The first Drupal Commerce Camp is a Success

The first dedicated event is always a special moment for an open source community. Following the release of Drupal Commerce 1.0, the swiss community around Drupal organized the first Drupal Commerce Camp last week in Lucerne. Focusing on the use of Drupal in enterprise and commercial environments, the event attracted more than 120 attendees to form a unique gathering of passionate business innovators. Commerce Guys was a sponsor of the event. We provided training to all the attendees, and conducted no less than 4 technical sessions. The opening keynote was also the occasion for us to run for the first time our presentation on the reasons behind the success of Drupal Commerce, with our friend Jeffrey A. McGuire from Acquia. As Miro Dietiker, founder of MD Systems put it "The keynote captured the spirit of the event: business innovation with Drupal". The success of Drupal Commerce is just starting, so we expect to update this presentation and run it again during up and coming Drupal and E-Commerce events.


Updated on the 09/09/2011 to include the interview of Michael Schmid. The Swiss community is not unknown from Commerce Guys: our first partner in country, Cando Image, is a pioneer of Drupal Commerce with the Eurocentres website. We were aware that they were not the only one in the area that were up to something interesting with Drupal Commerce. The quality of our findings during this event commended more than a simple news update, which is why we decided to conduct interviews of Miro Dietiker, founder of MD Systems, Prodosh Banerjee, founder of Anolim, and Michael Schmid, head of technology at Amazee Labs, who all have something interesting to say about Drupal Commerce. Miro Dietiker, is the founder of MD Systems. MD Systems is doing custom development for 10 years and has been focusing on Drupal for the last 3 years. MD Systems is leading the Drupal Community in Switzerland and working on its growth. Currently, Miro Dietiker is actively working on the B2B layers of Drupal Commerce. What was your motivation to organize this first Drupal Commerce Camp ? In 2009, I organized the first Drupal event in Switzerland, and I saw that there are a lot of opportunities, in many areas for Drupal to grow, like in the media sector, or in social and business applications. I spent a lot of time investigating the use of Drupal for E-Commerce. Now I think of Drupal Commerce as the next generation of E-commerce platforms. The general question is : « How could websites survive ? » You always spend money, invest a lot, there are communities building up, and somehow, you have to find a way to finance your costs. Drupal Commerce solves that problem by making it easy to bring E-Commerce to any sort of website. The proximity of Drupal Commerce and Drupal makes innovation easier, turning Drupal Commerce into the perfect base to find new business opportunities and business models. What is specific about this event ? The specific thing is that people start to realize the opportunities brought by Drupal Commerce. We are a small and very focused group of people here, and it’s very important for all of us to start the discussion and use it as a trigger to share our ideas and go ahead. I really like those intense discussions and exchange of ideas. I enjoy that perspective. How do you see Drupal Commerce in perspective with what Ubercart was ? We have implemented some solutions with Ubercart previously, and we had a lot of pain because it was not following the standards of Drupal. There were limitations when you wanted to create something that Ubercart wasn’t supposed to do. And what I really love about Drupal Commerce is that it complements Drupal. The limitations of Ubercart are not there anymore. The only shortcoming is that it is sometimes still more a framework than solution: possibilities are endless but some features still require a specific effort. Where do you see Drupal Commerce next? It is very important that more people with different areas of interest join the development, and that a real consolidation of those needs happen, as well as the implementation of specific features. Prodosh Banerjee is the CEO of Anolim GmbH, a Social Media, SaaS and e-commerce company in Thalwil, near Zurich, working with Drupal since 2007. At the Drupal Commerce Camp, Prodosh Banerjee presented the first major benchmark study comparing Drupal Commerce and the other Drupal-based and non-Drupal-based E-Commerce solution. What was the motivation behind your benchmark study? This benchmark is meant to evaluate E-Commerce solutions, including the breadth of E-Commerce solutions that is available in the Drupal world. This is for customers who are considering Drupal, as well as other solutions for E-Commerce. Using my connections, I was able to accumulate a wealth of knowledge on the solutions that are available, including Hybris, SAP and Wordpress. That was the starting point, I also spent time with people who are already working with Drupal Commerce, and paid a lot of attention to the feedback of the Drupal community. I did the same with Magento. Looking at these solutions with the point of view of a decision maker allowed me to figure out their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their sweet spots. That's how the three categories came about: ERP-centric organizations who need to update their outdated shop, web-centric e-commerce companies who need to update their shop and “green field” startup-like organizations who need to add e-commerce functionalities to their fast-growing business. These categories are showing that E-Commerce operations have become something very universal, and there are many ways of doing it. What were the main findings of that study? Drupal Commerce turned out to be very good at interfacing with other systems so that there shouldn't be any barriers to using Drupal with an enterprise system. We can now meet the requirements of an enterprise system and use Drupal 7 and Drupal Commerce as a front end for product catalogs that live in ERP systems like SAP. This was definitely a very interesting way of looking at it. Technically and functionally, Drupal is mature enough to be used in critical situations. Reliability, stablility, scalability and versatility are there and there is some complexity associated with it, but as the CEO of a Drupal-centric company, I think that just raises the value of our market. Where do you see Drupal Commerce next? Drupal Commerce is relevant today, because more and more, e-commerce is used to sell services (e.g. music, language teaching etc.), software as a service (SaaS) and not just products. Also, many use cases are not following the logic of a shop anymore. Case studies like Sosense.org and Eurocentres are showing that Drupal Commerce enables that. Looking ahead, Drupal Commerce needs to get to a point where e-commerce shops can be setup as services. My company, Anolim GmbH is looking forward to do that on its own infrastructure. Another area is recurring payments: recurring payment solutions are now becoming available in Europe to support subscription based services. I am looking forward to see this area grow and mature, as well as contribute to this evolution. Michael Schmid is the head of technology at Amazee Labs, a Drupal agency in Zurich. Amazee Labs has a significant track record of building social applications and websites. Can you introduce Sosense? Sosense.org is an online platform where social investors and donors can engage in innovative ventures and projects presented by social entrepreneurs. An example is to « give electricity to villages with solar panels ». This kind of project buys the panels for the villages and help them to install them and bring light inside houses. Sosense.org act as the place where people can find the details of a social enterprises, their projects, donate money directly and get updates about the project. The platform is based on Drupal and Drupal Commerce. We also use Heartbeat to manage the updates, and Organic Groups to allow one company to have several projects. What was your motivation to use Drupal Commerce? I got my first contact with Drupal Commerce in Copenhague when Ryan talked about it. And we were using Ubercart for amazee.com and it worked, Ryan spoke about how Views and Rules are well integrated in Drupal Commerce, and it was just like : « what you always thought about ! ». I think it’s a great idea to use the forces of Views and Rules, and that’s how I got comfortable with these modules that are now critical to other projects. Where do you see Drupal Commerce next? Some features are not fully ready, things like variables prices and coupons. But that doesn’t mean Drupal Commerce itself needs to include this in core. The community, with the “contrib” space, is working on this. Once the code is ready, you need to be sure that it’s been checked by the Commerce Guys, so that you know that this module or functionality really works in a standard Drupal and Drupal Commerce way. There is many ways to use Drupal commerce, and still a lot of functionalities to explore and implement. At Amazee Labs, we produced a lot of code on how to make donations and coupons with Drupal Commerce. We would love to contribute that, now that the code works and we finished the project, we just need to create the modules and distribute them. Luc Byhet and Augustin Delaporte