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Shopify or Shopware? How Startup fairjeans found the right shop system

The miserable working conditions in many areas of the textile industry was the topic of a discussion forum in Freiburg, in which Walter Blauth participated in 2013.

A little background story

“You can argue a long time, but what can we actually do?” Thought Walter Blauth loud and the solution was promptly presented: “We start with pants”. Jeans are after all a product that almost everyone buys and has multiple.

However, the conventional production of jeans pollutes the environment and endangers human lives. it could not go on like that. The challenge was to create a pair of pants that does not exceed the price of a branded jeans, but is completely “clean”.

This brought the label fairjeans to life, initially under the sole leadership of Walter Blauth. In 2016, Miriam Henninger joined and became co-founder of fairjeans OHG. Thanks to her experience as a product developer for big fashion labels, the startup suddenly had the necessary fashion know-how and helpful contacts.

In the interview, the founders Walter and Miriam report on their experiences when testing different shop solutions. For us they draw the comparison: “Shopware vs. Shopify “and give tips for efficient decision-making.

Miriam Henninger and Walter Blauth – The founders of fairjeans

What was your vision for your startup fairjeans?

Walter: When I met Miriam, we knew right away that we fit together very well. She is a fashion designer and therefore has a lot of experience with production. And that was very important for us both to get fairjeans going.

The idea was to create classic models for men and women, which ranked between 100 and 130 euros. We wanted to maintain the complete manufacturing process in Europe. We planned to monitor the production, starting with the cultivation of organic cotton.

Each step should be controlled according to social and environmental criteria. For this we have agreed on the GOTS standard (Global Organic Textile Standard) and produced according to its specifications. This means that every single step in production is checked. It was important to us that we know our producers personally – production in Europe made that possible for us.

How did you come to the appropriate producers for your project?

Walter: We researched and visited trade fairs to find producers. The moment we made the decision to make fair jeans, everything else just went through research. The deciding factor was Miriam’s experience of producing a production, making cuts and patterns, etc. Without this knowledge, fairjeans would not exist.

Miriam: Before my time there were two or three other actors involved. But none of them came from the fashion sector. So it was good that I knew how to approach it and how the fashion business works. One or the other contact we could and can still use today. But the main contact to our producers actually happened by chance.

They started the online shop initially with Shopware. Why did you want to enter e-commerce?

We wanted to distribute via the web, because you can reach more people about it.

Miriam: Actually, we are both stationary and online. We wanted to distribute via the web, because you can reach more people about it.

Walter: We started with Shopware with Magento. That was our first shop. Then the system was hacked and we were looking for something stable and secure.

Then we came across Shopware. Unfortunately, we did not research well enough and then realized that the licenses to use Shopware properly were simply too expensive.

We were never really happy with Shopware because it was just too bulky.

The system was okay. But if you do everything manually, such as single orders, it is very slow and expensive. We were never really happy with Shopware because it was just too bulky.

Where did you find out about Shopware?

Walter: I searched online for a system where we can also enter our warehouse system management via a cash register system. That’s what we put on Shopware, but then it became more and more expensive.

Actually, one would have to hire a programmer for it.

Miriam: It was not as easy as we had imagined. Actually, one would have to hire a programmer for it. We did not want to and could not afford that at the beginning, because we were relatively small.

Walter: We are still a startup and should pay 500 Euro per month just for a license. And then we realized that this is not the way for us. Shopware was not suitable for our company.

Nevertheless you started to build the shopware shop yourself?

Walter: Yes, I’m a web and graphic designer, so I had the right skills. The problem was the expandability for each module that you had to buy extra. That was too complicated.

Not everything was bad. Shopware coped well with our storage system. The functions that Shopware offers in the B2B area are all available without the additional costs for licenses. But during the period we were in, Shopware was just too big.

What requirements have emerged in order to operate the Shopware shop lucratively?

Walter: On the one hand, it was a matter of solving the cash register problem and, on the other hand, of stimulating marketing activities. As far as the marketing world is concerned, the marketing expert, Christoph from the agency Greenblut, showed us that Shopware would have made it very difficult to get where we wanted to go. Since you would have to take a lot of money in the hand.

So we saw two options:

1) Either hire a programmer who will create all these tools for us.

2) Or change and start again with Shopify, which brings all necessary functions and only needs to be set up.

How did you hear about Shopify?

Walter: Through our marketing consulting. I met Christoph at a trade fair. We then looked together to see where it got stuck, and found that we needed a flexible shop system that was compatible with the latest marketing tools and also fast.

I tried the trial version of Shopify and the shop was almost finished within a few minutes. That was a completely different world.

Christoph then told us about Shopify, as many of his customers are already satisfied with the system. So I tried the trial version and the shop was almost finished within a few minutes. That was a completely different world.

How did you feel about the move from Shopware to Shopify?

Walter: We did not have to move. Shopify creates the products and the variants. We bought the design. That went relatively fast.

Miriam: We had two shops running in parallel for a short time.

Walter: Then we changed our domain to Shopify. That was actually very simple. The agency showed us how modern marketing works and that you need the right tools for it. These tools were easy to find and integrate with Shopify. To do the same with Shopware, we would have needed a programmer. We would not have been financially strong enough for that.

What tools did you love the most about Shopify?

Walter: These were mainly apps for reviews and automatic emails to customers. We did not have to do anything and suddenly had reviews on our website. There are many tools that make the process more attractive to customers and intercept them. In this form I could not imagine to realize that with Shopware.

Miriam: Before we did the coaching with Christoph, we did not know what was possible. What you can use and where it can lead you, for example through marketing automation. We knew very little about that before. We also did not know how to implement the measures, or that there are tools that you only have to deal with once and then it works.

Was there a specific case study that could increase your sales?

Walter: Yes, the whole system. We have found that it pays to invest time in and integrate these marketing efforts. And then orders come in. Customers can be picked up by retargeting when they jump off the cart. Of course we have not exhausted everything yet. For us it is definitely a very good way and eventually we will master all the tools.

Miriam: As a case study, I think of the payment method “credit card”. At Shopware we could not offer this payment method because it was very complicated. You would have had to deal with every credit card provider.

At Shopify, this could easily be integrated into the existing system as a building block. Then we were able to serve the customers who wanted to pay by credit card. And those are not exactly few, as we have noticed over time.

I have the impression that we have jumped into another era with Shopify. Shopify offers the latest and makes it very easy for users to use it.

Walter: We had previously offered only Sofortüberweisung and Paypal. But Shopify Payments offers it all together. So we have canceled Sofortüberweisung and only use Shopify Payments.

I have the impression that we have jumped into another era with Shopify. Shopify offers the latest and makes it very easy for users to use it.

Do you have favorite apps that you did not have on Shopware and that you would recommend to other Shopify users?

Walter: Yes, there is the App Exchange It. It can be wonderful exchange. It was a nightmare for Shopware because customers could not use the feature without a barcode scanner software. And we would have to pay 500 euros monthly license fee. Therefore, it was hardly possible to do a return or an exchange clean.

Another very important function is storage. Shopify has just integrated it. At Shopware you would also have to buy a license (1.700 Euro) to integrate a merchandise management system.

Miriam: That makes sense if you have a store with 200 or more items. But we finally have seven pants in different sizes and washes.

Walter: At Shopify the return is a click and the customer automatically gets a message. At Shopware you had to manually adjust the inventory, which always meant an uncertainty.

The support reacted very fast and helped us.

Miriam: We also had good experiences with Shopify support. Often it was specific questions that kept us busy, and then we simply wrote to the support team to help us out. Otherwise that would have been extra time for us to do research in the FAQs. Since it is easier to ask someone directly and to get a quick answer.

Walter: That worked very well. The support reacted very fast and helped us.

In the decision Shopware vs Shopify – What would you recommend to online retailers?

Walter: You can try both systems in the trial version and compare. This is the best way to see if a system fits the business or not. I built Shopify in a few hours. You build an app and then turn it off if you do not like it. So fast and easy – I was thrilled!

It is best to make a list of functions that you need, and then look at which system offers these functions and in what form.

With us it was for example:

Display warehousing Print invoices and shipping labels Process returns / exchanges Checkout (integration with stock from the shop)

How is your balance to Shopify as a shop solution?

Walter: Easy, pleasant system, which makes work fun. With orders everything goes so fast: After three clicks the bill is there, the label printed out and the stock changed. Fantastic.

Miriam: I, as a non-web designer and computer expert, do not know if I would have managed to build the shop with Shopify. I did not try it either. With Shopware I would have done it in any case, maybe with Shopify.

At Shopify, the structure is much more logical and easier. That’s where I find everything I need. At Shopware, I had to think about a thousand corners.

The look at Shopify felt a lot better, just the interface design, but also the navigation menu – what can you find where? This is much more logical and easier with Shopify. That’s where I find everything I need. At Shopware, I had to think about a thousand corners.

Walter: There are so many windows open. At some point you did not even know where you were actually working.

Miriam: At Shopify I have my orders, my products and my statistics all in one place. This is very manageable. There is more logic in it.

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