Hi Jannik! At the beginning of this interview, could you please introduce yourself and your story of becoming a developer in the e-commerce industry?
Jannik Zinkl: I’m a co-founder of Pfeffer & Frost—an emerging food-centered e-commerce company located in Germany.
I started my professional career as an engineer in mobile telecommunication technology (Telekom). In 2018 I teamed up with my colleague Tilman and the creative studio ELLIJOT here in Nuremberg to create Pfeffer & Frost—a start-up dedicated to sustainably packaged artisan food and cookbooks. It started out as a side project, selling traditionally manufactured Lebkuchen online to get a feeling of the e-commerce market. It has now grown into a shop for artisan food and home goods while becoming an online platform for a community interested in sustainable living. The Christmas season 2020 was our third year and my first year as a full-time developer in the e-commerce industry and as CEO at Pfeffer & Frost.
Pfeffer & Frost
What technologies do you use daily, and what’s your favorite programming language, and why?
What e-commerce tools do you use daily?
Besides Saleor, we use the Zoho-Suite a lot with Zoho Inventory for inventory management and Books for bookkeeping. Our marketing team uses MailChimp for newsletters, different analytics tools from Facebook and Instagram together with Google Analytics to better understand customer behavior.
In previous interviews, we discussed the advantages of using GraphQL over Rest — what are your thoughts on that?
I’m such a big fan of GraphQL, and we are really happy that Saleor is using it as well. While building an integration between Saleor and Zoho I realized how easy it is to pull just the right amount of data you need for a certain step with just one API call. In comparison, it took me five or six different API calls to the Zoho REST API to pull and update data. Furthermore, I had to write a Typescript library for Zoho to make use of strong data typing during the development process. GraphQL makes all this way more developer-friendly and helps us to speed things up a lot!
When did you start your adventure with Saleor, and why did you decide to go with a headless platform?
We have started to work with Saleor two years ago as we were searching for an alternative to all the standard PHP-based webshop systems that are on the market today. We don’t believe in the old fashioned PHP systems — the future is headless! After a long and disappointing search, we finally found Saleor! Since then we have deep-dived into the system and got to know the people behind it and other companies using it. The system is improving continuously, and with the App system and Metadata, we have an excellent way to adapt the core to our needs.
“Saleor is the super-fast and versatile e-commerce system we have been looking for. A fully customizable solution that grows with your needs—without the fixed transaction fees that come with Shopify and others.”
We are working on bringing the best Next.js features into the Saleor storefront. Recently, we’ve seen that you have developed two great new stores powered by Saleor. We have to admit - a great job! What’s more interesting is the first one has a fully custom Next.js storefront. Were there any challenges that you faced during your development?
I think we are among the first people to use Next.js / JAMStack in a production-ready store. Our goal was to have a really high Lighthouse score as well as a fast and lightweight shop. The challenges that we faced were server-side-rendering specific. Our product pages are fully pre-rendered on the server, so no Apollo Client is needed throughout most parts of the page (except the checkout for sure). When you are pre-rendering the whole page it means that the server opens all combinations of products, collections, and languages in a short period of time, resulting in high traffic spikes for Saleor. But in the end, we are thrilled with the result, and we continuously play back our experiences to the Saleor and Next.js communities.
Saleor Cloud is currently in beta. What do you think of it, and would you consider using it in the future?
Yes for sure! It is really important to us that the whole project is open-source, but the hosting itself is not an important part. In the end, we just want a stable service. With Saleor Apps we have a nice option to customize the system without changing the core — it is just as important that all the basic functionalities like payment gateways run without issues. Right now, we are still maintaining our own Saleor fork.
If you had to name the essential Saleor features for you, which would they be?
For us, what’s really important in our daily work is the Saleor Dashboard, as it is the interface between developers and marketing. It is really fast and easy to use and enables non-tech people to make important changes on the webshop. We are trying to bring all available shop settings and translations into the dashboard, everybody could just work independently. The GraphQL API is important to us as well. Together with Typescript, it enables us to realize difficult data structures and to develop at high speed.
Would you recommend using Saleor?
Yes, for sure! We hope to realize more Shops with Saleor in the future and will publish Apps in the Marketplace as soon as it comes available.
We are working on a few killer features, including multi-channel commerce. What are your expectations for Saleor?
Most things are already there and don’t need to be re-invented. Shopify is the market leader and it makes sense to imitate features that work really well there. I believe that more and more companies will soon start using Saleor. I hope for the best ;)
We’d like to thank Jannik for taking the time to talk about his experience in e-commerce.
Find out more about Pfeffer & Frost by visiting their website.
You can also check out their Instagram profile.