Interview with Meet Magento Association: the Power of Community

22/02/2019

If Magento is the platform where a community of users can build a digital commerce system, Meet Magento events are where the community takes shape. Cifnews spoke with Thomas Goletz, President of the Meet Magento Association

 

As one of the most widely used platform, Magento is a leader in the e-commerce sector and one of the most trusted platforms by experts. Basically, it is a next generation digital commerce platform that allows users to create and manage an e-commerce website for both B2B and B2C purpose.

The company started in Culver City, California, in 2008. It was fully-owned by eBay from 2011 to 2015 until it split off to be an independent enterprise. In addition to multilanguage support, Magento offers a free, open source version of its software that is fully customizable with PHP. It also offers an on-premises enterprise version for larger businesses that includes hosting and extensive technical support.

The company now works with many different markets benefiting from its global presence. Over 200,000 businesses have already chosen the Magento platform for launching their websites. Among the world’s leading brands there are Huawei, Samsung, Ford, Nike, North Face, and many others.

However, the name Magento includes more than just an e-commerce platform. Being an open-source tool, Magento encompasses the idea of community, a concept which is at the base of its worldwide event Meet Magento.

If Magento is the platform where a community of users can build a digital commerce system, Meet Magento events are where the community takes shape. Through conferences, hackathons, and meetings, the events provide the ideal environment where merchants and developers can meet and develop their business.

 

“In 2008, there was a strong need for a new approach for e-commerce platforms. Magento was the answer the market was looking for,” said Thomas Goletz, MMA’s President.

 

Meet Magento includes about 40 different conferences organized every year across the globe attracting thousands of experts and people interested in the e-commerce sector. In the first half of 2017 alone, over 11,000 participants, 330 sponsors and 600 speakers attended these events. The mission of the non-profit Meet Magento Association (MMA) is, in fact, to connect all companies working with Magento across the globe in order to ease the exchange of skills and ideas within the platform ecosystem.

Moreover, all these events are organized by local merchants and developers, they are not driven by Magento itself, but they are rather driven by the market. An organizational process with no precedents in the world.

When Cifnews met the President and co-founder of the Meet Magento Association, Thomas Goletz, at the Shenzhen Cross-Border E-Commerce Conference in January, he referred to the organization as “an association that helps users and developers to have a voice in front of Magento with the goal to build an entirely good system out of it.”

In the interview with Cifnews, Mr. Goletz highlighted the importance for companies to look after the customers’ or users’ needs. Therefore, to meet the user’s expectation, it is extremely important to be in the market or, at least, have a deep understanding of it.

 

 

So, given the significance of the e-commerce sector in China, accounting for over 40% of global e-commerce transactions by value, and the need to have local experts to better understand the Chinese market, MMA established a physical presence in Shenzhen, in 2018.

Especially for what concerns China, the language barrier is one of the main problems for both non-Chinese companies entering the Dragon and the local ones trying to reach other markets.

According to Thomas Goletz, Alibaba’s success comes precisely by the fact that it was founded by an English teacher, who started the company with a totally different approach. Jack Ma made it easy for Chinese manufacturers to enter the e-commerce system mastering both the local and the international language.

Moreover, Europe, too, could represent a particular challenge for every company as it hosts so many different languages and cultures. And since understanding the market is so important, having a local partner is fundamental.

 

“Magento is the only e-commerce system you can find in every single market. It is very localized. It is present in North Korea too,” said Thomas Goletz to Cifnews.

 

However, although building up local relationships is important for every company that wants to export its products, Mr. Goletz believes that one of the challenges while working with China is that Chinese entrepreneurs are not used to this way of doing business.

Other than that, branding represents another challenge Chinese companies need to take into consideration while promoting their products or services abroad.

The People’s Republic started as a manufacturer country for foreign brands, however, lately, it became confident enough to export its own brands as demonstrated by the global success of some of the big Chinese firms. Therefore, thinking about a brand strategy and choosing the most appropriate channel to go ahead with the sales is the kind of help events like Meet Magento or the platform itself can provide.

Indeed, Chinese manufacturers are already trying to build their own supply chain in order to “bring the product to the customer and beyond the customer,” as Thomas Goletz said.

Companies from the PRC are all aware that there is a need to differentiate in terms of geographical area and marketplace and they have many Chinese and non-Chinese tools that meet this need, by which they can build their own supply chain.

However, China’s entrepreneurs approach Magento because it is better localized than other competitors. Many software providers only support certain markets but Magento works with every country. In addition, this open-source is also free. Therefore, many Dragon’s enterprises are now considering using Magento not only to reach foreign markets but also to win in their own.

 

Interview with meet magento - php developers - cifnews

© Unsplash. A community of merchants and developers is the key to Magento’s success and what differentiates it from all other platforms and systems.

 

Today, the Middle Kingdom hosts about 200 Magento installations but thanks to the events, the community in the country now has more than 1,000 Chinese Magento developers.

Mr. Goletz told Cifnews how a recent Meet Magento meeting in Shenzhen immediately localized the Magento developers in the country that will soon result in an official version of the platform specifically developed for the Asian country. It is a user-generated process, it is “not built by Adobe, but rather by the Chinese community,” said the MMA President.

When asked about the company’s prospects for 2019, Thomas Goletz expressed all his concerns about the current international situation. The US-China trade war together with Brexit and the global economic slowdown are all going to have a huge impact on companies and manufacturers involved in global activities.

However, he believes that although many entrepreneurs are careful while investing in China right now, it might turn into a great opportunity instead. For example, as regards to Chinese companies, the trade war opened up new commercial routes out of the American ones. Therefore, in 2019, is more important than ever to be able to see the opportunities global challenges might bring in order not be left behind in 2020.

One of the opportunities Magento will implement is building a sense of community in order to create a system able to move forward, which is surely the strength of the MMA, as it is for Cifnews.

Meet Magento is all about bringing people together so it fits perfectly within the Global Conference context that, according to Mr. Goletz, has “an outstanding mix of people coming from different industries, markets, and nations.” Indeed, the two partners share the willingness to communicate and build networks within a clique of experts.

Therefore, while Magento represents the leading platform for e-commerce websites, the Meet Magento Association is creating a complete ecosystem made of know-how and ideas. The kind of environment that will not only overcome today’s challenges but that will also shape the e-commerce world of tomorrow.

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