I felt quite honoured when Irina approached me to write a guest post about our Magento regulars’ table in Vienna and eCommerce in Austria in general. It doesn't happen every day that one of the best-known blogs in the community reaches out to you, so I'm happy to tell you how I experience the Austrian eCommerce market.
What does Austrian eCommerce look like?
Analyzing Austrian economic situation combined with technology spread and usage, I observe the following:
▪ Trends that you see popping up in the US will take several years to become popular in Austria. In some fields there is a difference of up to 3 years, especially in the area of business models and logistics.
▪ If you see that something is getting recognized in Germany, you will hit the first wave if you implement it in the next 12 months.
▪ You have to deal with a diverse society. Austrians are diversified due to the culture and cultural background of many people living here.
▪ The elderly population is becoming more and more important. They have money and want to spend it. Technology isn't restricted to people below 65: there are so-called silver surfers who learn computer literacy eagerly.
▪ People do shop online. Approximately 50% of Austrians aged between 16 and 74 shopped online in the last 12 months. Narrow the group down to 25-34 and you get 71%. Among the most popular online products you can find clothing and sports products, vacation booking, reading materials and event tickets.
▪ People like mobile shopping. According to statistics from Google, smartphone penetration in Austria rose from 21% in 2011 to 36% in 2012. Of those, 24% of people made a purchase using their devices while others bought from PC right after they researched best deals via their phones. These numbers are not as high as in the US, but I can bet there will be a strong increase in the next two years.
Magento in Austria
When I started working with Magento in 2009, none of our clients in Austria knew this platform. They simply asked for a web store. We evaluated requirements and recommended them Magento, if it was the right choice. We had to give them good reasons why they should go with this young platform they never heard of. They usually gave a thought and agreed.
Fast forward to 2012. Nowadays most of the clients don't ask for just a web store: they want specifically Magento store. It's us now who take over the role of skeptics, asking "Why do you want to use Magento? What are your requirements?"
We are convinced that Magento is the best solution for many clients, but they shouldn't go for it only because it's a new kid on the block.
There used to be a few key players on the Austrian market before Magento has entered.
Small to medium number of merchants favoured osCommerce and its descendants. Namely, there was a tendency to use xt:Commerce. The latest version 4, xt:Commerce VEYTON, was created by one Austrian company, so it was used quite heavily.
I don't see other popular systems - Zen Cart, VirtueMart and PrestaShop - being used around here much. Maybe, they are not targeted or marketed well enough for the diversified European market.
A lot of merchants in Austria primarily use hybris. There are also a few Demandware web stores and some Austrian departments of large international enterprises may use Intershop, but hybris is the central part.
In the last few years Magento gained strong popularity in the small-to-medium market segment. Many merchants switch to Magento when their old solutions become outdated. While many of big merchants still use hybris and other platforms mentioned above, quite a number of well-known Austrian businesses run their stores on Magento. Among them are NiEDERMEYER (consumer electronics), Libro (240 chain stores), Schloss Schönbrunn(most visited tourist attraction in Austria), KTM (famous for its motor bikes). Other established brands are building Magento stores this very moment.
Magento regulars’ table in Vienna
Thanks to my personal website, where I'm blogging about Magento in my spare time, I got to know a few great guys from German Magento community. By the way, Germany is really good at building communities, organizing meetups and building all kinds of connections.
There was nothing like that in Austria. I started to ask around and called for action on my blog, but besides a few of our partners there was hardly any reaction.
Then, in May 2012, I crossed the border once again and visited the Meet Magento conference in Leipzig, Germany to learn about the latest Magento news and represent our company LimeSoda. Walter Huber, another great guy and CTO of our partner Flimmit, joined us. We talked about initiating a regulars’ table long before, but it was the conference atmosphere that pushed us to take the next step. By chance, we also met a few other Austrian Magento developers and found out we are not alone.
Back in Vienna, we took action and announced the first Magento regulars' table in Vienna. On September 5, 2012 we gathered 17 participants together in a nice Austrian restaurant. Less than 3 months later, we had our second event on November 28 with about 20 participants and some new faces.
What I have learned so far as Magento developer and Magento-Stammtisch organizer:
▪ There are a bunch of good developers out there. You just have to find them.
▪ The Austrian Magento community doesn't really exist yet, but we will get there. We have a lot of potential, and everybody is happy that the first steps have been made.
▪ Bring a group of developers, clients, venture capitalists in one room and in three hours you will get more useful output than in a month of reading numerous blog in the Web.
▪ Community groups are big fun.
▪ The next event will be in January or February of 2013.
I hope you gained a small insight into Austrian eCommerce market. We are living in an exciting era, when eCommerce is growing up and becoming a global phenomenon, changing the idea of how we work and live. If you are in the eCommerce business, enjoy the ride and try to get the most of it.
It's fascinating to be here in Austria and see the future by looking at the big markets in the US and Germany. I'd also love to get stuff going in Austria, and, of course, I invite you to take part in it. If you are located in Austria or occasionally stop by, feel free to get in touch and visit our next meetup.
*Stammtisch (German: "regulars’ table") is an informal group meeting held on a regular basis, and also usually large, often round table around which the group meets.