Categories
Thoughts

Competition

Note: The post below was written back in September 2014, when I was starting to feel a bit down about how poorly the Shopify sales of my app were going — especially after being featured on the front page of the app store without much attention. I did not publish it back then, because I once promised myself that I would try to mostly stay away from online rants. However, I think it provides some context to my March 2015 post about what happened next during my period of complete independence. So here you go.


I often get emotionally involved in my software. For example, I feel physically uncomfortable when I find a bug in some code I have written. I should probably write better tests to insure my well-being. Anyway, I want to talk about a bit about competition.

Antecons, the recommendation engine that I am working on, has now been around for about a year on the Shopify app store. When Antecons was first released, there were three other competing recommendation engines on the app store and one of them had been added just a few weeks before Antecons. Since then, three or four more have popped up on the app store. Recommendation engines and data analysis must be hot business because all of these competing apps seem to be doing very well and are getting nice reviews from the customers. This is a bit of a let down for me because it does not seem like Antecons is enjoying the same success.

What I am starting to realize is that it probably does not matter that Antecons always use SSL for increased privacy and security (unlike most of the other apps), that the Antecons JavaScript code is minified to reduce bandwidth for the webshop visitors (unlike at least two of the other apps) or that I do not write fake reviews (like at least one other app). No one will pat me on the shoulder for doing what I feel is a tiny bit extra “niceness” of the overall package. Oh well.

Categories
Antecons

Creating a Shopify plugin

This post is about Antecons, a product recommendation engine, now part of Conversio. Antecons is no longer commercially available, but I have kept my developer diary on my website with permission.


In the last post about Antecons, I wrote about frequent patterns and MapReduce. Since then, this base functionality has been tweaked to work a little better but the main focus has been on creating the first plugin for Antecons: A Shopify app.

I have previously mentioned that it is important to me that Antecons can be easy to set up. Although focusing on the API initially was a great way to get started, it has become clear after some thought that the reach is limited if the entire product is just an API from the beginning. So I have begun implementing a plugin (or an app as they call it) for Shopify. There are two reasons for choosing Shopify as the first integrated platform for Antecons:

  1. It is easy to get started with app development on Shopify and their API is quite extensive.
  2. Shopify was simply something I knew before-hand so I did not need to research other options too much.

So far, it has been a good experience working with the Shopify API. Integrating with Python/Google App Engine was very easy thanks to their open source API bindings for python.

The Shopify app for Antecons is not finished yet or at least, I do not consider it in a state where I can release it. However, it is in state where it installs correctly and delivers recommendations to the webshop it is installed on. Instead of writing a lot about that, below are some screenshots that show the functionality. The suggestions by Antecons are the little “You might also like” products.

Antecons installation start
Antecons installation start
Antecons app authentication
Antecons app authentication
Antecons installed
Antecons installed
Product page suggestion
Product page suggestion
Cart page suggestion
Cart page suggestion