An online store is a good business model. Customers visit your website, browse, put items in the basket, and transfer money to your account. Whereas it might look simple from the outside, many things can go wrong inside your business, especially from the technological perspective.
The technology that you use in the e-commerce platform development will determine the platform’s performance, stability and security, that is the factors that are vital to your customers. If the website crashes every other step of a customer’s journey, the loading times exceed 15 seconds, or the payment gate seems to be dodgy, you can’t expect many customers to buy products from you. If you don’t want this scenario to come true, you should pay attention to a range of factors and requirements that are important when choosing the framework for an e-commerce store.
Trends and technologies are constantly evolving, and your platform should be evolving too. If you want to stay on top of things, you should take into consideration that you might scale your store up some time after the kickoff, or that you will need to implement new features as the business grows. That’s why the platform should be flexible enough to accommodate the changes you will want to implement. It should be possible and easy (!) to develop the platform and adjust its structure to your needs. If the framework you choose for the development is not flexible enough, every single change will be a pain for the dev team and yourself.
Stability and performance are some of the key factors determining whether users will buy from you or not. People hate to wait for anything, and it also applies to the online environment. If your website is slow, users will simply abandon it. The same goes for stability – when your potential customers can’t achieve their goal (buying a product) fast, they will go shop at one of your competitors. The framework should provide a stable and performant ecosystem for your platform, even when the number of users becomes really high.
Secure payments are essential for a good shopping experience. When customers submit sensitive personal data, such as a credit card number, they want to be certain that the data will not be collected and processed for purposes other than completing the transaction. Anything that suggests otherwise is bound to prevent them from buying at your store. Users also value convenient payment options. If they proceed to the last step and don’t find a payment gate they usually use, it may stop them from finalising the transaction. Therefore, the framework should make it easy to integrate it with many payment processors.
When you start building an online store, it is good to have some out-of-the-box functionalities so that the development team doesn’t need to write all modules from scratch. If the framework you choose provides ready-to-implement packages that will enable you to add products, configure the checkout, or integrate payment gates, you will save loads of development time. On top of that, using proven modules that have already worked in a ton of projects gives you a guarantee that they will work from the get-go.
Building an e-commerce platform is a long process that will require much effort from your team. After months of code writing and testing, you want to kick off with the platform fast and with ease. You don’t want any problems on the run-up to the commercial launch. That’s why the framework should offer an easy way to deploy the application. If all the processes which are part of deployment are automated, the dev team can quickly put your app into production.
Whereas the interface of your online store will adjust to user needs, the admin page usually remains in the form the framework offers it. Maybe you don’t need your dashboard to be beautifully designed, but it must be easy to navigate, and you need to find what you’re looking for easily.
Ruby on Rails is our technology of choice because it’s mature, has an active community supporting it, and provides out-of-the-box solutions that make the development process easier and faster. We’ve built dozens of applications in RoR, and many of those projects involved developing an e-commerce platform. Ruby on Rails gives you a reliable framework intended for building online stores: Spree. Spree is the most popular e-commerce solution for RoR, supported by the community and constantly updated to better fit your needs. Does it fulfil the requirements of a good framework?
Spree was created in 2007, and since then, over 700 developers have contributed to the codebase. The community actively supports the framework by adding new repositories and creating more and more features that can be directly implemented in the platform. The codebase is mature, and contributors make a lot of effort to provide the highest possible quality. It all translates into the exceptional stability of the framework. That’s why it’s been used by many companies, for instance, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Second Life, Bonobos, Fortnum and Mason.
Spree offers basic out-of-the-box shop functionalities essential for every e-commerce platform. The features important from a customer’s point of view but hard to write from scratch are available in Spree as ready-to-use packages:
Taking into consideration the sheer number of functionalities and the amount of complexity that Spree offers, its performance is very good.
Spree offers a wide range of payment integrations, including the most popular services such as Stripe, PayPal, or SagePay, but also smaller providers (Authorize.Net, Braintree, Moneris, Samurai, Skrill, USA ePay, or WorldPay). It has a highly flexible payment integration model, enabling you to provide your customers with multiple payment methods during checkout. The biggest advantage is that if gives developers a built-in service for managing payment gates. As a result, they don’t need to write code – clicking through it will be enough to make it work.
Even though you might feel a little bit confused when you first see the admin dashboard, it won’t take you long to familiarise yourself with it. The dashboard offers numerous functionalities that can be overwhelming at the beginning, but you will definitely appreciate the wide range of options it offers. On top of that, the admin page is solidly documented making navigating through the platform easy, especially during the first use.
Just like with any other Ruby on Rails app, the deployment doesn’t cause any problems. It’s quick and easy. We’ve tested it on our Docker flow many times, and we haven’t come across any major issues.
Despite the maturity of the codebase and the stability of the framework, like any other technology, developing in Spree involves some risks, and problems may occur. However, if you know those risks in advance, you will know what to expect and how to handle the problems that might ensue.
Ninety Percent is a London-based clothing selling their collection online. What sets them apart from other fashion online stores is their business model. The company shares 90 percent of their profits between four charities, and customers are the ones who can vote for the cause they wish to support. The remaining 10 percent go to investors. In the project, we managed to implement the 3D-secure verification successfully. We also had to modify the promotion module and adjust it to our client’s needs. Finally, we built from scratch the system that enables customers to choose the cause they wish to support. The project will have its commercial release soon.
In another project from the fashion industry, we also had to implement a few dedicated solutions. The platform we worked on engages influencers who offer their products in the store. Apart from handling a complex front end, we had to integrate the Instagram API so that influencers could show their feeds on the website. We also created a system for promoting collections that have already been launched and those that are coming soon.
The question above is a question that everyone will need to answer considering their own needs and circumstances. We hope that the article will help you make an informed decision. If you have any doubts concerning RoR or Spree, you can check our offer on Ruby on Rails consulting. We’ll be more than happy to help!