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Interview: Wander on Magento

Magento covers a vast range of use - starting from a basic standard shop and ending with a highly specific custom solution [and] offers a vast number of possibilities and options ... a milestone in the history of online shops.

Stephan Schöll - Unic Internet Solutions


Can you tell us a bit about Wander and Unic?

Wander AG develops, produces and merchandises high-value food products under its well-recognized brand name and is known for unique food and drink experiences for everyday life. Probably the best known brands are the chocolate drink Ovomaltine and the sports drink Isostar.

Unic (a Magento Platinum Partner) designs, develops and operates integrated Internet Solutions that boost our clients' success. With more than 110 employees in our offices in Berne and Zurich, Unic is one of Switzerland's leading providers of professional internet services with vast expertise in the fields of E-Commerce, Online Marketing and Enterprise Content Management.

Wander and Unic have been in a partnership for 10 years now in different Internet-related areas: web content management, e-mail marketing, web analytics e-commerce, and hosting.

Why did you choose Magento for the project?

We were asking ourselves the following questions. Does it make sense to extend an over-grown, proprietary shop-system (which is based on active server pages) with the further time and incredibly high effort to do so? Or would it be better to start from the beginning using a new, future-oriented shop system. Furthermore, the former shop administration interface was not quite user friendly. Finally, we could win our client with the new solution, by showing the benefits of using Magento and in pointing out the opportunity to cut down costs.

One of the client's requirements was to recreate the existing front-end in an unchanged way. Nonetheless, both parties agreed to take the chance to implement some of the details in a newly fashioned manner and to not maintain old structures which bring no benefit to the new solution.

What technologies are currently implemented / integrated in the frontend and behind-the-scenes?
  • Smoothly linked with the Wander Web Content Management System
  • Fulfillment partner (3rd party) has direct access to the Magento Admin Area
  • Currently running on a virtualized LAMP server after having a few issues on the initially preferred Windows environment during the development phase (Version 1.0).
What other solutions did you consider/evaluate?

In the past we have been implementing shop projects focusing on Product Information Management based on "hybris". Smaller projects were realized using solutions like xt:Commerce or TYPO3 module. For this case we also did a broad evaluation with almost every well-known open source shop system. For flexible e-shops in the low end and middle price segment, the mentioned tools were barely an option for us. Because the user had a clear view of how the solution should look like, we decided to use Magento as a flexible base system even if some functionality and features could not be used "out of the box" and had to be developed specifically for the client's needs (thanks to Varien for your support!).

What are your future plans with the site?

The past shown that a marketing-oriented shop has to cope with changes constantly. The Wander shop is a intensively used marketing instrument. Therefore, the implemented shop solutions needs to react on requirements changes in a quick and flexible manner. Examples are Wanders specific wishes in the areas of promotions and discounts. We are curious and confident on how we can support Wander in their marketing in the future.

Any recommendations for people evaluating Magento?

Magento covers a vast range of use - starting from a basic standard shop and ending with a highly specific custom solution. Concerning its client segments it can support start-ups and small companies as well medium companies. The most central aspect is of course the shop itself. As soon as there is an integration into an ERP or product information management system required, I doubt whether setting up or building these connections really fit into a start-up budget. In my opinion, the strength of Magento lies mainly in the medium price segment even if this solution currently springs up like mushrooms.

On a technical level Magento is very demanding for the developers involved. On the one hand the relatively steep learning curve together with the currently rather sparse documentation must be taken into account specially when planning the first few projects. On the other hand we discovered that the stony path developers have to take is seamed with numerous highlights and positive surprises. Magento not only for your marketing department, but also for your technicians is a milestone in the history of online shops.

Any final words of wisdom?

Magento isn't just an "out of the box" shop system. Magento offers a vast number of possibilities and options. It's basically not just "here it is, use it". Thus it is key to talk about and define the perfect setup for the individual customer case. During the realization we benefited enormously from a intense preliminary conception phase.

I wish that the clear (software) design and the exciting flexibility of Magento may be preserved. There are enough (open source) shop solutions - well established and in the market for a long time already - which have fossilized and are not extensible or even updateable anymore. May this fate stay far from Magento.

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