Marketplace Developer Diaries: Fooman
November 23, 2017
Commerce merchants must be efficient across all channels and touchpoints. Customers expect efficiency across both their in-store and online purchases. Fooman, a long-time Magento developer partner, has been coding extensions since 2008. For the past nine years, they’ve been bringing efficiency across a number of commerce pain points to help merchants save time and money. We sat down with Kristof Ringleff, Fooman founder, lead Magento developer, and two-time Magento Master to learn about the top Fooman extensions.
Magento: How long have you been working on apps for Magento Connect and/or Magento Marketplace?
Kristof: For an entire decade! I started working with Magento way back in their pre-release phase in 2007. I always had an inkling in the back of my head that commerce was going to get bigger and bigger and this was where I wanted to be. Today, I consider myself the extension guy at Fooman. I spend most of my time coding extensions, supporting customers and communicating with others at various Magento events.
Magento: How did Fooman begin?
Kristof: I started Fooman in 2007 just before Magento came onto the scene. It definitely took a few years for the business to grow, and it took time to hire my first developer. But then it took off rapidly and it’s been an amazing ride. We now have six people at the company working on extensions and helping with customer support. I run Fooman from Auckland, New Zealand, and work with talented people around the world. To date, we have over 170,000 downloads worldwide across 160 countries. I'm always floored when I hear that number.
Magento: Which extensions are Fooman most known for? Walk us through the features of popular extensions like Connect Xero and Order Manager.
Kristof: We have around 20 extensions live right now and they all follow the theme of “making life easier” – especially for merchants. One of our biggest sellers is Connect: Xero. This extension allows merchants to automatically export Magento orders, customer data, items and credit notes to the Xero accounting platform. Even when a merchant has significant sales per month across different countries, Connect: Xero takes the hassle (and time!) out of managing those accounts.
Another popular extension is Order Manager. One problem we noticed in working with our own customers was that processing many orders at a time slowed down the merchant. This extension simplifies the order fulfillment process and adds one-click bulk order processing – everything from creating invoices to sending mass order updates.
I love when customers email me to share how helpful they find our extensions. That’s the most rewarding part of this all. It’s really awesome to have people email or share a review that our extension has simplified their business and lets them get on with their job.
Magento: Did your extension ideas come from your personal use of Magento?
Kristof: Totally. Not only do we create extensions, but we run our own Magento store to sell them. In the early days of coding and working with Magento, many of our ideas came from a personal need for these features to run our own store more efficiently. We figured if we needed a feature to run our own store, other merchants probably did as well. Over the years, we’ve continued to work very closely with merchants and developers who use our extensions, and their feedback has kept us informed about what our customer base requires.
Magento: What are some examples of merchants using your extensions?
Kristof: One customer, Gifts Less Ordinary, a luxury online marketplace offering unique and personalized gifts, sells in six countries (with three more coming on board this year). When they chose Connect: Xero, they needed a solution that would give full visibility into Magento sales data in Xero, and be 100% accurate and reliable. The company has been able to automate processes and scale quickly across multiple markets with our Connect: Xero.
Magento: Any big projects on the horizon?
Kristof: We like to focus on the problems that solve immediate merchant needs today. Our extensions provide immediate time-saving benefits to merchants, so they can focus on building their businesses. I am interested in big trends like VR and AI, but those are further down the line in terms of mass market adoption so aren’t among the immediate needs of our customers.
Magento: What are some of your favorite extensions aside from your own? Are there any “must-haves” for Magento Commerce?
Kristof: There are so many extensions it’s hard to keep track. Some of my favorites are the ones we use on our own store like SMTP Pro, a plug-in email provider to send our emails. We also use MailChimp to power our newsletter and sync subscribers to our shop.
Magento: Any advice for other developers?
Kristof: Listen to the merchant. As developers, we’re two steps removed from end customers. And customers are ultimately what drives merchants’ success. Be open to additions and communicate with customers closer to the final use of your code.