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08. September 2015

The Do's and Dont's of bringing Commercial E-Commerce Software to Otto.de

In this blog you will find a lot of information on how we implement code for our shop in the best way. But in some cases we also buy commercial standard software, for instance for components which give us a faster time to market or which cannot be implemented by us in a better or more cost effective way.

Another reason to buy software is data exchange with external systems using standard interfaces when there are products on the market which have already implemented those interfaces.

Additionally, we want to improve experience in using software as a service (SAAS).

In the past months some of my team members and me had several workshops with different vendors to find commercial software components for some parts of our ecommerce platform. Independently from concrete products and vendors, we made some good and some not so good experiences in presentations held by vendors to help us find what we need. And that is what we want to share in this article.

So, read this carefully if you are a software vendor!

  • Prepare yourself well: That can mean to remove cash dispensers from your presentations. We sell fashion and lifestyle, not money. It also means to have presentation files up to date.
  • Be honest: If we decide to buy your product due to features which it in fact has not implemented, both sides will have trouble while trying to keep things fixed in the integration phase. We don't like to liquidate projects.
  • Love your product and share that with us. Good powerpoint slides are nice but showing your product in action whenever possible raises credibility.

Give us insights, come with tekkies: We claim deep technical insights in your solutions. A decision to buy a software is never done only from the business side.

  • Don’t come with a group of 10 when only 2 are presenting. This indicates that other clients of you pay too much for the software and we will do so, too, if we would buy your product.
  • Don't say 'We will implement that for you' too often. We want to participate from your standard.
  • Don't come with a team of people who have never seen each other. We don't like test presentations or discussions on your side, e.g. if a product has a certain feature or not.
  • Take our requirements regarding security and privacy serious, also if you are used to another way of thinking.
  • Read dev.otto.de That shows you the way we think. Our requirements regarding external commercial software are almost the same than for internally developed software. If you are a sales person, ask a tekkie for translation.
  • Take 'agile' serious: It is not like employing a couple of students to impress customers' millenials. We experience the agile approach as the best way to getting things done in many situations.
  • Hide all the 'magic' and other quadrants to show where your software is located regarding that of your competitors. Our experience is that software can fit or "unfit" our requirements completely - independant from its location in an only two-dimensional quadrant.
  • Be careful with references. If four competitors for one product all have the same company as reference simply because they installed their product in a test environment in an office far from nowhere, credibility goes away.
  • Don’t ask us where the people are to whom you have to talk to make decisions. Normally, we do that because our bosses trust their experts.
  • Take our SLA requirements serious. It's not about mistrust, it's about commonly sharing trust in your software and our non-functional needs.
  • Maybe we decide for another product. That doesn't mean that your product is bad in any case but that there is another product that fits our needs better. (If your product in fact is bad, we will tell you.)
  • Don't be arrogant. We can imagine that, at times, you have trouble with other departments in your company. But we are really not interested in that while you are presenting your software.


  • 28.09.2015 10:05 Uhr

    This is a wonderful posting - straight to the point. Reminds me of many pitches where these "rules" were not being followed.

  • 22.09.2015 12:09 Uhr

    Great article Jürgen, really a must read for any software vendor. Having worked in sales for a software vendor before, this would actually have helped me a lot back then. I admit I did some of the "DONTs" you mentioned and I promise I will not do them again ;)

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Jürgen Holtschmidt

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