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25 MIN

Ep. #127, Open Source eCommerce with Saurav Pathak of Bagisto

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about the episode

In episode 127 of Jamstack Radio, Brian speaks with Saurav Pathak of Bagisto about open source tools for building ecommerce sites. Together they explore PHP frameworks, IndiaStack, the pain points developers have with ecommerce, and why so many developers around the world are building with Laravel.

Saurav Pathak is Chief Product Officer of Bagisto. Previously, Saurav was a full-time business developer at Webkul.


Brian Douglas: Welcome to another installment of Jamstack Radio. On the line we've got Saurav talking about Bagisto, which I don't know if I said Bagisto correctly or anything correctly. But welcome to the podcast, how are you doing?

Saurav Pathak: Yeah, I'm doing great. Thank you so much for inviting me on the podcast, and you did sound it correctly. It's Bagisto, it's perfect.

Brian: Bagisto, excellent. Yeah, so do you want to introduce yourself to the audience? Who are you? What do you do?

Saurav: Yeah, so my name is Saurav Pathak. I am the Chief Product Officer at Bagisto, Bagisto is an open source eCommerce platform that we built on Laravel and launched it back in October, 2018. It's been around like four and a half years, this year we will complete five years, and yeah, things have been going great. It's the very first open source venture that we started back in 2018.

We don't have any idea on how we grew up building that community, building some channels, how we are going to drive the financials and everything. But over the years we learnt a lot, we did so many experiments with our project, and yes, being a bootstrap venture has been a great experience over the past four years.

Brian: Okay, excellent. So is the company Bagisto? Or is that just a project?

Saurav: I would say that Webkul is the parent company of Bagisto. About Webkul, I would say Webkul is one of the biggest players in the eCommerce ecosystem, providing plugins and extensions across 22 eCommerce frameworks, 90% of which are open source. So Webkul started back in 2010 by Mr. Vipin Sahu, Vanay Yadav and Prakash Sahu. It's been around 12 years for Webkul, Webkul has been very much heavily focused on doing development in the eCommerce and while doing all these works around eCommerce, dealing with so many merchants.

To be exact, we have around more than 80,000 plus customers around the world. We got to know so many pros and cons, and the things that the merchants are looking to have, that developers are looking to have. Based on their feedback we started building our own community project, Bagisto, and we launched in 2018. So Bagisto, you can say, is one of the community open source projects launched by Webkul.

Brian: Okay, good to know. And then so Bagisto, open source, I'm curious to find out the pain point for, I guess, the Laravel community. It sounds like Webkul is a payments company, so eCommerce open source projects, you build eCommerce sites and projects, it sounds like right in the wheelhouse. So was there a paint point in the Laravel community for doing eCommerce prior to Bagisto existing?

Saurav: I guess there was a big gap at that time when we launched Bagisto because by the time we launched, Laravel was actually quite popular around the world. There was so many developers working on Laravel. But there was a missing puzzle in the ecosystem that there was no dedicated open source eCommerce built on Laravel, so people who are working on Laravel, either they need to build it from scratch or if an eCommerce project comes, they might need to shift to any other tech stack like Magento or WooCommerce, right? So they don't have much options.

That's a huge gap that we identified at that time, the presence of a solid, open source eCommerce solution that Laravel developers can easily make use of and develop the eCommerce site. That's the very first thing. Second thing is that at that time the frameworks that were in the market like Magento, WooCommerce, PrestaShop, all these tech stacks, there's a huge learning curve. So suppose if you are a college graduate and you came out of college and you want to build an eCommerce site, you need to first of all study these eCommerce frameworks and then go on and build your eCommerce website.

So the learning curve was quite long. We wanted to solve that problem, we wanted to build a platform by which any college graduate having a basic understanding of MVC architecture, Model-View-Controller Architecture, can easily go along and start building the eCommerce platform. Laravel is the one such platform that is very much easy to use and very much easy to adopt.

That's why so many developers across the world are using Laravel, and because of that feature of Laravel we thought of building Bagisto on Laravel so it would be easy to adopt by the developers and also the Laravel ecosystem can get a solid framework by which they can develop their eCommerce site for their customers and for the merchants.

Brian: Excellent. So who are the folks using this? Are these companies or are these developers looking to expand their own personal eCommerce experience?

Saurav: For us, everyone is an end user right now. There is merchants or developers. Usually when we talk of open source projects, we usually think that it's very much focused on the developer's perspective, that they can go and GitHub, go on the repository, start doing customizations and build their solution right.

Initially it was the approach, but gradually when we moved on we had tried to make the process of using Bagisto very much simpler so even a non tech person can easily make use of it.

What we did is that we have tried to make the installation process much more easier for the merchants, and we have tried to publish as much tutorials and documentation which are very much easy, by which we can easily convey the information on what Bagisto is, how you can make use of Bagisto. So over a period of time, we have tried to build an ecosystem around Bagisto so other end users, merchants or developers, everyone can feel very comfortable and ease to make use of Bagisto for their respective use cases.

Brian: Okay. Then I want to talk more about the open source angle too as well, because I know you got featured in the GitHub India... I don't know if it was the remote event quite a few years ago. What was that experience like and how did you get involved with the, I guess, GitHub team?

Saurav: Okay. So GitHub, I guess they have their team in India for a long time but I think two, three years back only they have started focusing a lot on open source. The reason behind this is that because even the Indian government has had studies showing some interest in the open source tech stack. Right now there's a term called India Stack, India Stack comprises of some applications which were made in India by the government using some open source libraries.

When the Indian government got involved and started building the applications using open source, I think two, three years back only when GitHub saw that a large number of Indian developers are actually contributing in the open source. Right now if I say India stands at the second number, because we released a report that India is on the second number where a large number of developers are currently contributing to open source.

So I think because of that reason, GitHub started investing in the open source in India, and they started projecting the, I would say basically, the open source projects that came out from India. Because a few years back there was a scenario that a lot of people are actually contributing to open source but not actually developing something on open source, so that's a difference we saw.

But right now if I would say in this year, in 2023, a lot of open source applications are coming out from India so people have moved from contributing to actually developing applications in open source. So when GitHub saw that, they launched this thing, GitHub, they launched various conferences like GitHub Constellation, GitHub Universe or Galaxy and they started featuring the open source projects that came out from India.

Since we were very much actively involved in a number of open source conferences, going there, tell them about the project and also even organizing open source conferences at our locations as well. So we were very much actively involved in the open source ecosystem on terms of Webkul from the past five or six years. So I think by this way, we got some connection with the guys from GitHub India and we told them that, "Hey, this is a project that will launch," and within a year that project has got something around 1,000 stars and 10,000 downloads and it's increasing.

A lot of developers are adopting it. I think GitHub liked that thing, that how fast the project is going considering it's eCommerce, not a simple application. Yeah, from there they projected this thing in the GitHub Galaxy, the very first conference, and then we got involved in more other conferences with GitHub in India.

Brian: Okay, excellent. Yeah, actually I spent a lot of time at GitHub as an employee and I saw the trend, India being top five for contributors. I was also part of that sort of group that helped plan some of the events in India. I didn't participate, more just helped in the background. But yeah, that's actually one thing that's insightful, that the majority of contributors did not have projects for the longest time, and I think some of the other projects that we saw come out of the country like Hopscotch, it's a project for testing your APIs.

Obviously we got the premier startups like FlipCart, but there's now a lot of opportunity for folks to engage in open source but also showcase their skills through open source. I mentioned FlipCart, but what Webkul... I think the advantage is that open source is a really good... It's a great way to grow adoption by having your project open source and extensible. I notice that you have extensions as well in the marketplace, so how is that integration process? Can I build into a marketplace integration, into Bagisto as well?

Saurav: Yeah. After building the platform, we started building a number of integrations and add-ons because we know that one particular platform with the features that we are giving, it may not fulfill everyone's needs. While working with other eCommerce platforms like Magento and other platforms, we sorted out some options that are in huge demand, like building a marketplace, B2B or B2C, or C2C. Then building some drop shipping application, progressive web apps. So there are some applications that we sorted out which are in huge demand in the other platforms.

From there we got the idea that these are the very first plugins that we should launch in Bagisto so people can adopt Bagisto and start building their own use cases. So we built this plugin and we have tried to build it in a particular way that is kind of like plug and play, so you purchase the plugin, you get the source code, you just merge the repository, run a command and the plugin is integrated right. It's a plain process of plug and play, so in this particular way we have tried to build on a number of extensions.

Right now the scenario is it's not just us, but we do have multiple partners as well who are building their plugins on Bagisto. Right now I think there are 150 plus add-ons on Bagisto Marketplace, I guess that 30% of those add-ons are built by our partners so even they are seeing a good prospect on building the plugin and of course their plugins are also getting sold by that merchant.

So yeah, we build those plugins, we develop this documentation on how you can make a simple package on Bagisto, what's the easy way by which you can make. Yeah, those things, our partners are adopting. They are building their own plugins and that's how the community is growing. On the Webkul perspective, it's not just Bagisto. There are other open source applications that Webkul has launched.

Two years back they also launched this open source CRM on Laravel by the name Krayin. They also have an open source help desk ticketing solution by the name UVdesk, which we also are currently using in Webkul internally. Then there's other open source hotel management system by the name Qlo. Webkul has been investing a lot on the open source ecosystem, building their own projects, and even contributing to other platforms, and even they are giving scholarship as well to the other community.

They have announced this one prospect a year back, that whoever is building some application on open source, Webkul is granting some monetary benefits as well. They are very much invested in the ecosystem and, yes, Bagisto is one of the big prospects of Webkul which has gained a lot of attention and it's going great.

Brian: Yeah, that's excellent. For folks who are interested in getting involved in the open source ecosystem, I'm a big fan of getting folks involved in open source. It's why it's my day job, basically. The one thing that's interesting is I never spent a lot of time in the Laravel community, and it's been nice to see that community continue to strive and grow.

I think it's such a mature community that, folks, if you're doing PHP I imagine you're already aware of Laravel. If you're not doing PHP, it's nice to see all these other integrations. I see that you have a Next.js integration as well. I don't know, maybe you can explain that, Next.js obviously being extremely popular as well and has a great ecosystem. How does Bagisto connect with Next.js, a framework like that?

Saurav: So for that, Bagisto has also developed an integration with Next.js because we know our strengths, and they are just playing on our strengths. We know that there's a platform which is good, like Next.js or Vue Storefront, which follows the headless approach of building applications, so what we did is that we launched our own APIs on GraphQL and we promoted it as if you want to build your next headless commerce, Bagisto is the go to choice and if you are a Next.js fan then there's good news that Bagisto offers the Next.js integration as well.

So you get the best of both the worlds, the best of Laravel at the backend and the best of Next.js at the frontend. That's what we do, okay?

We do have a number of people who are asking for the integration, building Bagisto on top of this View or React or any other platform. Right now Bagisto is on View, but we have people come and they need the solution on other frontend tech stacks so, yeah, we've just taken the headless approach, launched our API and we told our customer directly that, yes, you are free to use your own frontend tech stack. It can be either View or Next.js, and you can use Bagisto at the backend so it would be helpful for both communities in that way.

Brian: Excellent. Well, thanks so much for the conversation about Bagisto. I hope folks that are interested in getting involved in eCommerce or you're already building eCommerce apps, definitely check it out. I did want to take a step into picks and transition us into things that we're jamming on. This could be music, it could be food related, all of the above. I highly recommend this, and if you don't mind I'll go first.

I've got two picks, my first pick is going to be food related. Everyone knows, well, I don't know if everyone knows, you might be a new listener, but I've been living in Oakland for the past eight years. Oakland, California, right across the bridge from San Francisco and I want to shout out... Actually, I've shouted out this place before in a very, very early episode, but I want to shout it out again which is Aburaya.

Aburaya is Japanese fried chicken, essentially, and Aburaya is an oil shop. It translates from Japanese to oil shop in English. I love it because when you think of fried chicken, you think of thick breading and stuff like that. It's not that, it's actually no breading. It's just chicken thighs that are fried with just seasoning. They're like nugget sized that you're able to easy bite, and they have an array of sauces and they have a lot of Japanese greens and obviously rice as well.

I just discovered, because I have a family of four, they have a family meal that when you order it to go, you can just order the family meal and you get two styles of chicken and you get rice and greens and cabbage. I highly recommend it if you're in Oakland and you've got a family of five or less, check out Aburaya and get the family meal. Definitely amazing, feeds a family very well. It's very hyper specific, but I know a lot of folks visit Oakland so when you come through with your friends or your family, definitely check it out. I don't know, do you guys have fried chicken out there in India?

Saurav: I guess a lot, but I would say rather that I'm more of a vegetarian. Here also, there's good people who are crazy about that. We do have a lot of friends in our circle who go their own style, but I can't say more because personally I have never been into that.

Brian: Yeah, you don't eat chicken. I think there's a lot of good alternatives, actually I don't know if Aburaya does this but I know Hello-Vegan is one of the restaurants and they have the Vegan Mob out here in Oakland as well and they do vegan fried chicken which is not chicken. It's whatever the soybean alternative that they do. So veganism and vegetarianism is very big out here in California, so if you do make yourself over here, I would love to buy you some vegetarian fried chicken for sure.

Saurav: Sure. Definitely I'm looking forward to that, for sure.

Brian: Excellent. I'll just say, I've actually not eaten at the Vegan Mob before so I can't say it's my pick. But I'll make sure to try it out before.

Saurav: Definitely.

Brian: I had one other pick as well. We spent some time talking about open source and Bagisto. I've actually just got into this new feature on GitHub, which is GitHub Project Roadmaps. They have GitHub Project boards where you can identify issues and track to see who's assigned and track milestones. A few months ago they actually, out of beta, came with GitHub Project Roadmaps where you can actually set dates and due dates as well.

I was actually pretty amazed because I wasn't paying attention the last six months on this feature and it works perfectly for my use case because the challenge that I'm having more and more as I grow our engineering team, is developers don't want to get off of GitHub and to introduce another tool like Linear or Jura, it just adds more friction and it disjoints all the information sharing and knowledge sharing.

So I enjoy the fact that GitHub is continuing to expand the platform, to make it easier, to now track your project and your roadmap so I highly recommend folks check it out if you haven't. They've got a great video, GitHub Checkout series, which I may or may not have created when I was at GitHub. But it's a video where they interview a PM and they do a really good DevRel video of the project roadmap, so definitely check it out.

Saurav: Yeah, even right now GitHub is promoting a lot on GitHub Copilot, I guess you might have also used that. That's a pretty interesting tool as well, right? A lot of developers right now are making use of it, and especially in the times of this ChatGPT and bots. GitHub Copilot is something very useful. Even we are using it in our own project as well, and certainly when you are working on GitHub and your entire community is there on GitHub, so definitely we also don't want to distract them to come on any other communication channel. GitHub has certainly proved that working with our community members, it's a pretty good place where you can communicate, you can easily manage your task and projects, and everything is very much transparent in the community.

I think that certainly helps us a lot in giving a message to the community that the work that we are actually building upon, even what the community wants because we favor a lot to our community, we do a lot of polls, a lot of discussions on GitHub with our community like what feature they're looking to have in the next Bagisto. Based on the discussions and polls, we work on the feature. So yeah, it's more like one umbrella where the whole family lives under the GitHub and we work together under that.

Brian: Excellent. Did you have any picks for us?

Saurav: Food picks. I think if you are a non vegetarian, you must definitely visit Delhi. There's a good place, Jama Masjid, and that's a pretty nice place which I have heard from my friends, those who go there, that it has got a wide array of foods for the non vegetarians with different dinner flavors. In India we do have a lot of dishes, mostly in the form of curry, and with different flavors. So definitely you should come and I guess you may try butter chicken, that's what my friends have recommended to me. But definitely, I haven't tasted it so I can't tell you how it's like, but it's definitely good based on the feedback.

Brian: Okay. I've had a lot of butter chicken in London, but I'd be curious how it tastes in India, the difference.

Saurav: Yeah. I think it would taste a bit different, based on the spices and flavors that we have got in India. For a vegetarian, if you want to, because there are many vegetarian options here as well. I guess you might have tried tofu there, I don't know if you have tofu. Here we call that paneer, kind of like that, that's also a curry so you can try butter paneer. So what there is in India is there's one chicken, there's one paneer, but that curry they make the same.

Butter chicken, butter paneer. Like that, okay? Curry might be different, but both are same in the both dishes, just like chicken is there, and paneer is here for the vegetarians. So definitely if you come to Delhi this year, yeah, I would love to host you and take you to a place here. I'm sure you will definitely love the food here.

Brian: Okay, excellent. Yeah, honestly I'd heard of paneer, but I didn't make the correlation of tofu and paneer being similar as well, so it definitely makes sense now. I'll be honest, I don't usually go for the paneer choice, I always go for the chicken choice. But I might actually go ahead and jump in next time I have the opportunity to try it, for sure. But, Saurav, thanks so much for the opportunity to learn about Webkul and Bagisto. Folks, definitely check it out. You know where to find them in their GitHub Repo, so star it, add comments and open issues, and keep spreading the jam.