11. Aug 2023

In the thick of things instead of just being there: How the Bergfreunde made the Shopmacher part of their own development team

Since 2019, the e-commerce agency Shopmacher has been working for the online mountain sports retailer Bergfreunde. But the collaboration is different from what one is used to from classic agencies.

The online mountain sports retailer Bergfreunde.de has developed into one of the leading online retailers for outdoor accessories in Europe in just under two decades. Around 600 employees are now working to offer mountain sports and outdoor enthusiasts the best possible shopping experience.

Since 2019, the e-commerce agency Shopmacher from Gescher has also been supporting Bergfreunde in the further development of its award-winning online store – and with a construct that is unusual in the agency landscape: the online retailer has booked only pure development resources with the service provider. The complete project management takes place in-house.

The shopmaker developers are controlled by the mountain friends

A total of seven Shopmacher developers now work full-time for the outdoor store. They complement the 30-strong team of developers that Bergfreunde has built up in-house and take on special areas such as updating the store to the latest Oxid version including documentation, maintaining the store or setting up the connected API gateway. “Like the in-house developers, we also work completely in the Bergfreunde universe,” says Patrick Blom, Shopmacher’s account lead in the Bergfreunde project, describing the setting. “We use Mountain Friends’ technologies to develop locally, move around their Jira, attend business meetings, and are integrated with Teams Chat.”

In concrete terms, the collaboration looks like this: The Bergfreunde control new projects that need to be done via the project manager at the Shopmachern. He writes the ticket stories and distributes the tasks in the Shopmacher team. After implementation and quality assurance, the project goes back to the mountain friends for acceptance. In addition, a Shopmacher developer works detached from his colleagues directly in a developer team of the Bergfreunde. “This is our free radical, so to speak, who only reports to me once a day what he has to do at any given time,” Blom laughs.

Offshoring from Vietnam supports rapid staff expansion

Because Bergfreunde’s need for external developers from Shopmacher grew over the years, the service provider suggested recruiting additional manpower from Vietnam via offshoring. “The professionals there are characterized by incredible knowledge and an extremely high work ethic,” says the Shopmacher man. “Also, in Vietnam, we can very quickly provide the number of people we need.”

Those responsible at Bergfreunde were taken with the idea from the start – but saw a particular challenge in taking into account both European and US data protection guidelines. But this problem could also be solved: “The Vietnamese developers do not have access to the live data. But you can work with the test data without any restrictions,” Blom explains.

Oliver Lucas, Managing Partner of ecom consulting GmbH

Cultural hurdles can be solved quickly

In the meantime, four Vietnamese colleagues work for Bergfreunde, especially in the team responsible for API development. They are also directly controlled by the mountain friends. For this purpose, communication throughout the team was switched to English. “In the beginning, there were some language hurdles, because the Vietnamese accent takes a little getting used to,” the Shopmacher team leader tells us. “But we solved that quickly with English classes.” The six-hour time difference between Vietnam and Germany is both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, this means that work can be done around the clock on the further development of the store. On the other hand, project management must distribute the tasks in the team in good time so that there is no idle time anywhere.

In Patrick Blom’s view, another hurdle that is easy to overcome once you know it is the mentality of Vietnamese colleagues. “They would never criticize their supervisor on their own or question an idea of theirs,” he explains. But that is exactly what is important in IT projects – and the knowledge in Vietnam is diverse and high due to the international component. “The opinion of our colleagues is very valuable to us. And they have come to trust us that they can voice criticism without facing negative consequences.”

In addition to the successful integration of Shopmacher’s specialists into Bergfreunde’s DEV teams, however, the technological component of the collaboration is also noteworthy: Over the past three years, the teams have gutted and dynamized large parts of the proven and stable Oxid backend, so that even the very individual requirements of Bergfreude’s sales team can be implemented efficiently and the overall architecture still continues to run in a very stable manner. Functions such as background jobs for creating data feeds, sending transaction emails, and various interfaces for importing data from the store logic were successively outsourced to special systems, which improved the store’s updateability. The system also moved to a scalable Kubernetes cluster last year, making it highly performant and cost-effective.

Among other things, the further development of the store APIs and the migration of the Bergfreunde store to the announced latest version 7 of Oxid are on the to-do list for this year – with combined forces from Gescher, Đà Nẵng and Kirchentellinsfurt, the headquarters of Bergfreunde.

What we can also do

Shopmacher Resources

We build your own development team

Shopmacher Consulting

Our experts help with their know-how

Shopmacher Operations

Know-how, capacity and development power on time.

Cookie Consent Banner by Real Cookie Banner