A little over two weeks ago, the PrestaShop community got together in Düsseldorf for its second MeetUp organized entirely by PrestaShop ambassador Eugen Kuschnir. I had the opportunity to interview Eugen about his role as ambassador and organizing local MeetUps.
Eugen, first I would like to ask: how did you find out about PrestaShop? What was your first experience of the shop system?
As a software developer, I also participate in a few e-commerce projects. Almost one year ago, in December 2014, I came across PrestaShop by chance, and I was immediately sucked in. The system’s ease of use gave me a good first impression, and that was reason enough to carry out more complete tests. So I tested several scenarios, which all turned out very well at the end. Of course, the relationship with the community is also a plus. When there’s a problem, there are always developers who are there to help us. For example, I encountered some problems with a payment connection, but developers at Gurkcity found a solution.
You decided to become a PrestaShop Ambassador. What inspired you to do this?
On June 11, I went to the PrestaShop Day in Paris where the ambassador program was presented for the first time. I feel that one of the system’s main advantages lies in its open-source spirit, and I can always rely on the strong links that bring the community together. The ambassador program was the perfect opportunity to further develop my relationships with other merchants and PrestaShop agencies, and share my knowledge and experience. In short, I applied and had an interview with Hagen Meischner, the Country Manager for DACH and Sabrina Marechal, the ambassador program manager. In September I became an active ambassador – I would like to specify that it’s an unpaid, volunteer position.
The second Community MeetUp was held on December 2. What is a MeetUp like and where is it held?
My goal in the future is to organize a gathering for the community every month: a traditional MeetUp will be held every two months and a planning meeting will be organized in the off months.
And you actively participate in this meeting?
Yes, I also participate in it. Up until now, MeetUps revolved around general discussions, with topics specific to e-commerce and PrestaShop. In the future, we want to take the event further with members of the community who are interested in the technical side of things. Concrete problems will be presented for which we will discuss ideas and solutions or develop small modules. Think of it as a “mini-hackathon”. We will also talk about the technical aspects of a shop’s everyday operations.
What do MeetUps have in store for participants?
The fundamental idea behind the MeetUps is to bring members of a virtual community together in the real world. For that, the format of the MeetUp has proven itself effective. Whoever is interested in PrestaShop, e-commerce or any other topic is welcome: the MeetUp is free and open to all. As ambassador, I set the date, find the venue, etc. Everything is organized on Meetup.com and Eventbrite. Of course, PrestaShop helps with their blog, newsletter, social media accounts, etc.
The first MeetUps showed that direct discussions helped created entirely new relationships among merchants, developers, and agencies, which didn't happen on the PrestaShop forum or on other channels.
Each MeetUp’s topics are chosen by the participants themselves, either directly during the MeetUp or when participants come up with an important point that will be discussed in the next MeetUp and for which preparation is needed.
What were the topics of the last MeetUp?
The main theme of the last meeting was the new version of PrestaShop. In a video podcast, Sébastien Levaillant, Product Management Director, gave an overview of the next version and presented certain features. Merchants and developers expressed needs and wants that are very different for version 1.7: discussions are far from over on the subject.
Furthermore, there were many discussions on the test method for Trusted Shops and Händlerbund shops, as well as what merchants need to check for these tests. The Patworx agency also presented its new Amazon Payments Module at this MeetUp. With Amazon Payments, a new payment method is available to merchants that offers customers a user-friendly purchasing experience.
Of course, other practical issues for merchants were discussed by support, such as tips on optimizing search engines and importing CSV data.
One last question, Eugen: what would you like to see at the next MeetUps?
Personally, I would like for there to be more participants. For each of the two meetings, there were 15 people on-site. It was a good mix of merchants and developers, and we would love for web designers to be able to attend the next meeting. Then the MeetUps would bring together all the roles that participate in creating an online shop.