.

Ben Marks: And I mean career in the classic sense. You can enter the ecommerce space, I think, relatively easily, and that's in any role. I mean, that could be operations for a merchant, that could certainly be a back end developer, a front end developer, solution architect, whatever capacity, and then there is almost unlimited headroom. You can grow in any and many directions. So I think the reason for that is that this space, all it does is evolve. We as a species, I think we like to solve problems, and I think we would love to solve problems permanently. But as I often say, humans just come up with new and interesting and completely arbitrary ways that they like to buy and sell stuff with each other. So given that ecommerce is never a solved problem, what have we seen? I think the last couple of years have been really interesting.

Ben Marks: The last year, certainly it was this time last year, about this time last year that we were all together in Munster. And what was supposed to be, I think just mostly a boring end of year budget meeting was just post Chat GPT and the company made a very deliberate, and I would say, given the hype at the time, maybe somewhat risky decision to really go in on AI, but not just AI for AI or marketing sake, but to really tackle head on what the true impact of AI could be and then recognizing, I think, that we were in a position, we at Shopware were in a position to introduce incremental enhancement and improvement to people's experiences using AI from a leadership perspective. I'd be fascinated to hear what that conversation was like about a year ago, making this decision to say, hey, let's see what we can roll out and then we'll get to AI copilot, which came out in May of this year.

Stefan Hamann: Totally. I mean, it's super important to understand it was not just, it was not like that. December last year was the first time we did something with AI. That is definitely not true. As I would say since GPT-2 or something. We are already trying out things, experimenting with it. Also, I'm personally trying out very much playing around with large language models and getting a feeling on how could we use it from the commerce standpoint. And what is really for me the main difference between today and let's say three or five years ago, we are out of this marketing bullshit days of AI, right before it was, I remember, everybody had AI features or something like that, just describing statistical or reporting functionality.

Stefan Hamann: So it was done all time. I think the promises and the expectations and what in reality was there was a massive misbalance, so to say. Right. And that has completely changed. So I think what we discussed last year in December, it was really the beginning of a major shift in our very own mindset and also in our very own company culture because of it's one thing, let's say, integrating a few AI features by just adding an API to open AI or something, don't have much respect of things in this direction. But the really interesting thing is, if you think how can processes, how can business aspects or even whole business models reconsidered and resort with AI first kind of strategy? That is a really interesting question. Because of everybody in the market, I have to deal with strong margins, with a certain cost situation, with a lot of competition, with a need for differentiation. So I would say a high pressure market, especially now, since the last two years.

Stefan Hamann: And that means there's on the other side, a lot of headroom for innovation and for doing things quite different than they got solved in the past. And that is what basically AI means for me in ecommerce. Not just doing something with shed GBT or something like that, but really let's take every single kind of thing that we need to solve in ecommerce and let's reconsider on how we can make it way better than it was ever done before by utilizing what is possible already with AI.

Ben Marks: These are all fair points, I think, for those of us who were alive and out of our diapers around the year 2000. We remember the.com era when you just could take any business idea, even a business that had been around for a while, and just put.com at the end by a domain name and boom, there was funding everything else.

Stefan Hamann: Yeah, blockchain a few years back.

Ben Marks: Right, right, exactly. So the hype cycle seems to be a very real thing. And as you said, there's a ton of bullshit there, whatever. People have to get excited about a technology, and it has to be broad excitement, I think, in order for certain revolutionary moments to really actually take root. But you have to decide, are you just going to ride the hype wave or are you actually going to really get in that water and coast along with it? Or as the case may be, get behind it and push it. And for me, this is something even I was impressed, as were some of my peers at, let's say, other ecommerce platforms, when in May, we released the suite of, I think it was eight features at the time under the banner of AI copilot. Here's the problem with discussions about AI. I think the hype has died down a bit.

Ben Marks: The challenge with a properly implemented AI augmented solution is that you actually won't even sort of feel the AI. You'll only notice that you're doing more and you're doing more with better access to more information over time. So this is when we're talking about what this assistant quality to bringing AI in. When we're talking about this, I think we're actually talking about what we've done at shopware with basically supercharging what an individual user can do. So again, I think this has two fronts. It has the functional impact, but it also, and maybe more importantly, it's drawing from the body, the full body of data and analysis that is possible with AI, with LLM. Can you speak a little bit to that?

Stefan Hamann: Definitely. Absolutely. Let me maybe add another aspect first to, to why I'm thinking that we are in general, that we altogether are still a little bit in this bullshit and marketing phase of things is, from my perspective, really, that a lot of people out there are hiding themselves behind. I don't have any clue about technique or something like that. I don't have any clue about this or that or whatever. So I need experts and people who are explaining to me why this or that is important. And I think this easy way of putting the responsibility of innovation to somebody else, that is the main problem, why so many companies are falling behind. Right.

Stefan Hamann: That is one of the reasons, not the only reason. I'm also, let's say, kind of collector kind of guy. But I think one of the main reasons for me really is why I'm so interested in technology is because of, I really want to spend time with it. I like to discover the possibilities and the options that something could potentially bring to the table. This interest in experimenting and learning and discovering that is potentially what is missing in many sea level, don't know kind of teams in the world, right. Let's say in direction of your later question on our AI copilot and things like that, if you have a closer look on it. I mean, the interesting thing was we were the first major platform in the world that launched AI features in this direction very early in the year, in May. And the interesting thing for me was that it was not only just API wrapping something, but already like functionality that really is kind of innovative on its own.

Stefan Hamann: For instance, if you think around ecommerce, you have a lot of boring problems, right? Probably it's not your top priority problem to rewrite your product description so that they sound more bold or something like that. One major problem is always data quality. So to make sure that all the products are consistent, that you have, let's say product properties and attributes all set over the whole catalog, and really things like that, having image descriptions that are things that often really are missing and that then also preventing merchants from having something like a very powerful search also. So it has really meaningful implications for the business success of a merchant. And that is something that we already considered in the very first version of AI copilot. So to not just do the shiny things, but also taking care of the boring things. And that is, from my perspective, the really interesting part of it.

Ben Marks: Well, this is an independent podcast that is brought to you by shopware, but it's hard to not extol this approach, which is ultimately what is good for the customer. Now, we're of course not the only platform working on these kind of things and working on AI in this space. And for sure other platforms will be bringing a lot to the table, maybe sometime in 2024. They haven't really showed up already and it's been a year, that's maybe a point for a different podcast. But when we look at, quote, the boring work, and I think that is actually a really important nuance to point out that it is not necessarily in the motivation of any business right now, where businesses are trying to ride the hype wave, to put in the effort to do, to solve the unglamorous problems, whether it has to deal with import, export, or just the minutiae of day to day. But this does get into the fear of AI. The AI is going to take my job because as our president Jason so elegantly characterized things at the beginning of 2023, this is essentially we're in an industrial revolution. Metaphorically.

Ben Marks: This is a massive transformation time. Now, if we look at the history of, let's say, automation and introduction of machinery into industrial processes, yes, the work that some people were doing was eliminated. But I would say that these days, if you are paying attention in your day to day role, especially if you're at a junior level, if you're doing something that when you look at it objectively, can be automated away, you really need to take on a leadership position for yourself within that company and really encourage that company to show you like, hey, here are the tools that are available to us, why don't I incorporate these into my workflow and you effectively can grow your own grow into a space that you create, turbocharge, what you do with these AI tools. And I think you do see people who aren't willing to make that jump will be left behind. But I think there's also never been a more democratized sort of shift in industry than this one, right. Because everything is out there in the open for people to take advantage of. What do you see out there for the workers? And this is workers, I think, on sort of both sides of the house, right? These are people working operations for merchants, and these are people actually front end and back end developers building these experiences. How do you see the industry evolving over the next year to two?

Stefan Hamann: For these folks in general, I think the very first thing is nothing is as common for humans like convenience. So every time some new thing is coming that is adding convenience, it's definitely always winning. That is much more important than everything else, especially for developers. So from my perspective, I really believe in two aspects of the same question. The very first aspect is that everybody who is in writing software is pretty much aware around how much boring stuff he has to do or she has to do every day, right? It's often like writing boilerplate code, or writing unit tests for code, or writing documentation and things like that. So for me, the first advantage will be that people can really focus on the interesting aspects of the work because of every software developer engineer loves to solve problems, nobody loves to write unit tests or something like that. And that is something with GitHub, copilot and other let's say, services and providers out there, it will be the new normal, so to say that will be the absolute standard in twelve months from now. It's already, let's say a shop where I would say it's already the standard today, but it will also, on the whole market that will make a big difference.

Stefan Hamann: On the other side, if you think this a little bit further. So what could it mean in the midterm? And especially if I think around the integration aspect of ecommerce today, it's always like in every single ecommerce project, there's a lot of reinventing the real kind of efforts in the project because of there's always something that needs to be adjusted a little bit and things like that. And there I also believe, to be honest, that never complete, but pathways, this can be automated in a way that you just describe what you want to have in a different kind of perspective, either in the front end or the back end, or both, that it will be possible to do this really by AI in the next two to three years, I'm pretty sure. On the other side, again, I think the market is giant and we have so much companies out there that are not able to get any, let's say, meaningful developer and engineer support because they simply don't find the people. And that will also not change. I think the demand will always be higher than what is available in the market, and that is definitely true for quality, right? If it is about quantity, let's not talk about quantity. But every developer out there who is really good and who wants really to go the step and to develop further will, from my perspective, never have a problem with finding a good shop.

Ben Marks: With things being as they are today, end of 2023 going into 2024, which is when we're recording this episode, do you see? It seems like we're now at a point where the iteration is always in the direction of helping people work on what's important. But the more and more we automate away the minutiae, it frees up founders and leaders to really focus on more. And basically, the frame for what's important is shifting. Right? So the more you get into this, the more and more impactful this is. But I guess the flip side is kind of the point that you're making, which is that, hey, if you're not finding a way to do this in your industry or in your place in an industry, you're probably falling behind and you will probably not be around in short order. For the businesses out there, again, on any side of the coin, for the businesses out there that may be struggling with introducing or seeking out the tools that can help them, or even introducing and creating AI based functionality for themselves, what should they be looking for? Where should they be looking for it?

Stefan Hamann: You mean from a merchant perspective or more general?

Ben Marks: Well, you could say in general, but let's start with merchants.

Stefan Hamann: I would say basically it's the same. I think what everybody has to have on their radar is it's a time of doing things like in a repeatable and borrowing basis. Times are, from my perspective, over because of you cannot win something in a completely overcrowded market by just doing the same that everybody else is doing. Right. As I think it's time for ecommerce to get innovative again really, we have to leave this old 90 years kind of catalog orientation that ecommerce still has from my perspective. And we have to use and make usage of really the newest kind of alien technology that is out there. Right. We have to be brave again and try out things.

Stefan Hamann: So this pattern of experimenting and really doing things completely different from what we have done before, I think that is the key. So because of everything else, if I really time traveling, let's say, ten years into the future, I'm 100% sure that ecommerce will have exactly two major motions. And the one motion will be kind of completely automated ecommerce. So everybody will have something like a personal AI agent and everything you don't want to spend time on, like don't ordering toilet paper or whatever, that will be done automatically. Right. And the second motion of ecommerce will be experience driven ecommerce. So everybody has a hobby or let's say some topics that you are super much interested in where you really love to spend time on. So let's say if you are in music, you want to spend time with your brands and with the different products and figuring out what is new, what are the exact kind of things that I can do with it, and that is where we basically want to focus on.

Stefan Hamann: So really putting this experience layer much more in the foreground in comparison to what we see today in the market. Pretty much connected between AI on the one side and 3d on the other side. So we are calling it spatial commerce, meaning, let's say, let's really add a little bit of science fiction to the borrowing ecommerce world of today. That is basically where we are working on.

Ben Marks: It's interesting. It's a really good point because, and this is, I think, one of the most important topics, this future that you describe. I think a year ago, I would just say it's hard for me to connect today where we are today with where we will be ten years from now. But I was having a conversation earlier this year with Chris Bach over one of the co founders, Netlify. And I had always thought of them as a static blog generator, right? And there's, of course, so much more than that. They're a proper tech unicorn and they've seen for a long time the future of orchestration, really the orchestration of things as almost a first class citizen. I mean, of course we've had orchestration technologies, kubernetes, et cetera, for a while now, but where I think AI is coming in and I was actually having slacking with your brother, shopware's other co founder, Sebastian Hammond about this. And I think we actually see things moving in the direction of the scales will always be tipped in the favor of open over closed, right? Because an open ecosystem, however you want to bound ecosystem, the term ecosystem is where people sort of get to bring their requirements together and have the freedom of movement to choose the solutions and how they bring those solutions in.

Ben Marks: And I see AI actually handling a lot of the minutiae of orchestration. And one of the things I told your brother actually, was that I think basically AI really gets us to the path that water takes, right? Which is the path of least resistance, the path of, to put it in your terms, most convenience, and even closed, so called closed systems. So if you look at a closed source application that's doing something business critical, well, it almost certainly has some kind of interface somewhere. If it's embedded well, there's a machine interface. If it's software running on your computer or phone, well, guess what? It has a GUI and AI will be able to interact with that. So I love this notion that we can start to see those of us with a little bit, maybe less or lower technical futurist vision like you. We can start to see, hey, this is actually linearly how we get from point a to point b, right, is in this tie that binds, that is AI just handling the work. And most importantly, being able to just have a natural language query like, I need my Pim and my warehouse management system to talk.

Ben Marks: And we are at a point now where you can train a language model to look and consume, to look at and consume documentation for two disparate systems and figure out how to put them together all under the guise with, hey, solve this problem for me, boy. But I don't even know where to begin predicting how this looks in the interim in the next few years. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Stefan Hamann: Pretty much from my, let's say, believing, I think that first of all, speaking for Shopware, for us, let's say, being open source and being also flexible on the distribution of shopware, that will never change, right. It's kind of a core value, core aspect of our product. And I think the interesting aspect that we as a vendor have to put on top of this is that we make it possible to utilize this kind of AI services independently of how you are using Shopware. You know what I mean? That basically, let's say you are using our community edition, you are in a hosted environment, and you don't have, let's say, the latest Nvidia AI calculation cards in your server, I'm pretty sure. And that means somehow losing where you are standing. Somehow. You have to get support from us as a vendor to be able to really utilize what AI is potentially adding on top of your business success that is already there. So I think that will be one step in between that we are basically creating something like a middleware, like a service that people can consume and where we also can make, where we also can create additional values out of the data and out of the experience that our, let's say many merchants are having together.

Stefan Hamann: So to say, one major consideration is always like, what can the community do together, right? Today they are discussing things in our forum, they writing integrations. They are doing a lot of different aspects, but what could that be in the AI era of things? And I really believe everybody has a piece of data, a piece of, let's say, kind of knowledge that is saved in the own installation, so to say. And what would be possible if we would be a little bit more open on this and try to create value added services that is basically based on the experience and data of many merchants. That is something that we want definitely to put research on because of. I think that can potentially be really a game changer, getting out of the Shigen egg problem that people have too less data to do something with it, or having too much data, and then also not able to do something with it because of nobody, let's say, from a human perspective, understands what is basically the script there a little bit further, let's say, don't have already a timestamp on it. But I think what you described in this example of given AI, the API documentation of shopware and the API documentation of a third party system, and it automatically now figures out how to connect both systems. That is also something that really is kind of appealing to me because of a thing that solves a big problem that we currently altogether have. That is the integration pain.

Stefan Hamann: It's not a bad thing to think best of breed and to have very specialized kind of systems, but on the other side, no merchant on the planet want to pay over and over again just for getting stable kind of integrations. And that is something where AI potentially can help a lot.

Ben Marks: Yeah, paying to babysit, paying for something you've already paid for, this has been a challenge. You would think it's been a challenge just in the non SaaS approach to ecommerce. But as anyone who's working in any ecommerce application of scale, the moment you start integrating with third parties, you then are necessarily dealing with a bit of a custom scope, as we've seen time and again, it's a very quick step that you almost don't even notice when you go from, oh, I'm here with this one vendor that I thought did everything I need, and now you're maintaining an entire ecosystem. And I'm not going to necessarily say a healthy ecosystem of apps that are all, and some of these apps are trying to do the same thing as others. So you see this sort of stepping on scope, which I think just reinforces the whole need for orchestration.

Stefan Hamann: And that is basically also how the whole market is changing currently, from my perspective, we had, the last five or six years, everything was around microservices, around cutting the problem in many components, and then hoping that this will solve the problem in a more efficient way. And now let's say the reality is taking place more and more. So it's just not true. So you cannot solve complexity by cutting it down. That basically never works. And that is why I also think that, let's say a solution like shopware will be in the future. It will be more really, again, around what can the solution, the platform, solve in the first hand? So I think it's totally fair that there should be an ecosystem. There should not be everything bundled into one big product.

Stefan Hamann: But on the other side, it should also not be like that. The merchant has to have 30 contracts and 30 app subscriptions running just to solve standard ecommerce problems. And that is exactly where we are currently in many cases. Right. That feels not healthy, and that also feels not really efficient.

Ben Marks: Yeah. And I know it shouldn't go unsaid that we see different architectural approaches having their place for different size merchants, different problems that merchants are solving for. Right. But I do love the classic joke about microservices. I had 99 problems. I introduced microservices. Now I have 999,000 problems. Yeah, it's a shorthand.

Ben Marks: And I have many friends. We have many friends who work on that.

Stefan Hamann: That will always be, in the end, this will never change. I'm pretty sure.

Ben Marks: Yes. But again, it goes down to finding the right fit, and maybe AI can help us there. Now, you did mention something that I think is a term that people don't see very often out there, spatial commerce. Would you mind just sharing just as we wrap up? I'd love to end on this note here.

Ben Marks: Your vision for spatial commerce, what this is, and what spatial experiences look like in general.

Stefan Hamann: Definitely. It's a really good question. That is the point where I would say where mine and also my brother's roots are playing also a role. So it's a little bit now, if you think around the vision of shopper, what do we really want to deliver or to change in the market? We want to create a complete new shopping experience. It's easy to say it, but the question is then how you want to do it. And that is basically what we are connecting to, spatial commerce. So if you think around really how is ecommerce done today versus how was ecommerce done ten years ago, it's pretty much the same. There's no major improvement on the front end side of things.

Stefan Hamann: Speaking from a consumer perspective, yeah, for sure there are not new frameworks and new technologies all fine, but from the consumer perspective, it's more or less the same that we had already ten years or 15 years before. And I pretty much think it's still not really a human kind of experience that is delivered there still like feeling going through a catalog, seeing pictures of products boring. So it doesn't really compelling, it doesn't connect me much to a brand. And that is something that we want to change and we are seeing it not like we are seeing it very realistic, I would say. So it's not like creating the 3d game where you are walking around, let's say in a virtual shop and where you can then put product boxes in your virtual shopping cart or something like that. That is definitely not how we see it. It's more like how can we bridge two dimensional classical kind of commerce with new ways on experiencing products. And there 3d plays a super important role.

Stefan Hamann: And the cool thing, it's already possible today. It's not that cost intensive anymore. It's not like that. It requires hundreds of mandates of developing to do so. So we already integrated the first functionality in this direction, I think a couple of weeks back in one of the latest shopware releases. And that is something where we spend a lot of energy on also in the next couple of months and years to create basically new 3d experiences on top of what is already there. So that you're scrolling through the product catalog, products are popping out. You can basically see it from all kind of perspectives.

Stefan Hamann: You have infinity Zoom, you can really see every single detail. That is something. Or you are on the product detail page and the system automatically knows that you are interested in a certain kind of color scheme or something like that. And then automatically generating environments where the product is placed to get a better connection on how you really like to see things or to have things right. And that is doing plenty of things there. And that potentially is really, in the end, kind of a complete new, I like the red ocean and blue ocean metaphor thing. That is potentially really kind of new blue ocean for people out there, for agencies, for technology partners, for us, and most importantly, for merchants to really be innovative again and be really different again and not doing just this copycat shit that everybody has done over the last ten years.

Ben Marks: It's probably a testament, given the amount of entrepreneurship that you and I have personally witnessed and been involved in over the last two decades, it's maybe a testament to just how rapidly moving and complex ecommerce is that we still see shopping carts, shopping baskets. You're going through virtual aisles, and it's going to take, hopefully, within the next five to ten years, we'll have our kids tugging our sleeves, saying, why do we call it a cart? That doesn't make sense anymore.

Stefan Hamann: Yeah, it's the same as the old floppy disk, symbol of saving in computer applications.

Ben Marks: What is this? Well, I tell you what. I look forward to seeing you all again soon for our kickoff. But as always, Stefan, an absolute pleasure to have a conversation with you. Please give my best to every lovely member of your family. I will see you all soon. Thank you. And we will have to do this again at the end of the year.


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