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5 Tips for Photographing Clothing for Ecommerce

Posted on December 10, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

We’ve already given you tips on do it yourself product photography. However, certain products represent specific challenges. Taking clean, gleaming images of clothing is especially important if you’re in that industry, since customers will have to picture themselves in these items, and want to look good. Follow these tips and take amazing product photos every time.

Prepare the Clothing

Even though the garment might be brand new, it might not be in the best condition. It can become wrinkled, dirty, or even damaged in storage/shipping. Make sure the merchandise is in pristine by cleaning and ironing it beforehand. Remember, your sale is won or lost on these pictures.

Provide Multiple Angles

Show different angles, viewpoints and elements of your goods. Remember, you’re selling online. Your customers don’t have the option to hold and feel and get comfortable with the item they’re about to buy. So do your best to recreate that in-store feeling by providing big, beautiful images of your goods. Provide 360 degrees worth of angles or, even better make it a gif.

Use a Mannequin or Live Model

If you were shopping, what would look more attractive? A lifeless shirt lying on some background? Or a shirt on a mannequin or model? Not only does a mannequin/model give the shirt the appearance it will actually have when worn, if you’re using a model, it gives a more personal feel to it.

In the clothing industry, getting that item off the lifeless backdrop is essential to success. Look at the two shirts above. Which one would you rather buy?

Check your Lighting

You don’t want to give a gloomy representation of your product. Make sure you have enough light to give a bright and accurate portrayal of the clothing’s color. In short, bright lighting should be a priority when you’re taking these pictures.

You may want to consider buying or renting a lighting kit for these reasons. If you’re relying on natural lighting or a lit room, you’ll want to play around by shooting at different times and angles. If you’re using a higher end camera, there are different settings with ISO you can use. We won’t go into too much detail on ISO here, but if this applies to you, make sure you’re using the right settings.

Photoshop When Necessary

Photoshopping an image is a great way to clean up your product and make minor edits. A shadow here, a piece of dog fur you didn’t notice, there. However, do not rely too much on this kind of software. Photoshopping should be used when your image is about 99% of the way there, and you just need to touch it up to take it across the finish line.

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5 Ways to Increase Your Average Order Value

Posted on December 02, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

In the holiday rush, if you can get your customers to spend just a little bit more per order, it will make a big difference on your bottom line. Of course, they won’t just do it themselves, you’ve got to incentive them to spend a little more, without taking a loss yourself. Follow these tips and watch the holiday season be extra good to you this year.

Set a Free Shipping Threshold

“Free” is a word all shoppers love to see. For example, if you offer free shipping for orders $100 and up, most shoppers who are a few dollars short will by an extra item to hit that threshold. This is one of the easiest and time-tested ways to increase your average order value.

Include Limited Time Offer

Shoppers will procrastinate. Without a rush, they’ll mill about your site, maybe click buy, maybe wait because they aren’t quite sure if they want that little something. On a 30% off sale—or whatever figure you come up with—always include that the discount is for a limited time. That will get the procrastinators to click “buy” while they’re on your site, instead of hoping they come back later.

Package deals

A combination deal—pairing related items together at a discount from buying them separately—is a great way to incentivize your customers to spend a little bit more. If we’re using clothing as an example, you can offer an entire outfit for $60 to go with a shirt that may cost $45. Many customers will see the value there and buy the whole set.

Upsell

When executed correctly, upselling is a great way to bump up the total order volume. If a customer is looking at a camera, and you sell a version that also includes a function to shoot video, display that higher end model to the side. You never know, the customer might be willing to spend the extra hundred dollars to get the added function. Be careful with this advice though; don’t overdo it and just advertise more expensive goods willy nilly with every item a customer clicks on.

Offer Discounts on Minimum Purchases

If you’re running a sale, consider making your customers his a certain dollar amount before getting the benefits of the discount. You can even tier the discounts to different amounts, say 20% off all orders $25 or more, and 35% for orders $50 or more. If a customers is close to hitting that target, he or she will likely spend a little more to get that discount.

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How to Increase Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate

Posted on November 18, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Include an FAQ Section

Shoppers may hesitate to click “buy” based off of very simple questions they have. “What’s your return policy?” or “Do you accept Visa Gift Cards?” The customer might intend to track down an email and reach out for these answers, but you’re risking losing the sale if they have a second thought, or just plain forget to reach out.

Minimize the loss of these shoppers by nipping these questions in the bud. Provide an FAQ with answers to these types of questions. Make them specific to your business—if you find yourself getting emailed by multiple customers with the same question, this is the perfect kind of question you should have answered on your site.

Provide a Point of Contact

You’re never going to have all of customers’ questions answered on an FAQ. In fact, you shouldn’t even try; they’re called frequently asked questions for a reason. Instead, include a “contact us" page on your site where customers can easily reach out to you if they can’t find what they’re looking for on your website.

Keep in mind, every email you get might not necessarily be a question or criticism. They may include notes from delighted customers that you’ll absolutely want to share as part of your marketing campaign.

Make sure the person responding to these emails is friendly, informed and ready to help. A rude or inept response is a great way to turn a customer off for life. Also, include the contact info. on multiple aspects of your site. You’ll want an actual “Contact Us” page, but link to the contact somewhere in your FAQ page as well.

Integrate Live Chat

Live chats incorporate the best aspects of a point of contact and an FAQ page. Customers can direct their questions right to a chat monitor, who will provide instant answers. This is a great way to seal the deal if a customer is on the edge of clicking that “Buy” button.

Integrating live chat into your website isn’t as expensive as you may think. There are plenty of different providers to go with, and the service can cost as low as $15/month. Get a leg up on the competition by having a customer support/sales representative ready to offer instant help to your customers.

Include Product Videos

You’re selling online, so you’re going to lose some of that in-store experience. Even after they click the buy button, customers are always going to have a little bit of trepidation until the product arrives on their doorstep and they can hold it with their own two hands.

Do your best to mitigate these fears by including product videos. Depending on what you’re selling, these videos can be anywhere from detailed “How-tos,” to a simple 360-degree shot of the product that gives customers a better look than a simple photo would.

Offer a Money Back Guarantee

Without a physical store to come back to and physically return the product, worry about returns is always going to be a primary issue with ecommerce shoppers. Again, your customers don’t have that in-store experience to hold and feel the item, so they’re always going to be a little worried that the item is not as advertised.

Offer a money back guarantee, and respect it. Then, SCREAM IT FROM THE MOUNTAINTOPS—include it in your FAQ, product descriptions, make sure anyone operating the live chat knows about it, wherever it’s appropriate.

Trust us, the cons of the occasional jerk who returns something just because are greatly outweighed by the pros of eliminating your customers’ fears. Let them know that their money is basically loaned to you until they get the product as expected.

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5 Tips for Do-it-Yourself Product Photography

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Whether it’s family photos or professional head shots, do-it-yourself photography is all the rage lately. We all have and HD camera in our pocket, so why not? No disrespect to the professionals—they’ll always give you the best photos—but if you follow these tips you can get high-quality shots that will definitely fit in your budget.

Try out your Smart Phone Camera Fist

Obviously the first thing you’ll need to take a picture is a camera. But before you go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a name-brand, HD device, see how you like the camera on your phone. Take a look at the picture below, and you can see there may be little-to-no difference in the quality of the photo between a high-end camera and an iPhone.

If you like what you see from your phone’s camera, you can save yourself a lot of money by going that route.

Buy a Tripod

Even if you’re using a smartphone, you’ll want to invest in a tripod. Even the steadiest hands are hard-pressed to capture the perfect image, and there are even tripods that are designed specifically for camera phones. You can get a decent tripod for as low as $20, so it’s well worth the low-end investment here.

Setup on a White Backdrop

Often, shoots like these are done in front of a white backdrop. You can create a simple, inexpensive “do-it-yourself” method that will give you that professional look with just some craft paper and metal clamps.

If you’re going that route, roll the paper down a long and wide table, and use the clamps to attach the paper to something a few feet above the table. This will provide a smooth, clean base for your to shoot your product photo.

If you’re going the natural lighting route, do this in a big, open room with lots of windows. If you’re using purchased photography lights, you’ll want a darker room.

Use a Mannequin or a Model

If you were shopping, what would look more attractive? A lifeless shirt lying on some background? Or a shirt on a mannequin or model? Not only does a mannequin/model give the shirt the appearance it will actually have when worn, if you’re using a model, it gives a more personal feel to it.

If you’re in the clothing/fashion/accessory industry, getting that item off the lifeless backdrop is definitely the way to go. Look at the two shirts below. Which one would you rather buy?

Pay Attention to the Details

Avoid hard backlighting that will cast shadows on the surface of the object. Keep your lights or lighting on the same side as your camera, or slightly off to the side.

Also, be sure to check your photos as you take them. You don’t want to do all the work only to realize an ugly fingerprint on your lens ruined all your images. Using a digital camera makes checking your pictures as you go along simple, and will help you avoid the pain of retaking all those images.

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Black Friday Emails That Boost Sales

Posted on November 04, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Another Black Friday is just around the corner and—likely—another record-breaking holiday sales season will come with it. Email campaigns are a proven way to effectively announce sales and boost profits. But what should you send? Take a look below for some ideas to use for the holiday season.

The Sale Announcement Email

We’ll start with the simple one first: Make sure your customers know you’re having a sale, and what it is, because you can bet your competitors will. Keep it simple. Everyone loves sales, so you’re subject header can just be “50% off Everything!” It will almost guarantee you that shoppers will at least open the email to find out more.

The Free Gift Email

Everyone loves free right? Including a free gift if customers hit a certain dollar amount is a great way to boost the average sale amount. If a customer has spent $90 and are $10 away from earning a free gift, they’ll likely spend that extra ten dollars to hit the target.

Again, the subject can be simple. “Free” will almost always get someone interested. You can also spin this so it doesn’t seem so salesy, and being that Black Friday is around Thanksgiving, in the body of the email you can include something along the lines of “Our way of saying thanks,” or “Our way of giving back during the holiday season.”

The Extended Sale Email

Black Friday sales don’t have to end on Fridays. If you’re in ecommerce—and you’re reading this blog so I’m assuming you are—the sale can last all the way to Cyber Monday. Last year, retailers brought in over $2 billion on the Monday after Black Friday.

Not everyone gets around to shopping on Black Friday. They may have missed the boat and will jump out of their seats when they see your “Extended 40% Sale off EVERYTHING” email.

The Black Friday Giveaway

This is a similar to philosophy to the “Free Gift” email—people love free stuff and rewards. Giveaways and contests are a great way to inject more life into your sales than those of your competitors.

The terms of the giveaway or sale will be up to you. One common strategy is to offer your customers a chance to win a gift to your site for every purchase they make. Or, you can guarantee a small prize—say a $5 gift card— for any purchase, with a chance to win the Grand Prize, such as a $1K gift card.

The Humor Email

You know what people like almost as much as free stuff? Funny jokes. Announcing your sale in a way that J.Crew did last year is a great way to get a leg up on competitors and their potentially similar sales.



You can also include a jokes specific to your business or industry. For example, if you’re in the clothing business, a post-Thanksgiving email featuring your stretchy pants might not be a bad idea.

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How to Make Marketing Emails Work for You

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Marketing emails can be a great tool to boost sales. But to do so, you have to do it right. What do I say to my customers? And just as importantly, when do I say it and how often? These tips will make sure you’re emailing the right way, and will help you take your business to the next level.

Content and Relevance:

This isn’t Lord of the Rings and one email does not rule them all. In other words, what’s relevant to some customers won’t connect with others. For example, if you sell clothing, sending your male customers a coupon for a sale on ladies’ underwear is not going to get you very far. Worse yet, it might make the impression that your store specializes in women’s apparel and have your male customers looking elsewhere.

Tracking your customer information, such as gender and age, will help you send targeted emails, which will in turn increase your open rate. Tracking sales information will help you target as well. The above example was pretty simple, but what about a business that doesn’t make it as easy as splitting up your customers into a 50/50 (emails for males, emails for females) group?

If you sell a wide variety of items, such as pet supplies, it would make sense to track customers’ sales. If Susan has spent a year buying nothing but cat toys, would it make sense to send her information on a sale for all goldfish products? Probably not.

Keep in mind, there are times when it makes sense for you to send customers information about stuff they don’t typically buy. Keep this in mind for the holidays, when customers aren’t necessarily shopping for themselves. Speaking of appropriate times…

Timeliness:

When to send an email is just as important as what to send. The sooner you send an order confirmation, the better. The longer the customer goes without receiving that confirmation, the more apprehensive he or she will be that something went wrong with the process.

Likewise, a shipment confirmation will also placate any fears that the order is NOT on the way. With the confirmation, include a realistic time that the customer can expect to receive the package, such as 3-5 business days.

Lastly, an email asking the customer how he/she likes the product is a nice way to wrap up the sale. It shows that you care that your customers receive their products as they wanted, when they wanted. Schedule this for a couple of days after the long end of your confirmation (using the above example, send the email on day six or seven). If you send this email too soon, it will have customers thinking they should have received it by now and something went wrong, when in reality the item is still on its way.

As far as emails that are intended to have customers buy again, research shows there’s certain times that will lead to higher purchase rates. Monday through Wednesday, as well as Sunday, have proven to be the best days to send your salesy emails.

On top of that, there are certain times of day that correlate with higher purchases as well. During the workdays, as well as during commutes home, have proven to be the best times to reach out to customers.

Frequency:

This last point is key, and can also be tricky to manage correctly. Email too often and you risk annoying the customer, who will in turn likely tag your emails as spam. Not good. Go too long without contacting your customers and you risk them forgetting about your company and going with a competitor. Also not good.

There’s no all-encompassing guide to point to that will provide best practices for all businesses, but as a general rule, you don’t want to email your customers more than once a week (with the exception of the aforementioned post-transaction confirmation emails), and you also don’t want to go more than a month without sending out your email campaign.

Hitting that sweet spot of perfect frequency will often depend on your business. For example, if you work in a subscription business, you’ll want to time replenishment emails with the frequency of the customers’ needs. If he/she buys dog food once a month, a reminder to place the order every three weeks would be appropriate, to give the customer some leeway and provide time for shipping. This way, the food will be there by the end of the month and Fido won’t go hungry.

Tools that Can Help

When you’re starting out, you can probably manage many of these tasks on your own. But what about when you’re handling 100, 500, or 1000 orders per month? Using an email service like MailChimp or MailChimp will help. Coupling one of those services with a tool that can automate the process will allow you to easily and efficiently communicate with your customers.

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Tips to Perfect Customer Service

Posted on October 21, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Customer service is they key to ecommerce growth. You can have the best products in the world, but if your customers have a continuously bad experience it will tarnish your brand, and possibly do irreparable harm to your company’s reputation. Follow these steps to ensure you’re providing outstanding customer service every time.

1) Provide Timely, Effective Communication

Effective communication can solve a lot of problems and, more importantly, eliminate them before they happen. Sending a simple order confirmation will eliminate any doubt a customer may have that his or her order went through. Additionally, giving the customer a reasonable expectation of when to expect the item and/or providing shipment updates will keep customers informed and happy.

When your business reaches a certain point in its growth, you’ll find that keeping up with these emails can be a headache. At that point, automating your communication through services like Twilio or MailChimp can greatly simplify this process.

2) Provide a Customer Support Option

In the off chance that something goes wrong at any point in the process—whether an item’s out of stock, an order didn’t arrive, or the customer received the wrong size—you want to provide an easy way for customers to get in touch with you or your customer support team.

Depending on where your business is in it’s level of maturity, this could be a simple “Contact Us” link in your website that provides an email address and/or phone number. If and when your business is a little more established, you may want to look at a third-party service, such as Zendesk or Desk.com to help you with support tickets and error resolution.

No matter how you go about it, be sure whoever is on the receiving end of these issues/inquiries is prepared to give timely, effective, and friendly resolutions.

3) Engage in Social Media

Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, 78% of all customers see social media as a customer service alternative. Some may go there directly, some may go there if whoever’s manning the options on point two has dropped the ball.

If it’s the latter, that raises the stakes even higher on social media, making it even more important to respond quickly and effectively. If a customer has a bad experience, you can be sure that they will call out your company on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social profile you have associated with your business.

Conversely, if you provide a great experience, they’re likely to commend you and your business for all to see. Make sure you’re the retailer receiving the positive publicity, not the negative.

4) Track all Customer Interactions

Tracking all correspondence can save you, your support staff, and your customers a lot of headache. If customers have an issue and talk with two different people without a history of previous interaction, they will be left frustrated when they have to start from scratch with a new person.

Conversely, if a customer calls in and you can quickly say “Yes, I see you called in about exchanging your shirt for a different size on June 16th,” he or she will be left both impressed and relieved that someone is on top of the issue.

Create labels in your emails, attach notes to the thread, or do whatever it takes to keep all customer interaction in one easy-to-manage place. If you’ve talked with Joe Smith before, you should be able to easily search and find any and all correspondence with Joe.

Down the line, an error resolution service like the aforementioned Zendesk isn’t a bad idea. Zendesk tracks all correspondence that comes in via email, and all you have to do is search the support ticket number through your Zendesk account.

5) Never Argue About Returns

All of the above is great, but if you or a staffer argue with customers, especially about returns, they’ll think of your company in an extremely negative light. And with Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, etc. that’s not something any growing business can afford.

Remember, this is people’s money you’re dealing with, so put yourself in the customers’ shoes. You’re selling your product based off of an image on a computer. There’s going to be problems. And when there are, friendly, understanding, timely and efficient resolutions are the ways to keep customers coming back and sending their friends to your web store.

Bonus tip: Provide Online Chat

This tip is definitely for well-established businesses with customers on their site all day, but why else would you be in ecommerce if not to grow and dominate your market? Heck, some of you may already be there.

An online chat will require a paid solution like Olark and a staffer to monitor the chat, but once your business gets to a certain point, it’s well worth the investment. 77% of customers agree that online chat positively impacted their experience with the company. You simply can’t get any faster resolution than chatting with your customers in a live, real-time interaction.

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How to Increase your Brand’s SEO

Posted on October 14, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

SEO has been something of a buzzword lately. But what is it? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is described by wikipedia as “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.”

What that means for a business owner is, whatever search terms that resonate in your industry, you want to be at or near the top of the listings that appear whenever people put that term or phrase into Google. The more people that see your site, the more people will shop on it, and the more shoppers you have, the more sales you’ll get.

Follow these tips to maximize your SEO to see your webstore’s traffic spike, and the sales roll in.

Identify Keywords and Phrases

You need to figure out what key terms and phrases you want to trigger your appearance in a search. For example, if you’re a high-end shoe retailer, then you’d probably want to have an appearance when customers search for “High end shoes.”

Maybe you’re not ready to take on Nordstrom’s or Barney’s (the first and second results to appear on Google when you enter that phrase) and you still do a high volume of sales inside your physical store. In that case, your location can help you drive customers to online and offline sales, such as “High end shoes in Pennsylvania” or more specifically, “High end Shoes in Philadelphia, PA.”

Content-Driven Traffic

Whatever you determine to be key terms and phrases, maximize their use through fresh and engaging information on your web store. Running a blog is a great way to keep new content on your site. One thing you don’t want to do is force these keywords into the content. It has to seem natural, as it will turn off readers/shoppers, and will be recognized as a forced attempt at maximizing SEO by the search engines.

The more fresh content you have, the more traffic will come to your site. And, again, the more traffic you have is the more opportunities you have for sales.

Share on Social Media

Whatever new content you have, be sure to share it on any and all social accounts that you have associated with your store. These are just more channels for you to attract traffic. Sharing on Google plus, specifically, will directly help your ranking on Google’s search listings.

Blogs, news about your company, and new/featured products are the kinds of things that you want to share with your community. Social media is having more and more of an impact on ecommerce, so start sharing now.

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Ecommerce Product Description Best Practices

Posted on October 07, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

You can have the best products in the world, but if you can’t communicate that quality effectively, how are customers going to know? And, more importantly, how will they feel comfortable clicking that “buy” button? Here’s some tips and advice that will help you seal the deal.

Show Don’t (Only) Tell

We’re not here to tell you NOT to tell the story behind the product (in fact, look at the next point) but don’t ONLY tell. Include multiple high-quality images of your product. Show different angles, viewpoints and elements of your goods.

Remember, you’re selling online. Your customers don’t have the option to hold and feel and get comfortable with the item they’re about to buy. So do your best to recreate that in-store feeling by providing big, beautiful images of your goods. Provide 360 degrees worth of angles or, even better, make it a gif.

Tell The Story Behind the Product

Your business has a story, and so does your product. Tell it. For inspiration, check out Ayr’s blog, Editions. Ayr, a women’s fashion startup, releases new apparel every season, and additions to their line receive a one-paragraph story of the goals and thought process behind the design.

You don’t necessarily need to include such in-depth descriptions on every product, (you don’t want to get too wordy) but new and/or featured products deserve extra attention, and are worthy of a story behind their production.

Emphasize Uniqueness

Your competitors are going to have similar products, but there’s something about your inventory that makes you different. Whatever it is—the design, the manufacturing process, the price—make sure you emphasize this in your descriptions. If your customers don’t know why your products are better/different, what’s to stop them from going to the competitor next time?

Include an Obvious Call to Action

You’ve got the customer interested. They’ve looked at the product images, read the story behind the product, and really like what they’ve seen thus far. Now it’s just a matter of sealing the deal. You can push the customers over the edge by simply providing a “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” button within the page that features your product description. If they’ve made it this far, they’re already interested. Turn the opportunity into a sale with a strong call to action.

Allow Customers to Easily Share their Experience

If your customers have a positive experience shopping with you, they’ll be willing to share your product with their friends and family. Now they won’t write a blog about it, but if you provide simple buttons to like, tweet, pin and/or share, it will open their friends and followers’ eyes to your brand.

Word of mouth has always been a great sales/marketing tactic. Social media has given the opportunity to spread the message faster and to a wider audience than ever before. Take advantage of it!

The Bottom Line

You’re going to have competitors; it’s unavoidable no matter the industry. But you can set yourself apart with unique and effective product descriptions. Making that sale is the first step to turning a customer into a “brand ambassador.” Once they see why you’re the best option for them, they’ll keep coming back—and sharing with their friends.

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Best Practices for Ecommerce Design

Posted on September 30, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

You’ve got the best products, and pride yourself on completing your deliveries on time, every time. That’s a great start, but if you don’t attractively display your items on your website, how are your customers supposed to buy them? These best practices will ensure that the quality of your products is accurately displayed on your website, every time.

Show Don’t Tell

“This is the best shirt/coffee/makeup in the world.” Who wouldn’t say that about their own products? Displaying images of satisfied, real-life customers is a much better way to display the quality of your goods. If you have an active social media profile you can kill two birds with one stone here by displaying your Twitter or Instagram feeds in a section of your site.

Another strategy you can implement is to dedicate a portion of your site to a community and/or press section. The community section can feature the images of satisfied customers sent in through your social profiles, as a varition of—or enhancement to—the above recommendation. Any positive press or reviews from accredited reviewers should be displayed in a press section.

Basically, a good rule of thumb is anything positive said about your service or products from someone outside your company should be displayed on your website, or at the very least shared on your various social profiles.

Focus on What Makes you Unique

What is it about your products that makes them unique? Shoppers will have an almost infinite amount of places to buy a shirt, but why should they buy your shirt? Is it the materials? The manufacturing? The price? Any and all of these reasons should be featured.

This content can accompany the featured products that are displayed in a prominent section of your website. You should also include this in all of your product descriptions. You don’t need to tell the whole story of the first stitch of thread to production, but a brief “This hand-crafted gingham-style shirt was designed with the professional in a business casual office setting in mind.”

Tell Your Story

Product descriptions are one way to feature what makes you different than your competitors. Another way is to briefly tell your story. This should be in a different area than where your products are displayed, such as an “About Us” section.

Why did you get into retail/ecommerce? What is it about your products that shoppers won’t be able to find anywhere else? If you have a personal connection to the goods you sell (“After a Minor League Baseball career, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the game, so I opened John’s Sporting Goods") these are the stories you want to share with your customers.

Make Shipping Options Clear

Different customers are going to have different shipping needs. Some may be casually browsing and don’t mind if their products don’t get to their house in a week. Others might be procrastination shopping (think: Holidays) and are willing to pay extra to get the item the next day.

Make sure any and all shipping options are made available to your customers as they’re checking out. The last thing you want is to lose a sale because the customer thinks they won’t get the product in time or—conversely—because they only see expensive shipping options.

Draw Attention to Sales

This is a tenet that goes across all mediums of retail. If you’re running a sale—show it. Shoppers have been haggling for the best possible deals for hundreds of years. This hasn’t changed just because you’re selling online now.

The Bottom Line

What’s the common thread here? Originality. Your website is more than just a place for customers to buy things. It’s a piece of your business, and your business is the only one like it out there. Stress what makes you different from your competitors, and this uniqueness will be recognized by your customers, who will become loyal to your brand and never think of shopping elsewhere.

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How to Make Blogs work for Ecommerce

Posted on September 22, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

The most important aspects of running a successful ecommerce business are quality products and dependable service. It doesn’t matter what else you do if you can’t deliver a good item within a decent amount of time. Outside of those essentials, however, are a number of different things you can do to increase awareness to your brand and, most importantly, increase your sales. One of them is maintaining an interesting and relevant blog.

A blog, you say? How is a brief article going to increase my sales? Well, consider it the law of averages. The more people that come to your website, the more that are going to shop for your products, and the more that shop are more that are likely to click “Buy.” But where does the blog come in? Creating a well-written blog is a great way to keep readers coming back, and turning them into buyers.

Take Into the Gloss and Glossier for example. ITG started as a popular blog that provides fashion tips, advice and articles featuring interviews with models and fashion professionals. It became so popular that the founders decided to venture into ecommerce with Glossier. Glossier has been a retail success and Into the Gloss continues, pointing readers to Glossier.

Of course, building a business off of a blog first isn’t the traditional route to ecommerce success. Ayr, the popular women’s clothing retailer, also maintains an active blog presence. Ayr’s blog is more image-heavy, telling the story behind its newest and most fashionable products.

What’s the connection? Both brands have gone beyond the norm of retailers, creating a sort of news room circulating content pertaining to their respective industries. This will help create an army of “brand ambassadors” who will go to your site for more than just a sale, and will in turn recommend your site and products to their friends and family.

Maintaining a blog and combining it with a social media presence will create a culture of brand loyalists that wouldn’t dream of going to your competitors, even if they have a similar product. If you’re selling sporting goods, blog about the importance of using the right equipment on the field. And if you’re products are being used in a high-profile way like, if we’re using the sporting goods example, by a Major League player or in the Little League World Series, you’re darn right you better write about and publicize that!

Look, we know that writing isn’t everyone’s specialty. If you don’t have the budget to hire a content marketing specialist, you can always find a freelancer for a reasonable price. If you do write it on your own, make sure you read over your copy several times, or have a friend do it. Having typos or simple grammatical mistakes is a great way to look unprofessional.

If properly executed, your blog will keep customers coming back to your store again and again. Just keep the content fresh and at a high quality and watch the traffic—and sales—roll in!

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5 Emails to Customers that Will Boost Sales

Posted on September 08, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Communicating with your customers is key to ecommerce success. But what should you send? Push too hard for sales and you risk getting marked as spam. Don’t reach out enough, and you risk losing sales that a simple email would have sealed for you. Here are five emails that you sould employ in your outreach plan today.

1) Thank you for your Order

There’s no tidier way to wrap up customers’ transactions than thanking them for ordering. It shows that you care that they got the order on time and as expected. Fail to do this and you fail to establish a bond with the customer. There’s no reason for them not to shop with a competitor in the future.

Also, It will also open up a dialogue in case they DON’T receive the item on time, or as expected. There’s no better way to lose customers than by disappointing them. By opening up the communications, you can fix the problem and they will buy from you again.

2) Order Status Updates

Keeping in line with some of the key points above, if you keep the communication open, it will alleviate fears from the customer. Telling patrons, “Order Confirmed” and “Your item has been shipped,” will put to rest any doubts that a problem happened in between the time they paid and the time the item they receive the product.

3) Product Review

Providing a quick and easy way for customers to review your products is another great method to enhance customer loyalty. If it’s not exactly as they wanted it, customers should be able to say so. Remember, you’re selling things based off a picture, so things might not be perfect every time. And if you notice a significant amount of customers complaining about an item, you can use the constructive criticism to either change how you present the product, or remove it from your inventory altogether.

4) Product Reorder Reminder

If you’re in the subscription business, this is key to gaining customer retention. You want to hit the sweet spot of sending the email late enough that it’s time to restock, but in enough time that the customer will receive the subscribed item(s) before the last order’s supply runs out.

For example, if you sell coffee, and customers orders a one-month supply, you’ll want to reach out to to them about three weeks after they received their last shipment. That way, you’re close enough to the point that it’s time to restock, but have enough time to get the coffee to their doostep before Day 30. Because if your customers are anything like me, you don’t want to mess with them without their coffee.

5) Personalized Recommendations

It never hurts to suggest an item or items that you think your customer might enjoy. Staying with the above example, if your customer orders dark coffee, and you just got in a new Brazilian Super Dark Roast, it couldn’t hurt to let your customer know you just got this product in.

During holiday sales, it couldn’t hurt to suggest some products that are out of your customers’ typical buying habits. At these times, patrons are looking to buy gifts, instead of typical orders, so you can cash in on the shopping rush with your existing customers. Just be careful doing this during normal times of the year, as it’s a good way to get your emails marked as spam.

Additional Tips and Tools

Sending these emails yourself will be fine when you’re first starting out. However, down the line you may want to look at a service like MailChimp or Mandrill that will help you send those emails. You can even automate these third-party services so emails go out at the moment of a desired action. For more best practices, including when and how frequently to send emails, visit our article, “How to Make Marketing Emails Work for You.”

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Spree Commerce vs. Shopify

Posted on September 01, 2015 by Kaartik Iyer

About the Author

Kaartik Iyer is the founder of Infigic. Infigic is an ecommerce agency that develops with Spree Commerce. Infigic was started by experienced ecommerce professionals who have built succesful ecommerce ventures in the past and have started off this venture to help fellow ecommerce entrepreneurs. You can check out Infigic’s portfolio here.

There are many ecommerce platforms available, but the most important decision is to choose an ecommerce platform that’s best suitable to your store. The ecommerce platform not only influences the UI and customer experience of your store, but is also used for administrating assorted backend tasks. Here, we’ll talk about Spree Commerce and Shopify so that you can decide your ecommerce platform as per your business.

Spree Commerce is built using Ruby on Rails, which is the best for developing light, fast, and well-designed websites. Spree Commerce is free and also integrates with Wombat. Wombat connects your Spree and other ecommerce storefronts to any service. It intelligently routes orders and other information to make sure that the right data gets to the right place at the right time. Spree is a fully featured ecommerce platform written for the Ruby on Rails framework. It makes programming applications easier by making several assumptions about what the developers need to embark. If we talk about backend, the Spree admin panel is one of the most well-designed admin panels containing all necessary elements.

Now onto Shopify, a comprehensive ecommerce solution that allows you to set up an ecommerce store and sell products. It lets you organize them, customize your storefront, track orders and accept payments.

Shopify charges a monthly fee ranging from $29 to $179. With Shopify you can’t play around with the code, whereas Spree is an open source platform, allowing you to access and alter all the code (also you can download it at any time). Shopify is simple, provides all the elements a store looks for, it’s uncomplicated, but it’s missing out some additional features. In contrast, Spree Commerce allows you to pick the features you want, and use the ones you need.

Shopify stores are maintained and managed by Shopify itself. But with Spree Commerce, you’re the owner and manager of your store entirely. Shopify is preferably suitable for smaller stores. As most of the large stores look to host their own data, customize it extremely as per their needs and not pay commissions, Spree Commerce is more recommended.

Summary

Spree Commerce

  • Spree Commerce is free of cost
  • Spree Commerce is easy to conclude on and doesn’t call for specialization
  • Customization can be done excessively tailored to your needs
  • It provides extensions for additional functionality and bacedn is easily understandable
  • It’s open source and built using Ruby on Rails

Shopify

  • Shopify is easy to use
  • It allows less customization, good for small business organizations
  • No access to the code
  • Is a paid product

Now, you can choose the best ecommerce platform for you between Spree Commerce and Shopify. Infigic is a Spree Commerce Development company specializing in custom Spree Commerce development and Spree extension development solutions. Follow us on twitter @infigicdigital
for more updates related to ecommerce development.

To view this piece in its original format, visit the blog of Infigic Digital.

Turn your Customers into a Community

Posted on August 25, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Customer retention is one of the keys to ecommerce success. In fact, one report states that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits anywhere from 25% to 95%. But how do you keep your current customers buying again and again? Nothing’s fail safe, but one proven strategy is to use your social media profiles to create a rich and vibrant community.

Creating an active and engaging social presence will turn your customers into true fans, brand ambassadors that are eager to see your new product/company news and share it with their friends and family. Competitors can offer similar products, but creating a community gives you an advantage over the other retailers. Some of the fastest-growing names in ecommerce have put this theory to the test and have reaped the rewards.

While getting customers excited to buy your hot new item sounds simple enough, best practices include more than just posting about new products. Take surf and beach retailer Surfdome, for example. Surfdome, recently sold to Surfstitch for $16M, has nearly 50K Twitter followers.

How did they get there? Not by merely posting photos of new surfboards and wetsuits, but turning its Twitter account into a great follow for all fans of surfing. Scroll the feed, and you’ll see GoPro videos from surfers mid-action, photos of surfers making their way through ridiculously huge waves, and yes, the occasional link to a new product. They also make an effort to tie in a trending hashtag of the day with surfing/beach fun, like this one for #RelationshipGoalsin3Words:

What Surfdome has created is a “one-stop shop” for surf fans. They’ll get news, cool pictures and videos, and associate Surfdome as an awesome place to buy surfing and beach gear. Personally, I’m a little top heavy for surfing, but if it were my thing Surfdome would be a must follow for me, and I’d quickly become a fan of the brand, not thinking of going anywhere else for a new board or wetsuit.

Stumptown Coffee, generators of approximately $40 million in annual revenue, follows a similar path. While a GoPro video of someone sipping a Stumptown brew might not be quite as exciting as surfing a big wave, Stumptown’s Twitter feed is filled with fans tagging their favorite coffee brand, as well as retweets of satisfied customers.

While you can’t get much different than a coffee and surfing retailer, you’ll notice a similar strategy between Stumptown and Surfdome. They create the community first, and plug the products second. One guaranteed way to lose a Twitter and/or Facebook follower is to shamelessly share your products again and again.

Instead, whatever industry you’re selling to, post and retweet fun and interesting news relevant to that industry. If you’re a sports retailer, get in on the Little League World Series action. If you’re in the beauty and makeup industry, post about fashion. Creating an active blog doesn’t hurt, either, as it will provide you with another outlet to funnel brand fans to your site.

However you do it, they key to gaining customer retention is staying industrially patient and not over-posting about your own products. To paraphrase “The Voice” from Field of Dreams, if you build the community, the sales will come.

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PrestaShop vs. Spree Commerce: Dueling Online Storefronts

Posted on August 20, 2015 by 3llideas

About the Author

Ivan is a content and marketing manager for 3llideas. 3llideas is a development agency with years of experience in ecommerce. 3llideas has launched Spree Commerce stores for businesses around the world, spanning a range of industries.

There’s a new dual amongst platforms that can bring any business online: PrestaShop vs. Spree Commerce. Sure, if you’re thinking of developing an online store, PrestaShop is one of the names you’ve heard before, along with Magento, another competitor to Spree Commerce.

What does PrestaShop have to offer that Spree doesn’t? Today, we’ll do a quick comparison between the two, focusing on each storefront’s key features, respectively. Whether you’re looking for a new online store altogether or you’re just looking for alternatives to PrestaShop, this article’s for you.

Price:

Both storefronts are free to download, both upon installation and use, thanks to both options being open source. So, both can be modified without much issue, in order to adapt to business requirements.

PrestaShop has a large amount of pre-built modules and themes, and can be installed within the PrestaShop store the same way as a WordPress plugin; upload, activate and configure. Spree Commerce involves a technical level of understanding because, despite a wide variety of modules and adaptations already built, you still need to be an expert in Ruby installation and development.

In PrestaShop, there’s a great volume of modules and themes, though most cost extra, while all of Spree’s extensions are free. Spree is cheaper, and provides the assurance that your store will be easily adapted for any future needs thanks to one of its key features: greater scalability.

Development and Expansion of Software:

We’ve already touched on this in the previous point, but let’s expand on it: the main difference between the two ecommerce platforms are the maintenance and development costs. Developments in PHP (PrestaShop’s programming language) require countless lines of code, which increase complexity, thus being less effective than Ruby on Rails (Spree’s.)

Obviously, your shop may already have enough with the extensions provided from PrestaShop, but you won’t be receiving a customized solution. And we know the importance of brand awareness for retailers: a store must always distinguish themselves from the competition.

Ruby on Rails provides greater power and flexibility with fewer lines of code, resulting in improved performance. Thanks to another point we mentioned earlier, the scalability of Spree, you can deal with traffic spikes without the risk that the system crashes due to the unexpected customer volume. Think of a Christmas rush to your site, for example, and know that Spree will be with you during your busiest—and most lucrative—time of year.

Community:

Both user communities are active and provide great support for troubleshooting. PrestaShop’s community is bigger, due to the CMS’ poularity, and the fact that it’s been on the market longer. Spree, however, has 635 contributors, more than double that of its rival. This results in faster resolution for bugs, with software updates being published more frequently for Spree.

Necessary Hardware Resources:

We’ve already mentioned that the initial investment in the software for either one of these platforms is zero, as they’re both free and open sourced. But what about the hardware resources?

Naturally, what will make the difference is the volume of the store itself, and the traffic it receives, so both will need more resources as your company’s popularity increases. Now, PHP needs more power on the server and more memory to run in comparable situations, so it will take a higher hosting plan if you want to be safe for the future. Spree Commerce, on the other hand, is fantastic in this regard, being remarkably scalable and ensuring the performance will be optimal throughout your company’s growth.

Startup:

When starting out with these platforms, we found that PrestaShop is quite similar to the installation of WordPress: you only need to upload the files to the server and run them. With Spree installation, the method is similar to running an environment for Ruby on Rails. At first you may face a challenge regarding programming knowledge.

But is this really a disadvantage? Not really, as you can be sure that your storefront’s ready to roll know matter how much change your shop requires in the future, because you can handle it without any problems.

You must have one point clear: both options are valid for an online shop, and you know you can sell on them both domestically and internationally. However, through personal experience and customer reviews we feel secure in making Spree Commerce our recommendation.

It’s a platform that allows further customization, is more scalable (thus mitigating future problems that you’d have with other storefronts), has extremely powerful features, and you don’t have to install anything other than its basic software. In short, Spree offers a solution that you’ll own completely.

Don’t have enough information about Spree Commerce? No problem, contact us today.

To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of the blog of 3llideas.

Solidus 1.0.0

Posted on August 12, 2015 by John Hawthorn

Editor’s Note

This is a guest blog post from someone who is an active contributor to the open source project. This blog post has nothing to do with official Spree policy, nor does it represent any type of endrosement by Spree Commerce. There are a small number of Spree developers who want to concentrate on providing a limited set of security and performance enhancements to their existing Spree codebase without introducing new features, new Rails functionality, etc. This is a perfectly reasonable approach to take and we have no problem with it. It does not, however, relate to any actual or planned change in the direction of the Spree open source project.

About the Author

John is a programmer for FreeRunning Technologies, a team of fullstack developers based out of Victoria, BC. FreeRunning Tech builds scalable web and ecommerce software applications, leveraging Ruby on Rails and Spree Commerce.

We’re happy to announce Solidus 1.0.0, an updated fork of Spree 2.4 spearheaded by the developers at Bonobos and FreeRunning Technologies.

These changes mostly came from the needs of running a large store like Bonobos and AYR. Changes include refund and cancellation overhaul, performance fixes, customer service enhancements, changes for fulfilment, and many fixes. The downside is that this is a large set of changes. We didn’t release 1.0 early but we hope for our future versions to be released often.

We intend this to be a direct upgrade for Spree 2.4 (or earlier) users. We’ve also tweaked the Spree 2.2 → 2.3 → 2.4 migrations to be faster and more correct. A future version, likely 1.1.0, will provide an upgrade path for users on spree 3.0.

Major Changes

Rails 4.2

We’ve upgraded to rails 4.2. Notably this includes ActiveJob, asynchronous emails, and ActiveRecord performance improvements.

See the rails 4.2 release notes.

Solidus

Gems have all been renamed solidus: solidus, solidus_api, solidus_backend, solidus_core, solidus_frontend. Branding and some sample data has been changed. We will continue using the Spree:: namespace.

SSL Configuration Removed

Previously SSL was enforced by Spree at the controller level by declaring either ssl_required or ssl_allowed, which checked several Spree::Config options to determine if SSL should be used in this environment and if the HTTPS request should be redirected to plain HTTP.

It is now expected that the entire store has SSL enforced. This is to be handled either by Rails, the web server, or the load balancer.

This can be done by setting config.force_ssl = true in config/environments/production.rb

Order Mutex for the API

Previously, concurrent requests to the API could put the order into an inconsistent state. Now, concurrent requests to the API will return HTTP 409 “Conflict”.

Explicit Order Complete + Confirmation Always Required

Previously order.next was used to advance an order through the order checkout states and to ultimately complete the order. This made it easy to complete the order unintentionally through the admin or when using the API. This is now changed so that an explicit call to order.complete is required to complete the order. To facilitate this the confirm state is now always required.

The API’s advance route will now move the order to the ‘confirm’ state. The next action will continue to move orders from confirm to complete, but issues a deprecation warning when doing so.

The frontend checkout continues to act as before, but will always have the confirm state.

Store Credit

We wanted to be able to include store credits with Solidus. This integrated the existing spree_store_credit_payment_method extension.

This allows assigning an amount of store credit to a user and allow them to pay using those funds.

Cartons

When physically shipping items to a customer, multiple orders to the same customer may be combined into one package. A single shipment (as seen and paid for by customer) may end up split into multiple packages with different tracking numbers (due to sizing restrictions, for example). To better represent this, we’ve created the cartons model, which is intended to accurately represent the physical shipment (likely with a tracking number) which was sent out.

This should allow more robust integration with some third party logistics providers and help stores with complex shipping needs. In simple stores this addition will be transparent. For most stores, this change should be transparent. Shipping a shipment will create a 1:1 carton.

Stock Transfer Improvements

We added a whole lot of improvements to the stock transfer feature set, including improved admin for which stock locations the inventory is being transferred between, automatic stock quantity handling, better product search, more data capture, and blind receiving of stock transfers at the warehouse to promote assurance of correct product received.

New stock Management Interface

Stock can now be managed at a per-stock-location level in addition to a per-product level. Additionally, it is far easier to search for and filter products, as well as change stock quantities at specific stock locations. Restrictions can also be put in place to only allow certain users to access or manage certain stock locations.

Multiple Codes on a Promotion

A single promotion can now have many unique codes. Previous versions only allowed a single code per promotion. This allows reusing promotion rules and actions without having to duplicate the promotion. Each individual code has it’s own usage limit and is dynamically generated with a user specified prefix. (e.g. base_owgklx)

Adjustment Reasons

Adjustment Reasons are categorizations of why an adjustment occurred. This can help with data reporting, accounting, and business intelligence around why adjustments are occurring to orders.

Return reasons

Similar to Adjustment Reasons, Return Reasons provide an extra level of information around why returns occur.

Item Cancellations

There are times when orders are unable to be completely fulfilled, or where the customer changes their mind about receiving a product. For this purpose, Item Cancellations were introduced, which can adjust order totals before a shipment occurs, and even change the amount that you use to calculate tax or to charge with your payment provider if you capture payment at dispatch.

Order Promotions

A new OrderPromotion model records that a promotion has been applied to an order, allowing item-level promotions to apply to line items or shipments added later to the order.

spree_cmd/solidus_cmd removed

Removes the spree command, which was an alternative way to add Spree to a new Rails app. We’ve removed this in favour of the normal installation generator.

Configuration

To view this blog in its full format, including the key configurations, visit the blog of solidus.

How to Add Product Properties in Spree Commerce

Posted on August 04, 2015 by Kaartik Iyer

About the Author

Kaartik Iyer is the founder of Infigic. Infigic is an ecommerce agency that develops with Spree Commerce. Infigic was started by experienced ecommerce professionals who have built succesful ecommerce ventures in the past and have started off this venture to help fellow ecommerce entrepreneurs. You can check out Infigic’s portfolio here.

The Spree Commerce platform that delivers ecommerce solutions is a great choice for many reasons. One of them is a great its depth of adjustable settings and functions. If you’re new to Spree, you might come up with number of questions. One of the most frequent questions we come across is how to use product properties properly.

Follow the simple steps below to add product properties in Spree Commerce:

Step 1:

Click the “Products” tab in your Spree store’s admin panel and click “Properties.”

Step 2:

Click the “New Property” button.

Step 3:

Enter relevant values for “Name” and “Presentation” fields, such as product type and country, or any other attribute respectively. Then, hit “Create.”

To update an existing product property in Spree:

Step 1:

Navigate to the products properties section, as shown above.

Step 2:

Edit the text box field for “Name” and “Presentation,” whatever you want to update.

Step 3:

Click “Update.”

Now you have successfully added product properties. For further questions or other issues, feel free to drop us a mail at info@infigic.com. Infigic is a Spree Commerce development company specializing in custom Spree Commerce development and Spree extension development solutions. Follow us on twitter (@infigicdigital) for more updates related to ecommerce development.

To view this post in its original format, visit the blog of Infigic Digital.

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Spree Commerce Technology Dominating Ecommerce Market

Posted on July 30, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

A recent report has tracked the usage rates for ecommerce domains thus far in 2015. We are pleased to announce that Spree Commerce is the technology powering not one but BOTH of the two biggest growers in ’15.

First up is our own Spree storefront, which has seen its usage grow by an incredible 202%. Recently, ecommerce powers such as Fortnum & Mason and Bonobos have replatformed to Spree, just two of many that have made the decision to build on our Ruby on Rails-based platform.

Both Fortnum’s and Bonobos reported incredible results almost immediately. Fortnum’s in fact, saw a 15 percent customer conversion rate, a ten percent increase in on-site search conversion rate, and its 20 percent cart abandonment rate reduced to zero. Needless to say, they’re happy with the switch.

The second biggest grower in ‘15 thus far is GoDaddy. Last fall, GoDaddy chose Spree to power their endeavor into the small-to-medium-sized retailer market, known as GoDady Online Store. This redesigned platform has been cited as a primary source for GoDaddy’s growth.

GoDaddy wanted to find the simplest and easiest ecommerce solution for small and growing businesses. While making the decision, GoDaddy evaluated platforms based on criteria such as maturity, extensibility, features, modularity, adaptibility, community support and more. After months of careful review, the GoDaddy team picked Spree. With GoDaddy Online Store powering GoDaddy’s growth in ‘15, it’s safe to say they made the right choice.

So what do you have to lose by giving the giving the Spree platform a try? It’s free, and there’s no scary contracts locking you in. Give it a whirl, and see what makes Spree the fastest-growing ecommerce platform on the market.

Ruby vs. PHP

Posted on July 21, 2015 by Eva María Gude García

About the Author

Eva María Gude García is a social media manager and content director at 2beDigital. 2beDigital is a digital marketing agency based in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia and Barcelona. 2bedigital was formed by a multidisciplinary team whose principles of trust and transparency power their work.

Ruby and PHP are two of them most popular programming languages used for web development. While they have their fair share of similariites, there are also some vital differences that set the two apart.

Ruby

Created in 1995 by Yukihiro Matsumoto, Ruby is a general programming language that’s also gained recognition for web development, which started in 2005. Ruby has lived off the guiding principle that there’s always more than one way of doing things. The language is renowned for the flexibility and freedom it offers developers, making Rails a powerful development platform.

The drawback on Ruby is that its sophistication can make it a difficult language to learn for beginners. Other notable features of Ruby on Rails are listed here.

PHP

PHP was founded the same year as Ruby, 1995, by Rasmus Lerdorf. Unlike Ruby, PHP was specially designed as a web development language, but now is also used for general programming. PHP is noted for its simple implementation, which is its primary advantage over Ruby. Its simplicity has led to its popularity and a huge user community.

However, one of the major flaws behind PHP is that it’s not always object-oriented. This led developers to generate poor quality codes to solve problems. Also, PHP doesn’t have adequate Unicode support.

Summary

So, what to chose? Ruby or PHP? It really depends on your priorities, and how each language will fit in with those priorities.

PHP is easier to learn and more widely used, but it’s not as powerful as Ruby. Ruby is a powerful and flexible language with an excellent Rails framework for development, but it’s difficult to learn and requires higher technical understanding, making Ruby on Rails developers hard to find. Although learning Ruby on Rail is more difficult than learning PHP, once it’s mastered, building on Rails is much faster, and much easier to buid on.

At 2beDigital, given the excellent results we’ve had with our customers, we recommend that if you haven’t tried Ruby on Rails, now’s the time to start.

To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of 2beDigital.

Improve Your Online Store UX With These Handy Tips

Posted on July 15, 2015 by Netguru

About the Author

Netguru is a leading development agency and Spree Commerce Certified Partner. We build lean and beautiful applications for everyone from startups to major corporations. Our developers are focused on the Ruby on Rails and iOS frameworks. From the first commit to the final release, we are committed to build well-devised and user-friendly apps & ecommerce platforms tailored to your specific needs.

When it comes to ecommerce, the aim of any site is to direct users into the right places that they need to go and to encourage them to buy a product. Good UX can achieve this in numerous ways. From the way that a signup form is crafted to the colors used in the design, UX can have the effect of boosting conversions.

Bad UX has the opposite effect in that it’s off-putting to the site visitor. Web users have become increasingly sophisticated as the net has matured and are no longer willing to deal with a site that provides a bad experience. In ecommerce sites, this means that they won’t part with their cash to pay for your products if your site UX isn’t up-to-scratch.

What exactly is UX? (and what it’s not)

In recent years, we’ve seen a renewed interest in UX (User Experience) take place, thanks largely to the need to design for smaller screens. UX is not always an easy thing to define, so let’s first look at what it is and what it’s not.

UX shouldn’t be confused with usability or UI (User Interface). While these disciplines are related to each other, UI is concerned with the actual interface with which the user interacts, while usability is all about how easy to use a site is.

UX is all about the feeling that a user has when using a site. For example, if a site is slow to load, then the user quickly becomes impatient and frustrated and will leave.

That’s bad UX.

Similarly, if a site doesn’t include white space or contrast, then it becomes more difficult for the user to interact with the site and that too is bad UX. It is quite a broad discipline, but if you get it right, it can have a significant impact on sales in your e-store.

UX design for ecommerce sites

There are a huge amount of considerations to undertake when designing an ecommerce site. Make sure you discuss all the necessary issues with your design and developers’ team when planning the site. Here are a few crucial factors to think about.

Colors

Again, use brand colors, and contrasting colors to ensure that the text is clear and easy-to-read. You should also bear in mind accessibility (also, check out our article in this topic) and consider that people with color blindness will see colors differently. For example, green and red may seem like contrasting colors, but as they appear opposite each other on the color wheel, they appear quite similar to people who suffer from colorblindness.

The picture shows the differences in color perception (from the upper left): normal, protanope, deuteranope, tritanope.

Buttons and other clickable areas

These ought to be immediately apparent to the user what they’re for. Remember to keep enough surrounding padding to ensure that buttons or links don’t encroach on other clickable areas that might be next to them. Mobile users will be using touch, so buttons and links should be large enough for these users to click easily. One more important tip: take a close look at the typography. It should be in keeping with your brand’s personality and should be clear and legible.

Images

An image can tell a story all by itself, so make sure yours are high quality but also optimized so that large file sizes don’t slow down the shopping experience. Include pictures that are clear and representational of the product or service. Also, keep in mind to make your website responsive, so that all visual elements are displayed well to mobile and tablet users.

White/negative space

That’s an important factor many shop owners may consider difficult to digest, but white space is not a waste. It’s for the benefit of a visitor – you don’t want to get him/her tired of content overload while browsing your site. White space should be used where appropriate so that the site doesn’t appear cluttered and the central message get lost. Take a look at this example:

In the image above, for award-winning site Helbak, you can see that the design is deceptively simple. This doesn’t mean that a lot of work didn’t go into development, quite the opposite in fact. The design is clean, with plenty of white space, and little in the way of text. The site lets the images do the talking and navigation is achieved through the top bar, as is usual for most sites.

It’s important to remember that conventions (such as navigation being at the top of the page, and logo placed in the left top hand corner) are very useful when designing an ecommerce site. Conventions are design techniques that we’ve become so accustomed to over time that we expect to see them in sites we visit. As such, we look for them when we arrive at a site and if they’re not present, it can throw us to the extent that we leave.

With this in mind, be very careful about breaking conventions as it can also effectively ‘break’ your conversion rate. Whilst it’s sometimes tempting to be highly original and create designs that are a little off the wall, it pays to think carefully about your design choices.

Do:

  • Use appropriate, contextual content to enhance checkout flow and products. Provide your customers with concise descriptions, representative pictures from different perspectives, or videos showing your product in action—depending on the item sold. Users should be left in no doubt as to what the product is and what they need to do to buy it.
  • Use different colors for buttons with different purposes. You should also use color psychology to inform your choices and carry out A/B testing.

Don’t:

  • Add so much content that the message is lost and the user is confused. Provide important product data first and use accordians or tabs that can be expanded on user action.
  • Place lots of text around buttons, ensure that there is just enough of negative space.

Forms and Registration

It’s important when designing forms for user registration that they require as little input as possible. Remember that you’re not just targeting desktop users and as such, some visitors will have to fill in forms on mobile. With this in mind, make sure:

  • As few fields as possible are created. Only ask for the user information that you need, there’s no reason that you have to know their date of birth, for example. You can ask for more details (address, phone number, etc.) when the customer proceeds to make an order.
  • Form fields are large enough for users to comfortably click into with a finger.
  • Form labels appear in the right place no matter what device it’s viewed on.

Reducing the number of form fields can increase conversions by as much as 160%, so keep it simple and brief.

Key Decisions in the Design Process

When designing UX for ecommerce, the user should be central to every decision that you make. However, it’s important to remember that you are not your user and so you should carry out as much real-world user testing as possible. Consider taking a mobile first approach too, as it’s much more difficult to pare back a desktop site for mobile than it is to design with mobile in mind from the beginning.

Now you know what factors you should draw attention to when thinking about your e-store’s UX. Soon, we’ll post about best practices when designing a shopping cart and checkout experience – stay tuned and visit our blog again!

If you’re into ecommerce, check out our article about smart retail solutions that change ecommerce and grab some inspiration! To read this piece in its original format, visit the blog of netguru.

How to Add Products to a Spree Store

Posted on July 14, 2015 by 3llideas

About the Author

3llideas is a development agency with years of experience in ecommerce. As a Spree Commerce Certified Partner, 3llideas has launched Spree Commerce stores for businesses around the world, spanning a range of industries.

What do you need from your online store? The first thing is obvious: you need an ecommerce platform that allows you to put items for sale online. The software used to faciliate this integration with your business must allow you to manage these needs without sacrificing flexibility in the future.

With an emphasis on the technical aspect of the storefront, the platform must provide fast, reliable access to content. The store must be responsive, versatile and scalable, allowing developers to create new sotware without too much complication. When building a new storefront, you’ll have all these advantages and more if you choose Spree. And it’s a completely free, open source software, too.

At 3llideas, we recommend Spree based off our own experience. We build storefronts for sellers, and know firsthand everything you need to know about doing sales online. One aspect that requires a significant bit of effort is updating the product catalogue, which can get complicated to the extent that the catalogue relies on numbers, models and variants. How does Spree work to maintain your catalogue? What steps must you complete to add new products to the store?

Extending the Catalogue Manually

If you have a store and want to use Spree but can’t find proper support because our articles aren’t in English, they can help. You simply have to access the Spree administration panel, click on the “Products” tab, and then click on “+ New Product”. The layout is simple, intuitive, and details the necessary fields, so you can’t miss any of the support articles. Spree has an excellent administrator’s catalogue that allows you to manage the stock, description, pictures, prices, taxes and references. It can also be translated into Spanish, which is important.

One of the vital aspects of Spree is that it’s a suitable platform for all types of ecommerce storefronts. But what if you have a high amount of volume in your catalogue? Adding to the catalogue manually is great for a single product, but not the best for adding items in groups.

Automatically Uploading Products in Spree

Spree gives your the freedom to easiy update the catalogue, or create it from scratch. Uploading every single item manually can be a nuisance. It’s much easier to get a developer that can easily sync a file. For example, it’s possible to upload a CSV file with all the products and their variants, updating the server automatically and syncing with the online store.

It’s also possible to create a field in the admin panel that can upload the CSV (or TXT, Spree adapts to use all business formats), that add the products following the upload. Do you use one Web Service or ERP? You develop the online store to update through them, making it easy to keep the total price for the project at a low figure.

One of the great values of Spree is its adaptability, especially for key aspects such as product management. 3llIdeas has extensive experience in this area, with catalogues that reach 4,000 references that are updated through one simple file load; the process is worry free, reliable, and automatic. Isn’t that how managing an online store should be?

Adding items to your Spree store doesn’t entail unneccessary complications, and we can use our experience to upgrade your ecommerce catalogue. Interested? Just contact us.

To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of 3llIdeas.

Congratulations to littleBits and Casper

Posted on June 30, 2015 by ALexander Diegel

Congratulations to Casper and Little Bits

When you tag your company as, “Behind the Best Storefronts,” you get a certain sense of pride whenever you see your clients take their business to the next level. In the past week or so, Spree Commerce has had a lot to be proud of, and would like to extend a huge congratulations to both littleBits and Casper, who raked in a combined $99.2 milion in funding.

littleBits

littleBits, the startup that is democratizing hardware by empowering everyone to create inventions, big and small, announced that it received $44.2 million in new funding. The company with the easy-to-use electronic building blocks will use the new funding to fuel its growth.

Specifically, littleBits will use this investment to further its STEM/STEAM education distribution, push global expansion, and develop new enterprise initiatives. The company will also expand its retail availability in the coming quarter by partnering with Barnes & Noble in its retail stores across the United States.

Still a young company, this Series B funding will help littleBits continue to revolutionize the hardware landscape, just as Netflix did for video entertainment before it. Click here to read the entire press release surrounding this announcement.

Casper

Just 14 months into existence, straight-to-your-door mattress retailer Casper secured $55 million in a new round, at a $550 million valuation. Adding a little glam to this investment round is the list of celebrities who have joined the group of investors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Adam Levine and Scooter Braun.

The new funding will be used to expand Casper’s research and development staff, bring in more employees, and lay the groundwork for international expansion. This comes just after Casper announced same-day delivery in San Francisco, which should also enhance the company’s growth.

Also just on its Series B funding, Casper continues to turn heads with its bed-in-a-box sales and delivery service. To read more about this round, check out the full article on TechCrunch.

Q & A with Spree Commerce

Posted on June 24, 2015 by ALexander Diegel

Questions Answered by our Community

With over 15,000 commits and 620 contributors, Spree Commerce has long been proud of its community. Store owners and developers will often take their quest for an ecommerce solution to Q/A sites such as Quora, and we can always depend on our community to answer the call. Here are some recent questions and answers:

Q: What are the best eCommerce systems for a UK B2B SME wholesaler

A: Spree Commerce is what I would use—an up-and-coming open-source eCommerce solution used by 45.000 businesses around the world—including multi-million ones like Fortnum & Mason (UK based – got 20% more customers to check-out with Spree). It could be easily customized to your needs – B2B wholesale.

I recommend using Spree Commerce for the following reasons:

  • FLEXIBILITY & DEVELOPMENT SPEED: Spree is written in Ruby on Rails (web framework), highly customizable and well supported by the community (several useful extensions). With Spree you can release an MVP faster than with any other framework.
  • CUSTOM LOOK: On the front-end you can use Twitter Bootstrap 3 which is a template/theme framework which let’s you create your custom mobile-ready, responsive web design
  • FACEBOOK-LIKE UI: On the front-end we also use React (JS Library), which is created, supported and used by Facebook for a facebook-like user experience

Answered by: Michael Faber, co-founder of Spark Solutions. Read the full answer here.

Q: Which is Better, Spree Commerce or Magento?

A: We have used both and we have created stores and marketplaces from scratch. We have found that Spree Commerce is moving way faster than any other competitor; they have the most enterprise-ish features such as multiple stock locations, transfers and split shipments. We have contributed to some spree-maintained plugins and open sourced some new plugins for Spree.

Spree’s core development focuses on the core and Magento tries to add way too many features as recommended products, and that kind of thing, into the core. That slows down Magento and makes it difficult to upgrade and maintain. On the other side, the community is constantly adding a lot of new plugins to Spree, so in terms of growth Spree is doing better lately. Most of the new plugins for Magento integrate new services as new fulfilment services and the creators of the plugins are usually the same companies creating this new service. This is natural, because Magento is still stronger in the market.

Rails vs PHP is the key here! Having Rails as the backend, it’s way easier to have two teams developing two new features into your commerce and merge the changes afterwards. Try doing that with Magento…

Answered by: Gert Findel, CTO at Acid Labs. Read the full answer here.

Q: Does Spree Commerce Support Indian Payment Gateways?

A: Payu gateway is currently available in 13 countries including India & there’s an open source extension made by netguru that you can use to easily connect it to your Spree store.

Answered by: Ania Banaszek, Sales & Marketing Manager at Netguru

That’s it for this session of Q&A with Spree Commerce. Thank you to our incredible community for giving clear and responsive answers! Until next time…

Follow Spree Commerce!

Spree Custom Gateway

Posted on June 11, 2015 by Emile Swarts

About the Author

Emile Swarts is a developer at Made. Made is a Spree Commerce Certified Partner comprised of software experts who are passionate about delivering well-crafted, mission-critical software. The team works with organizations across many sectors who share their drive to produce standout, commercially succssful work.

Custom gateways in the Spree Commerce platform encapsulate the operations required to take payments online. This functionality is abstracted out of the order logic, which makes it easy to think about in isolation.

Ultimately, what we want is to substitute a small subset of functionality in Spree for our own use. The way Spree knows whether a transaction was successful or not is that we tell it exactly what happened. We return a Response object (ActiveMerchant::Billing::Response), which holds a state of successful or failed.

If we return a successful response object, everything went well and the user has now completed the checkout. If the transaction was not successful, the user will be redirected back to the payment step with an error message where they can try again.

Foopay gateway

In this case we have stubbed out the response to always be successful. This happens because the first argument is set to true. If it were set to false, it would always indicate to Spree that the payment has failed.

Typically you would look for something like ‘success’ in your xml, json or post data after you’ve completed communication with the external gateway. Note that the payment_source_class is Spree::CreditCard. We could specify a custom model here if we wanted to add extra attributes to it. The ‘options’ argument passed in contains only a set list of predefined options including:

A complete list of options can be seen here.

Register the gateway

We can register Foopay by adding the following code to the spree initializer:

Persisting the gateway

We need to persist our gateway, and also add it to our Spree store:

Frontend

In order to get the data we need from the user, we need to render a form for them to fill in. Looking back at our custom gateway, we specified a ‘method_type’ method. This will be used to look up the partial to be rendered in the payment step. In Spree, we can see this happening in frontend/app/views/spree/checkout/_payment.html.erb.

Our gateway specified ‘foopay’ as the method_type, so it will try and render the the foopay partial. Let’s create it at app/views/spree/checkout/payment/foopay.html.erb

This file is used to customize what is sent through to the checkout controller.

Note: Naming of the form inputs is important. Custom payment values may also need to be added to the permitted attributes list.

h4.Behind the scenes

I decided to take a few notes on the interesting things that happen when the request goes into Spree.

We can see that the payment form points to: /checkout/update/payment

The request hits the .update method on the Spree::Checkout controller. The first code it hits is:

This line will update the order with the new data submitted from the form, any associated models will also be updated or created. If this completes successfully, the order tries to advance to the ‘complete’ state.

The state machine hooks are triggered.

process_payments! is defined in core/app/models/spree/order/payments.rb

Both the payments and checkout modules are mixed into the order object, so all the methods they provide are added directly to it. Next, it finds each of the unprocessed_payments on the order, and runs process! on them.

.process! checks whether the gateway has auto_capture? enabled. If it does, the purchase method is called directly, otherwise authorize is called.

Following the call into the Payment model, we find the following:

It’s within the .build_source method that Foopay is instantiated.

Time to shine

The actual line of code that hands over responsibility from Spree to Foopay looks like this:

action in this case will be ‘purchase’.

In Foopay, our purchase method accepts the following arguments:

  • amount
  • payment source
  • options

The second payment_source argument will be an instance of Spree::CreditCard. The third argument, ‘options’, is a pre-defined list of gateway options, this argument was discussed above. We use the data in these arguments to finish the payment. Our method returns the appropriate response object, and the transaction is complete.

To view this post in its original format, visit the blog of Made.

Yuve Chooses Spree 3.0

Posted on May 26, 2015 by Michal Faber

About The Author

Michal is a co-founder & COO of Spark Solutions, a Ruby on Rails & Spree Commerce software house that offers online store or marketplace development, integration, customization, migration, as well as high quality Ruby on Rails application & website development services for heavy loads and demanding users. Spark Solutions’ founders are both experienced web entrepreneurs who often assist their clients in a CTO role.

Yuve chooses Spree Commerce 3.0 to help busy people maintain a complete diet without compromising on time

New York City-based Yuve, Inc. strongly believes that a combination of complete nutrition, exercise, positive thinking and relaxation makes everyone feel and look younger. But there’s so much to do and so little time! That’s why the Yuve founders’ goal is to help people be healthier and more confident by providing them with the best tasting vegan nutritional shake, as well as with inspiring and informative content like fitness and psychology advice or health and beauty tips.

Yuve decided to choose Spree Commerce 3.0 as a unified ecommerce solution, seamlessly integrated with WordPress as a blogging platform, for a balanced mix of storefront and content marketing ingredients. The new website was launched in just three weeks, in cooperation with Spark Solutions, Yuve’s Spree Commerce & Ruby on Rails developers.

The Story of Yuve and Spree Commerce

The founding story of Yuve is an inspiring tale of determined search for the best solution to one’s life challenges. Lola Sherunkova, Yuve co-founder, left her life as a Russian ballet dancer and immigrated to the United States to pursue the American Dream.

After beginning work in New York City, she realized that leaving the active lifestyle of her former dance life had left her deprived of the fitness level, energy and nutritional motivations she once enjoyed. She searched high and low for the right solution, eventually reaching out to a renowned health expert to help her come up with her own nutritional formulas. With that, Yuve was born.

The story behind Yuve’s search for a technology platform to run its online retail business is a similar tale. Not willing to accept half-measures and unclean formulas, the Yuve team researched available solutions and decided to go with the open-source Spree Commerce 3.0 storefront and WordPress blogging platform.

“Choosing Spree Commerce 3.0 allowed us to develop a unified ecommerce platform in place of our old solution and we accomplished that in just three weeks. We launched our online store with a custom checkout flow for better user experience and responsive web design implementation for easy mobile shopping,” explained Sam Basilio, Yuve’s co-founder.

Benefits highlighted by the switch to Spree 3.0 include the ability to offer promotions to customers—such as free shipping for U.S. clients and student discounts— and were deployed quickly by Spark Solutions.

Spree Commerce and Wordpress Integration

Why did Yuve decide to integrate WordPress with Spree Commerce 3.0, using the same domain getyuve.com? Because it greatly supports Google positioning efforts and enables the Yuve team to share their know-how with wider audiences.

Edutainment and content marketing are very important to Yuve’s business. Nowadays, maintaining a high quality diet is a never-ending challenge. With the overwhelming amount of information regarding ingredients, sourcing, processing and delivery, making the “right” decision can often be incredibly confusing.

Countless products are disguised as “healthy,” but in reality we’re simply sabotaging our health. Lack of time due to long working hours often leaves us without breakfasts or lunches, causing bad snacking habits or chronic overeating. Spark Solutions and Yuve’s joint efforts help busy people around the world make better dietary choices.

GetYuve.com Integrations & FullStack

But there’s more to Yuve’s online retail website then meets the eye. Spark Solutions performed several useful integrations with such cloud services as:

  • PayPal Express Checkout
  • Braintree credit card payments
  • Mailchimp for building a mailing list and building customer loyalty for repeat business
  • Sendgrid for email transaction notifications
  • Amazon S3 for all file assets storage and trusted, scalable, secure backups
  • Amazon CloudFront content delivery network for faster page load all over the U.S. and the rest of the globe

Technology stack used by Yuve website:

  • Ruby on Rails with HTTP app caching & memcached for shorter page load times
  • Spree Commerce 3.0—one of the first implementations of the latest version
  • Twitter Bootstrap 3.3 for mobile-ready, easy-to-modify layout
  • ReactJS—improved checkout components such as unified login & signup form for better user experience
  • Haml, Sass, CoffeeScript for front-end components
  • PostgreSQL, Redis—back-end engine
  • Heroku—cloud hosting optimized for increasing traffic loads

Conclusions

Yuve is a natural solution for busy people to maintain a complete diet without compromising time. It can substitute a meal, serve as a snack, or be an addition to your favorite smoothie. You can mix it with water, juice, milk of your choice, or coconut water. This simple process does not require heating or cooking. You can easily appease your appetite in minutes.

Spree Commerce 3.0 is Yuve for ecommerce solutions—it enables rapid development and deployment of a mobile-ready, user-friendly online store. It decreases time to market and, hence, increases your ROI. It can substitute your old storefront and meet your growing customization and integration requirements.

You can mix it with PayPal, Braintree, Mailchimp, Sendgrid, Amazon and many other ingredients for a successful ecommerce business. This simple process doesn’t require a lot of time and no developers are harmed due to overcomplicated codebase. You can easily appease your appetite for ecommerce growth in weeks.

You can get your Yuve shakes at GetYuve.com. You can get expert Spree Commerce advice at SparkSolutions.co. To view this blog in its original format, visit the the blog of Spark Solutions.

Using Deface with Spree Commerce

Posted on May 26, 2015 by Marcin Dobrowolski

About The Author

Marcin is a developer at netguru. Before enrolling to Poznań University of Technology Marcin spent way too much time in front of a computer playing games. Finally he has figured out that the love for a shining screen can be channeled into something way more productive. Easily hyped about every new piece of technology on the market. Addicted to coffee, music in all forms, sports and computer games. Loves warmth, hates cold; the only good thing about winter in his opinion is the lack of bugs, mainly mosquitos.

Today I Learned: Deface Selectors Work on ERB Code, not HTML

Are you looking for quick solutions to your problems with code? Or want to find clever tricks you can read about in a few minutes? You’re in the right place! This is the beginning of the new post cycle: Today I Learned. In these posts, Spree Commerce Certified Partner netguru will present quick tips from its developers that they came across during their work day. The first tip comes from Marcin and concerns Deface—the gem used in the Spree ecommerce platform.

What Exactly Does Deface Do?

When working with Spree, you can use a gem called Deface which lets the developers inject code into a Spree view without overwriting the whole file. It works with HTML (ERB, Haml and Slim). In short, you select whether it should insert your piece before/after an element, replace it/remove it altogether, etc. Finding the right element to replace is easy because Deface uses Nokogiri’s implementation of CSS selectors.

The Problem with Deface

Our client asked us to replace mailto: links. Instead, we were supposed to put an email in a certain table and link them to a user’s profile. Take a quick look at this ERB code:

Unfortunately, the td had no class, so we needed a pseudo-selector to find it. Here is the selector that I thought would work:

However, for some reason the selector couldn’t find the necessary element. Here is what Deface had to say about it:

Why Didn’t it Work?

After a lot of frustration, trying different selectors, theories that Deface doesn’t find ‘a’ elements because of a bug, it turns out that Deface uses selectors on ERB files, not compiled HTML files. Moreover, you can write Deface overrides in Haml/Slim, but it will still:

  • Convert them to Erb
  • Convert Erb blocks into HTML-ish tags…
  • Do all the overrides there

So, since we want to replace an ERB block, our selector will have to contain erb[loud] instead of ‘a’.

The Final Solution

The trick that worked was to use a selector directly on the erb code:

As you can see, instead of matching an anchor element, my override matches an erb[loud] tag that is generated by Deface in an intermediate step, before printing the final HTML.

So, here’s the trick—hope you’ll find it useful! If you have any other tips and tricks for Spree, feel free to share them in comments—or link to your GitHub page.

In the next episode of Today I Learned you’ll find out how to render templates to strings in EmberJS, a tip brought to you by netguru developer Kuba. To view this post in its original format, visit the blog of netguru.

Is an Open Source Platform Right for Your Ecommerce Business?

Posted on May 21, 2015 by Jenna Compton

About The Author

Jenna is the Director of Marketing at Blue Stout, a digital production agency that builds custom commerce applications, like ecommerce shops and interactive mobile apps, for clients ranging from startups to billion-dollar public companies. Jenna provides regular contributions to the blog, and when she’s not reading about business, she can be found running or drinking lots of coffee (never at the same time).

Ready to launch your online retail store? Choosing the right platform for your ecommerce business can be a challenge, especially with all of the different open source and full-service options available.

Larger businesses need to be equipped with more features and professional support, while smaller businesses may be looking for a lower-cost option that will allow them to manage their customers and products in an easier way.

Here are the pros and cons of some of the most popular open source and full-service ecommerce platforms used today to help you decide which platform fits your company at this stage of your business development.

Open Source Pros/Cons

Pros: free, customizable and manageable for small startup businesses

Cons: costly add-ons, less technical support, and too basic for businesses growing quickly.

Open Source Solution: Spree

Spree Commerce is an open source option for those who are interested in a self-hosted solution that’s built on Ruby on Rails. Known for its speed, Ruby on Rails was used to build over 200,000 websites, including big names like Basecamp and Groupon. Shopify’s developer, Sean Schofield, developed Spree as the shopping cart open source alternative. Although you’ll need to download extra apps in order to get more out of Spree, it still offers many free options.

As soon as you have access to the platform you can download discount code apps, make use of special offer and gift card capabilities, try selling on Facebook, and take advantage of more immediate features. Due to its fully customizable nature, it will take you time to learn how to use Spree, as the initial setup is not as simple as most Enterprise solutions. So even though you may have a slight learning curve in using it, Spree Commerce is a platform we highly recommend here at Blue Stout and have worked with it on multiple ecommerce designs.

Still Undecided?

If you’re still not sure if open source is the best choice for you, read more about the pros/cons of fully-hosted enterprise solutions in my post here on the Blue Stout blog.

Spree Commerce vs. Magento

Posted on May 20, 2015 by Fareed Dudhia

About the Author

Fareed Dudhia is a developer for Spree Commerce Certified Partner, Made. Made is a leading UK software services provider. The team works with businesses to craft software that delivers results; from ecommerce stores and CMS-driven websites, to enterprise karaoke platforms.

There has been so much written about how Spree stacks up against Magento over the last few years that it’d be easy to dismiss another article out of hand.

They’re great to contrast, as they’re both open-source ecommerce platforms. I’ve worked professionally with both, and I can identify with both sides of the argument. The Spree folks say that Spree can do everything Magento can, and do it in 1/200th the amount of code (their cores are 45k vs 8.2m lines of code respectively). The Magento folks say that Spree is new and relatively untested and, as such, is only really good for smaller businesses that won’t be hurt too much if their site is somewhat lacking in the reliability department.

Well, Spree’s come of age now, and perhaps it’s time to contrast Spree against Magento again, in 2015.

Maturity & Reliability

The main argument levelled against Spree has mostly been that it’s a newcomer; immature technologies are generally less reliable than their better-established competitors. Magento beats Spree in maturity, that’s for sure. We’ve been hearing this for quite a few years now, and you’ll still see arguments levelled against Spree on the basis that it’s an immature technology.

These arguments, of course, neglect the fact that larger codebases tend to be much less reliable than smaller ones (Magento is several hundred times larger, codebase-wise) and the fact that Spree is built upon the rock-solid Ruby on Rails framework. Rails powers some of the largest and most robust websites on the internet, including Airbnb, Square, Github, Hulu, and many others.

So, for how many more years is Spree going to be considered a newcomer? At some point, “it came first” stops being a reason that one product can be considered better than another. Spree already powers a whole bunch of successful, high-revenue online storefronts: Dulux, Bonobos, Fortnum & Mason, Finery and On Running all spring to mind (in fact, Bonobos switched from Magento to Spree). Spree has been around going on eight years now, and in the tech world, that’s actually a pretty long time. Again, Spree has come of age.

Speed of Development

No one’s arguing that Magento is quicker to develop features for than Spree; Ruby on Rails is renowned for being the most productive web framework out there, and adding new features to a gargantuan codebase like Magento takes considerable time. Where Magento does score points, however, is concerning plugins.

The Magento store has integrations for pretty much everything under the sun, and you might find that you can buy all the integrations you need without having to pay anyone to write any code. There’s also a ton of themes that work well out of the box. Magento also scores points here in that it’s written in PHP. PHP is a very popular language, and finding PHP programmers is considerably easier than finding Ruby programmers.

Having said that, Magento sites often suffer from the codebase becoming large and unwieldy. Hiring more developers does not fix this problem, as those developers then have to be trained on the project. If the codebase becomes difficult enough to understand, hiring new developers does not guarantee that work will be done any quicker. These projects may grind to a halt, as new work requires understanding of the old work. Project managers on these projects become very well acquainted with terms like “bus factor” and “development hell.”

Features

Back when Spree was relatively new, it was missing all kinds of features that online shoppers have come to expect. Proper product searching, sales, wishlists, BOGOF promotions, and multiple currencies were either not fully polished or missing entirely.

Spree has come a long way since then, and now really can do everything that Magento can. I’d be happy to settle for a draw in this department, were it not for one thing that Magento stores can really struggle with: loading a page quickly. It’s well known that page load speed can severely effect conversion rates, and this is an area that Magento will always struggle with, especially given the size of the codebase.

Pricing

If we disregard Magento Enterprise (the pricing of which would make Donald Trump’s wig fly off), the pricing of Magento and how that compares with Spree’s pricing is really more about the company that you get to do the work.

It’s well known that quotes in this business can vary wildly, and finding the right company for you is a quest that you must embark upon yourself, as a business (although we might know of one company that can help). This is assuming the quote is, of course, for getting an initial site up. If your business then decides to add a bunch of features and remove a bunch of different features, the manpower required is significantly less for Spree, and as such should be reflected in the cost of getting the work done.

Conclusion

Comparisons in 2012 had a fairer pro/con list between these two platforms. In 2015, Magento is very similar to how it was, whereas Spree is a completely different beast. With the release of Spree 3, the main reason I’ve found for a business to build a project with Magento is that their developers are already familiar with PHP.

I’ll fully admit to bias here, as I worked professionally with Magento for several years and consciously made the decision to move away from it for precisely the reasons I’ve described in this article. Things move pretty fast in the technology world, and often the slow-moving maturity that Magento exhibits is but a few short steps from obsolescence.

To read this post in its original format, visit the blog of Made.

Turn one-time buyers into recurring customers

Posted on May 12, 2015 by Alexander Nachaj

Email marketing can be an invaluable tool to the retention of customers. Are you getting the most out of it? How about with your automated emails? A quick little replenishment email fired off from your system at the right time to the right place can make a world of difference when it comes to converting one-time buyers into dedicated, recurring customers.

What are Replenishment Emails?

In a nutshell, replenishment emails are simple, periodic emails that remind a client that now might be a good time to place another order.

How this differs from other email reminders is that a replenishment email is specifically targeted to customers who recently purchased a product that will eventually run out, expire and need a refill. For example, those of you that are dog/pet owners may recognize this scenario:

You have a dog. Your dog needs food. You buy dog food. Your dog eats the food. The food starts to run out.

It’s inevitable that the bag of food will run out. The problem is that sometimes we don’t realize this until it’s either a day away, or that morning we wake up, go for a scoop and hear the empty scrape of the bottom of the bag.

Fortunately, replenishment emails step in before running out becomes a pain. Let’s pick up where we left off with the above scenario.

The dog food is about to run out. You don’t even notice. Then, an email arrives reminding you to buy dog food. You order more. Dog keeps eating. Dog is happy. Repeat process next month.

Replenishment emails help take some of the burden of responsibility off of the customer, acting as helpful reminders that a purchase is necessary.

Why should we use replenishment emails? Why not just wait for customers to come back on their own accord?

If you’re an online business that ships its products to the customer, even a day of delay and necessity could cause the customer to rush down to their local store to buy from your competitor.

Sure, you might be thinking, “it’s okay to lose a sale from a recurring customer since you just acquired 9 other new customers that same month.” However, those are ten one-time purchases, rather than 10 recurring purchases.

It’s easier to retain a customer than earn a new one. You don’t have to constantly convince your existing (and satisfied) customers that you are the right choice since you’ve already earned their trust.

They have a need that you know you can genuinely, specifically and easily fulfill. Plus, the time it takes to sell to them is nothing compared to the time it takes to make new sales, so don’t let your existing customers slip away!

Okay, I’m sold. How do I start sending replenishment emails?

Well, you could start by keeping track of when each customer makes a purchase and then remember to send them an email some time down the road. However, for most businesses, sending out hundreds to thousands of emails each month by hand isn’t all that viable. Instead, we strongly recommend you sign up with an email marketing solution.

MailChimp is one service that you can integrate with your storefront to help you send out replenishment emails automatically. All you have to do is type up your email beforehand and set the conditions for sending them out to your clients.

How should I phrase my replenishment emails?

Keep it simple, straightforward and on topic. You aren’t trying to sell your customers something they don’t already need and there’s no need to push other products, since you can save those for your other promotion strategies.

Make it a friendly reminder, with a little discount or free shipping if they place their order, nothing more. The urgency and the need enough should make it a fairly reliable conversion.

When is it a good time to send these email?

Timing is key to making more sales and keeping your customers happy.

For instance, you don’t want your car to only let you know you need gas after you run out. While it’s nice to know why the car stopped running, it would be even nicer to know a little earlier and not deal with the pain of walking to the gas station.

It’s all about finding that middle ground between “too late” (when people will be unhappy) and too early (when people would rather wait). Serve them when they are aware of a need, but not after they’ve found other solutions.

From our experience, we found that somewhere two-thirds to three-quarters of the way towards needing that refill would be a pretty prime time to send out a replenishment reminder.

Essentially, you want them to have enough time to take action to avoid any interruptions in the product and service they enjoy. Fido shouldn’t miss a meal, and a road trip’s no fun when you run out of gas.

For services that use a monthly subscription, or whose product will likely run out in a month, sending that email at the start of week three should be spot on.

As well, for those of you who a two-week free trial for their service, you will want to send out an email just before the trial expires expire—so they don’t experience an interruption in the service—and then again when it does expire.

The Bottom Line:

Replenishment emails help you spend less effort chasing down leads and converting your customers into recurring buyers.

As you can tell by now, this sort of email marketing doesn’t exactly work for every type of product (furniture would be a good example of items that do not need to be replenished on a monthly basis… unless of course you live some sort of wild rock star life).

However, even if you aren’t in the dog chow business, you might actually be running a business that offers a product or service that could follow the replenishment process.

Think about the products you sell. Do any of them have a finite quantity (such as cleaning products, food), require refills (coffee machines, water filters) or wear out (razor blades, scrub brushes, and even running shoes only go so far).

If there’s a chance one of your customers will need more, look into getting started with replenishment emails.

Spree Commerce vs. OpenCart

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

OpenCart or Spree Commerce? Spree Commerce or OpenCart? Both are open source, ecommerce platforms, so there can’t be too much of a difference, right? Well, when you take a closer look, you can see that—yes, there are many differences between the two. With that being said, let’s look at a side-by-side comparison between Spree Commerce and OpenCart.

Popularity

OpenCart has far more websites built on it than Spree. So, that’s it, right? Advantage: OpenCart? Not necessarily. Due to its customizable nature, a company would need some programming chops to start out on Spree.

That’s why, though OpenCart has a firmer hold on the market share, Spree has it beat in the top 10K sites, top 100K sites, and top million sites, in terms of web traffic. In fact, not a single site in the top 10K is built on OpenCart. So, when making your decision, it has to come down to this: Do I want the easier platform to start out on? Or the one that will be there for your when you need it most—when your traffic and sales are through the roof.

Pricing

Once your company grows past the point where the basics can do the trick, your going to need some extensions and features. OpenCart is noted for having generally affordable pricing on these features. But, you know what’s better than being “generally affordable?” Being… FREE!

Yep, that’s right. All of Spree’s extensions are free, and you can’t beat free. Big advantage to Spree Commerce here.

Community and Support

Spree Commerce is noted for having an incredibly passionate and supportive community. Questions on QA sites like Stack Overflow are usually answered quickly, and will often be handled by Spree Commerce developers themselves. In fact, Spree Commerce’s community stats stand at 611 contributors and over 15K commits. OpenCart’s stand at 143, and 4K, comparatively.

Plus, you’ll never see a comment on Spree like this review on OpenCart: “Unfortunately, bad attitude of the main developer and his forum moderators keeps serious developers away from using OC. On a daily basis, negative posts about OC or their business partners are being removed.“

Scaling

The goal for every ecommere startup is growth. So, why use a platform that can’t scale with you? Remember those “generally affordable” OpenCart extensions we talked about earlier? Well, they’ve also been noted as having poor transitions from updates and minimal support for troubleshooting.

Like we mentioned already, all of Spree Commerce’s extensions are free. And when you’re really ready to explode on the market, you can take a page out of the book of major ecommerce powers Bonobos and Fortnum & Mason and give Wombat—the automated integration platform built by Spree’s engineers— a try.

In Conclusion

Ok, so this is probably the point where you’re saying we’re a little biased. And, well, you’re right! We firmly believe that Spree Commerce is the best ecommerce platform in the world. (Remember that thing about a passionate community—the same thing can be said about our employees).

With that being said, the only way you’re going to find out for real how Spree can be the best fit for you, is to do what over 45,000 retailers have done already–give Spree Commerce a try. It’s free and there aren’t any scary contracts, so what do you have to lose?

Follow Spree Commerce!

Choosing Spree Commerce to Power Storefronts

Posted on May 05, 2015 by Seb Ashton

About the Author

Seb Ashton is a developer at Made. Made is a Spree Commerce Certified Partner comprised of software experts who are passionate about delivering well-crafted, mission-critical software. The team works with organizations across many sectors who share their drive to produce standout, commercially succssful work.

Why companies are choosing Spree Commerce to power their online storefronts

As Spree Commerce gains popularity, more and more companies are enlisting it to power their ecommerce offering. At Made, we recommend Spree because of how well it scales, its flexibility, and the benefits it offers over paid solutions and other open-source platforms.

Spree can be tailored to any scenario

When choosing Spree, you have access to a wealth of official and community-written Spree extensions. Furthermore, while it may require some integration work during development, your application will be able to take advantage of any gem available in the wider Ruby ecosystem.

All of this ensures your storefront can be as unique in its feature set as it is visually.

Who is using Spree Commerce?

Spree is powering the online storefronts for companies from a diverse range of retail sectors. In luxury food, it backs the storefront for Fortnum and Mason. In DIY, it ensures potential Dulux customers cannot only get inspiration for their new projects, but can also purchase the paint necessary to do so.

In fashion, it’s helping to sell clothing for Finery London and SHOWStudio. In home decor, Spree enables SurfaceView to sell bespoke wall covering from an extensive catalogue of prints, maps, and murals. And in sportswear, it’s helping to sell the unique On Running Cloud running shoes.

And that’s just a small snapshot; there are countless more.

Do all the stores look the same?

As you can see from the sites above, there are a myriad of possibilities in terms of the features your software engineers can add to your application. The look and feel of any Spree Commerce storefront can be as flexible and unique as your business.

Since Spree Commerce version 3—both the user-facing site and the admin area—have utilized the Bootstrap framework, using Bootstrap alone opens the door to a lot of customization options. Users don’t even have to edit any HTML; just pick your colors and you’ll have a unique-looking shop in next to no time.

However, if you do want a completely bespoke look, there’s a little more work involved. Fear not though, because Spree has thought of this too. Spree maintains a Ruby gem called Deface. Deface will easily override and customize any template in the Spree codebase—it will even work on a given extension. This allows you to really tailor every page to your needs, or the needs of your client. And when coupled with custom styling, you’ll get a one-of-a-kind storefront.

Spree is a great platform, and by using official and community extensions, you can create highly customized storefronts that are as unique as your business requirements. The flexibility of Spree doesn’t end with the possible application features either. By making use of Deface, the front end of your storefront is completely configurable too.

So, a Spree storefront can be built to suit any client, whatever their needs may be.

To read this post in its original format, visit the blog of Made.

Fortnum & Mason Gets 20% More Customers with Spree Commerce Site

Posted on April 30, 2015 by Margi Murphy

How Fortnum and Mason got 20% more customers to check out with open-source site

British luxury retailer Fortnum and Mason has seen 20 percent more customers check out online thanks to its brand new open source website.

The renowned store in London’s Piccadilly has completely replaced its existing ecommerce platform, opting for the open-source, and lesser known Spree Commerce to avoid vendor lock-in.

The new site has already improved usability, contributing to a 15 percent customer conversion rate, a ten percent on-site search conversion rate and its former 20 percent basket abandon rate reduced to zero, the retailer revealed.

“It will pay back in less than two years’ time – and you do not hear of many e-commerce projects doing that” Zia Zareem-Slade, head of customer experience at Fortnum and Mason told Techworld.com.

Spree Commerce is similar to more commonly used Magento, Hybris or Demandware, written in Ruby – a modern, flexible language. With over 500 contributors it is one of the largest open-source projects.

Deploying such a platform is quite daring for one of the oldest luxury shops in the world. Other British retailers like Selfridges, John Lewis or Marks and Spencer favour vendor platforms like Oracle ADG and IBM Websphere.

But Zareem-Slade said: “The fact that you have a community of people constantly improving and writing features is fantastic. It has been hard enough to be locked into one platform, let alone a partner that is the only one who knows how to make your platform work. I have seen businesses tied up in knots over [lock-in] before and I’d rather not go that route if I don’t have to.”

Existing website

When Zareem-Slade joined the firm two years’ ago she was faced with an e-commerce platform was reaching the end of its life. It was “very challenging to do anything with it.”

Fortnum and Mason has a complicated set of delivery services to provide the best in customer service across the world – delivering complex orders to more than 130 countries.

“Being able to compute that set of offers for customers will always be challenging, but the way you present that back to them shouldn’t be”, she said.

The legacy platform was “a big old matrix that looked like a spreadsheet”, where click and collect feature could not be separated from others.

It needed to move away from what was becoming end-of-life technology, drastically improve user experience and speed of use and team with a partner and platform that could be continuously improved as digital channels evolve.

Agile

Partnering with Red Badger, Fortnum and Mason worked closely with its developers using Agile methods to get the site to go live within eight months.

The new, responsive website has been built with tools for continuous deployment like Circle CI and Ansible integrated into Slack. This means any member of the project team, technical or non-technical, can turn on regular new features and updates. Flipper allowed Red Badger to switch features on and off at the flick of a button, meaning that tests could be run in a production environment without any increased risk to customers.

Integrated with Fortnum and Mason’s Dynamics AX ERP, the platform has solved one major retail headache of putting orders in a single view for the customer online.

“If you have an order number that was made from in store at a service point or over the phone you can check it on the website too.”

ROI

Aside from positive customer conversion rates, Zareem-Slade said Fortnum and Mason had seen a 20 percent drop in calls to its customer service line and more mobile users making purchases.

The innovative choice of platform and technology partner is a reversal from the retail norm, but Zareem-Slade is convinced this was the best long-term option for the firm.

“I’ve seen some pretty horrifying numbers in retail and we made a conscious decision to do things a bit differently and our spend is reflective of that.”

To view this article in its orgiginal format, visit Techworld.com.

Fortnum & Mason Replatforms with Responsive Spree Website

Posted on April 28, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Over the last two years Fortnum & Mason has delivered significant growth figures, in part due to new store openings such as Heathrow Terminal 5 and St Pancras, but also through an excellent online performance. In line with its continuing digital success, Fortnum & Mason has launched its new, fully responsive ecommerce site, to ensure that online customers enjoy the same high quality experience that the brand has been providing in store for over 300 years.

Designed and developed in just eight months, the new site is claimed to be one of the few truly responsive ecommerce sites currently live. As well as being a visual interpretation of the brand, the new site is scalable, agile, highly flexible, and able to handle complex orders and delivery across more than 130 countries.

Since its rollout mobile visits have improved 77% YOY, and mobile conversion has increased 57% YOY. Developed to deliver an improvement in conversion rate, new customers are currently converting 15% more than on the previous site. In addition, the business has seen an 18 per cent reduction in calls to the customer service centre.

The new website has been built by software development studio, Red Badger, under the stewardship of Fortnum’s customer experience director and board member, Zia Zareem-Slade. Using modern and progressive technologies, including open source ecommerce platform, Spree Commerce, and Facebook’s React, Red Badger was able to focus on creating a user experience catered to Fortnum’s customers’ needs.

Key to the success of the project was engaging Fortnum’s customers to help drive the direction of the design and development of the site by allowing them to provide feedback directly to the team. Throughout the project the Red Badger design team ran guerilla testing in its flagship store in Piccadilly to get customer feedback on the look and feel of the site.

Throughout its 308-year history, Fortnum & Mason has been at the forefront of retail innovation, and in 1998 it was one of the first retailers in the UK to launch a transactional website. In recent years a number of design changes have been made to the site but last month’s re-launch is the first full-scale redevelopment in four years.

Zareem-Slade said: “Collectively, we’ve achieved something very special. As well as being beautifully designed, the new site is fast, slick and easy to navigate – and is truly responsive, providing the same experience across multiple devices. The site reinforces the brand experience that our customers expect and since the site went fully live we have seen incredible results in increased revenues, increased conversion rates, but most importantly, amazingly positive customer feedback.”

Cain Ullah, CEO of Red Badger, said: “By working in full collaboration with both Fortnum’s and its customers throughout, and testing at every phase, we have managed to deliver a brand new fully responsive site in just eight months. The new site provides Fortnum’s with a robust and agile platform to support future business expansion and take advantage of the explosion of mobile and tablet usage.”

“We were ecstatic to hear that a company as renowned as Fortnum & Mason wanted to make the switch to the Spree and Wombat platform,” said Spree Commerce Chief Product Officer, Sameer Gulati. “Our robust platform serves retailers of all sizes and complexities; but to have a 300-year-old luxury retailer on board presented a new challenge. The customer metrics achieved by Fortnum & Mason so far are incredible and we fully expect the new site to be a benchmark for retailers to strive for.”

To view this post in its original format, visit Retail Times.

Spree Week Wrapping up

Posted on April 23, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

This past week, Spree Commerce flew the entire team in for a week of collaboration, foosball and steaks. On Monday, the team got re-accquainted with its Brazillian, Dutch, Ukrainian and Vermonter friends, who were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after their weekend flights.

Following a solid day’s work, the night was kicked off with some intense Fifa and foosball battles, then a short metro ride into DC for some delicious cuts of meat at Fogo de Chao. Tuesday was more of the same, but with some presentations added in, featuring the next big things to come at Spree and some rounds of pool at Bethesda’s local Rock Bottom. Wednesday was a “gamer” night, with the office Xbox controllers getting a healthy workout.

As the week comes to an end, we’ll be sad to say goodbye to our remote friends, but times move fast here—it won’t be long until we’re back together for another Spree Week or SpreeConf. And before everyone takes off we will team up for another outing—or two.

Sound like an environment you’d like to be a part of? Well, you’re in luck:

Spree Commerce vs. Shopify

Posted on April 21, 2015 by Fareed Dudhia

About the Author

Fareed Dudhia is a developer for Spree Commerce Certified Partner, Made. Made is a leading UK software services provider. They work with businesses to craft software that delivers results. From eCommerce stores and CMS-driven websites to enterprise karaoke platforms.

What is Spree?

Spree is a fully-featured ecommerce platform written for the Ruby on Rails framework. It’s designed to make programming commerce applications easier by making several assumptions about what most developers need to get started.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an ecommerce solution that allows you to set up an online store to sell your goods. It lets you organize your products, customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, and track and respond to orders—all with a few clicks of the mouse.

What does this actually mean?

The key difference between the two is that Spree is an ecommerce platform, while Shopify is an ecommerce solution. Your Shopify store is created and hosted for you. Shopify handles security, and is relatively easy to extend or integrate with other services via the Shopify App Store.

If your business simply wants to start selling products online, Shopify is a great choice. For a Shopify store, operating and implementing basic customizations (such as changing a theme) is possible without any code or deep technical knowledge. On the other hand, deeper customizations require both programming knowledge and intimate knowledge of the Shopify platform itself. For example, integrating with a shipping carrier that Shopify does not support can be a very difficult problem to fix. Developing features specific to your business can range from difficult to simply not possible. When using Shopify, your business is, for better or worse, locked into the Shopify way of doing things. There will always be large parts of your system that you cannot change.

Spree is a free, open-source platform. The benefits for a business of using open-source software are beyond the scope of this article but are varied and well documented. Spree being a platform is an important idea because it means that technical knowledge is required to start selling products with Spree. The system must be installed and hosted manually. Most companies that sell products through Spree either have a dedicated IT team to handle the storefront, or alternatively employ a company that specializes in Spree to implement and maintain the storefront for them.

Luckily there are proven companies out there with great track records of rapidly implementing, customizing and maintaining beautiful and robust Spree-based storefronts for you (hint hint). The main upshot of using Spree over Shopify is in the ability to tailor the entire ecommerce system to meet any and every business requirement:

Launching a new product and want to provide your favorite customers with the ability to order first?

Want to test out two different layouts or features on your site at the same time to see which one is more effective at converting clicks into sales?

  • Do you want to launch, say, an online magazine alongside your products which you can create, edit and release yourself as a writer, rather than a techie?
  • Do you want to launch a mobile app that works with the same user accounts and data as your storefront?
  • Want to get involved in serious data mining and custom analytics to completely smooth out your conversion funnel?
  • Want to implement a loyalty program which is specifically tailored to the way your company operates?
  • Is your business really a lot more than “just an ecommerce store”?

These are all areas in which a flexible platform like Spree excels.

Conclusion

No one ecommerce system is ever right for all businesses. There are tradeoffs between cost, flexibility, simplicity and customization to consider. This article barely scratches the surface, and both options have free trials available, so why not have a peek at both?

Having said that, and with the preface that we may be a little biased, we believe that your ecommerce system should be a command H.Q. for your business. Your employees should be empowered to get creative and suggest new ideas without the fear of being told, “I.T. says that isn’t possible.” Most of all, your ecommerce system should be built with you in mind, rather than built on what all businesses like yours have in common.

Distinguishing your business from your competitors is very difficult when you’re both locked into the same technology. Indeed, this report, for instance, suggests that while there are around 100 times as many Shopify sites as there are Spree sites, there are only 5 times as many in the Alexa top 100k. Also, the Alexa top 10k apparently has more sites using Spree! To us, this seems to suggest that as businesses grow and adapt, the flexibility that Spree provides is what puts them ahead of the pack.

In the end, it’s about choosing what’s right for your business. We haven’t met yet, so we have no way of advising you about whether Spree would be a good fit. We should probably change that.

The Spree Gateway Extension

Posted on April 14, 2015 by netguru

About the Author

Netguru is a leading development agency and Spree Commerce Certified Partner. We build lean and beautiful applications for everyone from startups to major corporations. Our developers are focused on the Ruby on Rails and iOS frameworks. From the first commit to the final release, we are committed to build well-devised and user-friendly apps & ecommerce platforms tailored to your specific needs.

Every ecommerce owner has to tackle one of the key elements of running an online store: implementing the payment gateway of choice. There’s a number of popular online payment providers available (in fact, you’ll find out about 11 from this post only), and if you run your store on Spree platform, you have a variety of options to choose from. Find out more about available Spree payment gateways and handy features that will facilitate the payment process for your customers.

What’s your Spree Gateway Choice?

There are plenty of options available to you if you are running a Spree Store. Increasingly, a lot of companies – large and small – have been throwing their hat into the PSP ring in efforts to offer alternative online payment methods and mount some much-needed competition for the leader, PayPal (see our recent post ‘10 Online Payment Service Providers You Need to Know About’).

They all enjoy different features that might very well be much more suited to your store, your business and your customers’ needs, and for your convenience we have outlined 11 popular gateways that can be integrated into your Spree Store below.

The Spree Gateway Extension

The Spree payments model has been designed to be highly flexible, and this means that – thanks to an open source extension – it’s absolutely possible for online merchants such as yourself to be able to offer your customers multiple payment options when it comes to making a purchase.

It’s now imperative to the success of your store that you offer your users a choice of payment options. As mentioned above, trust is absolutely fundamental when it comes to online financial transactions, and offering the right payment gateway can often determine whether or not a customer completes the order, making you a sale.

No matter which PSP you go for, if you’re dealing in global sales, then you’ll need a means to provide currency options for your customers. The Spree Multi-Currency feature is another open source project by Spree that allows users to change the currency in which they’ll be paying (provided that the PSP used supports the currency in question).

So, in order to start adding more payment options to your site, you’ll first need to start running the Spree Gateway extension. (The beauty, of course, that comes with Spree, lies in the fact that it is open source, which means that not only is it free, but is supported by a large online community of users and professionals who are all committed to ensuring that it’s as bug-free and user-friendly as possible). Once you have done this, then you will have access to a number of payment gateways, from which you can choose the ones that are most suited to your customers and your online store.

Different gateways, of course, offer different features, and so below we have put together a list of Spree supported gateways and given some details as to what you can expect from each.

1. PayPal

Even though Paypal now seems to have a dedicated army of determined detractors, the fact that it’s still loved and trusted by so many users (the site boasts that having a PayPal button on your site on average will increase sales by 31%) means that it still makes sense to offer it as a payment option on your site.

With PayPal you can create a customizable checkout, and it’s available in 26 currencies across 203 countries.

2. Stripe

Stripe has emerged to be one of the biggest contenders to PayPal, and it’s easy to see why. Being already integrated with literally thousands of iOS and Android apps, it’s in a great position to meet a lot of online merchants’ needs.

Furthermore, Stripe also offers revenue and subscription management, and is much favoured by businesses like Rackspace and Parse who can take advantage of this. However, what Stripe doesn’t offer is its own shopping cart, but with Spree this is very easily integrated anyway, so not too much of a problem.

3. Skrill

Formerly known as Moneybookers, Skrill is one of the most versatile PSPs on the market, supporting over 100 payment options for customers.

Skrill is available in over 200 countries and supports 40 different currencies. One of its most innovative features is that it allows you to send text messages to your customers right from your account. It’s also free to start using, and is generally considered to enjoy one of the lowest fees on the PSP market. Netguru team contributed to Skrill, joining their internal teams in Berlin and Sofia to build the online payment account management app.

4. Braintree

Braintree is available for merchants in Australia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the US.

Though PayPal detesters, you must know that Braintree is a PayPal company. As such, this can actually work in your favor. Braintree will accept most of the payment methods as that of PayPal, and any of your customers who do not like the parent site will still use it.

However, if you do not like using PayPal at all for your business purposes then you’re best off steering clear of Braintree.

5. Authorize.Net

Authorize.Net will accept payments from anywhere in the world, however, your business must be registered in Australia, Canada, Europe, the UK or US in order to register.

Security and fraud prevention is a key selling point for Authorize.Net, and offers the feature for syncing any transactions conducted via the gateway with your Quickbooks account.

Your checkout page can also be customized with Authorize.Net.

More Integrations Coming Soon!

Spree Commerce is adding integrations all the time. One payment gateway in the queue is Payeezy. The Payeezy Gateway makes it easy to accept a wide range of payments and manage payment transactions anytime, anywhere, by accepting more payment types than any provider. Follow Spree on Twitter to keep in touch and see what’s coming next!

Read More

To view this full post in its original format, including the six other payment gateways, visit the blog of netguru.

Spree Commerce Growing; Expanding Staff

Posted on April 07, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce, the company powering the growth of over 45,000 retailers, is about to experience some growth of its own. Spree is on the hunt for multiple team members across different positions, ranging from Office Manager to Senior Ruby & Full Stack Engineers to Product Manager.

Ideal candidates will work out of our DC-area headquarters—how else will they receive foosball and air hockey privileges, as well as access to the tasty beverages in our fully-stocked fridge? However, when we say we’re looking for the best in the world, we mean it; Spree currently has employees from four different countries working remotely.

Spree Commerce is on a mission to empower the world’s sellers through cutting-edge solutions that deliver stability, flexibility, and peace of mind. We believe in running lean, maximizing the quality of our people, and trusting each other with broad responsibility, as we continue to build out the technology that’s powering the next generation of ecommerce.

If this sounds like an experience you’d like to be a part of, then check out our full list of job openings, and if there’s an open position you’re interested in, send us an application. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Send Email in Spree

Posted on April 01, 2015 by Divya Manikandan

About the Author

Divya Manikandan is a Digital marketer at Infigic. Infigic is an ecommerce agency that develops with Spree Commerce. Infigic was started by experienced ecommerce professionals who have built succesful ecommerce ventures in the past and have started off this venture to help fellow ecommerce entrepreneurs. You can check out Infigic’s portfolio here.

How to Send Email in Development with Spree

This problem arises because you don’t have a local email server to receive your emails.

Step 1:

The first step would be to Install the mailcatcher gem in order to test the setup in development.

You will be using it as a SMTP server to catch all the incoming mails and display them on http://localhost:1080/:

Step 2:

Just run in the terminal “gem install mailcatcher” in the console.

You will find an SMTP server running on port 1025 catching emails and displaying them on HTTP port 1080

Step 3:

Add spree mail settings gem to your Gemfile:-

Add Line:

gem ‘spree_mail_settings’, github: ‘spree-contrib/spree_mail_settings’, branch: ’master‘

Then run:

bundle

Step 4:

Further, go to “Spree admin panel” and configure it. These settings will work perfectly for you without any code writing.

Then click on “Send test mail”

Mail Method Setting

Step 5:

You will receive the an email on your local host.

Now your problem is solved.

If you have any further questions, you can follow us on twitter or you can even drop us an email at info@infigic.com. To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of Infigic.

Scalability with Spree Commerce

Posted on March 26, 2015 by Rory MacDonald

About the Author

Rory MacDonald is a founder and director of Made. Made is a team of software experts who are passionate about delivering well-crafted, mission-critical software. The team works work with organizations across many sectors who share their drive to produce standout, commercially succssful work.

“Does Spree Commerce scale?”
“How many products can Spree handle?”
“How many concurrent users can Spree support?”
“What is the most popular Spree Storefront?”

These are some of the questions we’re asked when discussing Spree Commerce with new customers. You’ll notice they’re all about ‘scalability’ and whether Spree can cope with high levels of traffic or large product catalogs. These questions are understandable, and the sort of things you should be asking about a relatively new platform.

I hope this article will provide some reassurance that Spree is more than capable of scaling to very large numbers. We’ll demonstrate the approach we take to scalability and what you should be doing to understand your system’s constraints and the points at which you’re going to need additional capacity.

When people talk about scalability, they tend to be referring to one of two things: a) throughput or b) Product Catalog size. In this post, we’re going to focus on throughput.

What is Throughput?

Throughput is the number of requests your application can serve in a given time period. The higher this value, the more scalable your application is.

Your application throughput is likely to vary between pages (as functionality and resource requirements will differ) and throughput will be constrained by the compute resources that you have available, such as your server type, server size or amount of machines within a load balanced cluster.

How Does it Affect Scalability?

The scalability of your application is directly linked to its throughput, as the more requests your application can serve, the more scalable your system is going to be and the fewer compute resources you’re going to need.

We’ve found the best way to get an accurate picture of your Spree scalability is to run volume tests. Volume tests are a technique we use to simulate large numbers of users accessing the store. They provide a realistic measure of how the store will perform under significant load.

To run volume tests, you need to setup a server environment which mimics the resource constraints of your production environment. These constraints will vary between hosting environments, so it’s very important that you benchmark on the exact same environment that you’ll be using for production, or the results will be of no use.

To begin the volume test, you will need to define a number of scenarios which mimic what your users would do on the site. They could be something like:

  • Visit Homepage
  • Visit Product Listings
  • Add to Basket
  • Add Coupon Code
  • Enter Email Address

It’s important to bear in mind that different pages on the site will have different throughput, so only testing pages with high throughputs will provide inconclusive results.

You can use tools like NewRelic and Google Analytics to get an idea of the throughputs on your pages, and the user journeys customers take.

Once you have these defined, you should write them in a format that a volume testing tool can consume. We’ve used BlazeMeter and LoadImpact to volume test Spree in the past, but other tools are available.

Running the Volume Test

Next you need to run the test. You should define the number of Virtual Users (VUs) you want to concurrently access the storefront and the period of time you want the test to run for.

We tend to start with ~50 concurrent VUs for 5 minutes and increase from there. As you increase the number of concurrent users, you should be looking for your application performance to remain fairly consistent. If you see your response time decrease, this is a sign that optimizations need to be made.

Benchmarks

In the benchmarks that we ran, we deployed the standard Spree 2.4 storefront within a load-balanced AWS environment, which had two Large Amazon EC2 instances running 14 Unicorn workers on each and was backed by a single large AWS RDS instance. This setup scaled out to approximately ~4800 requests per minute and to 30,000 orders per day.

To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of Made.

Get Started with Spree Commerce

Posted on March 24, 2015 by 3llideas

About the Author

3llideas is a development agency with years of experience in ecommerce. As a Spree Commerce Certified Partner, 3llideas has launched Spree Commerce stores for businesses around the world, spanning a range of industries.

Here at 3llideas, we adore working with the Spree Commerce platform. We are far from the only ones, as thousands of online stores are managed by Spree software, with even more developers working on the open source technology. The popularity of Spree, with more developers learning it every day, is why we want to provide key steps to help programmers starting out with Spree Commerce.

Have you wanted to try Spree, but don’t know where to start? Have you heard programmers talk about it, and want to see first-hand if it fits your project? Well keep reading, as we’ll give you all the information you’ll need to get started with Spree Commerce.

One of the most common questions we hear is, “How do I start with Spree?” Open source software has many positive aspects, but sometimes poor documentation or, even its absence all together, may discourage people starting the development or testing. This is not the case with Spree Commerce, as it is relatively easy to find tutorials and “How tos.” However, in addition to Spree’s existing docs, we’re going to put together our own tutorial using Castilian. This will provide a short guide to getting ready to run Spree, to give you an idea of how easy it can be.

It’s our goal that as many companies as possible use this software, so they can discover the benefits that can be applied to their business by becoming an expert in Spree Commerce. The first steps to installing Spree are:

1. Prepare the development environment for running applications on Ruby on Rails:

To do this we have a Mac, Linux or Windows computer on which you install a series of elements that allow us to run the full software. The items will install:

  • Git
  • RVM (Ruby Version Manager) tool that will allow us to have different versions of Ruby installed on one computer to use them in various projects.
  • Imagemagick library of image processing that needs Spree
  • Any other software needed, pending the type of project being developed

This is the necessary software, so now we’ll tell you where to find it. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so we selected a railsapps installation guide that we’ve often used for its clarity and explanation. You have the guide for Mac and Linux (Ubuntu). We don’t have Windows experience personally, but recommend using Ubuntu after completing the training.

2. Install Spree Commerce Version 3.0.0

With the development environment ready to start Rails applications, we can go ahead and install Spree. At the time of this writing, Spree version 3 is available and recommended for testing. This guide will help get your Spree Store fully automated and with the sample data. To do this, open a terminal window, then head to the folder where you want the software, and write the following instructions:

Once we’ve completed the process, we can view our Spree store with some test data by opening a browser and typing " http: // localhost: 3000 ". For the administrative side you can go to " http: // localhost: 3000 / admin" by using the following credentials:

User: spree@example.com
Password: spree123

We hope you feel encouraged to try Spree Commerce. And don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help applying this software to online stores you’re working on.

To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of 3llideas.

Salesforce Integration Upgrade

Posted on March 24, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce upgraded the Salesforce integration for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can get connected with this leading CRM integration in just a few minutes, without any custom coding on their behalf.

With its variety of pre-built ecommerce integrations, as well as fully customizable features, Wombat connects any storefront to any service, increasing speed to market and allowing store owners to dedicate more time to what they do best; grow their business. By connecting to the Salesforce integration, Wombat users can proactively help their customers with any issues that may arise.

Specific benefits Wombat users gain by connecting to Salesforce include the ability to:

  • Ensure that sales representatives have accurate product information via automatic updates in Salesforce
  • Allow sales representatives to better serve customers by giving them full transaction histories
  • Ensure accuracy of customer contact information by automatically updating customer information in Salesforce when updates are made in your storefront
  • Receive order, payment, and return information in real time to track sales numbers

“Effective customer relation management is vital to ecommerce success,” said Spree Commerce COO Josh Resnik. “You need to have a tool you can trust to enhance the relationship between your sales and support staff, and your customers. Salesforce is that tool, and we believe that with this upgrade, we’ve made connecting as simple as possible.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Salesforce by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on this integration, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

A 5-point Inspection of Shopify and Spree Commerce

Posted on March 19, 2015 by Alexander Nachaj

A 5-point inspection of Shopify and Spree Commerce: Going the Distance with your E-Commerce Platform

Pardon all the car metaphors, but sometimes a little comparison is needed to help put things in perspective; especially when we talk shop about your business.

Out of the Garage

Shopify charges a monthly fee ranging from $29 to $129. Spree charges no monthly fee. If we were to think of Shopify’s fee as a monthly lease, that’s not a bad deal; under $200 for a monthly lease? No way! But still, you should keep in mind that with Spree, it’s like being given a brand new car for free.

Under the Hood

Shopify doesn’t let you play around with the code. Spree is open source, which means you have access to all the code, and can download it at any time. So, with Shopify, that’s like only being able to go to the dealership for tune-ups, while Spree lets you hire any mechanic or even work on it yourself.

Basic Features

Shopify offers all the basics a business needs; it’s simple, uncomplicated and without any frills, but that also means it’s missing out on some extra features. On the other hand, Spree lets you pick the features you want, and use the ones you need. So, with Shopify, you’ve got your cup holders; but Spree lets you pick how many, where and in which color.

On the Road

Shopify stores are managed and maintained by Shopify. They’ve got their team who handles everything, for everyone. With Spree, you run your own show. On the whole, it’s nice that Shopify is managed, but that’s kind of like a car that decides when and where to stop for service. Sometimes you’d rather be on the road, or taking advantage of that big sale you just set up instead of seeing a loading screen. With Spree, you’re at the wheel, at all times. You pick when it’s best to perform routine maintenance, and never mess up a sale.

That Extra Mile

Few businesses run off the basics. To compensate, Shopify offers pricey apps (looking at $9-$99 per month each). Spree has a whole database of extensions, and they’re free. So, with Shopify, that’s kind of like seeing a toll booth after every turn; but with Spree, it’s an open road all the way. You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: how would you rather get to where you’re going?

Onsite Search: A Goldmine of Analytical Data

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Vitaly Gonkov

About the Author

Vitaly Gonkov is the Chief Marketing Officer of Mageworx. Mageworx is a Magento solutions provider that crafts better experiences for Magento users. Mageworx helps Magento store owners acquire, convert and retain more customers.

These days, ecommerce sites are getting more and more complex—they may have up to several thousands of products and hundreds of categories. Site owners are struggling to introduce advanced, flexible and even self-learning onsite search mechanisms to help shoppers quickly find what they want.

But store owners may not realize that, besides its main function of delivering results, onsite search can also be a goldmine of valuable analytical data. According to the SLI Systems report, only four out of ten ecommerce brands are trying to leverage internal search data for their online marketing campaigns.

Meanwhile, this data can significantly magnify your marketing efforts and increase site sales performance. By looking at onsite search reports you can:

  • Gain a clearer picture of customers’ purchasing behavior
  • Get onsite ranking data and use it to improve your landing pages and fine-tune merchandising
  • Find new ways to enhance communications with customers
  • Discover new approaches to email marketing
  • Learn how to adjust your SEO and PPC campaigns for a better effect

All that can contribute to a better overall user experience and lay the foundation for higher sales volume.

Read on to learn how to better utilize onsite search data when planning your online marketing campaigns.

Analyze Customers’ Behavior

By analyzing the queries visitors enter in the search box, you can get a general pattern of customers’ purchasing intentions.

The pattern will let you figure out which products people are mostly interested in, find products that have the call with your audiences, check the current popularity of every item in your store, and more.

With this data, you can adjust your site architecture and navigation to better meet your customers’ needs.

For example, say that you have an electronics website and that most of your searches are about smartphones and tablets. This suggests that visitors may prefer to find these types of devices over the others. Hence, by placing the smart device section at the top of your homepage, you will let your visitors immediately find want theу want. Also, you can save customers time by putting this section at the top of your site navigation menu, highlighting it to attract more attention.

Adjust Your Site Content

User experience could be further enhanced by improving and adjusting pages that receive the most of onsite search queries.

Just like in SEO, when optimizing internal site search, we should help visitors land on the most relevant and effective pages. Hence, by creating pages specially tailored for popular search queries, you increase your chances to retain customers and decrease site bounce rate.

Note that you can also direct shoppers to these pages. Display those popular products on the home page or category page and manage search priority for every product’s attribute.

On top of that, you can define products’ search ‘weight’. For example, you may assign an adjustment weighting of +1 to a particular product, so that it appears before others in onsite search results. Thus, you will help your customers land on the right pages.

Use Onsite Search as a Communication Channel

Treat search queries as a message your customers send you, and never ignore what your customers say.

For instance, you may look at terms that are receiving big search volume, but result in a high percentage of people leaving your site. That gives you a clear indication that customers can’t find the desired product, the searched term is out of stock, or it doesn’t have the necessary configuration. So you must act quickly to provide customers with what they want to get.

Even if you can’t satisfy the current customers’ demands, don’t just throw an indifferent “no results found” message. Think long-term:

  • Offer a special deal on the most-searched products as soon as it appears in your store
  • Add a wish list and email notification options for products that are currently out-of-stock or not yet available

If that’s impossible, tweak your merchandising to suggest similar or alternative products.

Use Onsite Search Data to Adjust your Email Marketing

Site search data can help you maximize the relevancy of your emails. These emails should offer your customers the exact products they want, and increase your sales in the process.

To merchandise products for your email marketing, you need to start with site search keyword data. By analyzing this information, you will find your best and worst-performing products. Through this valuable insight, you can compose a beautiful landing page with the most-searched products and send an email that will guide your customers to it.

If your most popular queries are the general keywords (e.g. smartphones, tv sets, cameras) you can create a category landing page, like ‘The best of mobile’ or ‘Best deals on SLR cameras’ and send a link to it to the customers who shared an email with you.

Use Onsite Search Data to Adjust your Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click Campaigns

And last but not least, once you have completed the analysis of onsite search queries, you can apply this knowledge to your SEO and PPC strategies.

Onsite search data is perhaps the best way to identify what your potential customers are really interested in. If your visitors keep entering the same terms in the onsite search box, consider adding these words to your SEO and PPC target keyword lists.

Therefore, you can shift emphasis to whatever that search is for a period of time, which will let your prospective customers easily find the desired products right from Google search results or PPC ads.

Bottom Line

Onsite search data reflects all major shoppers’ concerns and interests, as well as trends of their purchasing behavior. So this essential data can make a huge contribution into the success of your campaigns for:

  • Product management
  • Managing online customer behavior
  • Improving customer retention
  • Search engine optimization and paid search ads

Have you ever experimented with onsite search data in your marketing campaigns? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

Amazon S3 Integration Upgrade

Posted on March 17, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce upgraded the Amazon S3 integration for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can connect with this in just a few minutes without any custom coding required.

With its variety of pre-built ecommerce integrations, as well as fully customizable features, Wombat connects any storefront to any service. By increasing speed to market, Wombat allows store owners to dedicate more time to what they do best; grow their business. By connecting to the Amazon S3 integration, Wombat users can quickly import and store customer data.

Specific benefits Wombat users gain by connecting to Amazon S3 include the ability to:

  • Retrieve and store data and order history to track sales information
  • Export data in CSV or JSON format
  • Send event notifications when objects are uploaded to Amazon S3

“Having a connection like Amazon S3 that you can rely on to track and record data can be a huge a help to your sales,” said Spree Commerce CEO and co-founder Sean Schofield. “We’ve made connecting to this integration as simple as possible. Just follow a few steps and users are up and running.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Amazon S3 by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on this integration, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

CAG And Spree Commerce

Posted on March 11, 2015 by Commerce Acceleration Group

About the Author

Commerce Acceleration Group is a design and development shop specializing in ecommerce. Through passion, transparency and creativity, CAG delivers a great customer experience and ensures clients’ goals are achieved.

Commerce Acceleration Group And Spree Commerce: A Combination for Excellence in 2015

One of the goals we’ve always had as an organization is to remain agile. Agility in technology is, to us, the most important characteristic to keep at the foundation of an organization. In the mid-2000’s we saw many development agencies go out of business because of their inability to adapt their organizations to open source and support PHP based frameworks and platforms. Likewise, later in the 2000’s, we saw many web development firms go out of business as a result of not being able to integrate analytics and metrics with strategy into their projects. A few years later, we saw may Ad Agencies go out of business due to their inability to adapt and learn digital.

We feel there’s a similar shift happening in the ecommerce industry currently. It’s a trend that most people know as truth deep down inside, but won’t admit it until the data and facts overtake their inability to see change coming. The fact is, for technology, times are always changing and it’s our role as an agency to address the changing times and make strategic decisions to stay in front of them. We feel there is a fundamental change coming in the middle market ecommerce space.

The change will see more platforms emerging with non-PHP frameworks, such as Ruby on Rails or ASP.net. What are the changing currents causing the switch, and what do we see shifting? We’ve outlined this below, but to summarize the end of this post, in 2015 Commerce Acceleration Group’s ecommerce platform of choice will be Spree Commerce. Here is why…

Why Does PHP Currently Dominate the Ecommerce World?

The short answer is open source. PHP is an easy language to learn, and because of the quick development of early adopting communities like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, PHP became the foundation for many new software platforms because of the existing ecosystem of human capital (developers) that knew the basics.

Why is PHP Not the Future of Ecommerce?

PHP in general is not the most effective programming language for the future of commerce. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going away any time soon. The ecosystem of platforms and technology leveraging PHP is too large for this to happen. In our opinion, it will be displaced over time. PHP is a resource-heavy option when compared to Ruby on Rails and some other languages. In fact, PHP can take up to 10 times more code to accomplish the same functionality.

Most PHP software requires larger hosting and IT infrastructure to run than other, comparable software on Ruby or other languages. With the increasing dominance of mobile usability, site speed and performance becoming an absolute necessity, the costs of operation to ensure optimal performance are less from a server perspective with Non-PHP technologies as a site scales.

Why is Ruby on Rails Now Viable?

Ruby has always been viable, but the big concern in the market is the availability of talent. Because the market demand for developers has been greater than the existence of quality developers, the cost for development has been higher. We are starting to see this shift now.

Ruby is now gaining more traction internationally, which is allowing for the offshoring of code. This allows companies to build hybrid US and offshore development teams to reduce overall development costs.

This trend will continue to drive down the cost of development for Ruby moving forward. Also, in our opinion, the Ruby community has the most traction for growth. It doesn’t have the largest community, but it has a lot of strong growth, which will start to drive the existing open source projects even more.

Why Spree Commerce?

To us, we look for platforms that meet the changing business climates of our customers. We look for speed to market, speed of platform, ease of use, stability and scale and we also look at the ability to integrate a platform with third parties. From our initial analysis we’re finding that Spree excels in all of these areas. While Magento and other ecommerce platforms may have a large library or third-party plugins and extensions, we find Spree makes up for the relative lack of maturity with the overall intuitive ease of use with the platform.

We will continue to update our progress with new projects throughout 2015 and share our additions to the Spree Community. We have several new clients lined up for Spree implementations in early 2015. We’re excited to deliver world class ecommerce results and would love to connect with you regarding your project.

To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of Commerce Acceleration Group.

NuORDER Integration Upgrade

Posted on March 10, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce upgraded the NuORDER Integration for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can connect with this leading storefront integration in just a few minutes without any custom coding required.

With its variety of pre-built ecommerce integrations, as well as fully customizable features, Wombat connects any storefront to any service, increasing speed to market and allowing store owners to dedicate more time to what they do best; grow their business. By connecting to the NuORDER, Wombat users can offer a quality shopping experience to their customers across all channels, enhancing growth and expanding their business.

Specific benefits Wombat users gain by connecting to NuORDER include the ability to:

  • Get approved orders from NuORDER up to the minute for faster processing
  • Send new and updated product data to NuORDER
  • Send updated inventory data to NuORDER in real time to avoid overselling

“Connecting your storefront with a platform that can automate your third-party services is vital to ecommerce growth,” said Spree Commerce COO Josh Resnik. “We upgraded NuORDER to make connecting as easy as possible, so that users can see immediate benefits from this integration.”

Get accurate and reliable access to NuORDER by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on this integration, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

Get accurate and reliable access to NuORDER by signing up for a free, integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

Vtex Integration Upgrade

Posted on March 03, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades Vtex Integration for Wombat

Spree Commerce upgraded the Vtex integration for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can get connected with this leading integration for multichannel management in just a few minutes, without any custom coding on their behalf.

With its variety of pre-built ecommerce integrations, as well as fully customizable features, Wombat connects any storefront to any service, increasing speed to market and allowing store owners to dedicate more time to what they do best; grow their business. By connecting to the Vtex integration, Wombat users can offer a quality shopping experience to their customers across all channels, enhancing growth and expanding their business.

Specific benefits Wombat users gain by connecting to Vtex include the ability to:

  • Track inventory in real time to keep stock updated
  • Ensure the accuracy of product prices, descriptions, and availability in your storefront
  • Automatically list products in your store when new products become available
  • Receive orders from your storefront to to send for fulfillment to ensure timely shipment to customers

“As new channels become available to a store owner, the complexity of the business increases exponentially,” said Spree Commerce CEO and co-founder Sean Schofield. “Having a system in place like Vtex to manage this complexity is the key to expediting growth, and we’ve made connecting with this integration as efficient as possible.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Vtex by signing up for a free, integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

Integrate PayU and your Spree Storefront

Posted on February 26, 2015 by netguru

About the Author

Netguru is a leading development agency and Spree Commerce Certified Partner. We build lean and beautiful applications for everyone from startups to major corporations. Our developers are focused on the Ruby on Rails and iOS frameworks. From the first commit to the final release, we are committed to build well-devised and user-friendly apps & ecommerce platforms tailored to your specific needs.

Spree has a flexible payments model which allows multiple payment methods to be available during checkout. The official spree_gateway extension already supports some well-known solutions like PayPal, Stripe or Skrill.

Yet, we felt that something is missing here. Yup, we’re talking about you – PayU!

PayU gateway is currently available in 13 countries, e.g. Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Latin America, Turkey and Ukraine, so if your storefront aims at one of those markets, why not use our brand new open source extension?

The extension integrates your Spree store with PayU allowing your users to choose it among other payment methods. Simple as that.

How It Works

Wow, what a lovely Rails bag. Definitely want it! Let’s add it to the cart.

Let’s move to checkout. Need to type my shipping address and other details…

Time to pay for the goodies. Here it is! Now you can choose between credit card & PayU. Isn’t it great?

Installation

All you need to do is add spree_payu_integration to your Gemfile…

gem spree_payu_integration

… then bundle your dependencies and run the installation generator:

bundle bundle exec rails g spree_payu_integration:install

For more information, installation and usage details, visit: Spree PayU integration Github repo. To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of netguru.

Unleashed Integration Upgrade

Posted on February 24, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce upgraded the Unleashed integration for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can get connected with this leading fulfillment and inventoryin just a few minutes, without any custom coding on their behalf.

With its variety of pre-built ecommerce integrations, as well as fully customizable features, Wombat connects any storefront to any service, increasing speed to market and allowing store owners to dedicate more time to what they do best; grow their business. By connecting to the Unleashed integration, Wombat users can proactively track their order status for accurate inventory tracking and fulfillment.

Specific benefits Wombat users gain by connecting to Unleashed include the ability to:

  • Retrieve customer, order, inventory, product, and shipment information from Unleashed
  • Track inventory
  • Record new and updated products, customers and order data

“Automating the order and fulfillment process is a huge help in growing your business,” said Spree Commerce COO Josh Resnik. “With this upgrade to unleashed, we’ve given users another option to quickly connect with an inventory and fulfillment services without any custom code required.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Unleashed by signing up for a free, integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

The Best Ecommerce Solution

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Bacancy Technology

About the Author

Bacancy Technology is an offshore web development company based in India and the United States. We’ve become one of the leading offshore web development companies by providing excellent service and solutions. Specializing in software product development, we’ve successfully executed numerous projects in software development, web design and development, mobile technologies, microsoft technologies, open source, and internet marketing.

Being a retailer in the ecommerce era can be an extremely profitable endeavor. With online selling, a retailer is not limited to sell his or her goods in one particular area for particular people. Rather, online commerce allows retailers to sell their items globally, increasing the probability for more sales.

If you’re a retailer, you’re undoubtedly looking for, or have already found, a reliable storefront. And if you’re looking for something flexible, interactive, easy, and cost effective, then Spree Commerce is the best ecommerce store platform to go with. Why should you go with Spree Commerce?

Easy to Customize

Spree’s open source, light weight framework makes it is easily customizable. Though the seller may not recognize the importance of customization, it can benefit him or her in a multitude of ways. The easier the framework is to customize, the more a developer will be able to focus on getting the exact business requirements fulfilled, instead of losing time (and the store owner’s money) due to the complexity of building out each key feature.

Even the engineers that built Spree are available as part of the community to help find solutions to problems that may arise along the way. This makes working with Spree more attractive for developers, as any queries regarding extensions, gems, and payment gateway integration can be easily solved.

Quick to Build, Easy to Operate

Since it’s supported by Ruby on Rails, one can easily assemble Spree quicker than any other online store framework to create a dynamic ecommerce store that is, consequently, easy to use. All the solutions are available within the community, and the actual developing done in Rails can be its most attractive aspect, since it consumes less coding and more logic.

Easy to Integrate Additional Functions, Features and Extensions

Extensions and additional features are needed by store owners, due to the fact that the default themes can sometimes lack a bit of functionality that one may wish to have. And this can easily be tackled on Spree in a few hours.

Extensions in Spree are easy and quick to make. One can customize an extension as needed within a short period by extracting quality-driven output, with the help of the easy and logical coding of Ruby on Rails. Furthermore, many third-party extensions are also available for Spree, making development of a Spree Commerce store even faster.

Adaptability, as the Business Grows

Many online businesses fail due to the fact that, as the business grows, a store starts to inhibit more complexity. This can manifest itself in the form of an increased customer database, more messages and emails, more product quantity, more visitors, more orders, more payments, and just plain more, more, more.

But with Spree Commerce’s integration platform, Wombat, you needn’t worry about the above complexities that can be associated with growth. Wombat was built by the Spree Commerce engineers, and allows your storefront to connect with any third-party service. In this sense, you dont need to migrate from one store to another to get the full benefits of additional features or extensions.

As your business expands, you simply connect to the new service required. Wombat has a wide range of pre-built integrations, which avoids much of the custom coding developers would have to perform otherwise.

Responsive (Mobile Friendly)

Some of of the first questions we’re asked by clients are, “Will my online store be mobile friendly?” and, “Will people be able to transact and buy things via their mobile device, laptop, iPad, etc.?”

Spree Commerce can easily be customized to fit into the ‘mobile friendly’ tag. And with its 3.0.0.rc1 and 2.4.3 update, you don’t even need to customize it to make it mobile friendly. By default, Spree will create a responsive e-store for you.

Easy to Integrate Payment Gateway

Spree Commerce comes with the pre-built feature of payment gateway integration. This leads to easy integration with any payment gateway you want in your Spree Commerce e-store, whether it’s Paypal, PayU, Stripe, Authorize.net, or any other payment gateway. You just need a developer familiar with Rails, and it’s done!

To learn more about building out your storefront with Spree, visit Bacancy Technology. To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of blog of Bacancy Technology.

Add a Q & A Section to your Spree Store

Posted on February 18, 2015 by netguru

About the Author

Netguru is a leading development agency and Spree Commerce Certified Partner. We build lean and beautiful applications for everyone from startups to major corporations. Our developers are focused on the Ruby on Rails and iOS frameworks. From the first commit to the final release, we are committed to build well-devised and user-friendly apps & ecommerce platforms tailored to your specific needs.

If you’re shopping online, from time to time you probably have some additional questions to ask before buying. What fabric is used for this cool t-shirt? Can I return or exchange an item? Do you ship to Canada? Is that pink really that pinky as it looks on the photo? Our open source extension allows you to interact with users and quickly add a Q&A section to your Spree store. Yay!

How does it work?

Logged in users can ask questions from a simple form displayed on the product page. Admins answer the question. All answered and accepted questions create a handy Q&A section on the product page. Simple as that!

If you want to see how it works in practice, visit our demo shop. You can login using the credentials below:

customer@example.com / customer

Adding the extension to your Spree store takes just a few moments. A step-by-step guide is available on the GitHub Spree Products QA page

To view this blog in its original format, visit the blog of netguru.

VendPOS Integration Upgrade

Posted on February 17, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce upgraded the VendPOS Integration for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can connect with this leading VendPOS Integration in just a few minutes, without any custom coding on their behalf.

With its arsenal of pre-built ecommerce integrations, as well as its fully customizable features, Wombat automates all of a storefront’s mission-critical services, increasing speed to market and giving store owners more time to grow their business.

Specific benefits users gain by making these connections include the ability to:

  • Send product updates to the storefront to ensure accuracy of product listings
  • Ensure tracking of customer orders for accurate accounting records
  • Sync inventory levels in real time to prevent overselling in storefront
  • Ensure accuracy of customer information to prevent shipment delay

“Having a point of sale integration that you can trust is key to ecommerce success,” said Spree Commerce Chief Product Officer Sameer Gulati. “With this upgrade we’ve, made connecting with this integration as easy as possible. Just follow a few simple steps and you’re on your way.”

To get accurate and reliable access to VendPOS, sign up for a free, two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

Get accurate and reliable access to VendPOS by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform trial trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

Common Trends of Breakout Ecommerce Startups

Posted on February 12, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Recently, the brains behind the data and analytics platform RJMetrics conducted a report identifying the key traits that separate the fastest-growing ecommerce companies from the ones that tend to struggle out of the gate. The conclusions found in this report are based off the analyses of over 200 ecommerce retailers, 31 million customers and $25 billion in transactions.

In order to get an accurate depiction of a highly successful ecommerce brand, versus the rest of the pack, revenue was broken into months and quarters throughout a three-year period. The research points to top performing ecommerce companies reaching nearly 450K in monthly revenue by the sixth month, leading to nearly $60M in revenue by the end of the third year in business. The less successful companies, by contrast, hadn’t cleared $200K or $15M in the same timespans.

Interesting stats, but what is it that set those top-level companies apart from the rest to begin with?

One common thread that ties successful companies together is they find a way to create a near-frictionless buying experience. Take straight-to-your-door mattress retailer Casper, for example. Casper doesn’t share complete revenue figures, but reported $1M in revenue in its first month, so it definitely fits the bill of a fast-growing ecommerce startup.

Traditional means of buying a mattress are a hassle: you have to go to the store, deal with a commission-based salesman and, depending on the size of the mattress and type of car you own, rent a truck to get the mattress home. With Casper, a few clicks here and there, and the mattress is on its way to your door. And just for good measure, shipping is free.

A second trait of breakout ecommerce brands is their ability to keep the customers they have, and to keep them buying. The customers of the quickly-growing companies exhibit a purchase rate two times that of their less successful counterparts, and have a customer lifetime value five times greater. Put those two statistics together, and there’s little mystery behind the fact that by the end of year three, the majority of revenue for these high-revenue brands is created from repeat purchases, creating a renewable resource of income from repeat customers.

Customer loyalty starts with great customer service. That means never losing an order and never falling victim to silent failure. And in those odd scenarios when something does go wrong, damages must be mitigated by proactive and apologetic communication with the customer. The last thing you want is to not find out about an error until an angry customer tags your brand in a malicious tweet.

While it’s true that Twitter can be harmful to a company’s reputation in the above scenario, the breakout ecommerce startups are using social media to create a rich, vibrant community, another helpful strategy when it comes to creating and sustaining customer loyalty.

Take a look at the Twitter feed of Loot Crate (founded in 2012, reportedly earns $18M in annual revenue) and it’s full of good-natured back-and-forths between the company and its customers. Many of the subscribers post pictures of the “crates of awesome” that land on their doorstep on a monthly basis.

The blend of content and commerce has also proven to help a brand grow quickly. No company better deploys this strategy than Glossier and Into the Gloss. Into the Gloss is an incredibly popular blog that features interviews with models and makeup artists, as well as beauty product advice. The popularity of the blog led to a venture into retail, with Glossier.

Glossier debuted its own line of makeups, moisturizers and other products this past fall, and its foray into ecommerce has been a great success so far. Also contributing to its success, Glossier’s background as a blog has led to an active Twitter account, where happy customers tweet their satisfaction, similar to the aforementioned activity seen with Loot Crate.

The last common trend, and possibly most important depending on the products being sold, amongst blossoming ecommerce brands is to adopt a “try before your buy” philosophy. This strategy can be implemented in a variety of different ways.

Casper, for example, offers a 100-day trial to customers before the purchase becomes final, to ensure a great night’s sleep for years to come. Pretty standard stuff, nothing we haven’t seen before. A fairly new trend that’s picking up steam, and is utilized by men’s clothing powers Combat Gent and Bonobos, is the use of Guide Shops.

These shops allow customers to try on clothes before they buy them. This plan clears the hurdle all clothing retailers face of customers’ concern for proper fit before making the final purchase. A customer tries on the clothes at these shops, and the rest of the purchase is finished in the store with similar convenience enjoyed at home on the computer; just swipe your credit card and your order will be on your doorstep in a matter of days.

As you can see, there a number of different ways a startup can set itself apart from the rest of the pack and expedite growth. The above strategies have been used by some of the trail-blazing startups on the market, and can be used as models for fast, sustainable ecommerce growth.

Add Like Button to your Spree Store

Posted on February 11, 2015 by netguru

About the Author

Netguru is a leading development agency and Spree Commerce Certified Partner. We build lean and beautiful applications for everyone from startups to major corporations. Our developers are focused on the Ruby on Rails and iOS frameworks. From the first commit to the final release, we are committed to build well-devised and user-friendly apps & ecommerce platforms tailored to your specific needs.

Our handy Spree extensions adds like/favorite buttons to the product page to allow your users to express how much they love the product.

See the heart-shaped icon below the bags? From now on users can LIKE items and mark them as FAVORITES. How cool is that?

To make it even better, our extension let’s storefront admins sort products by likes count—now you’ll know which items are particularly popular.

Adding the extension to your Spree store takes just a few minutes.

Add spree product like to your Gemfile:

Bundle your dependencies and run the installation generator:

If you want more on this extension, you can find a step-by-step guide at the project’s GitHub read me.

To view this post in its original format, visit the blog of netguru.

Spree Commerce Upgrades Zendesk Integration

Posted on February 10, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce upgraded the Zendesk integration for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can get connected with this leading customer service integration in just a few minutes, without any custom coding on their behalf.

With its variety of pre-built ecommerce integrations, as well as fully customizable features, Wombat connects any storefront to any service, increasing speed to market and allowing store owners to dedicate more time to what they do best; grow their business. By connecting to the Zendesk integration, Wombat users can proactively help their customers with any issues that may arise.

Specific benefits Wombat users gain by connecting to Zendesk include the ability to:

  • Send support ticket data directly to Zendesk in real time
  • Quickly assign tickets to customer service reps so they can proactively handle issues
  • Send order data to Zendesk so the team can monitor order status

“Efficient customer service is critical to the success of any ecommerce brand,” said Spree Commerce CEO and co-founder Sean Schofield. “The quicker you can handle any issues that come up, the happier your customers will be. With these upgrades, we’ve made connecting with Zendesk and automating your customer service issues as easy as possible; no custom code necessary.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Zendesk by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

8 Reasons Why Infigic Loves Spree Commerce

Posted on February 05, 2015 by Divya Manikandan

8 Reasons Why Infigic Loves Spree (And You Should, Too)

About the Author

Divya Manikandan is a Digital marketer at Infigic. Infigic is an ecommerce agency that develops with Spree Commerce. Infigic was started by experienced ecommerce professionals who have built succesful ecommerce ventures in the past and have started off this venture to help fellow ecommerce entrepreneurs. You can check out Infigic’s portfolio here.

When it comes to choosing an ecommerce site for your company, there are many options available. Your ecommerce website holds the top priority for your company and therefore it becomes a difficult task to choose the right framework that fits your business requirements.

Spree commerce is currently considered the most popular choice among online store owners, and a lot of retailers are moving towards Spree. And that’s precisely the reason why we’ve chosen Spree Commerce as one of our key platforms.

Here are 8 reasons that tell you about the rising importance of Spree commerce:

1. Easy to Use

Spree is lightweight and easy to use. It’s user interface for online store and back end administrative module is quite user friendly.

2. Ruby on Rails

Spree is written in Ruby on rails which is currently a very popular, reliable and stable open source platform.

3. Easy Documentation

The Spree Commerce user guides that Spree’s developers created are easily available and of immense help to new companies. You can be part of the Spree community and avail the facility of expert advice if you have any issues regarding the application.

4. Licensing

Spree-BSD license has the least amount of restrictions, irrespective of your business size. Even if you are a small company or a multi-national giant, you’re free to use Spree for commercial purposes without paying any license fees.

5. Customization made Easy

Spree is completely flexible, and can be molded as per your business requirements, not the other way around. With a lot of ready extensions available from the community, Spree often becomes the preferred choice for many ecommerce companies.

6. Mobile Optimization

Online shopping has moved from “desktop at home” to smart phones and tablets. Therefore, it has become imperative to optimize the stores for small screens. Spree stores perform exceptionally well on all handheld devices, like tablets and smartphones.

7. Provides Extension

Whether it’s integrating any 3rd-party applications or creating a new one for yourself, with Spree Commerce’s API, Spree extension development is child’s play.

8. Tighter Integrations with 3rd Party Tools

With the roll out of Wombat, Spree offers tighter integration with Wombat—a platform for storefronts that need to connect to key systems such as accounting, ERP, and fulfillment.

You can view this post in its original format by visiting the blog of Infigic.

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Spree Commerce Upgrades Fifth Gear and PCH International Integrations

Posted on February 03, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce upgraded the Fifth Gear and PCH International Integrations for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can get connected with these leading fulfillment and inventory integrations in just a few minutes, without any custom coding on their behalf.

With its arsenal of pre-built ecommerce integrations, as well as its fully customizable features, Wombat increases speed to market by connecting any storefront to any service. By making the connection to Fifth Gear or PCH International, Wombat users can automate their fulfillment and inventory efforts, ensuring that they never lose an order again.

Specific benefits users gain by making these connections include the ability to:

  • Track inventory in real time
  • Automate orders through up-to-the-minute fulfillment
  • Send orders in real time to ensure timely shipping
  • Send shipment data from your store to desired connection in real time

“The faster you can process your shipments, the faster they get out the door, and the happier your customers are,” said Spree Commerce COO Josh Resnik. “That starts with a simple connection to a reliable fulfillment provider. With these upgrades, we’ve given users even more options to track their inventory without any custom code on their behalf.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Fifth Gear and PCH International by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform trial trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

Shippo's Spree Commerce Integration

Posted on January 29, 2015 by Shippo Blog

About Shippo

Founded in 2013, Shippo makes shipping easy & cheap for ecommerce stores, with a developer-friendly API, seamless web interface, and the best available shipping rates. Thousands of packages are purchased, shipped, and tracked through our software every day. We’re proud to enable our customers to grow their businesses faster by helping them overcome the tedious, expensive shipping status quo.

An increasing amount of customers have asked us to build an integration to Spree Commerce, to an extent that we couldn’t ignore the requests anymore.

We’re thrilled to announce that we launched Shippo’s Spree Commerce integration. We’re excited to add another integration to our service next to the existing integrations that we already have with Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento and Etsy.

The Shippo Spree Commerce integration connects your store to all relevant US shipping providers at the same time. You will be connected to the USPS, FedEx, UPS and DHL Express. If you’re an international customer we can also help with shipping in Canada, UK, France and Germany with connections to local shipping providers in each of these countries.

How to Integrate the Shippo Spree Commerce Integration

To connect your Spree Commerce store to the Shippo Spree Commerce integration you have to download our code from Github and deploy it to your Spree Commerce store. Once you’ve done that you’ll receive a token that you can insert on this Shippo page, which will connect your store to the Shippo dashboard that allows you to manage orders and shipments. Most importantly, it creates shipping labels and manages shipping-related matters, such as tracking and customer notifications.

Get your Shipping Label in Three Simple Steps

Same as with the existing Shippo integrations, the Shippo Spree Commerce app connects to your Spree Commerce store and imports all of your open orders into the Shippo dashboard. Once you have them on your Shippo dashboard you can start fulfilling them to your customer!

The Shippo Spree Commerce integration automatically imports your customers’ addresses to pre-fill your shipping labels. That way you won’t have to copy-paste addresses anymore. Next to each one of your orders you’ll find a button that says “create label”. Clicking on this button will lead you to a page that asks for your package dimensions, which is the weight and the size of your package. We need to know your package dimensions to provide accurate shipping rates, which will be shown in the next page.

You can choose your preferred shipping provider, then buy and download a shipping label immediately.From your Shippo dashboard you can keep track all your shipments and notify your customers on the shipping status.

Spree Commerce Pricing

Using the Shippo Spree Commerce integration is free. We charge per transaction. We charge $0.05 per label when you purchase a shipping label through the Shippo Spree Commerce integration. We offer discounted shipping rates with the USPS with many discounts higher than the commercial USPS. For international shipping we have discounts with DHL Express and also create custom documents. For more about our pricing, click here.

We’re excited to now also support Spree Commerce customers and simplify shipping for all Spree Commerce stores. You can reach our dedicated customer service team at support@goshippo.com with any questions. The Shippo team is happy to help. Get started with your Spree Commerce store on Shippo today!

To view this post in its original format, visit the Shippo blog.

Spree Commerce Upgrades Odoo and Abacos Integrations

Posted on January 27, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades Odoo and Abacos Integrations for Wombat

Spree Commerce upgraded the Odoo and Abacos integrations for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can connect to these leading accounting and ERP integrations in minutes.

With its wide range of ecommerce integrations, Wombat connects storefronts to all of their mission-critical services, simplifying backend operations and increasing speed to market. By making the connection to Odoo or Abacos, Wombat users can automate their accounting and ERP efforts.

Specific benefits user will gain by making these connections include the ability to:

  • Receive real-time inventory updates
  • Send new orders to storefront in real time
  • Increase efficiency of sales representatives by identifying patterns in order histories

“Accurate and timely inventory updates are a key staple for any successful ecommerce brand,” said Spree Commerce CEO and co-founder Sean Schofield. “With the upgrades to Odoo and Abacos, Wombat can connect to these integrations by following a few simple steps, with no custom coding on their behalf.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Odoo and Abacos by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewsire.

Spree Commerce vs. Magento Enterprise

Posted on January 22, 2015 by Alexander Nachaj

Spree Commerce Storefront vs. Magento Enterprise Edition: A four-point comparison

Ecommerce storefronts might seem like birds of a feather (they list products, manage inventories, make sales, etc.), but they’re as diverse as the Avian kingdom itself. If you’ve been managing a business, or a couple of businesses, of your own, you’ve probably already had this figured out. But what about all the newcomers, those intrepid entrepreneurs in the earlier stages of launching their own online businesses?

You’ve certainly heard the word “Magento” before; who hasn’t? One quick Google search will find you millions of results from around the internet. In particular, you’ll probably find yourself one news article or another which remarks that Magento is the leader in ecommerce solutions by market-share alone.

However, does being the most well-known platform equate to being the best option for start-ups of every size? After all, small-to-medium sized business have different needs and resources than larger ones.

Let’s compare a couple of the core aspects of both Magento Enterprise and Spree Commerce that business owners might want to take into consideration before launching their projects.

Start-up Costs

Getting a business off the ground begins with a number of investments. Some are personal, but most are financial. Where rent and renovations factor into retail locations, online businesses have to deal with web hosting, security and, as is often the case, license fees for their storefront platform.

Magento Enterprise markets itself as a big business solution and prices itself accordingly. The Enterprise edition starts at $15,000 and can go as high as $200,000—never mind the wages you’ll need to pay your team as you get the ball rolling before launch. While we should note that Magento does offer a free Community Edition, which has pretty much the same basic features and source code, that version is missing a lot of the high-level perks and functionality offered by Enterprise. Notably, for anyone who’s ever used it, Magento Community suffers from awful caching and indexing issues, as well as hogging more than its share of server resources.

Fortunately, in terms of start-up costs, Spree begins at $0. You get access to the source code, extensions, community support and all the features for free. The only costs you’ll need to look out for are the ones you’ll have regardless: hosting, domain security, merchant account fees to process payments and the odd developer and staff member to help you manage the business.

Source Code

Unless you want to run a very simple shop with a small handful of products, you will inevitably dive into, or pay someone else to dive into, the source code of your storefront. Both Magento and Spree provide access to their code for development purposes, but the code itself is like comparing apples to oranges; they’re both fruits, but under the skin it’s a world of difference.

Magento is built using PhP with some elements of the Zend framework; pretty standard stuff. Spree, on the other hand, is built using Ruby on Rails, an open source web framework created specifically for online businesses and commerce. The code is even structured in such a way to ensure that it stays clean, doesn’t duplicate itself unnecessarily and offers improved overall performance.

For instance, let’s look at some numbers: Magento Enterprise has over 5.5 million lines of code, whereas Spree Commerce uses only 45k – that’s over 120 times less code required to perform the same basic commerce functions! It makes a difference on the operational side of things too. Spree can handle more than double the number of requests per second that Magento can (23.11 to 9.77), and takes care of them almost three times faster than Magento (413ms compared to 1203).

Back-End User Experience (UX)

Front-end UX is often what makes or breaks a website. Nobody wants to hunt down elusive products, deal with a broken shopping cart or any other unpolished features. While much of this has to do with a design, a storefront front-end often reflects the CMS behind it. If you and your team are having a hard time keeping products updated and in order, there’s a good chance customers will start to notice this too.

Looking behind the curtain at Magento, you’ll probably notice that the backend is a bit of a cluttered mess. With tab after sub-tab to navigate, even people familiar with the system might end up forgetting which screens controlled which settings. Even worse, some of the options have cryptic labels, making it tough to figure out what values it’s asking for (try writing a credit memo without a tutorial, and you’ll see what I mean).

In comparison, Spree’s backend is neat and tidy. There’s easily half or fewer tabs and sub-menus that you would find in Magento. Though, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the features and options aren’t there, but rather that they’ve been ordered around in a way that keeps things streamlined and focused. You’ll never have to hunt for options or keep a roadmap every time you need to make a minute change.

Multi-language and Currency Support

English, due to its prevalence as the first or second language for countless people, is usually the best bet for online business, along with USD as the most common currency these days. But realistically, you’ll never find a single region or market that is 100% linguistically homogenous or without other payment or currency preferences. This is where multi-language and currency options can help your store stand out.

Both Magento and Spree pretty much have this in the bag and honestly, considering how global our marketplaces have become, no modern storefront could really get away with offering anything less. If you want to expand your market reach, and better accommodate shoppers in their language and currency, whether at home or elsewhere, having this kind of support can really go a long way for the customer service department.

One important difference though, is if you are marketing different products to different linguistic and regional audiences, Spree comes with far more supported payment gateways and language modules right out of the box. While Magento can handle roughly 75 different solutions, Spree comes bundled with over 125. In either case, if you are in need of an extension to accommodate more, Spree offers most of them for free, while Magento extensions usually start at $100.

In Conclusion

Both platforms are filled with features and are more than capable of offering a secure, friendly shopping experience for visitors, but launch costs and development time should always be factors to bear in mind. Even if you have a team of developers and a massive budget, Magento Enterprise shouldn’t be the first choice for your business. You owe it to yourself to look at spreecommerce.com and see how many high-profile businesses are happily running Spree.

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DotCom and Quiet Logistics Integration Upgrades

Posted on January 20, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades DotCom and Quiet Logistics Integrations for Wombat

Spree Commerce upgraded the DotCom and Quiet Logistics integrations for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can connect to these leading inventory and fulfillment connections in just a few minutes by following a few simple steps.

Wombat connects brands to all of their mission-critical services, offering a wide range of ecommerce integrations and simplifying backend operations. By making the connection to integrations like Dotcom or Quiet Logistics, Wombat users can automate key aspects of their inventory and fulfillment services.

Specific benefits users will gain with these integrations include the ability to:

  • Process orders as soon as they’re placed
  • Ensure shipments are sent to customers as quickly as possible
  • Receive shipment notifications that can be used to keep customers up to date about their orders
  • Sync shipment and tracking updates in real time for accurate shipment tracking

“Dependable inventory and shipment updates are a staple of any ecommerce brand. They keep customers informed, and prevent overselling,” said Spree Commerce CTO and co-founder Brian Quinn. “With the upgrades to Quiet Logistics and Dotcom, we’ve made automating these key business aspects as simple as possible; no custom code required.”

Get accurate and reliable access to DotCom and Quiet Logistcs by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform tial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base..

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

2014 Year in Review

Posted on January 15, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

The most powerful and flexible ecommerce platform for the Ruby enterprise. Spree capitalizes on the dynamic nature of the Ruby programming language to provide the most flexible commerce platform available. The Spree storefront offers a full feature set and is built on common standards, so you don’t have to compromise speed to market, efficiency or innovation. The modular platform allows you to easily configure, supplement or replace any functionality you need, so that you can build the exact storefront that you want.

That was a review of some of Spree Commerce’s key offerings, in a recent list of the Top 25 Startups in DC, of which we are proud to land at number four. But how did we get there? At this point a year ago, we were hardly on anyone’s “Top 25” radar, let alone in the top 5. It certainly did not happen overnight. With that in mind, here are some of the features we believe helped establish Spree as one of the best startups in the Nation’s Capital.

The Arrival of Wombat

Midway through the year, we unleashed our integration platform, Wombat. We are happy to say that Wombat hit the ground running. An array of clients, from the cutting edge 3D Robotics, to the 300+ year-old Fortnum & Mason, have signed on to take advantage of Wombat’s smooth functionality, arsenal of pre-built integrations and fully customizable features, to increase their speed to market and ensure that they will never again fall victim to the “silent failure” that can doom a brand’s reputation.

Since its inception, Wombat has made continuous tweaks and improvements to ensure that it remains the best piece of integration middleware on the market. Some of these enhancements include improvement to the JSON path library, and the ability to set conditions on a connection name in flows. This also includes constant additions and upgrades to our pre-built integrations—14 upgrades in November and December alone!

SpreeConf 2014

Kicking off the year was SpreeConf, hosted in New York City back in February. The third edition of the conference proved to be the most attended and participated in, from both an audience and keynote speaker standpoint.

As well as a number of Spree team members, the list of keynote speakers featured some of the best and brightest minds in ecommerce, including Bonobos’ Andy Dunn, Combat Gent’s Scott Raio, and Jirafe’s Amit Shah.

We hope to have details finalized on this year’s event soon, so keep a look out for SpreeConf 2015!

Spree Commerce

Spree Commerce hit a number of important milestones throughout the year, and had several key feature upgrades, including the releases of Spree versions 2.2-2.4. These new versions of Spree included a major line items adjustments feature, Rails 4.1 support, as well as multi-store support, and a major return authorization upgrade. Also important to note is that Spree surpassed 500 contributors, and 5,000 stars, or favorites, on Github. Those marks now stand at 577 and 5,847, respectively.

Also, making huge news across the tech world was Spree Commerce’s partnership with GoDaddy to launch GoDaddy Online Store. First announced in February, more than 5000 merchants opened stores and sold millions of dollars, even though Online Store was just in Beta mode at the time.

“The Spree platform has the underlying capabilities to serve businesses of all complexity, from small merchants to larger businesses,” GoDaddy Head of Engineering, Antonio Silveira said in October, the time of Online Store’s public launch. “We have used the platform’s flexibility to build a product that is tailored to the small merchants, making it possible for anyone with a great idea to sell online.”

There has been a lot of great work from the team in order to get us where we are, but staying on top of the game is a never-ending job. We strive to improve constantly, and with that in mind, here’s to hoping we climb that startup list all the way to number one in 2015!

Spree Commerce Upgrades Jirafe and SugarCRM Integrations

Posted on January 13, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades Jirafe and SugarCRM Integrations for Wombat

Spree Commerce has upgraded the Jirafe and SugarCRM integrations for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, users can connect in just a few minutes by following a few simple steps.

Wombat connects storefronts to all of its mission-critical services. Offering a diverse arsenal of integrations, Wombat increases storefronts’ speed to market by simplifying the backend operations. Connecting with leading data and analytics integrations like Jirafe and SugarCRM allows users to better utilize their customer relationship management efforts.

Specific benefits users will gain by making these connections include:

  • Receive notifications when cart activity occurs in the storefront to help track cart-abandonment rates
  • View up-to-date customer order records to help customer service team respond to inquiries
  • Perform analysis on sales and order data to facilitate decision making
  • Provide 360-degree customer history to identify customer purchase patterns and sell proactively

“In ecommerce, there’s a lot of data out there that can be used to better target potential customers, and keep current customers happy,” said Spree Commerce COO Josh Resnik. “However, you need a reliable service that can collect the data in order for you to take advantage of what’s out there. With these upgraded connections, we believe we’ve made access to Jirafe and SugarCRM as easy as possible; no custom code required.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Jirafe and SugarCRM by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform trial trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on integrating SugarCRM and Jirafe with Wombat, visit the Wombat knowledge base

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

Things to Remember when Creating Perfect Checkout Flow

Posted on January 08, 2015 by John Waldron

About the Author

John Waldron is a technology and business writer for markITwrite digital content agency, based in Cornwall, UK. He writes regularly across all aspects of tech including gadgets, digital marketing and apps. In his spare time he likes to write children’s fiction and scripts. This post was originally written for the blog of Netguru.

The last thing that any ecommerce site owner wants to worry about is cart abandonment. You no doubt have some of the best products on your site that the market has to offer, all at competitive prices with fast shipping times. Yet, you might still be finding that a lot of your customers are falling short of completing the purchase at the last hurdle, time and time again.

If this is you, then rest assured you are certainly not alone. Research conducted by the Baymard Institute, in September of 2014, reported that 68.06% of online shopping carts are abandoned before completing checkout process. This percentage is based on an average of statistics generated by 28 different studies on ecommerce shopping cart abandonment.

Specifically, shopping cart abandonment occurs when a customer has visited a website, filled his or her shopping cart with products, but leave the site before completing the purchase. As evidenced by Baymard’s statistics, this happens more than two thirds of the time, and, according to Econsultancy, global retailers are losing a combined total of around $3 trillion in sales each year from abandoned shopping carts.

This, clearly, is unacceptable, and a lot of the time the problem seems to lie within a complicated checkout process. If your checkout has too many stages for completion, customers can either get irritated, come over with a case of cold feet about the purchase, or otherwise simply become frustrated with having to part with so much personal information just so they can buy one or two things that they want.

So, in order to quash these abandonment rates on your site, you need to make sure that your online storefront is working as perfectly smooth as possible, and is guiding your customers easily through the checkout process with ease. Below are some tips and checkpoints to help you reach this coveted state, and help you boost your conversion rates and profits.

Customer Experience

Before we get into the nitty gritty of creating the perfect checkout flow however, it is of utmost importance to make sure that your online store is optimized to give your potential customers the best experience possible whilst browsing. So, take a look below at how you can improve your site so that your potential customers have the confidence in you to start filling their baskets with all your wonderful goodies that you have to offer.

Product Imagery

Your customers expect to be able to have a clear idea of what they can expect through the post once they purchase an item. But, even before that, if they can’t get some good views of the product, then they are far less likely to even pop it in their shopping cart in the first place. One image is not enough, either — you need at least three — and the images need to look professional. Ideally, zoom functionality will be offered to the customer as well. This increases trust in the product, and therefore the likelihood that it will be purchased.

Contact Details

This is something that a lot of sites seem to forget about. You need to make sure that your site contains clear offline, as well as online contact details, so that your business has some real credibility and customers feel that they can contact you easily.

Transparent shipping costs

You need to be absolutely clear on all of your pricing, including whether or not it includes shipping. There is nothing more irritating to a customer who finds that they all of a sudden are being asked to fork out additional charges just before they agree to pay. Indeed, this is very high on the list of reasons for abandonment, so, be courteous to your customers, and let them know before the checkout if they will be asked to pay extra for shipping.

Offer Price Guarantees and Refunds

Online shoppers especially need some sort of assurance that, if the product is not what they expected when it arrives at their home, they will be able to get a refund with ease. Offer a 30-day return, no questions asked, emphasize that it’s a free service, and it should give them that extra little bit of confidence in you that they may well need to pop the product in the basket. Also, price guarantees are brilliant if you can offer them too — this will give the customer the confidence that they are getting the very best deal available to them, so why look elsewhere?

Optimize Your Site For Mobile

More and more, customers are using their smartphones and tablets to do their shopping. And so, this means that your site must be mobile-friendly. A site that looks and works brilliantly on a desktop, does not necessarily translate into a good looking and workable site on the much smaller mobile screen, and this can often result in shoppers abandoning your site before they’ve even put anything in their basket.

So, you need to consider optimizing your image galleries specifically for mobile browsers. This can be tricky, but one good option is to have a ‘Tap To Zoom’ button displayed over the image. By zooming in, the customer is then not redirected away to a specific image page, where the product description and user reviews, etc. will be absent. The trick here is keeping the customer on the page where the ‘Add To Cart’ button is, as too many clicks and having to go backwards and forwards when trying to get a good view of the product can lead to abandonment.

Show Testimonials

Nothing is more convincing to a potential customer than a recommendation from a satisfied one. If anyone has had anything particularly glowing to say about any one of your products — or indeed your quality of service — in a review, then be sure to display this loud and proud on your site so that all of your visitors can be made aware of it.

Checkout Flow

Ok, so now that your site is optimized to give your potential customers absolute faith in you as a business and in your products, you want to give the same attention to the checkout experience, as here is where it really matters. Once your shoppers have filled their baskets, it’s make or break time when they get to the checkout — so make sure that you get it right.

Offer A ‘Guest Checkout’ Option

It can be very annoying to your online shoppers if they are asked to register on your site before you allow them to purchase. As good as it is to try and garner as many subscribers as possible, sometimes people just want to fill their baskets, pay you and leave — and you need to make sure that you give them the option of doing just that. Offer a ‘guest checkout’ option. This way, the customer doesn’t have to waste time filling out all of the forms giving away their email address and other contact information that you want them to – a lot of them simply won’t and you will lose many a sale this way.

Make it Very Simple to Edit the Shopping Cart

Some customers only want to spend so much online. They pick out what they want, but, as they continue to browse they find something better. They don’t want to fork out for both items and so choose one over the other – and they should be able to do this with absolute ease. So, give a simple ‘remove from cart’ button next to every product that appears in their shopping basket. Don’t try and make this awkward in the hope that they will end up purchasing both items. They won’t — they’ll purchase neither.

Offer Alternative Payment Methods

Some people only use PayPal, others only like to use their preferred credit card. Either way, you need to provide your customers with every option that you can think of for accepting payment from them. Indeed, if their preferred option isn’t listed, then this is often enough to make them abandon their cart and instead find a site that does offer that payment method. Furthermore, it’s also important to display the logos of the big card names that people trust – Visa, MasterCard, American Express etc. This again gives some credibility to your site and can reduce shopping cart abandonment.

Offer Support

More and more, ecommerce sites are utilizing a live-chat feature on their sites so that customers can always reach out for support should they become stuck or have a question. This is a great idea if you have the resources to implement it. Though you do have to be careful that you’re not intruding upon the customer, especially as they start to fill out their bank account information. Having a live chat option clearly available will only increase your conversions.

Don’t Include Too Many Stages

Some ecommerce sites require a customer to take 5 or 6 steps to complete the checkout process. This is simply too many. Customers expect their shopping experience to be completed with relative ease and simplicity, and this is most crucial at the checkout phase. So, if you can, try and reduce these steps to around 3 or 4. If the customer is already registered with your site, then you should really aim to reduce this stage to 2 or 3 steps at the most.

Amazon in fact now offer a ‘one-click purchase’ option, so that customers can practically bypass the checkout phase altogether. Instead, customers simply click ‘buy now’ and then wait for the product to arrive to their door. Although this might not quite be a viable option for you on your site, the checkout process should always nonetheless still be reduced to as few phases as possible.

The tips and tricks outlined above should really all be followed to the letter if you are to try and reduce your shopping cart abandonment rates as much as possible. Inevitably, there will still be some customers who are essentially just browsing your site for the sake of ‘window-shopping,’ and will always abandon their cart no matter what you do. However, you want to try and make things work as smoothly as possible for all other visitors. Remember, too, that a perfect checkout flow starts even before your customer reaches the checkout — so make sure that your site is optimized to give the best customer experience from the outset, and you should find that your cart abandonment rates start to reduce significantly.

If you’re e-store runs on Spree, feel free to use one of our open source plugins to improve the user experience by adding a QA section or our customer assistant module!

Spree Commerce Upgrades Amazon SES and ExactTarget Integrations

Posted on January 06, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades Amazon SES and ExactTarget Integrations for Wombat

Spree Commerce has upgraded the Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) and ExactTarget integrations for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, connecting with these integrations takes just a few minutes.

Wombat connects ecommerce storefronts to all of its mission-critical services by offering a wide arsenal of integrations, simplifying the backend operations. By making the connection to integrations like Amazon SES and ExactTarget, Wombat users can automate key aspects of their customer and communication services.

Specific benefits users will gain with these integrations include the ability to:

  • Greet customers with an email after their first purchase, encouraging brand loyalty
  • Send confirmation emails when orders have been placed, updated or shipped
  • Allow customers to securely reset passwords with password reset emails

“Effective, efficient communication is a staple of any ecommerce brand,” said Spree Commerce CEO and co-founder Sean Schofield. “It keeps customers informed and updated, increasing brand loyalty in the process. By automating these aspects, store owners are given more time to do what they do best; grow their business.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Amazon SES and ExactTarget by signing up for a free, two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

Spree Commerce Upgrades MK Data Integration

Posted on December 23, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce has upgraded the MK Data Services integration for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, connecting with MK Data is just a matter of a few minutes.

Built by Spree Commerce, Wombat connects ecommerce storefronts with all of their mission-critical services, offering a wide array of versatile integrations. By making the connection to MK Data’s Denial service, Wombat users will be able to quickly screen for potential customers who may be on the denied/restricted parties list, expediting the screening process. In the event that an entity or person lands on one of these lists, any dealings with the aforementioned party would violate the terms of its denial order.

“When dealing with international entities, screening the denied/restricted parties list is an ugly but necessary part of the process,” said Spree Commerce COO Josh Resnik. “When the situation comes up that someone does need to screen a potential business partner, Wombat users will have MK Data right at their fingertips, ready to give a fast and trustworthy answer.”

To get quick, accurate and reliable access to MK Data Services, sign up for free two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on this integration, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To read this press release in its original format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

Contribute to Spree- Setup Git and Github

Posted on December 17, 2014 by Peter Berkenbosch

About the Author

Peter Berkenbosch is a Senior Developer and Technical Account Manager at Spree Commerce. He loves programming in dynamic languages such as Ruby, and mostly uses Ruby when developing web applications with the Rails framework.

In this small guide I will share the setup I use to contribute to Spree Commerce.

*Disclaimer: This post contains some content written by me and others for the developer guides at Spree Commerce.

Fork and setup upstream remote

Fork the Spree repository on github and clone the spree project on your local machine:

Make sure to run the tests. Spree is only taking pull requests with passing tests, and it’s great to know that you have a clean slate:

To setup the upstream branch to get the changes back from spree/spree you will need to setup a new remote for your repository. I always call this remote `upstream`. To setup spree/spree as an upstream remote you need to tell git about it like this:

Get Changes from Upstream Remote

When you need to get the changes in the spree/spree repository into your own fork I use this small script called `gitub`. You can find it on my dotfiles repository.

When you’re on the master branch, it will fetch all the changes from the upstream remote, rebase the upstream branch into your local master branch and then push it to your fork on github.

Create a new topic branch then make changes and add tests for your changes. Only refactoring and documentation changes require no new tests. If you are adding functionality or fixing a bug, we need tests!

Push to your fork and submit a pull request. If the changes will apply cleanly to the latest stable branches and master branch, you’ll only need to submit one pull request.

If a PR does not apply cleanly to one of its targeted branches, then a separate PR should be created that does. For instance, if a PR applied to master & 2-1-stable but not 2-0-stable, then there should be one PR for master & 2-1-stable and another, separate PR for 2-0-stable.

Topic Branches

Git branches are “cheap.” Creating branches in Git is incredibly easy and it’s an ideal way to isolate a specific set of changes. By keeping a specific set of changes isolated, it will help us to navigate your fork and apply only the changes we’re interested in. You should create a clean branch based on the latest spree/master when doing this. It’s important you follow these steps exactly, it will prevent you from accidentally including unrelated changes from your local repository into the branch.

For example, if we were submitting a patch to fix an issue with the CSS in the flash error message you could create a branch as follows:

The fetch command will grab all of the latest commits from the Spree master branch. Don’t worry, it doesn’t permanently alter your working repository and you can return to your master branch later. The track part of the command will tell git that this branch should track with the remote version of the upstream master. This is another way of saying that the branch should be based on a clean copy of the latest official source code (without any of your unrelated local changes).

You can then do work locally on this topic branch and push it up to your GitHub fork when you’re done. So in our previous example we do something like:

Commit Messages

Provide solid and clear commit messages so we can read from the commit what is fixed or added in this specific pull request.

When developing in the topic branch it’s a best practice to commit a lot with small changes. However, some of those commit messages are noise the moment they turn into a pull request. You should rebase and squash the noise commits. For example:

Rebase and squash this into:

When you’re done your work in the topic branch, rebase the topic branch against master (or the stable branch you’ve forked from)

Sample git rebase:

This will show you this next screen:

To make this neat you can do something like this:

The next screen will give you the ability to reword the 5 commits into one neat one.

For Larger Pull Request Create an Empty PR with a To Do List

Follow the link to see more information on how to create a task list.

To view this post in its original format, as well as more helpful guides and tips, visit the blog of Peter Berkenbosch.

Fosdick and MDS Fulfillment Integration Upgrades

Posted on December 16, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades Fosdick and MDS Fulfillment Integrations for Wombat

Spree Commerce has upgraded the Fosdick and MDS Fulfillment Integrations for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, connecting with these integrations is just a matter of following a few simple steps.

Wombat connects ecommerce storefronts to a versatile range of integrations, simplifying the backend operations and increasing speed to market. By making the connection to leading fulfillment and inventory integrations like Fosdick and MDS, Wombat users can automate their shipment processes.

Specific benefits users will gain with these integrations include the ability to:

  • Increase efficiency by fulfilling shipments when online orders are placed
  • Keep inventory in sync by tracking inventory levels in real time
  • Reduce lag between order creation and order shipment; improve customer experience

“Accurate shipping and fulfillment services are a clear need for any ecommerce brand,” said Spree Commerce co-founder and CEO Sean Schofield. “When you automate this process with one of these integrations, you maximize the potential of these services from both an accuracy and efficiency standpoint. The more precise and effective your shipping and inventory is, the more customers will know they can trust your brand, and the more they’ll come back.”

Get accurate and reliable access to MDS Fulfillment and Fosdick by signing up for a free two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its orginal format, visit Nasdaq GlobeNewswire.

Bronto and Twilio Integration Upgrades for Wombat

Posted on December 09, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce and Spree Certified Partner Agile Engine upgraded the Twilio and Bronto integrations for Spree’s automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, making these connections is just a matter of a few minutes.

Wombat connects ecommerce brands with all of their mission-critical services with the most versatile arsenal of integrations in the industry. By making the connection to leading communication and customer service integrations like Bronto and Twilio, Wombat users can automate key aspects of their messaging and marketing campaigns.

Specific benefits users will gain with these integrations include the ability to:

  • Track and verify customer information
  • Ensure superior customer service by providing order status information right at customers’ fingertips
  • Send order confirmations when orders are placed or updated

“Effective communication is a two-way street,” said Spree Commerce co-founder and CTO Brian Quinn. “In order for customers to receive what seems like a simple email or a text, everything has to run properly on the backend first. With these upgrades, we’ve made the backend process as straightforward as possible; no custom code required.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Bronto and Twilio by signing up for a free two-week integration platform trial trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on integrating Bronto and/or Twilio with Wombat, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit NASDAQ Globewire.

The Minimalist Guide to Spree Static Content

Posted on December 03, 2014 by Carlos Muñiz

About the Author

Carlos Muñiz is a software engineer for Spree Commerce Certified Partner Crowd Interactive. He is always interested in being part of new and innovative projects, looking for new ways of interaction and combining different technologies. Crowd Interactive is a leading Ruby on Rails consultancy that specializes in creating and scaling Rails applications and building high-quality stores for customers who are passionate about the creative process.

In many Spree projects where I’ve worked previously, it had become necessary to handle static pages like “Help,” “Terms and Conditions,” “About Us,” etc. In short, all those “stock pages” and some others that come out of the box with any ecommerce website.

I always recommend my colleagues deliver a simple way to generate the pages. Although I LOVE to write all the HTML with my own hands, it’s more efficient to use Rails helpers or some other markup such as HAML.

The point is, as consultants, it’s our duty to deliver a stable, functional, installable and, somewhat recoverable product. To achieve this, the extension Spree Static Content has always worked for me because it’s simple to configure and we can easily generate a task to regenerate all the “core” static pages of our project. It’s especially useful for those cases where someone “accidentally” deletes their content.

lib/tasks/static_content.rake

As you can see, the rake task is quite simple and consists of the following steps:

1. Delete existing pages:

This is a matter of taste. It’s possible to separate the “default” static pages from any other with some scope if you’re able to find specific pages you want to delete. In my case, I’m destroying all of them.

2. Read the information on pages:

For convenience, I always create a “setup” file separately that contains the necessary information for our pages, such as Title, Slug, and the name of the View that we’ll be using as our static page’s Body.

3. Create an instance of a controller:

This has the purpose of delegating the rendering of the views to the proper object allowing us, as I said before, to use view helpers or another abstraction markup language like HAML.

4. Iterate each page:

For each entry we have in our configuration file, we’re going to generate the body of the page letting our Controller instance the renderee. From there on out we only create the Spree::Page.

Static Content Example config file:
db/fixtures/static_content.yml

Example page:
app/views/spree/staticcontent/privacy_policy.html.haml

That’s all, we just need to go to a terminal and run:

terminal

$ be rake static_content:reload

And… Voilà! we won’t have headaches trying to update, maintain or recover any “static page” we deliver and that somebody had erased “accidentally”.

To view this guide in its original format, visit the blog of Crowd Interactive.

Tender and Desk.com Integration Upgrades

Posted on December 02, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades Tender and Desk.com Integrations for Wombat

Spree Commerce has upgraded the Tender and Desk.com integrations for its automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Now, connecting with these integrations is just a matter of a few minutes.

Wombat connects storefronts’ mission-critical, ecommerce services with the most effective arsenal of integrations in the industry. By making the connection to leading communication and customer service integrations like Tender and Desk.com, Wombat users can automate their email and messaging efforts.

Specific benefits users will gain with these integrations include the ability to:

  • Receive notifications when errors occur so that customer service can be proactive
  • Ensure accuracy of customer information to avoid potential shipping problems
  • Allow customer service representatives to quickly resolve issues and ensure customer satisfaction

“In ecommerce, great customer service starts with great communication,” said Spree Commerce COO Josh Resnik. “By automating these efforts, you ensure the communication aspect of your orders is right from the very start; no nasty surprises down the road when you figure out too late that there was a typo in the customers’ information.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Tender and Desk.com by signing up for a free two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on these integrations, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit PRweb.

Amazon Marketplace Integration Upgrade

Posted on November 25, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades Amazon Marketplace Integration for Wombat

Spree Commerce has upgraded its integration for retailers’ most popular channel, Amazon Marketplace. Now, connecting with this integration is just a matter of following some simple steps, and will take users just a few minutes.

Wombat gives its users the most diverse and versatile arsenal of integrations in the industry, and strives to make these connections as simple as possible. By connecting to Amazon Marketplace, users can sell products on Amazon using Amazon MWS APIs.

Specific benefits users will gain from the Amazon Marketplace Integration include the ability to:

  • Send inventory information to Amazon to prevent overselling
  • Receive order information when they’re placed to ensure timely shipment to customers
  • Ensure accuracy of customer information to avoid potential shipping problems
  • Ensure the accuracy of product listings in your storefront

“Amazon’s marketplace for sellers set sales records for the holiday season in 2013,” said Spree Commerce co-founder and CTO Brian Quinn. “Amazon is likely to break its own records this time around, and sellers need to be able to connect and keep their inventory accurate and accounted for. Making this connection should be the least of their problems. With this upgrade, there’s no custom code necessary; just follow a few steps and get selling.”

To get the full benefits of these integrations sign up for a free, two-week integration platform trial trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on integrating Amazon Marketplace with Wombat, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

MailChimp and Mandrill Integration Upgrades

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades MailChimp and Mandrill Integrations for Wombat

Spree Commerce has upgraded its integrations for leading email and marketing connections Mandrill and MailChimp for Wombat. Now, connecting with these integrations is just a matter of following some simple steps, and will take users just a few minutes.

Wombat gives its users the most diverse arsenal of ecommerce integrations in the industry, and makes these connections as simple as possible. By connecting to email and communication leaders like Mandrill and MailChimp, Wombat users can greet customers with emails to encourage loyalty and keep them up to date on order status.

Other benefits users will gain include the ability to:

  • Organize contact information to help the marketing team better target potential customers
  • Send targeted emails to customers after orders have been placed to ensure customer satisfaction
  • Update customer information automatically to ensure accuracy of contact information

“Customer satisfaction is the name of the game in ecommerce, and effective communication is the key to keeping customers happy,” said Spree Commerce co-founder and CEO Sean Schofield. "Automating the communications of your business is only part of the solution; making the connection to integrations like Mandrill and MailChimp should be as simple as possible, and we believe we’ve made that a reality with these upgrades.

To get the full benefits of these integrations sign up for a free, two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on integrating MailChimp and/or Mandrill with Wombat, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this full press release in its original format, visit Marketwired.

Square Integration Upgrades for Wombat

Posted on November 06, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce has announced its upgraded, officially supported Square integration for Wombat. By utilizing this upgraded integration, Wombat users can connect to Square in just a few minutes by following a few simple steps.

Wombat connects ecommerce storefronts to all of their mission-critical services. By connecting Wombat with Square, users will be able to send new products and updates to Square, receive products and inventory updates from Square, and more.

“With over 100,00 retailers using Square, it’s clear that this connection has become a priority for the world’s sellers,” said Spree Commerce CTO Brian Quinn. “With Wombat, we strive to make connecting these integrations as simple as possible; no diving deep into code or custom development. All Wombat users need is an active Square account, and they are off and running.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Square by signing up for a two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on integrating Square with Wombat, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit PRWeb.

Netsuite Integration Upgrades for Wombat

Posted on November 04, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce has released its upgraded, officially supported Netsuite integration for Wombat. Wombat can connect any store to any service, and gives its users the most effective arsenal of integrations in ecommerce.

By utilizing the upgraded integration, Wombat users can connect to Netsuite in just a few minutes. By connecting Wombat with Netsuite you will be able to send shipment data to and from Netsuite, receive customer data, and get real-time inventory data from Netsuite.

“Netsuite is a widely-used cloud suite in the industry. Its popularity and blend of business accounting, ERP and CRM functionalities make it a priority for us to have it available for integration with Wombat,” said Spree Commerce CPO Sameer Gulati. “Now, making this connection is just a matter of following a few steps; no custom code required.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Netsuite by signing up for a two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on integrating Netsuite with Wombat, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit PRWeb.

ShippingEasy Shipping Solution Available for Spree

Posted on October 30, 2014 by ShippingEasy

About the Author

What is so novel about ShippingEasy? There are a couple good cloud-based shipping solutions out there. But, ShippingEasy was built specifically for ecommerce merchants. The software aims to solve the messy fulfilment and shipping process for online sellers through a variety of means. Automation: yielding more time to focus on growing your business. Savings: putting more money in your pocket. Exceptional customer support: delivering fewer headaches.

Getting Set Up with ShippingEasy

This section will cover how to integrate your Spree Storefront within ShippingEasy. Not into reading? Call 1-855-202-2275, chat on support.shippingeasy.com or email support@shippingeasy.com and someone will walk you through this—with a smile.

To integrate your Spree Commerce store with ShippingEasy you’ll need to access your ShippingEasy account’s Settings tab.

In the Settings tab, click on the “Stores” section

Once there, click on the the “+ Add New” button on the side of the screen.

Select Spree Commerce from the platform drop down.

Copy in your Spree Commerce store’s full URL. For example:

In another browser, log into your Spree Commerce server and click the Users tab:

Click the pencil icon next to the entry for a user that has the Admin role on your Spree Commerce server:

Verify that the Admin role is selected:

Click the Generate API Key button:

Or, if the API key already exists, copy it:

Copy the API key to ShippingEasy:

Click the Save button and you’re done! But, wait… what’s next? You’ll be able to see all of your Spree orders within your ShippingEasy Orders page like so:

You’ll discover ShippingEasy is the best shipping solution out there if you not only value cheap postage rates and advanced automation features, but also phenomenal customer service with extended hours. Try a month for free, not matter how much you ship, here.

5 Key Insights for Ecommerce Merchants

Posted on October 28, 2014 by 71lbs

About 71lbs

71 lbs serves thousands of customers, including many ecommerce merchants. Ecommerce is a very active and interesting category for us, as shipping connects the end consumer with the merchant. Many years of industry leadership have allowed us to gather important insights about ecommerce shipping that we would like to share with our customers.

Understanding shipping costs, which is one of your largest costs, as an e-commerce merchant can make a significant impact on your bottom line. This series of tips can save you thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars over the following year. Print the below infographic and keep these insights top of mind. Visit 71lbs to start getting shipping refunds today.

Quickbooks Integration Upgrades for Wombat

Posted on October 28, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce has released its upgraded, officially supported Quickbooks integration for Wombat. Wombat can connect any store to any service, and gives its users the most effective arsenal of integrations in ecommerce.

By utilizing the upgraded integration, Wombat users can connect to Quickbooks in just a few minutes. By connecting Wombat with Quickbooks you will be able to send new orders and returns, sync updated products, track inventory data in real time and maintain accurate data in Quickbooks.

“It’s important that Wombat users have the option to quickly connect to a popular accounting software like Quickbooks,” said Spree Commerce CEO Sean Schofield. “We believe making these connections should be as easy as possible, and just a matter of following a few simple steps, without having to write any custom code.”

Get accurate and reliable access to Quickbooks by signing up for a two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on integrating Quickbooks with Wombat, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

Click here to read the full press release in its original format.

How to Make Spree Multi-Tenant

Posted on October 23, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Many thanks to GoDaddy Software Architect Chetan Patil for leading our most recent webinar! Chetan and his team gave a complete rundown of GoDaddy’s unique contributions to the Spree Storefront, including how to make Spree multi-tenant. If you haven’t seen it before, check out the story behind GoDaddy’s launch of its Spree Commerce-backed storefront for small and growing businesses.

As well as multi-tenancy with Spree, Chetan covered:

· Utilizing Apartment for multi-tenant account switching
· How Spree was made multi-tenant
· Wrapping Spree in a flexible themes engine

In case you missed this great webinar, here’s the full recording, as well as the slide deck! The next edition of our webinar series is already in the books, so be sure to check back in with us!

Follow Spree Commerce!

Big Commerce Integration Upgraded for Wombat

Posted on October 21, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce has released its upgraded, officially supported BigCommerce integration for Wombat. Spree Commerce Certified Partner and BigCommerce design & development specialist Weizen Young built the upgraded connection to BigCommerce storefronts for Spree’s automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat.

Wombat gives its users the most diverse and effective arsenal of integrations in the industry. Weizen Young has extensive experience building BigCommerce storefronts and integrations, delivering the standard in BigCommerce templates and integrated third-party solutions for industry giants like Amazon Wireless.

By using Wombat’s newly upgraded integration, BigCommerce storefront users can now connect to Wombat in just five minutes and have easy access to all of the convenient, out-of-the-box ecommerce integrations that Wombat offers.

“BigCommerce is great for businesses that need to launch a storefront to start selling quickly,” said Weizen Young CEO and founder Eamon Rodeck. “However, as their business grows, store owners need to find a solution that connects all of their operations to one dependable, easy-to-use piece of integration middleware. Wombat is that solution.”

For a complete rundown on how to connect with BigCommerce, join us on Wednesday, October 29th at 2PM EST for a co-hosted BigCommerce integration webinar. The webinar will be led by Eamon Rodeck, who will give an in-depth account of how to efficiently integrate your BigCommerce storefront with Wombat.

Get access to the BigCommerce platform for Wombat by signing up for a two-week integration platform trial. For technical documentation on Wombat integration with BigCommerce, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

Click here to view this press release in its original format.

Big Commerce Integration Upgrades for Wombat

Posted on October 21, 2014 by Eamon Rodeck

About the Author

Eamon Rodeck is the owner of Weizen Young (Enterprise ecommerce Solutions) & Sprout Commerce (Small Business ecommerce Solutions). Over the 12 years that he’s been involved with ecommerce, he has helped hundreds of businesses successfully launch and run their ecommerce sites.

About Weizen Young

Weizen Young is an experienced ecommerce development & design company that specializes in building ecommerce solutions using the BigCommerce & Wombat platforms.

No one solution can do it all, not even BigCommerce.

Your ecommerce business has many requirements and no one solution can fulfill them all. A great example is shopping cart platforms like BigCommerce. Most of them do a really good job at presenting your online catalog and capturing orders, but when it comes to effectively fulfilling an order, processing returns or handling customer support requests… well that’s a different story.

In the beginning, you can usually bend your workflow and requirements to work with the quirks and limitations of one solution, but as your online business grows, your requirements will evolve and it will become imperative to work with several “best of breed” solutions. The new challenge then becomes, how do you get them to all work together?

Enter Wombat

Wombat provides a solution to the challenges of integrating multiple solutions together. Their team has come up with an optimal representation of common ecommerce objects like Products and Orders, and a series of integration modules that take care of any translation work to get those objects into and out of a variety of services via their APIs.

The objects are represented in lightweight JSON, and are extensible as needed, so that it’s neither heavy, or inflexible. Combined with a system of flows designed to take care of common workflows, this allows a simple but robust connection system between a store and the services it needs.

BigCommerce & Wombat Work Together

Our BigCommerce integration module for Wombat allows you to connect your BigCommerce store to Wombat in just a few minutes, and from there to all of the service providers that Wombat is able to connect to.

We wrote it in PHP, as that’s where our core development experience is, but it can be written in any language: the JSON objects are how data is communicated between the systems. Another important reason why we chose PHP is that it’s more accessible than Ruby on Rails. There are far more PHP developers available who will be able to customize the integration than if it was built on a more specific language.

The integration we built supports the following tasks:

1. Sending and receiving Product data (including variants) to and from BigCommerce. This also includes inventory updates.

Imagine the possibilities… You could now manage your catalog information in Product Information Manager that syncs with Wombat, and then push those products into the BigCommerce native format automatically. Or you could build your online catalog in BigCommerce, and then pull that data into Wombat and push all that product data into an ecommerce marketplace.

2. Sending and receiving Customer data to and from BigCommerce.

Because of the back and forth integration with customer data, you can easily create new customer records in your CRM or accounting solution from orders made on your store. You could also update customer information in your CRM and this will update the information on the store. Imagine updating your customers’ billing address because of a typo, and then it automatically syncing to their customer account in BigCommerce so when they make future orders, that error will be fixed.

3. Receiving Order data from BigCommerce, with an option to have that data converted automatically into Shipment objects.

BigCommerce does a great job of capturing orders, and now that it’s integrated with Wombat, you’ll be able to quickly get orders automatically from BigCommerce, and then push any order information to 3rd party solutions. This allows you to use best of breed solutions for all the work that gets done after the order is placed on your site. It also would allow you to connect an existing accounting or ERP with your brand new ecommerce site.

4. Sending and receiving Shipment data from BigCommerce.

You’ll be able to automatically update orders inside of BigCommerce with order status updates and tracking numbers so your clients are notified as you fulfill their order. To view this full post in its original format, visit wombat.co/blog.

How to Make Spree Multi-Tenant

Posted on October 13, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

By now, you have probably heard of GoDaddy’s launch of its Spree Commerce-backed storefront for small and growing businesses. On Wednesday, October 22nd at 2PM EDT, we will be co-hosting a live webinar led by Chetan Patil, Software Architect at GoDaddy. Join us to get a complete rundown of GoDaddy’s unique contributions to the Spree Storefront, including how to make Spree multi-tenant.

As well as multi-tenancy with Spree, Chetan will cover:

· Utilizing Apartment for multi-tenant account switching
· How Spree was made multi-tenant
· Wrapping Spree in a flexible themes engine

Space is filling up already, so don’t waste any time and sign up today! And just in case you can’t make it, we will send out a full recording shortly after the conclusion, so keep an eye out.

Register for GoDaddy and Spree Meetup Event

Posted on October 09, 2014 by Michael Tucker

About The Author

Michael Tucker is a 12-year veteran in solving technical problems by any means necessary. From small consultant firm to large tech corporation, from Microsoft platforms to open source solutions, he works with the right tools and seeks the right talent for the problem at hand, without prejudice. Michael is currently a technical lead for the presence and commerce division at GoDaddy, doing his best to keep up with his amazingly talented team. In his spare time, he plays music, travels, and tries his best not to take life too seriously.

When GoDaddy set out to reinvent its ecommerce offering, we considered a wide range of solutions and compared a plethora of open source offerings. Spree stood out in this analysis as a flexible platform with solid overall performance and a world-class community. We not only believe Spree is the strongest open source ecommerce offering out there, we’re betting our future on it.

Scaling out the single-store design of Spree into a multi-tenant, high performance ecosystem of small-medium business storefronts has posed a complex set of challenges, and we aim to harness those lessons to give back to the Spree community. Our solutions have ranged from utilizing Apartment for multi-tenant account switching, to the Liquid template engine for flexible storefront theming, to custom integrations with best-of-class feature providers.

In its six short months of beta release, GoDaddy Online Store has accrued thousands of new storefronts that have generated millions of dollars in revenue for small businesses and individuals. Thanks to a meticulously streamlined onboarding experience, stores are being published in just a day or two, on average, by storeowners who often claim no technical proficiency or ecommerce experience.

We are very thankful to the Spree community and excited about making significant contributions to it. These contributions are, and will continue to be, in the form of new features, extensions, performance and scalability improvements, bug fixes, and knowledge sharing.

Please come out on Thursday, October 30th and meet the Online Store team at GoDaddy’s new Tempe, Arizona office and engage in enriching discussions with fellow Spree users, designers, and developers. We will be sharing more information on Online Store, how we made Spree multi-tenant, streamlined the default user-experience, made some key performance improvements to Spree, and solved other unique challenges while balancing open source considerations with corporate goals and requirements.

Agenda:

6:00 – 6:30: Meet and greet with refreshments
6:30 – 6:35: Welcome and introduction
6:35 – 7:15: Talk by Spree Commerce
7:15 – 8:00: Talks by GoDaddy Online Store team; topics including a client script extension, performance optimization, multi-tenancy, storefront themes engine, and performance and design improvements for Spree
8:00 – 8:55: Dinner and networking
8:55 – 9:00: Closing Remarks

By now you’ve probably heard about the launch of the partnership. So come get the details behind the Online Store, swap stories, brainstorm and grab a bite to eat at this Meetup!

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RailsGirls Summer of Code: Team BrowserSpree PT. 2

Posted on October 03, 2014 by Jam Black and Britney Wright

About Team BrowserSpree

Team BrowserSpree was one of the 10 sponsored teams selected in this summer’s Rails Girls Summer of Code, and had a pretty busy summer. Based in Washington, DC, teammates Jam Black and Britney Wright, along with their coaches, Patrick Peak and Tanya Bodanya, set a goal of integrating BrowserCMS, a Rails content management system, and Spree into a gem–- BrowserSpree. If you missed part one of this story, feel free to check it out now.

On September 30th, Team BrowserSpree welcomed its “bundle” of joy—our own gem—bcms_spree. It’s been a busy summer, all while both holding (new) full-time jobs, we managed to accomplish our goals for Rails Girls Summer of Code, including:

· Updating BrowserCMS, v 4.0 Beta documentation
· Giving talks at Steel City Ruby & Ruby for Good
· Building stores in BrowserCMS and Spree, separately
· Releasing our first gem—bcms_spree
· Creating our demo store

Bcms_spree

The bcms_spree gem is the glue that binds BrowserCMS and Spree in a single application. The installation process is slightly different from other BrowserCMS modules, as it involves installing BrowserCMS, Spree, and the module itself. As we built our module, we found that BrowserCMS 4.0 Beta was most compatible with Spree 2.2.4 due to gem dependency issues with newer versions of Paperclip 3.4.1 and Rails 4. Features that we built include:

Spree Storefront:

· Full access to Spree Storefront features and functionality
· Create products, process orders, accept payments

Single user model:

· Spree user attributes are added to existing BrowserCMS user model
· Links to Spree/BCMS frontend and backend in nav bar

Separate admin access:

· BrowserCMS and SpreeAdmin areas are separate
· Grant admin access to both areas, just one, or none

Product Portlets & Shopping Carts:

· Starter portlets included to display products on BrowserCMS project pages and most recent products added/viewed
· Display shopping cart on all pages
· Add shopping cart to BrowserCMS pages for visibility throughout the site

To demo the store, please visit: https://browserspree.herokuapp.com!
Check out our work on github: https://github.com/browserspree/bcms_spree!
And if you want to know more about how we got here, visit our blog: http://browserspree.tumblr.com!

We’d like to sincerely thank our coaches – Patrick Peak & Tanya Bodanya, our supervisor Markus Prinz, nclud for hosting us, and everyone affiliated with Rails Girls Summer of Code, including this summer’s sponsors.

RailsGirls Summer of Code: Team BrowserSpree

Posted on September 26, 2014 by Jam Black and Britney Wright

About Team BrowserSpree

Team BrowserSpree is one of the 10 sponsored teams selected in this summer’s Rails Girls Summer of Code, and has had a pretty busy summer. Based in Washington, DC, teammates Jam Black and Britney Wright, along with their coaches, Patrick Peak and Tanya Bodanya, set a goal of integrating BrowserCMS, a Rails content management system and Spree into a gem–- BrowserSpree.

Summer of Code

Setting a goal of combing two separate Rails engines is by far no easy task–- especially for newbies, so to make things easier we broke our goals into milestones:

1. Orientation into BrowserCMS
2. Build a storefront using only BroswerCMS content types
3. Update “Getting Started” and “Content Blocks” documentation (based on experience)
4. Orientation into Spree Commerce
5. Add store features using Spree
6. Build a Spree Module
7. Build a BrowserSpree site

In July, we dove into BCMS using content blocks and portlets to build our own bookstore for our clients (in this case, our coaches). We knew that eventually, we would just look to Spree to perform many of the features below, but this was a good way to gain familiarity with BCMS. The functions we built included:

• Catalog all of the books that our visitors can browse
• View product pages individually
• Categorize by type of book (authors, fiction/nonfiction, politics, economics, young reader, vampire novels, etc.)
• Give authors their own pages that list their work
• Make authors’ other works visible even if we don’t have those books for sale
• When viewing a book, customers should be able to see all the author’s other books for sale
• When viewing a product, buyers should be able to see other related products

In August we received opportunity scholarships to attend Steel City Ruby where we gave our first lightning talk. We also participated in the first ever Ruby for Good, where we worked on BCMS 4.0 Beta documentation. In August, we also dove into Spree, and soon realized since Spree is an ecommerce platform, a lot of the features we built within BCMS in July were automatically included. So we moved onto the next hurdle— installing both gems in the same Rails app so we could see how these engines play together.

Along the way, we learned some helpful tips:

Google, Google, Google

This can’t be said enough. Not only when it comes to errors, but also when you have a feature you are trying to add, or a “how do I go about doing ‘x’ question.” It was surprising how much we found out just by using others people’s questions. Plus, Googling is a required skill to be a developer–- right under using Git or knowing the command line. And you would be shocked by how much even the most experienced developers rely on Google.

It’s okay to go over the basics

It’s hard to write a novel when you can’t first write a sentence. For one or two weeks, we had to cover some Rails basics— in addition to building our store so we could ensure we learned and applied the fundamentals of Rails and not just BCMS-isms.

Pseudo code

Pseudo code is writing in English what you are trying to accomplish in code. It helps to logically map out the steps to get to your desired outcome.

Break large tasks into smaller ones

Start small. When we added a feature, it seemed daunting and oftentimes felt like we had no idea where to start. Breaking one big action into smaller ones was key because it allowed us to start with what we did know–- and take it step-by-step from there.

Where to From Here?

As the last week of Rails Girls Summer of Code wraps up, we are putting the finishing touches on our gem and drafting documentation. Check back for our follow-up post to see how we crossed the hurdles of resolving gem dependencies, deciding what features to include in our gem and, finally, release the alpha version of BrowserSpree! To view this piece in its original format, visit our blog at Rails Girls Summer of Code.

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Shopify Integration Upgrades for Wombat

Posted on September 24, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce has released its upgraded, officially supported Shopify Integration for Wombat. Spree Commerce Certified Partner and ecommerce website design and development agency, NuRelm, built the upgraded connection to Shopify stores for Spree’s automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat.

Wombat gives its users the most diverse and effective arsenal of integrations in the industry. NuRelm has extensive experience building integrations for Shopify stores and delivering exceptional, user-friendly websites for businesses of all sizes. For over 15 years, NuRelm has mastered and delivered web projects for small, as well as large, clients like Heinz and Mylan.

By using Wombat’s newly upgraded integration, Shopify storefront users can now connect to Wombat in just five minutes and have easy access to all of the convenient, out-of-the-box ecommerce integrations that Wombat offers.

“The Shopify platform is a great solution that makes it easy to launch your own online storefront,” said Sam Shaaban, CEO and co-founder of NuRelm. “However, as a business grows, so does the complexity of its operations. Wombat connects store owners to all of their mission-critical services and scales according to their business needs; eliminating complexity and preventing problems.”

For a complete rundown on how to easily connect with Shopify, join us on Wednesday, October 1st at 2PM EST for a co-hosted Shopify integration webinar. The webinar will be led by Shaaban, who will provide a detailed tour of how to quickly and easily integrate your Shopify storefront with Wombat. To view the full press release on ths upgrade, visit PRWeb.

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The Pros and Cons of Fixed-Price Projects

Posted on September 18, 2014 by BuildRX

BuildRX is a development team that builds custom apps and websites for really awesome brands. Their clients include: Universal Music, Juicy Couture, Swarovski, Scion, the San Francisco 49ers and many more. BuildRX is a Spree Commerce Certified Partner.

Over the past six years that our development agency has been in business we’ve taken many different approaches to close leads as quickly and efficiently as possible. None of the tactics we’ve tried have been quite as successful as scoping fixed-priced projects for clients.

Many agencies seem to shy away from this pricing strategy as it’s much riskier than billing clients an hourly rate, but it can significantly assist with developing client confidence in your ability and can open doors to more projects and retainer-style work. This is an especially great strategy for young agencies that are starting out and in the early growth stages as you need to build trust with inbound leads.

Even though it can be a great strategy and will help you close projects it’s very important to be careful. It’s essential to have an experienced team member on board that knows what they’re doing when it comes to scoping a project accurately and seeing the project through to completion on budget.

Here’s a good way to understand the risks and benefits of scoping fixed-price projects before moving forward with this pricing method:

Pro

Easier to close projects
When you create a fixed-priced scope, you take the financial risk off of your client and put the burden on your agency. Simply, being explicit about what you will do and how much you’ll do it for makes it easier for them to say yes or no.

Con

Clients don’t always articulate all their needs up front
While you have years of experience building websites and apps, often your clients may not. Consequently, clients may have a difficult time articulating what they need or what’s involved in creating it. Success in using fixed-price quotes highly depends on your ability to listen to them, ask the right questions, and draft a clear scope of work that gets them from the beginning to the final stage of the project.

Have any questions about the pros and cons of fixed-price projects? Reach out to us on twitter @BuildRX and, while you’re at it, take a look at BuildRX.com. To view this blog in its full format, visit BuildRX’ post on medium.com.

Upgraded Magento Integration for Wombat

Posted on September 17, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce has released its upgraded, officially supported Magento integration for Wombat. Spree Commerce Certified Partner and ecommerce development firm Sellry built and upgraded the connection to Magento stores for Spree Commerce’s automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat. Wombat gives its clients the most diverse and effective arsenal of ecommerce connections in the industry. Sellry, with extensive Magento experience, specializes in everything ecommerce— from user experience strategy to data integration. Sellry has made its name delivering website facelifts and launching product microsites for some of the leading brands in the ecommerce industry.

Magento storefront users, of Enterprise as well as the Community Edition, can connect with Wombat in just minutes. Using Wombat’s newly upgraded integration, Magento users have easy access to all of the convenient, out-of-the-box ecommerce integrations that Wombat offers. For bi-directional connections to the Magento API just use the official Wombat-Magento integration. If one-way data pushes are sufficient then use the Magento extension, built by Sellry, to sync with Wombat.

To get the technical play-by-play, check out the guest post from Sellry CEO Michael Bower. Also, feel free to check out our press release.

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5 Challenges Wombat Solves for Growing Stores

Posted on September 10, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Top 5 Challenges When Growing a Store— And How Wombat Can Help

Jon Carpenter, Spree Commerce Director of Client Services, recently hosted the most recent in our series of Wombat Webinars. Jon provided an in-depth look into the top challenges facing growing storefronts, and how Wombat can solve these issues. The webinar was truly a must-attend for store owners seeking ecommerce growth.

Jon gave fantastic insight into the common pitfalls facing ecommerce businesses, including:

• Order fulfillment
• New and changing vendors
• Multiple platform compatibility
• Omnichannel sales
• Customer service

The full recap, including the recording, can be found on wombat.co.

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5 Challenges Wombat Solves for Growing Stores

Posted on September 08, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

5 Challenges For a Growing Store- And How Wombat Can Help

Reserve your spot in our popular Webinar Series: “5 Challenges for a Growing Store-And How Wombat Can Help.” Jon Carpenter, Director of Client Services at Spree Commerce, will talk you through these challenges, and solutions, on Wednesday, September 10th at 2:00PM EDT.

As head of client services, Jon has walked side-by-side with many growing ecommerce stores. He’ll cover common challenges faced by up-and-coming ecommerce businesses, including:

• Order fulfillment
• New and changing vendors
• Multiple platform compatibility
• Omnichannel sales
• Customer service

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Guides Moved to Core Repository

Posted on September 05, 2014 by Jeff Dutil

Spree Commerce Guides Moved to Core Repository

After the last SpreeConf in New York City, many of us thought we could do better with our documentation.

Historically, the guides have lived in their own code repository. There were a couple reasons for that, such as, providing commit access to more developers and reducing the noise on the main project. Over time, we’ve found fewer contributors interested in commit access than expected, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep the guides up to date with the fast-moving changes to Spree Core.

In an effort to reverse this trend we’ve decided it was time to try something new. We have merged the Spree Guides repository into the Spree Core repository.

We hope that by bringing the documentation into the same code repository that we can hold ourselves to a higher standard. We also hope to encourage new contributors to the Spree project by making documentation a higher priority than it has been in the past. You no longer need to be a programmer to help contribute directly to Spree. This does mean, however, that some contributions being made will require additional work, as documenting your changes appropriately will become a requirement for acceptance.

We’re really excited for the upcoming changes in Spree 2.4.X. Soon, we will begin updating the documentation to better reflect our Changelog/Release Notes, and will be bringing our documentation up to date for the new release. For anyone living on, or upgrading to Spree Edge, that’s interested in helping us make the upgrade process as seamless as possible for everyone, please feel free to help us update our documentation, and submit a Pull Request to Spree Core.

Thanks Everyone!

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Bitcoin Available for Spree Commerce

Posted on September 04, 2014 by Julia Patterson

Easy Bitcoin Options For Spree Commerce Clients

Julia Patterson is a Merchant Specialist at BitPay- the world’s leading bitcoin payment processor. She got involved with bitcoin in 2012 and has enjoyed helping businesses embrace the technology.

We are proud to announce that we’ve built a new plugin that will enable Spree’s 45,000+ web merchants to easily accept bitcoin.

Spree is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world, producing open source code that individuals and businesses can modify, customize, and build upon to create their ideal ecommerce storefronts. The Spree storefront enables the sale of a remarkable variety of products and services through a convenient, common platform.

Spree has also been translated into thirty languages, allowing for merchants around the globe to easily deploy it. Spree’s BitPay clients can now use a custom plugin option to accept bitcoin, a truly universal currency. With the extension, Spree’s diverse customer base can more easily accept bitcoin and cater to a global marketplace.

Merchants who use Spree’s simple and efficient storefront software will now be able to accept the world’s quickest, most secure, and inexpensive payment method – bitcoin. Using BitPay’s instant conversion and unlimited free processing plan, Spree merchants will be able to accept bitcoin payment and receive daily settlements at no cost.

We are pleased to offer our merchants these new ecommerce options, and we aim to move bitcoin ecommerce forward. To view this content in its original format, please visit the BitPay blog.

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Why GoDaddy Chose Spree Commerce

Posted on September 02, 2014 by Nitin Pabuwal

Nitin Pabuwal is Director of Engineering, Ecommerce Platform. Nitin heads the engineering for the GoDaddy Online Store platform that enables small-medium businesses to easily build and manage their ecommerce sites.

Around the middle of last year, GoDaddy embarked on a journey to offer the simplest and easiest ecommerce solution for small businesses, and selected Spree to be the underlying platform for what we now call GoDaddy Online Store. In the process, we evaluated various platforms and Spree outshined the lot of them based on the criteria we considered, such as maturity, extensibility, features, modularity, adoption, community support and more.

The move to use Spree was also highly aligned with the new direction GoDaddy is taking in embracing and contributing to the open source community. For more on GoDaddy’s commitment to the open source community check out GoDaddy’s OpenStack sponsorship.

Fast forward one year and we have a simple-to-use solution that enables non-tech-savvy small businesses to easily build, manage and operate e-commerce stores. We are currently in public beta with over 3,000 stores already built on Online Store. By building this platform, we made Spree multi-tenant, integrated it with various GoDaddy systems and partners, deployed it in a PCI-compliant environment, and built an awesome customer experience on top of it. We’ve also made a series of performance optimizations, feature enhancements and quality improvements, and contributed them back to the open source project so that the larger community can benefit from them. Some examples of each include:

Performance optimizations

• Reduced time to transition from address to payment state during checkout from 1 minute and 15 seconds to two seconds (a 37X improvement) in development mode (#4676)
• Fixed n+1 query performance issue with tax rates/zones that was causing the checkout transition from address to payment state to run extremely slow (#4579)
• Made image duplication optional when a product is cloned, as otherwise products with a large number of images take a very long time to clone (#4711)
• Improved speed of product read APIs by 8x for a product with 1000 variants (#5008)
• Reduced the number of cascading touches and unnecessary DB roundtrips when saving a product, as it took a very long time if the product had many variants (#5009, #5049)

Feature enhancements

• Built an extension to add a weight-based shipping calculator that determines shipping cost, based on the total weight of items included in an order (godaddy/spree_weight_based_shipping_calculator)
• Added support for granular inventory tracking at the variant level so that it’s not just a site-wide setting (#3974)
• Added ability to view individual variants through API and image variation URLs to the details (#4336)

Quality improvements

• Fixed a stock item inventory issue due to the fact that an order with a deleted product could not be cancelled (#4652)
• Fixed an issue to handle associated adjustments when a tax rate or promotion is deleted (#4828)
• Made changes to calculate total tax correctly based on the item type (order or line item), as tax adjustments are stored differently in each case (#4830)
• Made changes to destroy associated adjustments when an order is moved out of taxable zones (#4840)
• Made changes to transactional behavior of Paranoia, a gem heavily used within Spree, to ensure failed cascading data operations do not leave a model in an inconsistent state (Paranoia #148)

We’re just getting started. We aim to create an awesome solution for our customers and there is plenty of innovation ahead of us. We also have many challenges to tackle in order to achieve a supreme level of scalability, quality, performance, security and simplicity. All of these will push us to enhance and improve the Spree platform in many ways.

We look forward to working with the open source community in the process and contributing back as much as we can. We plan on continuing our path of making robust performance optimizations, feature enhancements and quality improvements to the core Spree platform.

In addition, we’ll also build various Spree extensions that will provide rich functionalities. These functionalities include a media gallery to better manage images and videos used across the store, a simpler way to create a shop on Facebook that is always in sync with a Spree store, an elegant way of managing ratings and reviews on the store, a framework to add custom scripts as plugins to the product pages, and more.

We also plan to share our knowledge on things that are fairly unique to us, like how to make Spree multi-tenant, and how to support different themes for storefronts. We already started doing this with a Meetup we recently hosted, and there is a lot more to come.

We’re extremely excited to be part of the community and can’t wait to actively contribute to the evolution of the Spree platform.

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FuturePay Extension for Spree Commerce

Posted on August 20, 2014 by FuturePay

FuturePay Announces Extension For Spree Commerce

FuturePay, a payment option that lets shoppers buy now and pay later, is now integrated with Spree Commerce, one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world. As part of the partnership, FuturePay is now seamlessly integrated with the Spree Commerce online shopping cart, allowing thousands of ecommerce merchants to instantly offer FuturePay as a payment option to their customers.

FuturePay provides shoppers with a new payment option that is secure and convenient, with no credit card required. Instead of entering multiple fields and credit card information, FuturePay shoppers can checkout in one step, putting purchases on their FuturePay Tab with just their username and password.

“With more than 45,000 online stores using their platform, Spree Commerce is an exceptional partner. We are thrilled to offer Spree Commerce merchants another payment option for their cart,” said Bobbi Leach, CEO FuturePay. “Now, with FuturePay, it’s easy for Spree Commerce merchants to provide their customers with the convenience and security of shopping without a credit card.”

About FuturePay

FuturePay is a payment option that enables consumers to shop online without a credit card. Shoppers simply put purchases on a FuturePay tab, making it easy to buy now and pay later. Instead of entering multiple passwords, credit card information and many fields, FuturePay only requires customers to enter their username and password to complete a purchase, greatly streamlining the checkout experience.

To view this blog in its original format, visit FuturePay, or click here to visit the full press release.

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Real time dashboards for your store

Posted on August 19, 2014 by Cerebrate

Real time Business Intelligence for your Spree Store

Business Intelligence is critical for the success of an e-commerce business. As an owner, you want to have a complete overview of your store operations, sales, inventory, customers, and customer service. This allows you to manage your online business more effectively and efficiently.

Traditionally, setting up BI systems and dashboards has been a very time-consuming and expensive process. This approach is not suitable to work in today’s fast-paced dynamic environments. You need a system that is agile, flexible, collaborative, and easy to deploy and use.

Keeping this in mind, we here at Cerebrate have built an out-of-the-box integration with Spree Commerce to set up a BI solution with minimal effort. You can be up and running with a full-fledged BI dashboard in a matter of minutes. Below is a simple overview of how to set up an analytics dashboard for your storefront using our BI solution – CIBI!

Solution Overview

Cerebrate’s Business Intelligence Solution

CIBI stands for Cerebrate Integrated Business Intelligence. It’s a web-based Business Intelligence product developed for small and medium scale enterprises. CIBI can get you set up for your reporting needs in a matter of hours—not weeks or months! It’s hosted at https://cibi.co & we offer a free trial for you to check it out.

Setting up Spree Commerce Dashboard

Setting up BI dashboard for your storefront with CIBI can be done in two simple steps.

Step 1: Connect your store
You just need to enter just three simple inputs

When you hit save, CIBI creates an appropriate schema, which can then be used to generate charts. In the background, our data-harvesting system starts collecting and aggregating data that will be available on your dashboards within minutes.

Step 2: Create Dashboards & Charts
Users can create visuals by using a simple drag and drop interface. Different aggregations can be applied on any field. There are plenty of visualization options that give you a lot of flexibility on how you would like to represent your data.

Views and Filters

Define different views and filters and share your dashboards with colleagues.

Built in role-based access controls allow you to control the flow of information within your organization. All dashboards are interactive. In other words, it’s really easy to filter in any field, on any chart, to slice and dice your data along any dimension. CIBI is secure, scalable and very easy to use. You don’t need programmers to get started – all you need is 5 minutes!

About Cerebrate

Cerebrate is a Business Intelligence company headquartered at Santa Clara, CA. Having worked with many Fortune 500 companies in the past like Cisco, VMWare, Intuit, etc., we decided to leverage our 10+ years of consulting experience and software development expertise to create a web-based BI product targeted for SMEs. We started developing CIBI in 2013 and are very excited to partner with Spree Commerce to develop great analytics solutions for their users.

Get in touch

If you are interested in enabling CIBI for your storefront, feel free to contact info@cerebrateinc.com. To view this blog in its orginal format, check out Cerebrate’s blog.

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Introducing the Wombat Blog

Posted on August 15, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Introducing the Wombat Blog

By now you may have heard of Wombat, Spree Commerce’s ecommerce integration platform. For a quick introduction, Wombat is the first Scaling as a Service platform for ecommerce. Scaling your ecommerce business with Wombat means you’ll never worry about losing an order, or integrating your drop-shipping, accounting, ERP or POS systems.

With Wombat, you can connect any store to any service, no custom code required. Wombat works with any storefront: Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Spree, even custom-built solutions. Connect your storefront with your mission critical services in just minutes, not weeks or months.

You may have already checked out Wombat’s well-stocked knowledge base of screencasts, developer documentation, list of integrations and features. Now we’re adding a robust, developer-centric blog for Wombat to the mix. The Wombat blog will cover product and feature releases as well as issues ecommerce businesses are facing. In keeping with open source principles, expect to catch a good play-by-play post when we write good code and hacks for Wombat. In short, this blog is largely written by developers, for developers.

Lastly, we’re committed to the open source community and would love to see more outside contributions. We absolutely love to receive content from our partners. Feel free to contact us with any story ideas at press@spreecommerce.com.

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Migrating Your Shop to Spree Commerce

Posted on August 13, 2014 by Resolve Digital

Resolve Digital’s Essential Guide to Migrating your Shop to Spree

Your business is booming and that’s great! Now for the bad news: The limitations of your existing e-commerce platform are costing you money.

Growth is fantastic, and is what you strive for. But lack of integration options, limited customization, and poor inventory management are just some of the common pains associated with growth. Spree Commerce can help you resolve those issues.

Resolve Digital, a Spree Commerce Certified Partner, has published the complete guide to migrating to the Spree platform. The Spree platform is known for its specialization in adaptabilty and scalability as your business expands. With that being said, these are the ten crucial issues to consider when planning a platform change.

1. Data Migration

Depending on your existing platform, your developers will use an API to migrate your product and customer data. Or if there’s no API available, they will connect directly to your database.

2. URL redirects

It’s important to set up redirects so any visitor who previously bookmarked a product page is directed to the correct page on your new site.

3. Passwords

Depending on your current platform, it is possible to come up with a solution so customers can keep their current password on your new Spree site.

4. Payment Providers

Check with your current payment provider to confirm that Spree, which uses Active Merchant, is compatible with the existing gateway for that provider.

5. Third-Party Integrations

Your site may integrate with applications like Xero, Netsuite and Shipwire. It is essential that these applications continue to function properly after the transfer.

6. Multi-channel

Wombat has a variety of pre-built integrations that cover POS (point of sale) systems, multiple brick-and-mortar retail locations and other online channels like Amazon or eBay.

7. Wombat Integration Platform

If your site processes more than 500 orders per month, you’re a good candidate for Wombat. As a fully managed environment, Wombat ensures users are registered, tracks orders, confirms that they’re completed, and that product pages are created.

8. Hosting and Performance

Spree works especially well with Ninefold, another partner, whose hosting platform specializes in deploying and hosting your site. It offers economies of scale and consistently high performance.

9. HTML and CSS

In addition to data migration, you may want to port your existing design to your Spree site. If your current design is not responsive, it should be. Spree offers responsive design out-of-the-box for a quality user experience across all devices

10. You own the code

With the Spree platform, you own the complete source code and can modify it to meet the specific needs of your business. As one of the world’s most active open source projects, Spree is used by thousands of developers worldwide.

To view these ten keys in more detail, as well as other essential ingredients to a successful platform change, download Resolve Digital’s full essential guide to migrating your shop to Spree Commerce.

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Latest Wombat Integration: Salesforce

Posted on August 12, 2014 by Netguru

As you may know, Spree has created Wombat, an automated e-commerce solution. We are proud to announce that we have integrated it with Salesforce! Now, you can easily bring all your clients’ information straight into Salesforce.

What it does

The integration allows you to keep all your clients and order details in one place. When a new product is added to the shop, or a new order is created, the integration passes all the relevant information to Salesforce. The three main categories are:

Products

You can move your products’ data from your storefront to Salesforce, including product name, code, description and price. The products aspect is fairly straightforward, so we will focus more on orders.

Orders

Now, every time an order is placed in the storefront, the order details are passed to Salesforce. It is of course linked to the relevant product and the relevant customer account. It also allows for updates, so the changes in the shop will be reflected in Salesforce.

Besides the basic information, in Orders you can also see payments and/or cancellation information.

Customers

Each order is assigned an account, and each account has one or more contacts. In the context of Salesforce, “Contacts” includes your customers and their contact data. Accounts may be treated just like contacts, but for the sake of flexibility, you can add as many contacts as you need. For example, if the customers Jon, Kate and Bill are buying something for Netguru, the account name may simply be “Netguru,” but there may be three contacts assigned to it.

Right from the account page, you can navigate to other relevant sections like Payments, Orders and Contacts.

All you Wombat users, feel free to grab the integration straight from Github. Yup, it’s open source!

That’s all for now! Feel free to check out this post in Netguru’s original format. And if you love Spree as much as we do, make sure to check out other handy Spree extensions crafted by Netguru:

Spree Customer Care
Add Like Button to your Spree Store
Add Q&A Section to your Spree Store

PS. We’d also love to meet you on Twitter, @netguru!

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5 Tricks to Connecting to Quickbooks

Posted on August 06, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

5 Tips to Connecting Quickbooks to your E-Commerce Storefront

“5 Tips to Connecting to Quickbooks” was the latest in our webinar series, and was recently hosted by our very own Chief Product Officer Sameer Gulati. Many developers and store owners invest into Quickbooks, but don’t take full advantage of the e-commerce integration’s full range of features. Thus, they do not maximize the full return of investment that Quickbooks represents.

Sameer went into great depth on how to simplify the process of connecting to Quickbooks, and how to get the most out of your Quickbooks investment. The presentation gives a full rundown of how you can take advantage of many of the underutilized features. Sameer uses live connections to Wombat to give real examples of the requisite functionalities. Specifically, Sameer goes into these five tricks:

• How to connect to Quickbooks’ applications
• How to use Quickbooks to manage inventory
• Using Quickbooks to simplify income accounts
• How to automate sales data input
• Syncing Quickbooks’ inventory with your storefont

For an in-depth account on these points, and much more, be sure to check out the full recording. The next webinar is already in the works, so be sure to keep an eye out.

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Spree Stores for Manufacturers and Distributors

Posted on July 31, 2014 by 3llideas

Why Manufacturers and Distributors Choose Spree

At 3llideas, the online stores of the businesses we manage are our main focus. We specialize in developing e-commerce projects that are adaptable to every need, big and small, of businesses that offer their products directly to their customers.

Of course, not all businesses sell their services directly to the client. Some offer their goods as a third-party service and provide a showcase for the seller. Spree Commerce, the solution we recommend for commercial vendors, is not only suitable for these vendors, but also saves a lot of headaches due to the possibilities offered by Spree’s integrations and solution management.

When we think of online shopping, the first application that comes to mind is to sell directly to consumers, or B2C. However, business to business, or B2B, sellers often face similar problems. Speaking personally, we have had issues in the past with these following issues:

• Manufacturers: A company that manufactures a product and want to have an online store for the customer, distributor, retailer or consumer
• Distributors: Companies that manage one or more providers, and need to facilitate trade with their customers

Speaking exclusively of online trading platforms aimed at distributors, the main objectives are to:

Position products online: You have a catalog that is accessible to everyone, in the sense that it only displays the information that is relevant to the customer’s interest. These are provided for the benefit of great placement on search engines such as Google and Bing.

Private sales to authorized customers: On a case by case basis, customer purchases are validated and accepted based on a specific profile. These customers, through an authorization procedure, must be able to enter the online store, view product information, and are given the option to easily process and pay for orders.

Brand Promotion: As a website that is open to the public, the brand must take the opportunity to promote the brand, the company and other values on the storefront, in order to increase the recognition of the company’s marketing efforts and corporate image.

It is at this point that Spree Commerce differentiates itself as a perfect solution for business looking for a virtual showcase to display its showcase. Spree’s advantage is that is it much more than an online store, as it has a host of features that facilitate development. Among the advantages you gain by going with Spree Commerce are:

Flexible discount system: Althouth the order has to be managed in the company’s ERP, Spree’s advanced order system provides users with a simpler way to manage shopping carts. This helps our clients manage the various states of their sales, and facilitates the export management system.

Categorization of orders: This point is made very easily on the Spree Commerce online store. We provide many options for how and where our products are organized and categorized, and they are displayed in relevance to the existing inventory. Customers are interested to know the availability of the products, and Spree’s categorization keeps these figures and displays up to date.

Mobile Support: Spree already has the support needed to customize a website for a smooth transition to mobile, including excellent navigation on all screens. This is a huge factor for storeowners, as mobile commerce continues to increase in popularity, and Spree Commerce exceeds all expectations. Feel free to check out this post, where we explain more in depth.

With Spree Commerce, it is possible to achieve an excellent and complete solution for e-commerce, at a very competitive price. Spree does this with a free open source framework that provides many default features one might pay extra for elsewhere, not to mention its simple customization features.

About 3llideas

3llideas was born as a commercial enterprise with a mission to leverage growth of internet retailers. 3llideas specializes in development and implementation of online stores, using Spree’s open source software to come up with the best e-commerce solutions. 3llideas offers a flexible solution that lets you differentiate and integrate your online store with your business in mind, and develops your internet channel with your specific objectives. To view this original post in its Spanish format, click here.

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GoDaddy, Spree Co-Host Meetup

Posted on July 28, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

GoDaddy, Spree Commerce Meetup in Sunnyvale, CA

Spree Commerce recently co-hosted a Meetup with GoDaddy, in the latter’s beautiful Sunnyvale, CA headquarters. GoDaddy showed off its Ferrari-built, four-pedal go karts used to race around the track that doubles as a walkway (pedestrians beware). Sad to say, NASCAR star Danica Patrick’s course record has been kept safely out of reach for the mere humans that have tried to match her mark.

On the technical side, GoDaddy welcomed over 30 registrants for its presentation, “The Largest Multi-Tenant Deployment of Spree.” In it, the GoDaddy team explained why an online storefront should be defined as a simple-to-use platform that enables non-technical personnel to build, manage and operate e-commerce websites easily. From an expert’s standpoint, this means Spree was made multi-tenant and integrated with GoDaddy systems. Spree was then deployed in a PCI-compliant environment, and delivered an amazing customer experience.

Spree’s very own Jon Carpenter was on hand to discuss the operational visibility and easy configuration that Wombat (Spree Commerce’s automated e-commerce solution) offers to store owners and developers. Jon shared the storefronts utilized by Spree users Casper, Quarterly and Ayr.

From there, GoDaddy’s fully-stocked kitchen was utilized, while attendees enjoyed a night of networking and collaboration. Both Spree Commerce and GoDaddy are confident that the Meetup was only the beginning of this partnership, so keep an eye out for more events like these in the future!

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From online to offline. A new trend in E-Commmerce?

Posted on July 24, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

E-Commerce Powers are Branching Offline. Is this Trend Here to Stay?

It is no secret that e-commerce is bringing down many traditional in-store retailers, or at the very least, making them adjust their business model to incorporate online sales. Why then, are more and more e-commerce powers opening up traditional, brick-and-mortar storefronts?

Some companies, such as Bonobos, are using these “Guide Shops” as a long-term solution to boost online sales. Customers are encouraged to go the store, try on clothes and buy them, but, sticking with its original sales model, the purchase will then be shipped to the buyers, instead of walking out of the store clothes-in-hand, like the days of shopping at Macy’s.

“We said we would never be offline, and then, wait a second, we hit a big turning point. We realized offline really works,” said Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn in a recent article featured in the New York Times. But will guide shops and pop-up stores (short-term shops at a physical location) work in the long term, or is this a flash-in-the pan experiment to a proven and growing model?

“I think it’s here to last,” said Scott Raio, CTO and co-founder of the fine men’s retailer Combatant Gentlemen. “Combat Gent,” as it is commonly called, hosted a weekend-long event featuring pop-up shops in Los Angeles late last year.

“We sell suits, and the thing with suits is that a lot of the times our guests want to try it on, [to] check the fit, check the quality and things like that. So having the pop-up location allows them to see the product for themselves, and figure out if this is something they want to explore as an option. I think it’s definitely the way of the future when it comes to companies like ours,” explained Raio.

It was at these events that the fine men’s retailer took its own spin on pop-up shops and debuted its “Super Sweet Magic Mirror,” to further improve the in-store shopping experience for a core of customers that were accustomed to shopping online.

“The mirror helps us by transitioning the experience [customers] get online, offline,” said Raio. Aside from reinforcing the fact that Combatant Gentlemen is a technology company first, the mirror gives clientele “an experience they couldn’t normally have even in modern retail locations. It gives them something to come in, and leave with this whimsical attitude about the brand."

Like Bonobos’ guide shops, customers do not walk out of Combat Gent’s pop-up stores with their clothes, bag-in-hand. As avid fans of the experience Apple created for its customers, Raio’s company adopted the retail giant’s in-store capabilities for its own customers. Raio and his team developed a special device that allows buyers to do a seamless point of sale in-store, rather than completing the sale online at home.

In preparation for these popup and guide shops, companies like Bonobos and Combat Gent use Wombat to bring their finest and most popular items in front of customers. “Wombat allows us to do a lot of our backend reporting, so we can have better granular reporting when it comes to what sizes we are selling [and] what styles are popular,” said Raio. The first step to receiving the benefits of this granular reporting is to connect Wombat to receive data from you store.

Backing up the belief that guide and pop-up shops are the way of the future, Combatant Gentlemen has another event planned for New York later this year, and has several more planned for 2015. So the next time you find yourself shopping online and think to yourself, “this looks great, but I wish I could try it on,” keep an eye out! Stores like Combat Gent’s could be “popping up” at a location near you.

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5 Tricks for Connecting to Quickbooks

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Jennifer Glantz

Spree Webinar: Top 5 Tricks for Connecting Your Store to Quickbooks

Is it too much to ask for a product that easily connects your store to Quickbooks? Users want to get the most out of their Quickbooks investment, but they don’t always know how. One of Wombat’s most popular features is our integration with Quickbooks. No custom code required.

Join us for a live Webinar on Wednesday, August 6th at 2:00 PM EDT to see how easily Wombat handles Quickbooks. Sameer Gulati, Chief Product Officer for Spree Commerce, will tell you the top five tricks you need to know to rid yourself of the headaches of managing your inventory and accounting with Quickbooks.

In this Webinar we’ll discuss:

• How Quickbooks can help you with your inventory and accounting
• How to configure Quickbooks in a way that makes sense for your business
• Why connecting your store to Quickbooks can be so hard
• How to connect your store to Quickbooks so your data can flow easily and accurately
• And much, much more!

Register now! Space is limited!

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ShopSpree: An iOS App for Spree

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Vinsol

Introducing ShopSpree: An iOS App for Spree Commerce

The preferences of shoppers have changed globally. Today, consumers prefer shopping in the most convenient ways: anywhere, anytime and on the move. This changing landscape has given birth to the world of mobile and applications. The statistics prove the increase in mobile internet usage is on the rise, now standing at 65% globally.

Around 32% of all online purchases have been done through mobile. Mobile commerce is looking promising, and expects the spending to be $200 billion USD by the end of 2014, reaching an approximate 50% growth from 2013. Predictions indicate that by 2020, smartphones and tablets will account for more than 75% of global online commercial transactions, and more than 50% of spend.

The e-commerce market, which is now enhanced by mobile, is comprised primarily of e-commerce companies that have long held a web presence, but have gained even more with the transition from web to mobile.

Analysis show that apps’ usage on mobile is increasing on a year-to-year basis. Within mobile, the use of native apps is way ahead of the use of mobile web. This year (statistics comprised through March 2014) native apps’ usage stands at 86% of the total. Meanwhile, mobile web usage has decreased by 30% on a per-day basis from its previous value. Today, stores engaged in mobile commerce want to maximize their products’ reach and increase sale and revenue by adapting to this trend of m-commerce through native apps.

Some e-commerce companies, such as Zulily and Gilt, built their platforms as the mobile trend was gaining momentum. These companies were able to take advantage of the opportunity to tailor new business models, such as daily deals near the location of smartphone users, in order to gain a competitive advantage. In 2013, Zulily generated 45 percent of its North American orders through mobile devices, versus just 31 percent during Q4 the prior year.

Like retail stores, marketplaces also benefit from going mobile. The key to any marketplace is achieving liquidity, and companies can achieve this more quickly by extending their marketplaces to mobile. Some marketplaces like HotelTonight and FOBO involve local, time-sensitive, or untethered transactions that have gone mobile-only, recognizing their platform is fundamentally better on smartphones.

ShopSpree

One option for merchants who currently have their store built on Spree Commerce (a leading open-source e-commerce platform built on Ruby on Rails), or are planning to go mobile-only first, is ShopSpree.

ShopSpree is an iOS app, native to be precise, that showcases the SpreeCommerce features on mobile. It allows its users to browse through the product catalog, search products, and make a purchase to understand the flow. Products’ images can be zoomed in and out by utilizing the native features of iOS.

The app displays some basic e-commerce features. It highlights the strong capabilities that a storefront or marketplace can leverage by getting the app customized, in order to cater to different business needs.

The application supports the use of different payment modes (cash, check or card) and the integration of payment gateways like Paypal, Stripe, and many others. It also allows stores to integrate Wombat (a single tool for all integrations built by Spree Commerce) or other third-party services like MailChimp, Mandrill or Sendgrid for sending transactional and marketing emails to the end users. Product images can be rendered from file servers like Amazon S3 or any other chosen by the store.

Stores can have a different look and feel for their own app by choosing from different existing themes, or by getting a new theme designed to match their current branding standards.

ShopSpree has been developed with a primary principle of keeping all the concerned parameters in control. This is to ensure no rejection for the app on the App store, after submission. If customized, this will help bring the application to market quicker, in order to appease the end user. This is how it works:

The app, without any changes, can be used directly by any store by just pointing to its existing Spree Commerce server, and doing some backend configurations. The configuration can be done quickly, and the application can be uploaded to the app store with the store’s attributes. Within a few days, a store can have its own native iOS app available in the market.

This app runs on mobile devices that supports iOS7 or later. To see how ShopSpree works, click here.

ShopSpree, in its next version, plans to have features for both store administrators and their end users. Features like user location determination, payment gateway integration, users’ account section and social media integration, will be there to enhance the end user’s experience. For the admins, the option of viewing pending orders, as well as adding new categories and products, will be provided.

About ShopSpree’s Creators

This application has been developed by Vinsol, a premier Spree Commerce development partner that specializes in building online stores and marketplaces based on Spree. Vinsol is a leading Ruby On Rails, iOS and Android development firm based in India, with a satellite office in San Francisco. Vinsol has helped major brands and startups build their ideas, from concept to launch.

For customization for your own store, contact Vinsol.

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Introducing SugarCRM for Wombat

Posted on July 22, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Introducing SugarCRM for Wombat

SugarCRM is a popular tool for companies that demand a robust customer relationship management solution that’s also easy to use. SugarCRM lets you track relevant information on your clients, from purchase history to sales call notes, all through an easy-to-use, intuitive interface. Thanks to our partner NuRelm, SugarCRM is Wombat’s newest available integration!

A SugarCRM integration with Wombat makes both tools even more powerful. Simply configure your integration and flows under Wombat Settings and you’re good to go; no custom development required. Wombat automates a range of processes allowing you to launch quickly and confidently. Specifically, Wombat will automatically:

• Push new and updated customer data to SugarCRM
• Send new and updated orders to SugarCRM
• Send new and updated product data to SugarCRM
• Send new and updated shipment data to SugarCRM

For more on Wombat and SugarCRM, visit our technical documentation, which includes a step-by-step guide on how to integrate Sugar CRM with Wombat. Wombat is adding new integrations all the time, so be sure to check back in with us for more helpful guides and connections. To read NuRelm’s take on the integration, check out part one and part two of their blog post series, “Make Your Store and CRM System Be Friends.”

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Spree and Affirm Meetup a Hit in San Francisco

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Over 50 Attendees for Spree and Affirm’s Consumer Finance Meetup

The latest in our series of Meetups recently came to a close, when Spree and partner Affirm teamed up to talk innovations in consumer financing. On July 16, 2014, over 50 attendees, ranging from merchants to developers to rubyists, gathered for a night of collaboration and discussion.

Affirm CEO and Paypal co-founder Max Levchin was the lead speaker of the night, discussing Affirm’s consumer-friendly financing solution.

Affirm’s innovative system is a true win-win for merchants and consumers alike, helping sellers increase their conversion rates and average order value. The system will help buyers, especially millenials who typically don’t have large lines of available credit, get the items they want NOW, without having to endure the painful credit approval process. Members of Affirm’s technical team were also on hand to show developers and store owners how to get up and running with a Spree-Affirm integration in minutes.

Meanwhile, Spree’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Melissa Pegus, gave a full introduction of Wombat, Spree’s automated solution for e-commerce integrations.

Wombat was designed to help developers and store owners minimize the complexity of logistics, get to market quicker, and grow faster. Wombat works with any storefront, such as Spree, Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento or Prestashop, and can even be used with your own custom storefront.

Spree Commerce Certified Partners BuildRX, Crowd Interactive, and Resolve Digital were on hand to answer questions about Spree and Wombat’s ability to create custom business logic, configure custom ERPs, and how to connect to accounting systems.

Stay tuned for our next meetup happening next Thursday at GoDaddy’s Sunnyvale, CA offices on July 24th. The focus will be on GoDaddy’s multi-tenant deployment of Spree— the largest in the world— and there are even rumblings about Go Kart racing in their office. To learn more, visit the Meetup.com page and RSVP:

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Spree and Affirm Meetup Ready to Go

Posted on July 16, 2014 by Melissa Pegus

Spree Commerce, Affirm for Consumer Financing Meetup in San Francisco

Less than 24 hours to go until the next Spree Commerce Meetup! This evening, Wednesday, July 16, at 6:30PM, Affirm will welcome the Spree Community into their San Francisco offices (325 Pacific Ave. in SF) for an evening of collaboration, discussion, and innovation.

We’re excited to have Affirm CEO, and PayPal Co-Founder, Max Levchin, as our lead speaker. Max will discuss Affirm’s consumer-friendly financing solution that helps merchants increase their average order value and helps consumers get the items they want NOW without having to endure the slow and painful credit approval process. If you haven’t read Wired’s recent profile of Affirm, you should check it out before the event.

Members of Affirm’s technical team will also be on hand to talk through how to integrate their payment services with your Spree store to get you up and running in minutes!

Also scheduled for discussion is an introduction of Wombat, Spree’s automated solution that connects stores to their operations, such as warehouses; drop shippers, accounting, ERP solutions, and more. Stores use Wombat to minimize the complexity of logistics, get to market quicker, and grow faster. Wombat works with any storefront platform, whether it’s Spree, Shopify, Magento, Demandware, Hybris or any others. You can even use Wombat with a custom storefront that you’ve created yourself.

Spree Commerce certified partners BuildRX, Crowd Interactive, and Resolve Digital will be in attendance to talk about their Wombat implementation experience, as well as field any questions you may have about improving your e-commerce presence and operations.

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Payment Gateways Supported by Spree

Posted on July 15, 2014 by 3llIdeas

Exploring the Payment Gateways Supported by Spree

Any merchant who ventures to mount his or her store online will inevitably have to choose which payment collection methods to implement. It is important to users that they have different payment options to choose from, so they can select the one they are most comfortable with. This point is crucial, as it can often determine whether or not the user will complete the checkout and finish the sale.

Has picking the right gateway proven to be a dilemma with your e-commerce project? Maybe we can you help you with Spree Commerce, the complete e-commerce solution.

For practical reasons, Spree Commerce does not have an out-of-the-box payment gateway, so that your users can configure the desired system at the point of store development. Today, we will give you important guidance to some of the payment options Spree offers in its e-commerce platform.

Active Merchant

The first point to consider is that Spree implements the use of an extension called active merchant. This extension has been developed by Shopify and been made available to the community as open source software. Any project developed in Ruby on Rails, like Spree, can have access to all the payment platforms that will support this language. You can see a list of supported platforms here, highlighted by Redsys, Paypal and many others that will support both international and national level of payments.

Extension Specific Payment

We can also find various payment gateways that are open source and supported by Spree. What interests us most is the implementation with Paypal, which is supported by Spree’s innovative integration method.

Specific Extension Development

In the unlikely even that we would like to implement a special payment management system, it would be easy to have them quoted and modified. The Spree architecture allows you to easily manage and monitor transactions that are adapted to the requirements of the store.

Let’s take a look at some of the extensions available with Spree commerce, with a special focus on those used in Spain.

• Redsys implements credit card payments in a very large network of banks. You can find more information on Redsys here
• Paypal can be integrated to be used in a number of different ways, including making the checkout through paypal, or use as a direct payment gateway
• Transfer payment is not technically a payment method, since the transaction is not routed through any bank. However, it is worth mentioning due to its popularity as a payment method in Spains, and is a very popular payment method in our store.
• International Services are coming to Europe, and are very easy to integrate with and operate. Some are more expensive than others, but they are worth investigating. Some worth mentioning are Brainfree, Spreedly and Stripe, because they are easy to implement and have reasonable cost.

Conclusion

We must decide on what payment methods we implement regardless of installation with Spree, as the will not be a problem integrating with this platform. Instead, the true worry lies in the cost of each transaction, the security filters that apply to our customers, and the service that they will give us if any incident were to occur.

About 3llideas

3llideas was born as a commmercial enterprise with a mission to leverage growth of internet retailers. 3llideas specializes in development and implementation of online stores, using Spree’s opensource software to come up with the best e-commerce solutions. 3llideas offers a flexible solution that lets you differentiate and integrate your online store with your business in mind, and develops your internet channel with your specific objectives.To view this original post in its Spanish format, click here.

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The Largest Multi-Tenant Deployment of Spree

Posted on July 02, 2014 by Melissa Pegus

Spree Commerce and GoDaddy: The Largest Multi-Tenant Deployment of Spree

GoDaddy Online Store is taking Spree to altogether new dimensions of scalability and user experience, as one of the largest multi-tenant deployments of Spree. We plan to scale Spree to a huge number of hosted stores (hundreds of thousands) and plan to add thousands of new stores every month. At the same time, it’s very simple to use, and enables small-to-medium businesses the ability to build, manage and operate e-commerce websites easily without the need of any technical know how. The event will be hosted on Thursday, July 24, 2014 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM PDT in Sunnyvale, CA.

We are very thankful to the Spree community and excited about making significant contributions to it. These contributions are, and will continue to be, in the form of new features, extensions, performance and scalability improvements, bug fixes, quality improvements, knowledge sharing, and more. The scale of Online Store poses a unique set of challenges, and many good things will come out of it!

Please come and meet the Online Store team at GoDaddy’s Sunnyvale office and engage in some enriching discussions with fellow Spree users and builders. We will be sharing more information on GoDaddy Online Store, how we made Spree multi-tenant, how we provided a very sleek user experience, and made performance improvements to Spree, including an upgrade from 2.0 to 2.2.

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Spree and Affirm: Consumer Financing

Posted on July 01, 2014 by Melissa Pegus

Spree Commerce and Affirm Meetup in San Francisco

The Meetup

On Wednesday, July 16, 2014, Spree Commerce and Affirm will be linking up in San Francisco to host the featured meetup, "Spree & Affirm Consumer Financing: Increasing revenue, decreasing costs for modern merchants.” The event is for everyone from Spree merchants to expert Spree developers, to those just wanting to learn more about e-commerce or payments.

There will be live demos, discussions on projects that are under way, as well as time for people to share their war stories and collaborate on opportunities. Of course, there will be food. And beer!
The Meetup will be from 6:30 to 9:00 PM PDT.

The Partnership

Spree Commerce believes in bringing the best in customer experience, design, and service to merchants. Affirm shares those values. After a great SpreeConf 2014, Affirm and Spree have partnered to offer Affirm’s simple, elegant consumer financing to its merchants’ customers. The Affirm extension is now available for integration.

About Affirm

Created in 2013 by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and Palantir co-founder Nathan Gettings, Affirm is reimagining financial services – from credit cards to deposit banking. Starting with an amazingly simple, new way to get affordable financing at the online point of sale, Affirm lets shoppers pay for purchases across multiple months with transparent, fairly-priced fees built into every payment, and boosts conversion and basket size for eTailers at less than the cost of credit cards.

With Affirm, there is zero risk for the eTailer. Affirm pays its merchants in full at the time of settlement and their customers enjoy payments stretched out in monthly installments. Unlike point-of-sale credit options, Split Pay is consumer-friendly. By providing clear terms and a fixed set of payments, consumers using Split Pay are never hit with surprises or large fees, as they often are with revolving credit. Online shoppers can make a purchase and pay across multiple months with simple, clear financing fees that are a fraction of credit card interest rates. Read what people are saying about Affirm.

Top 5 Reasons Wombat Makes Life Easy for Developers

Posted on June 26, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Top 5 Reasons Why Wombat Makes Life Easy for Developers

We have recently announced the launch of Wombat, and we are excited for all the new features our automated e-commerce solution will now provide! Wombat was created by developers, for developers, with the goal of making back-end logistical maintenance as simple and efficient as possible. Without further ado, here are the top five reasons why Wombat makes life easier for you, the developer.

1) Ability to connect with any storefront

Not only is Wombat a sophisticated e-commerce solution engine, it is also platform agnostic. Due to the standard JSON API format we use for communication, no matter what platform you are using—whether it be Spree, Magento Hybris or Demandware, you can integrate with Wombat. Even if you build your own custom platform, Wombat will be with you every step of the way!

2) Use of pre-defined or custom-built connections

Wombat comes complete with a number of predefined connections, ready for out-of-the box use so you can quickly integrate and get started. However, the flexibility of Wombat also allows you to integrate your own custom-built connections, so that you can customize this e-commerce solution to perform any and all of your desired functions.

3) Easily retry flows and keep track of errors

Wombat is complete with a fail-safe system of managing flows. If something has gone wrong within the flow setup, you will be notified immediately to retry the flow, debug the flow, or resolve the error. All errors are listed in order of most to least recent, with the goal of making errors as easy to manage as possible.

4) Adding integrations all the time.

Wombat is not open source. It is Software as a Service, or SaaS. However, Spree Commerce was founded on the principles of open source, and those values have carried over to the way we manage Wombat. We believe in a strong communal support system, so if there is an integration you want but don’t see available, let us know—and we’ll listen!

5) Transforms

In the context of Wombat, a transform represents the ability to easily modify data. Whether you want to convert an order into an email, or change all states to abbreviations, you can easily do so in Wombat’s transforms editor. Transforms work by embedding server side javascript directly into the flow. The javascript incorporates the logic dictating how data is transformed, and easily makes the desired changes.

These five advantages are why developers love to use Wombat. For more in-depth documentation on these topics—and virtually anything else you might want to learn about Wombat—visit our knowledge-based articles.

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"Introducing Wombat" by Sameer Gulati

Posted on June 25, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“Introducing Wombat” Webinar Recap

Thank you to our Chief Product Officer Sameer Gulati, who hosted the most recent webinar in our series—"Introducing Wombat." Sameer gave a complete rundown of the key capabilities and functionalities of Wombat, and how our e-commerce operating system makes life simple for both store owners and their developers.

Specifically, he displayed a number of our predefined, out-of-the-box connections, and the importance and ease of setting up a flow. Sameer also gave a step-by-step tour on how to catch, and resolve, any errors that may arise in your shipping and fulfillment process, and provided a step-by-step guide on how to:

• Create a connection
• Push data
• Test connections

Sameer goes into further detail on these points and many more, so “Introducing Wombat” was definitely a webinar that you did not want to miss. If you did, you’re in luck! Click here to view the reccording in full.

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"Introducing Wombat" by Sameer Gulati

Posted on June 19, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Introducing Wombat Webinar by Sameer Gulati

We’ve renamed our integration platform—which we used to call the Spree Commerce hub—to Wombat. Wombat easily connects storefronts to key systems such as accounting, ERP, and fulfillment. Now Wombat can even connect to non-Spree storefronts including Magento, Hybris, Shopify and Big Commerce. In fact, since Wombat uses a standard JSON API for communication, it can communicate with any storefront, including custom-built solutions.

Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, for Spree Chief Product Officer Sameer Gulati’s full rundown of Wombat’s capabilities and its advantages. Sameer will provide an overview of Wombat’s platform, including how to:

• Create a connection
• Push data
• Test connections
• Resolve errors

Sameer will be covering these topics and much more, including why Wombat makes life so much easier for developers, so be sure to attend this webinar! Registration is filling fast so register today!

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Introducing Wombat

Posted on June 17, 2014 by Sean Schofield

Welcome to Wombat

Recently, you may have noticed a few changes on our website. Specifically, we’ve renamed our integration platform—which we used to call the Spree Commerce hub—as Wombat. Where you used to find information about the hub, now you will be redirected to our new website devoted to the integration platform at wombat.co. Where you used to find the documentation for the hub, you will be redirected to the Wombat support portal at support.wombat.co.

Why did we do this?

The hub—now Wombat—is our integration platform for storefronts that need to connect to key systems such as accounting, ERP, and fulfillment. Since we launched it in 2012, it has grown significantly and we have received interest from companies who are not currently using the Spree open source storefront. Earlier this year at SpreeConf, we announced that we could now connect to non-Spree storefronts including Magento, Hybris, Shopify and Big Commerce. In fact, since Wombat uses a standard JSON API for communication, it can communicate with any storefront, including custom-built solutions.

It has become clear to us that, while the platform will always have a close tie to our Spree storefront software, it also has become an e-commerce solution unto itself, and it deserves its own brand and website. So we’ve launched it today at wombat.co.

Why Wombat?

Wombats work hard for what they want, they’re smart and strategic. They deal with complexity well, burrowing intricate pathways underground—not unlike stores that have to deal with a maze of services and vendors in order to operate well.

Plus, we like the logo:

What does this mean for Spree itself, and the stores that use it?

Only good things: We’re still growing our open source software, just as we always have. More and more merchants are choosing Spree to run their stores every day. There are now more than 45,000 stores around the world that are built on Spree technology, and we’re expanding further through word-of-mouth amongst developers and store owners, as well as partnerships like our recently announced alliance with GoDadddy. The more all these developers and stores work with Spree, the better the code gets. That’s the beauty of open source, and we’re still proud to say that we have the most awesome community in all of e-commerce!

Even though Wombat is a paid product, we haven’t forgotten our open source roots. All of the Wombat integrations are open source, which means that you can use your own customized integrations with Wombat, even if our out-of-the-box-hosted integrations don’t work for you. We have set up a brand new Github organization dedicated to open sourcing these integrations.

So give Wombat a try today at wombat.co. We’re continuing to improve and grow it, so let us know what you think!

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Ruby Nation: The Secrets of Venture Based Startups

Posted on June 11, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“A Game of Startups” by Sean Schofield

RubyNation, the DC-hosted event for the local software community, concluded last weekend to bring the seventh annual conference to a close. Over 270 attendees quickly sold out the venue, and helped make RubyNation 2014 a blast for all who could make it!

Our very own Sean Schofield spoke to the crowd with his presentation, “A Game of Startups.” Sean drew from his experience as CEO and co-founder of Spree to explain why, to paraphrase a certain popular television queen, “in the game of startups, you either win or you die.”

Sean went into great detail on the dirty little secrets of venture-based startups, giving great insight and tips for those who are running, working for, or just curious about, companies that are funded by venture capitalists.

So, who are the players in this particular game? With startups, we trade “Thrones’” kings, lords and knights for founders, investors, and employees, while winning is defined by survival and financial success.

Sean goes into far greater detail in his presentation, including the math behind a successful exit, and a breakdown of the results from some startups that have already won the game. We had a blast at RubyNation 2014 and are already looking forward to next year’s event. Hope to see you there!

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Top Three Mistakes Made When Building Mobile

Posted on June 05, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“Top Three Mistakes Made When Building Mobile,” by Satya Krishna Ganni

Special thanks to Spree Commerce partners MartMobi and their CEO Satya Krishna Ganni, who hosted a webinar for us detailing the top three mistakes made when building a mobile website, and how to avoid them. The top three mistakes made when building a mobile site are as follows:

Trying to force-fit a traditional website into mobile: This will lead to your website not fitting on the entirety of the screen (as seen in the photo above), poor load times, and a difficult navigation paradigm that will create a frustrating user experience, and drive m-commerce shoppers straight into the lap of your competitors.

Not optimizing the checkout process for mobile: One-click checkout is a mobile shopper’s best friend. Longer forms that must be filled out for every order are guaranteed to turn shoppers away from your brand.

Not doing real-world testing: In-house testing is simply not enough, as different networks, devices and operating systems must be put to use before subjecting your mobile platform to e-commerce shoppers.

Satya goes into further detail on these points, so be sure to check out his slides, as well as the recording, to learn why it is a must to treat m-commerce as a separate channel, not merely an extension of your traditional platform. The next Spree Webinar is already in the works, so be sure to check back in with us!

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The State of the Spree Commerce Ecosystem

Posted on June 03, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“State of the Ecosystem,” by Ryan Bigg

The first day of Spree Commerce community manager Ryan Bigg’s SpreeConf 2014 presentation was such a success, that the masses insisted he come back for Day Two! Following up Day One’s “Adjusting Adjustments,” the author of a Rails 4 in Action dove deep into the state of the Spree Commerce ecosystem.

In his presentation, Ryan detailed the increased activity of the Spree community, including consistent and substantial increases in the amount of commits, Spree Commerce downloads, comments and notifications.

Ryan also explained Spree’s contributing guide to filling an issue, which included a comprehensive list of steps to reproduce the issue, what to expect to happen compared to what’s actually happening, and the preference for “full trace” stack traces.

Ryan’s “State of the Ecosystem” is truly a can’t-miss for Spree Commerce contributors, and anyone interested in the Spree community, so be sure to check it out today!

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Why Site Search and Navigation Matter

Posted on May 30, 2014 by Search Spring

Why Driving Traffic to Your E-Commerce Site is Only The First Step in Conversion

A lot of online retailers, and large businesses alike, think that by driving more traffic to their site, they are guaranteed to increase conversion. And while that might have once been the case, shoppers have more options than ever online and just by getting them TO your site, you are not garaunteed they will complete the purchase ON your site. To be successful in e-commerce you need to give the user a complete experience – one that includes simple navigation and search options throughout your site.

In this blog our partner, SearchSpring, dives deep into the numbers behind driving traffic to your site, and explains how you might be looking at those numbers all wrong.

Why Site Search and Navigation Matter

In recent months, the e-commerce industry has seen mobile technology creep into a double-digit market share for online sales. Consumers that are purchasing goods online via tablet and smartphones have now eclipsed 12% of yearly-spent revenue. In recent years, online sales have grown abundantly into a $1.2 trillion-dollar market. Since 2008, the U.S. e-commerce industry has more than DOUBLED from $31 billion up to $71.2 billion in Q1 of this year.

Amazingly, with the amount of spending online and its continual growth, e-tailers are still meandering through social media, SEO and other online marketing trends to improve the bottom line. Don’t get me wrong; these channels can be used to build strong brands and sales funnels. It’s the “getting more traffic” focus of the marketers that’s confusing.

Why focus on such a broad unruly metric? Sure, bigger traffic numbers mean more sales, but any business can do that. More traffic is not a differentiator.

It’s great that more traffic improves revenue, but what about all of the steps in between engagement and conversion? Many online marketers look at the entire pool of opportunity, then correlate that back to their conversion rate and say, “We’re going to make ‘X’ more if we can get ‘Y’ more traffic." Well, that’s fabulous. Let’s stop wasting time and put all our apples in the traffic generation bucket. We’re guaranteed to win, right?

Wrong! It’s harmful to the business in many ways. The customer has been forgotten in this decision.

Let’s Do Some Math!

If a fashion retailer wanted to grow into new markets and they were tallying 1,000,000 visits a month, a 50% website bounce rate, converting 2% of visitors and recording monthly revenue of $100,000, this breaks down to (on average):

(1,000,000 visits x 0.50) * (0.02) = 10,000 purchases with $100k in sales
- Traffic: Per-visit Value = $0.10

- Conversion: Rate = 2%

- Conversion: Average Order Value = $10
- Opportunity Lost: Bounce rate = 50%

Using the increased traffic model, we can predict if we double the traffic, we double the revenue. Excellent, right? Just dial up those pay-per-click ads, get the blog posts rolling, and printing money is just around the corner. Let’s open the floodgates…

The problem with this model is its inability to see an opportunity in the sales funnel, unless it’s directly correlated to a “visit” or a “conversion.” The model uses the biggest spread of possible traffic at the top of the funnel, and forecasts revenue based on the bottom of the funnel conversion rate, totally missing out on mid-funnel KPI’s that improve business performance alongside customer satisfaction and loyalty.

For the sake of numbers, let’s say the fashion retailer spends $10k a month on marketing for the traffic they generate now. So, they’re getting a million visits to the website for ten thousand dollars. We’ve already established the revenue model, so let’s go ahead and double it.

(2,000,000 visits x 0.50) * (0.02) = 20,000 purchases with $200k in sales
- Traffic: Per-visit Value = $0.10

- Conversion: Rate = 2%

- Conversion: Average Order Value = $10 

- Opportunity Lost: Bounce rate = 50%
- Costs (per month) 


Total Traffic Generation = $20,000

Looks pretty good, but notice how the investment into traffic never changed the per-visit value, average order value, or bounce rates on the website. The only two performance metrics used for gauging success are the numbers representing traffic and revenue (top and bottom). It is a great design if you’re an advertising company, or don’t give a crap about your customers. Also, this is a prime case for quantity over quality in e-commerce. 


Let’s do More Math! 


Now, again for simplicity, let’s say the fashion retailer is using a reputable shopping cart with no additional technology. They’re just using a shopping cart, with an attractive design and well-displayed product images. They’ve identified their opportunity and conversion rate, but this time, rather than use more traffic they leverage technology for better optimization. 


Using the same conversion numbers as before, after implementing site search technology, the retailer identified areas of improvement in the shopping experience and updated the website to reflect the customer needs. This example is totally fictitious, but let’s use a cost of five thousand dollars a month for technology (50% of the additional PPC budget to prove my point). Using site search, the conversion rate onsite jumped a few tenths of a percent, also marginally lowering bounces.

(1,000,000 visits x 0.48) * (0.025) = 13,000 purchases with $130k in sales
- Traffic: Per-visit Value = $0.13

- Conversion: Rate = 2.5%

- Conversion: Average Order Value = $10 

- Opportunity Lost: Bounce rate = 48%
- Costs (per month)


Total Traffic Generation: $10,000
Total Search Technology: $5,000

So, just by adding better site search to the website, revenue jumped 30%, bounces dipped, and conversions bumped up, due to the ease-of-use within the website. Simply by making products more findable, the retailer improved sales dramatically. Not too bad, eh? 
Before we get too excited, There’s more: We only added better site search. Now, let’s add faceted navigation as well, to improve the experience for non-searchers who prefer to browse before purchase.

(1,000,000 visits x 0.47) * (0.029) = 15,370 purchases with $153.7k in sales
- Traffic: Per-visit Value = $0.15

- Conversion: Rate = 2.9%

- Conversion: Average Order Value = $10 

- Opportunity Lost: Bounce rate = 47%

Costs (per month)

Total Traffic Generation:$10,000
Total Search Technology: $5,000 


Notice how bettering the experience for shoppers maximizes revenue, without the need to flood more traffic through products. Shoppers have been enabled to spend more money without additional influence. Simply put, they’re finding what they’re looking for, and buying. 


So How Does Site Search Stack-up? 


We’ve boosted revenue by 50% with half the investment, lowered our bounce rates and elevated our conversion rates. Looking at the bottom line, we discovered that we have generated half the traffic for half the cost, resulting in a tossup between more traffic and better optimization. Seems like a no-brainer for the PPC team, right? Right now, “more is better” for traffic stats. 
Does optimization lose? No, not really.

Here Comes the Math Again!

Okay, now I’m pumped. Before I get too deep though, I’d like to mention the additional e-commerce solutions outside of the advanced site search, and faceted navigation that my company offers. These solutions provide many additional ways to drive revenue through on-site optimization, social merchandising and m-commerce. We have tons to offer!

Additionally, I’d like to mention our merchandising really quick. Combine our merchandising solutions with our learning search, and navigation improves average order values by as much as 250%, with typical averages around 30% of additional per-purchase revenue.

Which changes the equation to:

(1,000,000 visits x 0.47) * (0.029) = 15,370 purchases with $199.8k in sales
- Traffic: Per-visit Value = $0.15

- Conversion: Rate = 2.9%

- Conversion: Average Order Value = $13 

- Opportunity Lost: Bounce rate = 47%

Costs (per month)


Traffic Generation: $10,000
Search Technology: $5,000 


Reducing the bounce rate and increasing the AOV and CR is a continuous challenge, but with intelligent, automatable technology like SearchSpring, the value is clear. 


Huzzah! Back to the Math! 


Going back to the data, we need to think in economics of scale in regard to revenue and cost analysis. Yes, the initial model provides great returns, but comes at a continually elevating cost with lots of opportunity for wasted capital. Pumping visits across a website with a high bounce rate throws a lot of money into the fire. 
When an online business grows so does waste. Eliminating areas of wastefulness will save exponential amounts of revenue-generated capital. Let’s look at both models again: the traffic method in a five-times forecast, and the optimized funnel design in a three-times forecast. 
Additional Traffic Method x5

(5,000,000 visits x 0.50) * (0.02) = 50,000 purchases with $500k in sales
- Traffic: Per-visit Value = $0.10
- Conversion: Rate = 2%

- Conversion: Average Order Value = $10
- Opportunity Lost: Bounce rate = 50%

Initial cost of acquisition for these leads: $50,000 per month, or 10% of revenue

Optimized Funnel Method x3
(3,000,000 visits x 0.47) * (0.029) = 46,110 purchases w/ $599.4k in sales
- Traffic: Per-visit Value = $0.15

- Conversion: Rate = 2.9%

- Conversion: Average Order Value = $13 

- Opportunity Lost: Bounce rate = 47%

Costs (per month)


Traffic Generation: $30,000
Search Technology: $5,000 


Initial cost of acquisition for these leads: $35,000 per month, or 5.8% of revenue 


I hope these examples show a real value in onsite e-commerce optimization using site search and category navigation. Consumers rely on customer service to make purchases. Website technology that hinders them is, essentially, bad customer service. It’s important to look for ways to improve service and reduce costs where applicable. Don’t leave shoppers hanging with a bad experience. Instead, help them find your products and make a frictionless purchase. Who knows? Maybe they’ll keep coming back!

About SearchSpring


SearchSpring® boosts sales by unleashing findability with advanced site search and navigation for your e-commerce store. Providing faceted navigation, smart search results and IntelliSuggest® technology to lift conversions and increase speed, scalability, and intelligence. SearchSpring propels merchants to new levels of e-commerce performance by turning your website into a fire breathing, high conversion monster!

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Adjusting Adjustments with Spree Commerce

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“Adjusting Adjustments,” by Ryan Bigg

Ryan Bigg, Spree Commerce Community Manager and author of Rails 4 in Action, was a keynote speaker at SpreeConf 2014, where he gave the audience a crash-course on Spree’s ever-evolving ecosystem.

Ryan’s speech focused on many of the key aspects that have made Spree Commerce the top choice for more than 45,000 e-commerce retailers today, including the key tweaks to the Spree Commerce hub that zeroed in on making adjustments easier, simplifying code, and making sense of tax rates.

Ryan also detailed Spree CEO Sean Schofield’s “commandments,” including retaining order-wide adjustments, avoiding excessive calculations, and circumventing unnecessary complications. These commandments led to tweaks to the hub that includeed an adjustments system that was made simple, consistent, and flexible.

Ryan focused on these key Spree Commerce tenants, and many more, so be sure to watch his video today! Ryan’s second SpreeConf session will be available soon, so check back in with us!

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Latin America Poised for E-Commerce Boom

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Latin American Countries Poised for E-Commerce Boom

When Ebay, and its subsidiary payment method, Paypal, launched Spanish versions of their sites earlier this month, the moves turned some heads. Had one of the e-commerce giants finally decided to tap into the largely under-utliized markets in various Latin American countries? The answer, it would seem, is a resounding, “yes.”

Ebay had already reported over two million users in these areas, and that was while Spanish shoppers were using an English site and American currency. With the Latin American population estimated around 600 million citizens, Ebay and other online retailers have barely touched the surface of the potential represented by this market.

As Mario Chavez, Software Engineer and Head of Business Development of Mexican-based Crowd Interactive, pointed out, “e-commerce is, in many ways, still virgin territory in Latin America." Using Mexico as an example, Chavez cited security concerns as a reason why half of Mexican consumers chose to buy outside of Mexico. It is easy to see why Chavez believes, “there is a large opportunity to attract a huge consumer base in Latin America.”

The customization of Ebay’s site to better suit the native tongues and currency of both shoppers and retailers alike can help sellers tap into the potential represented by Latin America, and could set up the smaller and mid-size retailers for greater success. However, there are a number of rough edges to be smoothed out before merchants can truly see the benefits of Latin American e-commerce.

“In the midsize and small retailer areas, companies still do not have, or are struggling to enact, an e-commerce strategy,” Chavez explained. One reason is that “there are not many integrators that offer a reliable e-commerce platform that communicates well with [the] current systems used in their physical stores.”

“The [retail] scene is very fragmented,” added Gert Findel, CTO of Acid Labs. “Every country has its own payment gateway and shipping services, mostly monopolistic [or] oligopolistic, primitive technologies and/or interfaces, and private or on-request documentation,” Findel continued.

While the numbers point to the potential for huge success in these countries, the aforementioned challenges will make it difficult for e-commerce startups to efficiently manage the logistics necessary for success. Managing logistics and creating custom e-commerce integrations is something that the Spree Commerce Hub specializes in, and can help retailers get the most out of the Latin American e-commerce market. But don’t just take our word for it.

“[The] Spree hub can be positioned in Latin America as the only way to integrate to a long-term solution for vendor-agnostic communication to payments, fulfillment, ERPs and invoicing; and [represents] the most express road to internationalization,” Findel explained.

In an effort to promote its global customer base, Spree has continued to advance the storefront’s built in internationalization capabilities, and has more improvements as multinational stores become more and more of a focus. Click on the link to learn more about our automated e-commerce solution, or request a free demo today!

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Google Express and the Future of E-Commerce

Posted on May 20, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Google Express and the Future of E-Commerce

Earlier this month, Google announced the expansion of “Google Shopping Express,” a same-day delivery service that promises products will be presented to consumers’ doors just hours after making their purchase online.

On its first day of operation in Manhattan, the service was such a success that, in a way, it was a complete failure: By noon on the first day, shipments were backed up to the point that Google Shopping Express had to shut down early, informing customers that it couldn’t handle anymore deliveries for the day. Customers are supposed to be able to shop as late as 4:30PM, at which point they would receive their order no later than 9:30 PM.

For now, Google Shopping Express is only operational in San Francisco and Manhattan, but if growing trends are a precursor to the future, you can bet that this service is coming to a city near you. In fact, Google is just the latest of a number of name-brand companies trying their hand at same-day delivery.

By now we have all heard of the Amazon “drones,” but other than being a big marketing success, everything else about the service is very much up in the air (no pun intended). However, after watching a number of third-party delivery services fail to live up to their end of the bargain, especially during the Christmas rush, Amazon began its less futuristic “Amazon Fresh” service in June of last year, and promises to deliver groceries straight to consumers’ doors on the day they are ordered. These services are only functional in Southern California, San Francisco and Seattle, but, again, expect rapid growth sooner rather than later.

Additionally, a number of popular retailers, such as American Apparel, Best Buy, Finish Line and Dick’s Sporting Goods have begun to combat the convenience of services like Amazon by deploying their own brand of same-day delivery. Brick-and-mortar retailers across the globe have seen their businesses take a hit by e-commerce giants, and are now trying to leverage these stores as a way to beat Amazon at its own game with the innate advantages that having physical locations across the country offer.

The aforementioned retailers, and many more, are treating their traditional stores as glorified online shipping fulfillment centers, delivering goods straight to shoppers from their nearest locations. From this vantage point, the retailers have a huge advantage over Amazon and Google, and can beat the giants at their own game.

This method of fulfilling customer needs is something all retailers, regardless of size or prestige, must take heed of. Speed is the future of e-commerce, and same-day deliveries will be the norm across the industry sooner, rather than later. Not only is it simply a must to stay ahead of changes within the industry, but there are also a number of added benefits that store owners can take advantage of that will help them compete against the giants like Amazon and Google Express, and build their respective brand.

By shipping locally, retailers can lower delivery costs, and thus increase their ability to offer free shipping, without taking a hit to the bottom line. As an added bonus, retailers can cut down on the third-party cuts they must give to have their products represented by the online retailers.

The theory of local deliveries sounds great, but the practice can prove difficult to manage. The Spree Commerce hub allows for customizable tracking of orders and shipments. It can instantly update inventory, regardless of what channel the sale is coming from, and send texts and/or emails to the necessary parties, a key function for the have-it-now philosophy of today’s shoppers. To learn more about the hub, read up on our documentation, or request a free demo today!

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"Perfect Technology" By Amit Shah

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“Perfect Technology” By Amit Shah

Amit Shah, CEO at Jirafe, Inc. was one of the keynote speakers at SpreeConf 2014. Amit’s presentation focused on how Jirafe uses custom-tailored analytics to help e-commerce companies grow their respective brands.

Amit’s diverse professional background started as an investment banker on Wall Street, and grew to his current position at Jirafe. In between, he helped bring Magento from a free, open source project to a multi-million dollar e-commerce power, as the Vice President of Sales and Business Development.

Drawing from his experience working with several different business models, Amit founded Jirafe, based on a belief that analytics can help people grow their business, and that the right data, combined with the right product, creates sales.

Included in Amit’s presentation is a blueprint for the growth of a successful e-commerce business. Starting with the sales of goods on Ebay and Amazon, and all the way to the point where you would need to get onto a versatile, customizable platform like the one offered by Spree, Amit’s presentation is a must-watch for any entrepreneurs trying to take their business to the next level!

To learn even more about viewing the right data to make the right decisions, be sure to attend this afternoon’s Spree webinar, hosted by Amit, “How Smart is your E-Commerce Intelligence?” Registration is still open!

More presentations from SpreeConf 2014 will be available soon, so be sure to check back in with us!

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Making the Right Data Driven Decisions

Posted on May 12, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Making the Right Data-Driven Decisions

The importance of making “data-driven” decisions is a phrase that has generated a lot of buzz lately. But data is everywhere. What data should I be looking for? And how can I use that data to make the right decision for my storefront?

The important thing to consider is using the right data. Using data tailored specifically for e-commerce is integral to growth and success and can increase both conversion rates and the overall lifetime value of customers, as well as prevent customer churn.

Too often, stores are pulling in data but aren’t looking at the right information. Sure, you need to know the basics — how many orders today vs yesterday? Which products have sold the most? But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

According to eMarketer, for every 10 shoppers on your site who place an item into their shopping cart, 6 of them will leave your site without purchasing. They do this for a variety of reasons, of course, so ultimately what does that mean for you and your store? If you could understand more easily which products were abandoned the most, or which products resulted in the greatest amount of lost revenue, you could take specific actions to grow sales in your store.

How effectively do you analyze your marketing analytics? You may know how much you spent, and where, but do you know which marketing dollar was most effective, and which was least? Today’s analytics tools, if used right, can show you in real time what you’ve gained from each campaign, and which new customers will drive the most success and revenue.

To learn more about the importance of making data-driven decisions, and how to do it right, be sure to register for the next Spree Webinar, “How Smart is Your E-Commerce Intelligence?” presented by our partners, Jirafe, on Wednesday, May 14th, from 2-3PM.

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"Spree Commerce Peformance" by Daniel Sim Lind

Posted on May 06, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“Spree Commerce Peformance” by Daniel Sim Lind

Daniel Sim Lind, former strategic marketing and creative director at Ninefold, spoke at SpreeConf 2014 to discuss the results he and his team found when using Spree Commerce as the subject of extensive research on website performance. What he found was that the Spree Commerce platform is capable of exceptional performance and smooth scalability.

Why does performance matter, you may ask? Because it matters to the users, and the users impact the bottom line. As Daniel explained in further detail in his presentation, Amazon found that every 100ms of average responsiveness improvement boosted revenue by 1%, a statistic that was backed by a failed experiment from Google. Google performed a survey asking users what they could do to increase their performance, and the overwelming response was that web searchers wanted more results on the first page.

Google followed suit, and the extra first-page results caused slower website load time. When the website slowed, Google saw a 20% drop in traffic, and a 20% drop in revenue. AOL, Yahoo and Shopzilla performed similar tests, and all yielded similar results.

So, why again does performance matter? Because time is money. Learn more by watching Daniel’s full presentation.

More presentations from SpreeConf 2014 are coming soon, so be sure to check back with us, and subscribe to our Youtube channel. To learn more about Spree Commerce and Ninefold, be sure to attend our co-hosted meetup, “The Future of E-Commerce,” on Thursday, May 8, in San Francisco. For more information, as well as to register, click here.

"Right Decision, Wrong Outcome" by Jeff Ma

Posted on May 01, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“Right Decision, Wrong Outcome,” by Jeff Ma

Jeff Ma, CEO of tenXer, and the inspiration for the New York Times’ Best Seller, Bringing Down the House, and its cinematic adaptation, 21, was one of SpreeConf 2014’s key speakers. In his presentation, Jeff discussed the importance of making data-driven business decisions, and not letting adverse biases, such as group think and loss aversion, skew what you know to be right.

Jeff drew from his proficiencies in blackjack, and emphasized the key similarities between running a successful black jack team that translated to his entrepreneurial experiences with Golfspan, ProTrade, Citizen Sports, and now at tenXer.

Highlights from Jeff’s speech include the necessity of recognizing the difference between the right decisions from the right outcomes and the fact that, in spite of our best efforts, the former is not always a precursor to the latter. Jeff not only pointed out the keys in forming a business, such as trust, communication, metrics and transparency, but if you pay attention, you might just get some great blackjack tips!

More presentations from SpreeConf 2014 will be published soon, so be sure to check back in with us, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Perfecting Your E-Commerce Frontend

Posted on April 30, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Perfecting Your E-Commerce Frontend by Denis Ivanov

Denis Ivanov, lead developer at Downshift Labs, returned to SpreeConf 2014 to give an updated version of the most popular talk from SpreeConf 2013: Perfecting Your E-Commerce Frontend. In this year’s speech, Denis shares three years of experience running a growing niche store through high-level direction, as well as the importance of practical code samples.

Denis includes a great deal of ProTips ® on how to please both robots and humans: Search
Engine Optimization, both back end and client-side performance, plus conversion rate management. Denis’ tips ensure you get the most performance, as well as the fastest implementation, from your frontend.

Denis has been working with Rails and Ruby since high school. His passion for the open source framework is largely responsible for his decision to pursue Computer Science professionally, and he continues to work with Rails every day! In his free time, Denis can be found volunteering at various outreach programs in San Francisco, sharing his passion for fulfilling programming employment.

The Naked Truth About Clothing and Sales Tax

Posted on April 30, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

The Naked Truth About Clothing and Sales Tax

AvalaraThank you to our partners at Avalara, who hosted a webinar for us on the challenges, and solutions to, the treacherous landscape of managing state-to-state clothing tax laws. From common misconceptions to the specific quirks in certain states (different taxes for different-sized boots?) Avalara covered everything an e-commerce clothing retailer would need to know. Here are some of the highlights:

Webinar host Jennifer Myers stresses the importance of understanding nexus for those in the clothing industry. “Nexus” is the connection between a state and a business, and allows a state to compel an out-of-state company to register and collect sales tax. The out-of-state company must have a “physical presence,” but that definition is changing, something the webinar goes into more detal about.

The webinar will help clarify:

• Whether you have established nexus in the last year
• The confusion regarding Florida, Texas, and New York’s state tax laws on clothing
• Product taxability
• Product Exemptions

Jennifer also details the risks of determining sales tax rates by zip codes, and the inaccuracy of the practice.

For more on managing the treachery of state-to-state tax laws on clothing, you can review the slides here, or view the full webinar.

Improving the User Experience

Posted on April 23, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Improving the User Experience by Scott Raio

Scott Raio, CTO and co-founder of the popular men’s clothing brand, Combatant Gentlemen, spoke at SpreeConf 2014, detailing the challenges, and solutions to, delivering the best user experience possible in both an online and offline atmosphere.

Having already established itself as an e-commerce power, Combatant Gentlemen wanted to extend the user experience to include the ability to physically try on the clothes before customers made their purchase. The issue that presented itself was that Combatant Gentlemen wanted all of its offline purchases to run through Spree, just like its online sales, in order to deliver the most comfortable offline scenario as possible.

Clearly, having customers lug a laptop through Combatant Gentlemen’s pop-up store was not an option, so it was up to Scott and his team of developers to think outside the box. What they came up with was their “Super Sweet Magic Mirror,” which turned heads at the 2013 Vegas Hack-A-Thon.

The two-way mirror, complete with a TV in the back and an RFID reader in the bottom, takes the RFID-enabled clothing that the customer is wearing and displays information, such as the price and similar items, right in front of the user. The mirror then communicates to Spree and back to the user. When customers are ready to make the purchase, they simply swipe their credit card in Combatant Gentlemen’s point of sale app, which would talk direclty to Spree.

More sessions and videos from SpreeConf 2014 will be uploaded soon, so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see them as they go live.

The Top Five Hidden Costs of Going It Alone

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Shannon Madlin

Top 5 Hidden Costs of Going it Alone

Need to build or re-platform an online store? You may be thinking that the best way to connect the storefront to its backend business operations — like accounting and fulfillment — is to code the connections yourself. Developers and store owners sometimes think that by coding it themselves they’ll save money in the long run, by avoiding monthly SaaS fees. But just because your software is custom, doesn’t make it free. You need to account for the costs that are hiding in the background, ready to take an unfair share of the store’s hard earned revenue.

Here are the top five hidden costs of going it alone.

1. Initial Buildout

Whether it’s an in-house developer’s time or the outside fees paid to a consultant, this generally runs between $10,000 and $20,000, which doesn’t include ongoing maintenance. This is just the initial backend system to handle the retail store’s connection to the logistics applications at the time of launch.

2. Total Cost of Ownership

If you’re a typical online retailer, as you grow, your needs change. You’ll switch or add new backend systems. You’ll change your shipping vendor one year, your accounting system the next. And you’ll add a new analytics system some time in between. If you have a custom solution, you’ll need to break it apart, and rebuild it, every time you make a change. You’re looking at $15,000 a year for that ongoing maintenance.

3. Lost Productivity

It’s hard to find good developers. Once you manage to hire them, don’t you want them to work on new and innovative ways to sell your products, not fixing broken back ends and cleaning up messes that they didn’t make in the first place? Have your developers do what they do best — creating and optimizing the best possible storefront experience for your customers. Don’t waste their time — and your money — by having them focus on your store’s backend plumbing.

4. Lost Revenue

Did you know that for a retailer that ships 1,000 orders a month, even a relatively effective custom backend will still result in an average of 10 lost orders every month? The average online purchase is $184, which means that you run the risk of losing close to $2,000 a month in lost revenue.

5. Bad Customer Experience

Even if your backend is working effectively, it’s the customer’s experience that is key. Without the burden of having to fix and replace broken systems, you can come up with new ideas to give your customers a memorable experience. And remember they will – good or bad. 81% of US shoppers said that a social media post directly influenced their purchase decision. That could mean the difference between making a purchase or NOT making a purchase. It’s a domino effect in this social media savvy world, and the customer is king.

Click here to download the Top 5 Hidden Costs PDF

Avalara Partner Webinar

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Jennifer Glantz

The Naked Truth About Clothing and Sales Tax

We’ve received great feedback on our recently launched webinar program and we are pleased to announce our next one! Join us on Wednesday, April 30th at 2:00 PM EDT as our partner, Avalara, talks about The Naked Truth About Clothing and Sales Tax.

Buying clothing and apparel online is a preferred way for customers to shop, and is the fastest growing segment of e-commerce. But the rules, thresholds, and definitions governing sales tax in this market are complex at best—and can leave online merchants frayed and tattered. That’s why Avalara and Spree have partnered to bring you a look into sales tax complexities in the clothing and apparel industry.

In this webinar, you’ll learn about:

· What does a merchant need to know about where and for what they have to collect sales tax?
· Can drop-shipper relationships or other affiliations cause sales tax liabilities?
· Approaches for automating sales tax compliance.

Registration is filling fast so register today!

Heartbleed and Open Source Security

Posted on April 16, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Has Heartbleed Made You Think Twice About Open Source Security? Think Again.

By now, unless you have been woefully under-informed, you’ve not only heard of Heartbleed, you have likely had more than your fill of emails from web sites advising you about their patches. Ironically, as those emails pile up in your inbox, Heartbleed starts to seem like more of a nuisance. But the fact is, the personal information of millions was put at risk and it may be some time before we completely realize the damage that has been done.

Some have used this as an opportunity to point fingers at OpenSSL and Open Source frameworks in general. They point to the collaborative nature of the applications as an increased security threat. The argument is that when anyone can submit changes to an open source project, there is no way to know if a malevolent developer will intentionally create a vulnerability, similar to Heartbleed, with the sole intent of exposing security weaknesses within the software.

However, Heartbleed isn’t a result of the fact that OpenSSL happens to be open source software. As we’ve seen time and time again, even the most robust enterprise software can be compromised by security flaws. This truly is not a question of whether open or closed source software is more likely to be compromised. As long as software is being written, whether open or closed, there will be holes to be patched.

When thinking about the security risks of open source software, there are two key points to remember. First, when backed by effective open source communities, open source software is made safer because so many developers actively test and fix the code.

For example, Spree has one of the most active developer communities in the world. Spree developers communicate regularly regarding all kinds of issues, be it feature improvements or bug fixes. Of course, Spree also utilizes extensive testing tools before releasing any software. With the combination of our in-depth testing and the community’s vigilance, we can be much more on top of quick resolution of bugs than closed software systems.

Second, when there is a need for a security patch or other bug fix, the person in control of implementation is…you. With closed source, you need to wait for the enterprise in control to fix the problem and make it available to users. For example, Akamai, one of the best, most sophisticated technology firms on the planet, is still working to address its Heartbleed vulnerabilities. Thus, users have no choice but to wait on Akamai for a complete fix. Open source users can do what they want with the code. They can use a patch that has been made available on Github, or can otherwise modify their code as they see fit. In fact, because Spree is open source and its users control their own code, they can choose to replace OpenSSL altogether if they so desire.

At the end of the day, the truth is that no piece of software is perfect, and that both open source and closed source frameworks are vulnerable to security flaws. The fundamental difference to remember is the relative ease with which these inevitable bugs can be found and fixed in open source platforms, so that consumers can again be protected as quickly as possible.

Best M-Commerce Practices by Bryan Mahoney

Posted on April 15, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Best M-Commerce Practices by Bryan Mahoney from SpreeConf 2014

Though still very much in its infancy, mobile commerce is already an established force in the retail marketplace. As sellers continue to adjust to this medium, there is plenty of room for improvement.

From SpreeConf 2014, Bryan Mahoney, partner and director at Dynamo, discusses keys to best m-commerce practices that will keep your shoppers happy, and most importantly, help grow your business.




With tips that include how to keep your homepage concise, the significance of calls to action, and the importance of limiting content on your website, Bryan’s presentation is a must-watch for retailers who want to stay ahead of this growing trend in the shopping experience.

More sessions and videos from SpreeConf will be uploaded soon, so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Behind the Best Storefronts by Sean Schofield

Posted on April 10, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Behind the Best Storefronts by Sean Schofield

As co-founder and CEO of Spree Commerce, Sean Schofield was able to provide his valuable insight on Spree Commerce’s impact on the future of the e-commerce industry at SpreeConf 2014.

Sean talked about how Spree is continuing to empower the world’s sellers. He discussed the rapid growth of Spree’s open source community and its impact on our storefront platform. Sean also updated the audience on the latest developments with the hub, which developers and store owners can use to add and manage integrations to other services such as fulfillment providers, accounting systems, and more.















In his talk, Sean outlined where Spree Commerce is going, and why now is such an exciting time to join partners and customers like Bonobos and GoDaddy, to become an integral contributor to the e-commerce future.

More sessions and videos from SpreeConf will be uploaded soon so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

15 Best Practices for Mobile

Posted on April 09, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Go Dynamo

Special thanks to our partner, Dynamo, who hosted a webinar for us today on the 15 best practices for mobile commerce taken from the real world. From how to layout the design of your e-commerce site, to marketing best practices to complete the sale, there are a lot of things you should be thinking about when you’re creating your new (or updating your old) mobile e-commerce site. Here are just a few:

15 Best Practices for Mobile Commerce-From the Real World

The amount of purchases made via phones and tablets are climbing quickly! In fact, in industries such as video games, music and books, tablets are now the most popular way to make a purchase. With that being said, there are some valuable tips you should heed to avoid being one of the sites that are contributing to the whopping 88% disapproval rate of mobile shoppers.

1. Keep your homepage concise

Mobile shoppers are 30% more likely to convert to your product with a focused landing page that will keep the shopping experience simple and succinct.

2. Calls to action actually work

25% of shoppers are more likely to click on a call to action link with a verb in it, than without. For example, provide a tab that says “Shop Products” instead of simply, “Products.”

3. Pair your Call to Action And Price

By pairing a call to action that includes “Action + Price” research shows that you will see a 76% increase of mobile users beginning the checkout process.

4. Turn down the noise

Websites that simplify the options and information around their item are seeing an astronomical 497% increase in checkout engagement than those who try to provide too much. For example, if one of your products is a t-shirt, simply have a picture of the shirt, the price, and the add to cart call to action.

5. Less (copy) is more

By providing less copy around your product, you are likely to get 103% more clicks on your item, and 34% more conversions for your brand.

For more on these helpful tips, as well as many others, you can review the slides here. The full webinar will be available soon, so be sure to check in with us!

15 Best Practices for Mobile Commerce

Posted on April 02, 2014 by Jennifer Glantz

15 Best Practices for Mobile Commerce – From the Real World

Hot off the heels of our sold out webinar with Ninefold (if you missed that one, you can view it here), we’re excited to announce the next webinar in our newly launched series. Fifteen Best Practices for Mobile Commerce – From the Real World, presented by our partner, Dynamo, will be held on Wednesday, April 9th at 2:00 PM EDT.

How exactly can we optimize sites for each store’s unique business model, and for the expectations of the visitors who really matter? In this webinar, Andre Valle and Max Kaplun will talk about best practices that Dynamo has developed in the quest to optimize clients’ sites and businesses for the mobile consumer. There’s no shortage of ideas that you can find on the Internet, but this webinar will dive deep into the real world experience of battle-tested developers and designers who have learned what really works and what doesn’t.

· The concept of optimization
· How it fits your business
· Testing and Optimizing the mobile experience for commerce
· 15 things you can do better

Click here to register now – Seats are filling up fast!

Fast Checkout with Backbone.Marionette

Posted on August 05, 2013 by Ryan Bigg

There’s been a lot of buzz recently around using a JavaScript frontend to talk to a Ruby backend in order to make websites faster. In particular, the three “hot” frameworks at the moment are Ember, Angular and Backbone.

We’ve been working on building an example of a quick checkout using a superset of Backbone called Backbone.Marionette (with a book about it here). This project can be found at radar/spree-marionette and uses Spree’s API in conjunction with Backbone.Marionette to build a fast checkout process.

We would love for some people to poke and prod at this and let us know what could be improved upon.

Tracking E-commerce With Google Analytics

Posted on June 17, 2013 by Wes Ketchum

Google Analytics comes with support for tracking e-commerce right out of the box. All you need to do is some basic configuration and your website will be ready to start gathering data on transactions and items sold. Spree even takes care of adding all the necessary JavaScript and makes the setup as simple as pasting a tracking ID into the Admin section of your store.

  • Google analytics may not work if you are running your app on localhost. See the section titled Testing on localhost here . To get around this try pow if you are using a Mac. Otherwise, it should work fine in production.

Set Up

The first thing you will need to do is set up a Google Analytics account if you do not already have one. Once you have an account you will need to enable e-commerce tracking for your website. This can be accomplished by logging into Google Analytics and following these steps.

1. Click Admin at the top of any screen in Analytics.
2. Use the menu in the Profile column to select the profile you want.
3. Click Profile Settings.
4. Under the Ecommerce Settings section, select Yes, an Ecommerce Site/App.
5. Click Apply.

Now that e-commerce tracking is enabled, it is time to configure your Spree store. Lets start by grabbing the tracking ID inside of Google Analytics. This can be found by clicking on Admin in the top right, and then the Tracking Info tab. The ID will be in the form UA-XXXXXXXX-X. Now go into the Admin section of your Spree store and click on the Configuration tab followed by the Analytics Trackers link at the bottom of the right side navigation. Click on the link to create a new tracker and enter your Google Analytics ID.

  • In older versions of Spree the Configuration screen will look different, however the functionality is all still supported.

Testing

Your store is now ready to start tracking e-commerce through Google Analytics. To test that everything is working, walk through the ordering process. Add an item to the cart, click Checkout, and make sure you get all the way to the order confirmation page. Once that is complete, go to Google Analytics and click on the reporting tab. On the left side navigation click on conversions, e-commerce, and then overview. You will see a page similar to the one below outlining some data gathered from your store.

  • Make sure the date filter is set to the current day on your report! The data from your store may not show up in real time. Sometimes you will have to wait a few minutes before you see a transaction.

Debug

If you wait for a couple of minutes and still do not see a transaction inside Google Analytics, check to see if these two conditions were met.

  • On the order confirmation page in your Spree store, make sure the Google Analytics JavaScript is present. It should be located at the bottom of the page source and begin with

var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXXXXX-X']);

If the Javascript is not present, be sure you are still including the spree/shared/google_analytics partial in your application layout.

  • Use the developer tools in your browser to inspect the Spree order confirmation page. On the network tab make sure there is a _utm.gif resource at the bottom of the page. If you do not see that than your data is not being sent to Analytics and is most likely a problem related to using localhost as mentioned previously.

That’s all there is to it. Please leave a comment with any questions or problems. Enjoy!

New Spree Releases to Address Jirafe Issues

Posted on June 13, 2013 by Sean Schofield

As many of you already know, the Spree dashboard (which is powered by Jirafe) has been experiencing outages and other technical problems the past several days. Yesterday, the Jirafe team decide to temporarily shutdown their service for a few weeks while they finish deploying their 2.0 version of the service. This decision was made by Jirafe and without advance consultation with Spree. While we were aware that Jirafe was working on a new version of the service, we had no advance warning of the shutdown.

In some cases the outages have been preventing people from logging into their admin. Given the issues we have been experiencing with Jirafe the past few weeks, our team decided to pull the Jirafe functionality from Spree and issue new emergency patch releases to address the problem. If you are having problems with Jirafe we recommend that you update to one of the following patch releases: 2.0.3, 1.3.3, 1.2.5.

We spoke to the Jirafe team after we received reports of our users getting emails about the shut down. Apparently, the current system has been completely overwhelmed and they reached the difficult conclusion that it was going to be impossible to stand it back up again. We share your frustration at the suddeness of this decision and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. The Jirafe team has an excellent product and we’re looking forward to seeing the new version. When Jirafe comes back online again, it will be as an optional extension for Spree and not something that affects the rest of the admin functionality. In the meantime we are working on several alternatives to address your reporting needs.

We’ll have more updates for you shortly.

Join Us for the First Ignite SpreeConf Gaming Gala!

Posted on May 08, 2013 by Brian Quinn & Chris Mar

The Spree headquarters in Bethesda has always been a hotbed of gaming activity, but more recently the team has been turning off the consoles and cracking out the cardboard! So to share our love of all things board game and tabletop related we’re starting a new tradition at the upcoming SpreeConf, the Ignite SpreeConf Gaming Gala!

Unlike other conference Ignite events, there’ll be no talks, no costumes, no awkward introductions, just lots of board gaming fun with plenty of beverages and snacks and an opportunity to meet your fellow conference attendees and the Spree team before the serious tech talking starts on Monday.

The Ignite SpreeConf Gaming Gala will take place Sunday, May 19th from 7pm – 10pm at Stoney’s Upstairs located at 1433 P Street NW in Washington, DC, just one block away from the SpreeConf venue.

To get everyone on a level playing field we’re sharing some of the gaming details ahead of time along with the rules and some awesome Tom Vasel YouTube reviews of the games we’d liked to play. We’d also love to hear ideas on other games you’d like to play, so comment below!

The Settlers of Catan

Catan is THE classic euro-game of resource gathering, building and trading. If you’ve never played it before now is your chance. It’s a great game for people who are new to the board gaming hobby.

You can study up on the general rules here. We’ll be playing the 5 to 6 player version which has some extra rules to read up on.


Be sure to check out Tom’s walkthrough and review too:

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure where you collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points you earn.

Starting studying the rules now and be ready to race your fellow SpreeConf attendees!

Mr. Vasel’s video covers both the U.S. and European versions of Ticket to Ride. We’ll be playing the U.S. version.

River Dragons

For those more well versed gamers, we’re including this recent Rver Dragons release where you must cross the Mekon delta by building bridges with planks and stones.

To arrive safely on the opposite bank, care must be taken to avoid your opponents and those pesky dragons.

You can grab the rules here. Tom also provides some interesting thoughts on this release in his walkthrough.



We hope this will be a great warm up event for SpreeConf so if you’re in Washington, DC on Sunday night, this is the place to be! And if you haven’t registered yet for SpreeConf, there are still tickets available. Get yours now!

New Documentation Site

Posted on April 15, 2013 by Andrew Hooker

Why new guides?

A while back, we put a lot of work into creating documentation for our API independent of the developer guides. Our designer Alexey (aka devilcoders) did a great job on the API guides, and we wanted to bring that great work into the developer guides as well. We also used this as an opportunity to go through the guides and clean out things that were confusing or out of date. To top it off, John Dyer ( LBRapid ) put together a few new tutorials, going step by step through getting started with Spree and using and creating extensions and deface overrides.

Starting with Edge

Currently, the new guides are available on Edge. Edge is our repository for documentation about Spree features that haven’t been released yet. Once the next major Spree version is released, the guides in the Edge repository will replace the current guides. We will continue to make the old guides available as we have in the past with our legacy guides. The Edge guides include documentation on the new Split Shipments functionality included in Spree 2.0. Make sure to give this section a read and let us know what you think about the new feature.

Preview the Spree Integrator

You’ll notice we included a section in the Guides called The Spree Integrator. The Spree Integrator is a project our team has been quietly working on the last six months and is the pillar of our new Spree Professional packages. The Spree Integrator is a new platform for extending the reach of your Spree store into a myriad of crucial business applications and services like drop shipping providers, accounting systems, transactional email services, custom applications and much more. Brian Quinn will explain more about the Spree Integrator at SpreeConf and will show how easily you can get started using the off-the-shelf services that we’ve built into the Spree Integrator and how you can create custom endpoints to process all the events as they happen in your store.

A Community Effort

While the Spree core team and staff did a lot of the work getting the guides converted, there were a number of community members who also contributed. We had 229 commits by 29 authors, including 14 commits by first time open source contributor Dana Jones. You can see all the contributions in a github compare

Contributions Welcome

We couldn’t do it without you! Especially if you’re new to Spree, or new to contributing to open source, the guides are a great place to get started. There’s constantly cleanup and improvement to be done. To contribute, simply follow the instructions here.

Watch for More

There’s more coming! We’re going to be looking at improving the developer guides in the future, as well as adding a guide section for users, covering things like how to use the admin interface. If you’ve got ideas for how we can continue to improve the guides, submit a pull request, leave a comment on this post, or open an issue on the repo.

Come Meet us at SpreeConf

The next SpreeConf is taking place May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. SpreeConf is a great opportunity to learn more about what’s coming in Spree 2.0 and how to apply it to your store. We also have a great lineup of speakers from both the e-commerce and Ruby communities. Don’t miss your chance to meet the Spree core team in person and to connect with the rest of the Spree Community. Get $75 off with code “GUIDES” when registering at the link below.

IRC 101 - Realtime Spree Talk

Posted on March 20, 2013 by Andrew Hooker

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a protocol for live chat designed primarily for group communication via discussion forums called channels or rooms. Spree has had an IRC channel since April 2008, and it has been a valuable resource for Spree users to get help quickly and to get to know other community members better. It’s not unusual to have several core team members, creators of Spree extensions, Spree users, and even general Rails developers present in the Spree IRC room at the same time. There’s typically between 30 and 50 people in the room, and there is usually somebody available no matter what time of day.

Read below to get started using IRC and communicating with the Spree community.

The Easy Ways

If you have an IRC client installed, Click Here and it should automatically connect.

If you don’t have an IRC client installed, Click Here to use a web-based client to access the Freenode IRC network.

Pick a nickname, fill out the CAPTCHA, and click connect. You should be in the Spree room ready to talk!

Becoming a More Permanent Resident

There are a variety of IRC clients available on every platform imaginable. A few that we recommend are WeeChat (Mac, Linux), Pidgin (Mac, Linux, Windows), and XChat (Linux, Windows). It’s fairly simple to use most of these clients. They normally save your nickname and all your configuration settings, so all you have to do is launch the app to be connected. The vital information you’ll need to get it configured is below. Freenode is a large enough network, that many clients actually come preconfigured for it, so it’s simple to get started.

Vital Information for Expert Users

If you have an IRC client installed, Click Here and it should automatically connect.

If you want to set up your configuration manually, here are the settings:
IRC Network: Freenode
IRC Server: morgan.freenode.net
Port: 6667
Channel: #spree

Getting More out of IRC

Once you’re comfortable with IRC, you might look to get more out of it. Part of the value of IRC is there are a wide variety of channels on the network (over 13,500 at the time of this post), covering a wide variety of topics. Most clients will show you the list by simply typing /list in the web chat. The list will print in the “Status” tab. Some large channels that might be interesting to give you inspiration: #jquery, #rubyonrails, #postgresql, #mysql, #css. There are channels on virtually every topic imaginable, so check out the list and find things that interest you.

Hope to see you in the Spree IRC room soon!

How to Optimize Your Spree Store for Search Engines

Posted on March 07, 2013 by Eric Hochberger

Alarm Grid Home Security is using Spree to build traffic and trust! When we started Alarm Grid, we made the decision that all of our store-building efforts would go toward 1) increasing trust, 2) improving consumer experience, and 3) improving our rankings for important keyword buckets.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

So… First things first, we got our store up and running. After considering all of our options, we settled on… Spree… YIPPEE!

As an SEO consultant who has worked with some pretty big brands, my job has often been to go into companies whose bottom line is doing a-ok and explain to their tech team why what they’re doing is inadequate. You’d be amazed how many Fortune 500 companies don’t have their house in order when it comes to search optimization.

In the case of Spree, so much is done right out of the box, optimizing the site was a delight. I found myself getting to add features in support of SEO rather than asking our technical team to make deletions to the system because some programmer took a terrible shortcut back in the day.

Content Types

Every site has different types of content. A good content baseline would include products and probably some sort of blog. But if you want to improve your SEO ranking using a system driven by content, you can probably think of a lot more content types than just the two.

If you’re not an SEO expert, or haven’t ever wrapped your head around the idea of content types, it’s pretty simple. Google only reads text, so in that sense, all content is the same. But Google categorizes text, so if it can tell that the text is a video transcript, a list of times or details about an event, or information and prices about a product (or even a review about that product which is a different content type entirely), it will treat the content very differently. You can get a good, comprehensive list of content types and everything that Google wants to see within them at schema.org.

Alarm Grid started with products, like any e-commerce store would. Spree handles that pretty well out of the box.

Then, we added product manuals by importing documents from Alarm Grid’s Scribd account using the Scribd API. We then built an entire system in the backend to handle our user’s security FAQs, of which we have collected more than 10,000 (we haven’t answered them all, but we have that many we’re trying to get to). And we extended our products using the official Spree review extension. To date, we have collected more than 100 user-generated reviews. Using YouTube, we uploaded videos to our YouTube channel and then put them up on our site as a new content type. Since Google can’t see or hear what’s in videos, we have gone through the considerable effort of transcribing them, and making sure that our most important videos are surrounded by good content marked up by schema.

Flat URLs and Taxon Design

My philosophy is that URLs should be as short and sweet as possible. I like nested URLs, but they can cause some problems, not to mention that any benefit gained from the signal a nested URL sends to Google can be gained by a good bunch of hyperlinked, on-page breadcrumbs. And in the case of Spree, as you’ll see, a flat URL structure gives you a lot more flexibility as you grow your site into the behemoth you always know it can be.

The result of our flat URL structure is wonderful. My team can move taxons anywhere they want. Which means if a taxon was mis-categorized 8 months ago, I don’t have to worry about re-categorizing it today, because when I move my taxon, the integrity of my URLs is preserved.

The code? Pretty simple thanks to Ruby, class_eval and decorators.

Canonical URLs

Adding a rel=“canonical” to the header of your site will ensure that the URL on your site is appropriately understood by Google. Simply put, Google sees http://www.site.com/subdirectory as an entirely different page than http://www.site.com/subdirectory?=somevariable. Now, sometimes that will be a new page with new content. But at other times that variable is nothing more than information you were trying to extract or preserve. Using the rel=“canonical”, however, you can tell Google that the URLs are to be treated as the same URL.

It’s a little more complicated to patch canonical URLs into Spree. MVC critics may argue with our method, but we set the canonical inside the controllers using filters and output them via an override. Relevant code on gist.

Full-site SSL

We are a security company, so it’s no surprise that we opted to overengineer the security of our own website. Oftentimes, sites will only put SSL in the portions of their site that are taking down credit card information. We went the extra mile and wrapped our entire site in SSL. Google used to have a lot of trouble with SSL. I would never have done this only 2 years ago, but Google is getting better and better, and their capabilities are much better than ever before. We are finding that Google loves SSL. In fact, it’s removed duplicates that the https vs http URLs that not even canonicals could fix. Relevant gist to get Spree to do this.

Duplicate content

Out of the box, Spree needs a little bit of duplicate content cleanup. For example, in the default template, both the homepage and the /products page are exactly the same thing. They display the same products, have the same pagination, and probably the same text. You can get around this in a few ways. The first thing you can do is disable or make inaccessible to crawlers one of the two pages, you can change the homepage so it’s different than the product page, or you can add tons and tons of completely different text to the two pages. Google will read the text, and the fact that they list the same products stops mattering as much. We fixed up our homepage and will soon also be adding content to the taxon pages. If you can help it, you should add as much content to internal pages as you can.

Hope that helps!

We’re not done. We are going to do as much as we can to turn out unique and wonderful, interactive content. We’re not sure what the future holds for our site, but whatever it is, it’s going to be creative, and it’s going to be built with help from Spree.

Anyhow, good luck! We are excited to be members of the Spree family and are happy to continually contribute to the development of our favorite ecommerce system.

Thanks Spree!

Shop the Alarm Grid website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

New Split Shipments Branch

Posted on February 27, 2013 by Sean Schofield

Coming Soon: Split Shipments!

We’ve been grappling with the issue of complex Spree stores that require sophisticated shipping and warehouse logic for several years now. While it has always been manageable to get this to work on individual store basis, a more general solution that would be useful for all stores has always eluded us (until now). We’re in the early stages, and it’s still very much a work in progress, but in the next version of Spree we’re going to be able to have that long sought after multiple shipment functionality.

Our Team is Hard at Work

Yesterday we kicked off an intensive all day hackathon to pick up on the considerable work already done by Chris Mar (shown below briefing some of our team members). We’re going to be working hard to finish the first cut this week and we will post a more detailed update once we’re done.

If you’re curious about what the code looks like you can follow along on the new split_shipments branch. We’re also pulling our community manager into the effort so we may be a little slower than normal this week getting to your questions and issues.

What type of improvements to shipping/warehouse/inventory functionality would you like to see?

Exploits found within Core and API

Posted on January 31, 2013 by Ryan Bigg

Please upgrade your Spree stores now to their latest gem versions 1.3.2, 1.2.4, 1.1.5 or 1.0.7.

Thanks to the work of Egor Homakov, we have located and patched two serious exploits within Spree.

The first allows a user to authenticate as a random user to the API, which could
potentially lead them to authenticating as an admin user for the store. The
second allows them to issue a Denial of Service attack against the store using
an especially crafted URL.

We have patched the 1-0-stable, 1-1-stable, 1-2-stable, 1-3-stable and master
branches for Spree, as well as released new gem versions for the stable
branches.

We strongly advise all Spree stores to upgrade to their latest gem versions so
that they are not affected by these exploits.

Checkout API Enhancements

Posted on January 29, 2013 by John Dyer

The Spree team has been working hard the last few months to make our API really robust. In November we announced the complete refactoring of the API to include a brand new Backbone.js based administration interface and a new documentation site. We are now adding the ability to checkout an order using the API. Using the “CheckoutsController” feature the API will allow an existing order to be updated and advanced until it is in the complete state following these steps:

Creating a New, Empty Order

You can create a new, empty order by making the following request:

POST /api/checkouts

Advancing an Order’s State

To advance an order to the next state, make the following request:

PUT /api/checkouts/ORDER_NUMBER

If successful, this will advance the order’s state and return the order specified in the request. Otherwise, this will return any errors on the order. Note that while the API documentation for checkouts was written with the default Spree checkout flow in mind, this will work with custom order states you may have implemented. You can also select a shipping method and payment method while advancing your order. For details on how to do this, review the Checkout API documentation.

Try Out the Checkout API Feature

The Checkout API feature is available now and is on the 1-3-stable branch. Feel free to give it a try and please report any feedback or issues. Detailed information about the Checkout API is covered in our documentation.

How will online sales tax affect businesses?

Posted on January 23, 2013 by Erin Granville

Most online businesses already have to collect sales tax on some transactions. If your business has a physical presence in a state with sales tax—even if it’s just your home office—you’re required to collect sales tax from residents of that state.

But Congress may soon expand that by allowing any state to require online businesses to collect sales tax, no matter where the business is located. In fact, three bills to that effect were introduced in the last session of Congress, and a new one is expected to be introduced early this year. We can’t know exactly what the new bill will include, but we can make reasonable guesses based on the three previous bills.

So if you have an online business, what will online sales tax collection mean for you?

Will you have to collect sales tax?

All three previous bills exempted some businesses from collecting sales tax, and the new one is likely to do the same. You will probably only have to collect sales tax if all of the following statements are true for you:

  • You sell to residents of a state with sales tax
  • That state has simplified its sales tax laws as the bill requires
  • That state has chosen to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax
  • You do not qualify for the small seller exemption. We don’t yet know how “small seller” will be defined in the new legislation, but the most popular previous bill exempted sellers with less than $500,000 in annual remote sales.

If even one of these statements is not true, you most likely won’t have to collect sales tax.

When will you have to start collecting?

Like the previous bills, the new bill will have a timeline describing when states may receive collection authority—that is, the authority to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax. Once a state has collection authority, it can require a retailer in any other state to collect sales tax.

But for most online retailers, the timeline won’t really matter. A customer could be from any state, and if that state has already received collection authority, you’ll have to collect sales tax from the customer.

In other words, you’ll need to be ready to collect sales tax as soon as the first state receives collection authority. You never know where your next customer could be located.

So when will the first state receive collection authority? While we can’t know for certain, it’s reasonable to expect the new bill’s timeline to be similar to those in previous bills.

First, keep in mind that, like every previous bill, the new bill will almost certainly say that a state’s sales tax laws must be simplified before it can receive collection authority. The twenty-four states that are currently members of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA) have already simplified their sales tax laws, so they will be the first to receive collection authority.

SSUTA states may be able to require you to collect sales tax on the first day of the calendar quarter at least 90 days after the legislation passes. Which means that you’ll need to be ready to collect sales tax three months after the bill becomes law.

Non-SSUTA states may be able to receive collection authority on the first day of the calendar quarter six months after they simplify their sales tax laws. Note that for non-SSUTA states, the collection authority date is based on when the state simplifies its sales tax laws, not on when the bill becomes law. But again, you’ll need to be ready to collect sales tax on the first collection authority date, likely only 90 days after the bill passes.

The previous bills required states to notify retailers in advance about when they’ll need to start collecting, and new legislation is expected to do the same.

What’s involved in collecting sales tax?

Collecting sales tax is essentially composed of three tasks: calculation, collection, and remittance.

First, you need to calculate the sales tax due for your customer’s location. This means using the state and local tax rates for the customer’s home address and not including tax-exempt items as your customer’s tax jurisdiction requires.

Next, you need to collect the sales tax due. This also includes tracking how much sales tax you collect from each customer on each purchase, so that you can remit the correct amount of sales tax to each state.

Finally, you need to remit the sales tax you’ve collected to the appropriate states through a monthly sales tax return. Keep in mind that if you’ve registered to collect sales tax in a particular state, you must submit a monthly sales tax return for that state, whether or not you’re remitting any sales tax that month.

Fortunately, there are ways to automate each of these steps, including tools that your shopping cart provider may offer and services that handle everything for you. In the next post in this series, we’ll look at the different methods available to make online sales tax collection easy for retailers.

About the Author

Erin Granville is Communications Editor at FedTax, the proud creator of TaxCloud.
TaxCloud is a free, easy-to-use sales tax management service for retailers. It handles every aspect of sales tax, from calculation to collection to filing—all at no cost for retailers.

TaxCloud can be easily integrated into most accounting, order management, and shopping cart systems. It has been evaluated by states and an independent review board and has been designated one of only six Certified Service Providers in the nation.

Check out the Spree TaxCloud extension written by Spree Community member Jerrold Thompson to integrate TaxCloud with your Spree store.

Online sales tax law changes the sales tax situation

Posted on January 16, 2013 by Erin Granville

Right now, online retailers only have to collect sales tax for states where they have a physical presence. But many expect Congress to change that.

In the previous session of Congress, which ended on January 3, three bills were introduced to give states the authority to require online retailers to collect sales tax, no matter where the business is located. All three expired with the end of the congressional session, but the most popular—the Marketplace Fairness Act—is expected to be reintroduced early this year.

So what can we expect from online sales tax legislation this year?

Any new legislation is likely to include the provisions that all three previous bills included:

  • States that meet certain conditions will have the authority to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax
  • States must simplify their sales tax laws before they are granted that authority
  • Small out-of-state businesses will be exempt from collecting sales tax, so that they are protected from any requirements that could be a burden

What we don’t yet know is how new legislation will address the two areas where the old bills disagreed: how states can meet the simplification requirements and how to define “small business.”

Meeting the Simplification Requirements

It’s a near-certainty that states will have to simplify their sales tax laws if they want to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax. What remains to be seen is how an online sales tax law will allow states to meet those simplification requirements.

Two ways have been proposed in previous bills. One is simply to list simplification measures in the bill itself and require states to make sure their laws include those simplifications before they can receive collection authority.

Another option requires states to adopt the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA), a set of guidelines created by states and the business community to make it easier for retailers to collect sales tax for multiple states. It focuses on simplifying and standardizing sales tax rules—so that, for instance, a Snickers bar isn’t taxed as candy in one state and as food in another. The SSUTA rules tend to be more in-depth than the bills’ simplification measures.

The Marketplace Fairness Act actually allowed states to use either method to simplify their sales tax laws, so that’s a possibility for future legislation as well. And the twenty-four states that have already joined SSUTA will probably be among the first to receive collection authority in any case, since they will have already simplified their sales tax laws as the legislation is likely to require.

The Small Seller Exemption

Everyone agrees that small businesses should not be required to collect out-of-state sales tax. Where everyone seems to disagree is what qualifies a business as “small.”

Here’s how the three previous bills set the definition of “small seller”:

  • The Marketplace Fairness Act: Businesses with less than $500,000 in annual remote (out-of-state) sales are exempt from collecting out-of-state sales tax.
  • The Main Street Fairness Act: The Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board (the administrative arm of SSUTA) determines the “small seller” threshold, currently pegged at $500,000 in annual remote sales.
  • The Marketplace Equity Act: Sellers with less than $1 million in annual remote sales are exempt from collecting out-of-state sales tax. In addition, businesses are exempt from collecting for a particular state if their annual sales to that state are less than $100,000.

If the Marketplace Fairness Act is reintroduced, as most expect, its exemption level of $500,000 could remain intact. However, it’s impossible to know for sure until the new legislation is introduced this year.

It’s important to remember that no online sales tax bill creates a new tax or raises taxes (since sales tax is already due on online purchases). They do, however, create new responsibilities for some businesses. In the next post in this series, we’ll look at what online sales tax would mean for these businesses. And if you missed last week’s sales tax post, make sure to check out Why don’t online retailers collect sales tax?

About the Author

Erin Granville is Communications Editor at FedTax, the proud creator of TaxCloud.
TaxCloud is a free, easy-to-use sales tax management service for retailers. It handles every aspect of sales tax, from calculation to collection to filing—all at no cost for retailers.

TaxCloud can be easily integrated into most accounting, order management, and shopping cart systems. It has been evaluated by states and an independent review board and has been designated one of only six Certified Service Providers in the nation.

Check out the Spree TaxCloud extension written by Spree Community member Jerrold Thompson to integrate TaxCloud with your Spree store.

API Improvements

Posted on November 07, 2012 by Brian Quinn

Moving the API forward

We’ve been focusing on our API a lot recently, and several different projects have helped improve it significantly. We’ve also discovered a number of areas where we’d like to make some minor and major improvements. We’d like to share some of our plans with the community in an effort to get feedback, suggestions, ideas and help.

Recent Improvements

First I’d like to cover some of the recent changes and improvements we’ve completed:

Complete Refactoring

Our SpreeWorks product includes a brand new Backbone.js based administration interface and it required a major restructing of the old REST API. Ryan Bigg (our Community Manager) rebuilt the API from the ground up to meet the needs of the SpreeWorks project, and extended it to cover a much larger part of Spree’s overall application interface.

New Documentation Site

api.sprecommerce.com was created and launched (again by Ryan) as a brand new documentation project that covers almost every detail of the current API. This site is fully open source and available for your submissions here, with thanks to GitHub for open sourcing their API documentation project.

Upcoming Improvements

A lot of work has already gone into the new API and we’ve a whole range of new improvements planned:

Search Everywhere

Ransack has proven to be an awesome addition to Spree, and it’s proved amazingly powerful when coupled with the API. We plan to include Ransack searching capabilities on RESTful index actions, and we are going to remove the now redundant “search” actions.

Easier Template Overrides

We’ve been using RABL templates with the most recent version of the API and they’ve really helped simplify the rendering process. To enable easier output customization we’re going to allow every call to an action to supply a `template` param which will render the named template supplied.

Better Versioning

While the current API does provide some means for versioning we’ve not yet started incrementing the versions as we still consider it a work in progress. We’re reviewing several options to help make versioning simpler including VersionCake.

Better Checkout Support

Currently the API uses individual actions for each checkout state, which requires a lot of customization if you are using a custom checkout state_machine. We’re going to replace these methods with a more RESTful approach where the `update` method will accept any number of calls to migrate an order through it’s state machine.

Caching

A lot of Spree’s data is very well suited to aggressive caching, so we’re going to review some interesting caching options provided by RABL.

Long Term Goals

We’ve recognized over the passing months that the API is slowing becoming the center of many Spree implementations and we’re embracing this approach.

Work is already underway to remove all json responses from Admin controllers in favour of reusing the API directly. While this adds the API as a dependency of core it also prevents double-implementation of certain features to support javascript heavy features in the admin UI.

Longer term we plan to review the options around having all interactions from Spree’s own UI controllers routed through the API, thus providing a single location for all interactions within Spree.

Having the API become the central hub of Spree will enable the creation of applications using a wider range of technologies and languages, for things like native mobile applications, client-side store implementations, etc.

Feedback Required

As you can see we’ve got a lot of really interesting developments in the pipeline and we’re keen to get your feedback and involvement. If you’ve got something constructive to add to the conversation, now is the time to be heard:

Comment below, post to Spree User or stalk us on IRC!

Complete Redesign of Spree Analytics

Posted on July 16, 2012 by Sean Schofield

We’re pleased to announce a completely redesigned version of the analytics dashboard that ships with Spree. This dashboard is automatically available to all stores running Spree 1.0.x or higher and will be displayed in your admin panel without having to take any steps to upgrade.

The above screenshot doesn’t really do the new interface justice. You’ll have to see it in action to get a sense for how great the improvements are. If you are running a version of Spree prior to 1.0.x you can still get the analytics functionality by using the spree_analytics extension. Let us know what you think!

Missing Features in Spree

Posted on June 18, 2012 by Sean Schofield

Someone recently complained on the spree-user mailing list that they were disappointed with the lack of certain i18n features in Spree. We certainly have no problem with constructive criticism and we often have friendly debates about the merits of including/excluding a particular feature. I did, however, think this was a good opportunity to provide a more detailed answer to the following general question:

“Why is feature X not currently in Spree?”

  • You’re the only one to ask for it
  • You’re part of a vocal minority that feels strongly about it
  • You’re not willing to help implement it
  • You’re not willing to help us understand your idea
  • Including your idea would make it harder to maintain other useful features
  • It could be easily handled by writing an extension
  • It is not a problem specific to e-commerce (or Spree)
  • There is no consensus on the best solution

No decision is final

If the feature you’re looking for is not in Spree, it’s usually the result of an intentional decision as opposed to an oversight. That doesn’t mean our decision is final or that we don’t welcome additional discussion on the matter. If you’re willing to keep an open mind during the discussion you can expect thoughtful consideration by the members of our community.

Custom Authentication

Posted on May 31, 2012 by Ryan Bigg

One of the more requested features we get for Spree is the ability to combine Spree with an existing application’s User model. Currently, Spree does not allow you to do that. With the work we’ve been doing on the
auth-take-two branch for Spree, this will now be possible. All you will need to do is to follow the steps in this short guide and you
can have your application set up with Spree using your custom authentication.

Please submit feedback to the pull request page.

Last Call for 1.0 Bug Fixes

Posted on January 31, 2012 by Sean Schofield

We’ve just released a brand new Spree release candidate (1.0.0.rc3) as we prepare for the final 1.0.0 release. We have made quite a few minor fixes since the previous release candidate.

There are still a few known issues we’re working on but we’re asking everyone to try out this new gem and report any problems you find. We’ll be iterating on this very quickly in the next few days. Once we have a release candidate out there for 48 hours with no show-stopping issues we’ll do the final 1.0 release.

We had hoped to release 1.0 final before the end of this month but we’re going to take an extra few days to make sure everything is nice and stable. In the meantime we’ll be updating the guides and doing a few blog posts to get you ready.

Introducing Spree Analytics

Posted on January 31, 2012 by Sean Schofield

We’re pleased to announce that Spree now has a great new analytics dashboard powered by our friends at Jirafe. The dashboard is available by default in the upcoming 1.0 release but it is also available as an extension for older versions of Spree.

This is basically a replacement for the old Spree dashboard and relies on a real-time analytics service. You will need an activation key to use this free service. Get your activation key now by registering for a user account on spreecommerce.com and registering your store. Store registration is completely private – your store will not appear in the showcase or any other public venue. More details on registration can be found in the Getting Started guide.

Since this is integrated into 1.0.x there is nothing to install. If you are using earlier versions of Spree, however, there is a stand-alone spree_analytics extension that works with Spree versions 0.70.x and 0.60.×.

If you’re not interested in the new analytics functionality you can always use the “legacy” dashboard which does not require the authorization token. Check out the spree_simple_dash extension if you’re interested.

Important Security Updates (Oct. 2011)

Posted on October 24, 2011 by Sean Schofield

Over the past several weeks there have been several important security updates to Rails as well as Spree. The most recent Spree security announcement describes a critical vulnerability that affects all but the very latest versions of Spree. All affected users are advised to upgrade immediately.

We have also implemented a new mechanism to inform Spree developers and store owners of potential security threats before they are announced on the mailing list. We have created an alerts feature that will perform an automated check against your version of Rails and Spree and inform you of any potential security problems. We believe this feature is so important that we’ve gone back and implemented it for previous versions of Spree as well.

Please consult the following list of scenarios to find out what the recommendations are for your particular version of Spree.

Edge/Master

No action required.

0.70.1

No action required.

0.70.0

Its recommended that you update to 0.70.1. There are no known vulnerabilities with 0.70.0 but version 0.70.1 contains the new security alert mechansim to keep you informed of issues in the future.

0.60.3

It is recommended that you update to 0.60.4. The are no security issues with Spree itself but this version of Spree does use a version of Rails that is considered to be insecure. By updating this verison of Spree you will move to the more secure Rails 3.0.10.

0.60.0 – 0.60.2

It is recommended that you update to 0.60.4. These versions of Spree have a critical vulnerability and they are also using insecure versions of Rails.

0.50.0 – 0.50.3

It is recommended that you update to 0.50.4 at a minimum. This will address a critical vulnerability in Spree but will still leave possible issues with the version of Rails. You should consider updating to Spree 0.60.4 which will also address the Rails security issues by updating you to Rails 3.0.10.

0.40.0 – 0.40.3

It is recommended that you update to 0.40.4 at a minimum. This will address a critical vulnerability in Spree but will still leave possible issues with the version of Rails. You should consider updating to Spree 0.60.4 which will also address the Rails security issues by updating you to Rails 3.0.10.

0.30.0 – 0.30.1

It is recommended that you update to 0.30.2 at a minimum. This will address a critical vulnerability in Spree but will still leave possible issues with the version of Rails. You should consider updating to Spree 0.60.4 which will also address the Rails security issues by updating you to Rails 3.0.10.

0.11.0 – 0.11.2

It is recommended that you update to 0.11.3. This will address a critical vulnerability in Spree and will also address issues with older versions of Rails that contain security problems. After upgrading you will be moved to the more secure Rails 2.3.14.

Versions prior to 0.11.0

Recommended that you update to 0.11.3

Spree now Running on Travis-CI

Posted on September 20, 2011 by Sean Schofield

Spree is pleased to announce that we are now running all of our tests on Travis-Ci. This is a cool service provided free of charge to open source projects. Every time a new commit is made to the Spree repository in Github, Travis will automatically run all of the rspec and cucumber tests for us. You can see the live test results on their website.

Currently the tests are only running for Ruby 1.8.7 and Sqlite but in the near future we’ll also be running the tests against Ruby 1.9.2 as well as Postgres and MySql. Ruby 1.9.2 is not officially supported right now but that is one of our top priorities.

New Extension Versioning Mechanism

Posted on March 28, 2011 by Sean Schofield

We’re pleased to announce a new mechanism for versioning Spree extensions to simplify the determination process of which version of an extension to use for a particular version of Spree. Once you’ve established that an extension you’re interested in works with the Spree version you’re using, there is still the challenge of figuring out how to "install" the right version of the extension in your application. We spent some time thinking through that challenge as well as looking at similar projects that support extensions such as Drupal.

Ultimately we wanted something that was simple to implement and understand. Just as important, the solution needed to be simple to maintain or people wouldn’t bother keeping it up to date. We didn’t want to require an extension author to have multiple branches or tags in their Github repository if the same branch or tag effectively worked on multiple versions of Spree. Our solution was to introduce a concept known as the Versionfile.

The basic concept is that you add a file with the name Versionfile to the root of your extension source code. The file is a simple Ruby hash which maps versions of Spree to a "point in time release" of the source code. If you have published your extension as a gem then this will map to the exact gem version you pushed to Rubygems. What’s even cooler is that you don’t need to actually release your code as a gem to share it with the world. Just identify an exact point in "git history" as the release point.

The extension registry now reads these files directly from Github and parses them for version information. This process allows for automatic updating of all extensions based on the Versionfile. We’ve also done away with the confusing "voting system" that we used to indicate whether or not an extension was working with a particular version. This biggest problem with community voting was that even if it were determined that an extension was compatible with a particular version of Spree, there was no easy way to identify which version of the extension to use or how to get the source.

We’ll be going through some of the old extensions and adding this information. We encourage extension authors to do the same. For more information please also see the new documentation on Versionfile.

New spree_social extension

Posted on February 15, 2011 by Brian Quinn

Spree’s social integration has taken a great leap forward recently with the release of the spree_social extension. Development has been underway since late last year and was carried out primarily by one of the more recent Rails Dog pack members John Brien.

Current Features

The current release focuses on integrating Spree’s authenication system with major social networks and community sites, it provides the basis for several new social features to follow in the coming months. When configured users can auto-login to a Spree store using their Facebook, Twitter or GitHub accounts, with Google/GMail, LinkedIn and Yahoo! support to come soon.

Core Changes

spree_social necessitated several major core improvements including a migration to Devise (and the retirement of authlogic), which was previously released as part of Spree 0.40.0. This has given Spree a more open and extendable authenication platform that developers can now use to extend Spree in new and exciting ways.

Installation

Installation is very straightforward and well documented in the extensions README. Each authentication source can be configured via the administration system (see Configuration > Social Network Providers), and is flexible to support several combinations of providers in development and production modes.

spree_social is already in-the-wild and has been deployed in several production Spree stores, for more visit: https://github.com/spree/spree_social. You will also see it in the new and improved Spree demo which will be launching soon.

PayPal Express support updated for 0.40.x

Posted on February 10, 2011 by Brian Quinn

We’re glad to announce that Spree’s PayPal Express extension has been updated to support the latest edge version of Spree, which will soon be released as 0.40.3.

eCheck & IPN Support

The 0.11.x version of the extension has had basic eCheck and Instant Payment Notification support for sometime now, and this release also makes these features available for the 0.40.3 and later versions of Spree. See the documentation for more on configuring eCheck & IPN support.

Less Code

As part of this update the code has been reworked and we’ve reduced and simplied the code extensively. All Active Merchant monkey-patches have been completely removed and we’re now depending directly on the release version of ActiveMerchant (1.9.0). We’ve also refactored the checkout controller additions to use the new standard decorator approach.

Specs

This release also includes some initial specs covering the Checkout controller features, with more specs to follow for IPN shortly.

Repo

Finally spree_paypal_express has been renamed and given a new home under the Spree organization on GitHub, to bring in line with the other recently updated official extensions.

The newly updated extension can be found here
https://github.com/spree/spree_paypal_express.

Devise Authentication

Posted on December 21, 2010 by Sean Schofield

The edge code has just been updated to use the new Devise gem for authentication, replacing the previous solution of Authlogic. People who have been following the source code closely will recall that we attempted this switch earlier but backed away from it once we encountered various difficulties. So what made us decide to try again?

The first reason is that we were given assurances from Devise author, Jose Valim, that it would be possible to provide all of the customization options that we would require. The second reason is that we came to realize that the migration to Devise would make it easier to allow authentication via social networking services. Such work is already underway in the new spree_social gem.

We have updated the security guide in the edge documentation to reflect these recent changes as well as some new documentation on the Cancan permissions system that we introduced in the Spree 0.30.x release. Special thanks to John Brien, (Rails Dog’s newest hire), who has been working tirelessly on this effort.

JSON Hijacking Vulnerability

Posted on November 02, 2010 by Sean Schofield

The Spree team was recently alerted to a potential security vulnerability related to so-called JSON Hijacking. The potential exploit involves using social engineering to induce an administrator who is logged into Spree to visit a web page that contains code designed to exploit the vulnerability. If an authenticated admin loads a page containing this code in their browser it could expose sensitive user and order information via a JSON security exploit.

Most versions of Spree are affected including all versions of 0.11.x and the latest edge code for the upcoming 0.30.×. If you are running on an edge version of Spree, please update to the latest source code which includes these two important fixes.

Anyone using a previously released version of Spree is strongly encouraged to upgrade to the brand new 0.11.2 release. The new 0.11.2 release contains two crucial commits needed to address this vulnerability. The complete set of changes for the 0.11.2 release can be viewed in Github.

This is not a particularly new vulnerability nor is it unique to Spree. There is a very detailed blog post outlining the specifics of JSON Hijacking if you wish to read up on it further.

Special thanks to Conviso Security for reporting the problem to us as well as the team at Locaweb for helping us to test the fix. This was another great example of the OS community working together to report and fix security issues in a timely manner. Remember, if you spot a security issue, please do not report it in a public forum or issue tracker. Send an email to security@railsdog.com so we can address the issue before publicizing the vulnerability.

New and Improved Extension Registry

Posted on November 01, 2010 by Sean Schofield

The Spree team is proud to announce the new and improved Extension Registry. We’ve been working on this off and on for a few months now but we recently made it a priority since we’re going to need a good way to track Spree 0.30.x compatible extensions. The new extension registry is integrated right into the Spree site so you can use the same account to maintain your extensions and to list your Spree sites in the showcase. We’ve also changed the login to use your email (instead of a separate login field) so please use the password reset and remember to login with your email address if you’re having trouble accessing your account.

The new version of the registry has several improvements over the previous incarnation. The first improvement is the ability to add comments. This will allow users to add little bits of advice etc. to help with usage and development efforts for the various extensions. We’re also integrating with the Github and RubyGems services so it will be easier to get information on the source code and gem versions. Finally, we have a simple voting system which will allow owners and users of extensions to assert compatibility with a particular version of Spree. Users can override the opinion of the extension author if enough of them agree. Hopefully this will lead to a higher degree of confidence whenever you find an extension that is "green" for the version of Spree you’re interested in.

We’ve got a lot more ideas for the extension registry moving forward but we decided to push out what we have rather than waiting for it to be perfect. Ultimately we’d like to see more support for identifying viable forks and for allowing other users to "take over" maintenance of an extension (and change the official repo location.) It would also be nice to mark certain extensions as "abandoned" or "defunct" when they are superseded by new extensions or when their functionality is incorporated into Spree itself.

Special thanks to Zac Williams for his hard work on getting this built. In a few short days you should start to see more Spree 0.30.x compatible extensions listed as we start to go through them and add them to the registry.

Github Pull Requests Now Welcome

Posted on October 01, 2010 by Sean Schofield

A few weeks ago, the great folks at Github announced a drastically improved version of "pull requests." Up until this point we’ve been discouraging Spree users from sending us pull requests (even going as far as to warn users that "Github pull requests will be ignored.") We’re pleased to announce that this will no longer the case. In fact, Github pull requests will likely be encouraged going forward.

The Github team has also been kind enough to write up some great documentation on working with pull requests. Contributions should still be performed on topic branches in your personal forks – just issue your pull requests from there. We’re also asking that you continue to log important issues for non-trivial patches in our lighthouse repository. You can just link the pull request in the ticket (and link the ticket in the pull request.)

The Rails core team has already embraced accepting contributions via pull request – let’s see how this works for our project!

New I18n Project

Posted on April 29, 2010 by Sean Schofield

We would like to announce the creation of a new spree-i18n being hosted in Github. This is a stand alone project where we intend to recruit a large number of volunteer committers to maintain the locale files. This is basically the same approach followed by the Rails project which keeps their localizations in rails-i18n.

The project is actually a Spree extension. This extension contains
translations only. The rest of code needed to support the i18n features
is part of the Spree core. You will now need to install the spree-i18n
extension (or simply copy just the relevant locale files) if you want to
use any of the community supplied translations of Spree. Please see the
i18n documentation for further details.

The core team is still 100% committed to outstanding i18n support. We’re asking the Spree community to help us to maintain the locale files as you have done for us in the past. Now it will be even easier to do so because we will be giving our volunteers direct access to the repository so that these changes can be made immediately without waiting for the core team to apply patches.

Over the next few days we’ll be going through old commits and automatically adding previous locale committers to the new project. If you would like to become a new volunteer or if we’ve left you off the list, please send a request to spree-user and we’ll be glad to add you.

New on Edge: Refactored Checkout (Again)

Posted on January 13, 2010 by Sean Schofield

For those of you following the "edge" version of Spree, you probably noticed a massive new commit that introduced a much anticipated refactoring of the checkout process. These changes are significant and will likely require some modifications to your custom site extension in order to upgrade to the latest version of Spree. The refactoring was the result of additional real world experience building Spree sites as well as extensive developer feedback.

Checkout Gets a State Machine

One of the first major changes was the inclusion of a new state machine for the Checkout model.


<p>state_machine :initial =&gt; &#8216;address&#8217; do<br />
  after_transition :to =&gt; &#8216;complete&#8217;, :do =&gt; :complete_order<br />
  before_transition :to =&gt; &#8216;complete&#8217;, :do =&gt; :process_payment<br />
  event :next do<br />
    transition :to =&gt; &#8216;delivery&#8217;, :from  =&gt; &#8216;address&#8217;<br />
    transition :to =&gt; &#8216;payment&#8217;, :from =&gt; &#8216;delivery&#8217;<br />
    transition :to =&gt; &#8216;complete&#8217;, :from =&gt; &#8216;payment&#8217;<br />
  end<br />
end</p>

The state machine offers a standard approach for customizing the checkout steps and their sequence.

picture-14
Each step is rendered with a partial of the same name and the steps themselves are automatically transformed into a "progress train" that can be used for navigation. The look and feel of the progress train can be customized (or omitted) by your site theme and the logic for constructing it can be tweaked in your site extension.

Simplified Custom Controller Logic

The CheckoutsController now provides its own “hook mechanism” (not to be confused with theme hooks) which allow for the developer to perform additional logic (or to change the default) logic that is applied during the edit and/or update operation for a particular step. The Spree::Checkout::Hooks module provides this additional functionality and makes use of methods provided by the resource_controller gem.

The CheckoutsController will automatically call an edit_hook (if one is defined) before moving on to the standard edit functionality for a particular step. There is also a corresponding update_hook that can be used to execute additional functionality during an update. Both hooks can accept either a symbol (which is the name of a method) or a block.

The CheckoutsController itself makes limited use of these hooks – its expected that developers will add their own through a site extension. Here’s an example of an edit_hook defined in checkouts_controller.rb:


<p>delivery.edit_hook :load_available_methods</p>

This tells the controller to call load_available_methods before presenting the standard edit form for the delivery step. The hook will be called only during the delivery step – it is ignored for all other steps. In this specific case, Spree uses the hook to load all available shipping methods.

Perhaps more interestingly, hooks can also be appended to. In other words, if you wanted to perform some additional logic before presenting the delivery form, you could add something like the following in your site extension.


<p>delivery.edit_hook &lt;&lt; :perform_additional_logic</p>

Please see the documentation for more details on hooks and the rest of the checkout architecture.

Back to Multi Step

The other major change is that Spree is moving back to a multi step checkout as the default. Previous versions of Spree have experimented with a single page checkout similar to the one offered by Magento. After building several sites with the single step we decided to abandon it for several reasons.

  1. Single page approach requires javascript in order to checkout. Our new checkout makes minimal use of javascript (ex. populating the list of states based on countries) but it degrades nicely and is not required to move between checkout states.
  2. Old approach was very difficult to customize. The old checkout.js file was 500+ lines of code and growing. We’re not interested in debugging javascript everytime we make a change to the checkout process.
  3. Some of the previous issues with multi step no longer apply. Thanks to the Rails inclusion of nested attributes and some interesting third party work done on partial model validation, we’re no longer facing many of the issues that initially motivated us to try the single page checkout.

Moving Forward

We’re hoping to eventually support an simplified single page checkout based on the new state machine approach. The idea would be to use AJAX to render the individual steps and to simulate the effects of the multi page process. We’re interested in offering our users the flexibility to use either the multi step or single step approach. Contributions are always welcome.

Even though this is a non trivial change to how checkout is handled we definitely feel its worth the potential disruption to allow future development (and upgrades) to be less painful. Enjoy!

New on Edge: Improved Fixture Support for Extensions

Posted on November 23, 2009 by Sean Schofield

We have just improved the seed and sample data loading for Spree extensions. Torsten Rüger has just contributed a great new patch to introduce new flexibility when it comes to loading fixture data from your extensions. Prior to this patch, there was no way to override seed data in an extension. So if you wanted to replace the list of default countries in your site extension, you were pretty much out of luck (or you had to write an ugly hack.)

Seed data is data that is needed by the application in order for it to work properly. Seed data is not the same as sample data. Instead of loading this type of data in a migration it is handled through the standard rails task through rake db:seed. The rake task will first load the seed data in the spree core (ex. db/default/countries.yml.) Spree will then load any fixtures found in the db/default directory of your extensions. You will no longer need to explicitly load extension seed data yourself from db/seeds.rb. If you have an extension that does so, you will need to remove that code so that you’re not loading the data twice.

Sample data is data that is convenient to have when testing your code. Its loaded with the rake db:sample task. The core sample data is loaded first, followed by any fixtures contained in the db/sample directory of your extensions.

If you have fixtures in your extension with the same filename as those found in the core, they will be loaded instead of the core version. This applies to both sample and seed fixtures. This allows for fine grained control over the sample and seed data. For example, you can create your own custom sample order data in your site extension instead of relying on the version provided by Spree.

Sass Stylesheet Refactoring

Posted on May 28, 2009 by steph

This year at RailsConf, I met Chris Eppstein, a core contributor to the Sass project, and the creator of the Compass framework. Having recently integrated Sass, Compass, and Blueprint in the release of Spree 0.8.0, I wanted to have Chris look at the Spree core Sass implementation. He gave some great insight and as a result, several changes were made to the Spree core described below:

First, with the latest core changes, screen.Sass is broken down into several components, such as:


<p>&#8230;<br />
@import mixins.Sass<br />
@import colors.Sass<br />
@import layout.Sass<br />
@import product_detail.Sass<br />
@import cart.Sass<br />
@import checkout.Sass<br />
&#8230;</p>

This improved organization will make it easier to adjust the core code for specific page or component changes. For example, one visitor to the RailsConf Spree Birds of a Feather session discussed how his client requires the single page checkout to be overridden and separated into separate steps. Instead of managing the entire screen.Sass stylesheet, he can simply override the checkout.Sass file for the required changes. This modularization will make it easier to adjust style rules without the fear of conflicting with or breaking other site style rules.

Second, a benefit that comes from the Sass improvements is the move to separate color stylesheet rules from the layout style rules. For example, the colors.Sass file contains the following:


<p>&#8230;<br />
!input_border = #<span class="caps">BBB</span><br />
!default_border_color = #<span class="caps">DDD</span><br />
!link_hover_color = #eee<br />
!lighter_text_color = #666<br />
!medium_blue = #2E6AB1<br />
!lightest_blue = #<span class="caps">BBDAFD</span><br />
!light_blue = #E5F2F8<br />
!dark_blue = #162F54<br />
&#8230;</p>

These color rules are then used throughout the stylesheets. Below is an example of their implementation:


<p>#header<br />
 :position relative<br />
 :color = !medium_blue<br />
 :clear both<br />
 a<br />
   :color = !medium_blue<br />
   &amp;:hover<br />
     :color = !light_blue</p>

The above Sass yields the following css rules:


<p>#header {<br />
 position: relative;<br />
 color: #2e6ab1;<br />
 clear: both; }<br />
 #header a {<br />
   color: #2e6ab1; }<br />
   #header a:hover {<br />
     color: #e5f2f8; }</p>

The benefit of separating the colors from the layout is that the long term plan is to allow for a much easier way to reskin the site by making minimal changes to layout.Sass and colors.Sass. For example, in the future colors.Sass may contain the following:


<p>&#8230;<br />
!input_border = #<span class="caps">BBB</span><br />
!default_border_color = #<span class="caps">DDD</span><br />
!link_color = #<span class="caps">ABABAB</span><br />
!link_hover_color = #<span class="caps">EEE</span><br />
!lighter_text_color = #666<br />
!background_color = #2E6AB1<br />
!accent_color = #<span class="caps">BBDAFD</span><br />
&#8230;</p>

A separation of "lipstick" and "layout" will ease the ability to customize the Spree look, which is an essential for every implementation of Spree.

A final benefit with this round of Sass improvements was to take advantage of mixins, which allow you to define a set of CSS attributes and include them in any number of selectors as an inline rule. This goes along with the DRY notion – it’s much easier to manage a single css definition that is applied to many selectors. The mixins also accept arguments and can have a default argument value. Below is an example of a mixin definition with a default value:


<p>= round_corners(!radius = 5px)<br />
 :-moz-border-radius= !radius<br />
 :-webkit-border-radius= !radius</p>

The mixin is used in a selector, such as:


<p>button<br />
 +round_corners(0.3em)<br />
 &amp;.large<br />
   +round_corners</p>

The above example yields the following CSS:


<p>button {<br />
 -moz-border-radius: 0.3em;<br />
 -webkit-border-radius: 0.3em;<br />
}<br />
button.large {<br />
 -moz-border-radius: 4px;<br />
 -webkit-border-radius: 5px;<br />
}</p>

Although at this point the Sass implementation does not introduce new skinning functionality, it certainly gets the Spree project moving in the right direction. Some future improvements include improving the ease of overriding Spree core colors as discussed above, improving the ease of overriding stylesheet rules or complete Sass components, and introducing a mechanism to include extension style rules in order to avoid having to include a separate stylesheet for every extension.

For more information on Compass and Sass, take a look at the Compass & Sass screencast.

Documentation Challenge

Posted on April 29, 2009 by Sean Schofield

Next week is going to be a very busy week for the Spree project. Now that things are stable enough for a release it is time we turned our attention to the issue of documentation. Documentation is a problem area for us right now and its holding us back from achieving even greater things with our project. The Rails project began a big documentation push recently and it resulted in the highly useful set of Rails Guides. This has inspired me to strive for something of this depth and quality for the Spree project.

Creating quality documentation is not very exciting. In fact, in can be outright tedious. Unfortunately its a necessary evil and with a little bit of teamwork, we can make short work of this deficiency. This brings me to the “challenge” part of this post. I’m issuing a challenge to all of our Spree community members (contributors and users) to help us finish the job. There are hundreds of you out there who have benefited in some way from the existence of this project. I am suggesting that now is a good time for you to step up and give a little something back to the community. Please consider helping us write a new guide or with the editing of the existing ones.

Many members of our community do not speak English as their first language. I can definitely understand how in this case it might intimidating to write something like this. Please consider writing something anyways and then just commit it to a fork in GitHub. You can then ask on spree-user for help to edit it for grammar, etc. We’ll take all of the help we can get.

Now for the incentive part. First, writing a guide will likely help you develop a deeper understanding of Spree. Second, quality documentation will result in an influx of users and contributors. Everyone will benefit from the increased set of features and testing that will naturally follow. Finally, if you contribute a substantial portion of a guide (or multiple guides) you will be listed on the contributions portion of the guide along with a link to your blog or place of business. So this is a good way to promote yourself and possibly to generate some business as well.

Ready to get started? The first step will be to visit the spree-guides project in GitHub. Here you will find everything you need to create and edit the guides. Just clone and run rake guides to generate them. The guides are in Textile format. Personally I’m more of a fan of Markdown but we borrowed this code from the Rails Guides and this is what they’re using. If you’re interested in contributing, please message me on GitHub and I’ll grant you direct access. This will allow you to commit directly to the official repository. Please be courteous and only use these rights to commit minor corrections or additions. If you’ve got something major to contribute, do it in a fork and let people see it before you merge it in.

We need to get this over with as soon as possible. Ideally we’ll have most of the guides completed by the end of next week. Lets celebrate the new Spree release by working together to improve the project. I’ve already worked on an overview section and I’ll be pitching in where necessary. Anyone else want to step up? If so, please state your intentions on spree-user so we can coordinate.

Checkout Process More Extensible

Posted on April 09, 2009 by Sean Schofield

The edge version now includes some additional refactoring to make it
easier to customize the one page checkout process to suit your needs.
Some of the HTML elements have been renamed and the checkout.js has
been simplified to work with a configurable array of sections for your
checkout page. The checkout method of OrdersController has been
moved to a new Checkout module which you can easily
override in your own site extension. This means that in most cases you
will not need to override the OrdersController, nor need to provide a
giant class_eval statement to patch it.

A quick test last night showed that it was a trivial task to
completely omit the payment step from the checkout process. You start
off by creating a lib\spree\checkout.rb module in your site extension. Copy in the original contents of the Spree version of this file. Then you simply change two lines of code as follows.

Change this line:


<p>@checkout_steps = %w{billing shipping shipping_method payment confirmation}</p>

and remove the payment step like so:


<p>@checkout_steps = %w{billing shipping shipping_method confirmation}</p>

This single change will fix all of the client side issues. The user will no longer have a payment step and they can step through the process without any problems until its time to submit the final order. The final submit will fail though because the controller is still expecting to authorize the creditcard.

So you need to comment out or remove the following line:


<p><code>order.creditcards[0].authorize(</code>order.total)</p>

That’s it! You could also use this apporach to change the default behavior and capture the creditcard (instead of authorizing it.) It should be pretty simple now to add extra steps or to remove a step (maybe shipping?) from the checkout process. Ultimately we will also be adding some configuration options that would allow you to do some of these things without having to write a single line of code.

Address Refactoring

Posted on April 08, 2009 by Sean Schofield

The edge version of Spree now contains some additional address refactorings. Billing and shipping addresses are now directly available through the Order model instead of accessing them indirectly through Shipment and CreditcardPayment. There are also new migrations to help move everything around in the database. Of course, you should back up any sensitive production data before running them.

Currently there is no way to edit the billing and shipping address once the order is completed. If you change these through the admin inteface you are actually editing the address of the creditcard and shipment respectively. We just need to sort through whether the original address values can be changed or if they should be preserved. If we allow them to be changed, presumably the shipments and creditcards would change as well but that might not always be the desired outcome. Take a look at the updated online demo to see how this is working and post your thoughts on spree-user.

These changes move us closer to a new address book feature that StephP is working on. They also make it easier to simplify the checkout form using the new nested attributes functionality of Rails 2.3.

Goodbye Tables, Hello CSS

Posted on April 02, 2009 by Sean Schofield

David North continues to hammer away on the refactoring of the Spree interface. He has done a complete overhaul on the frontend and removed all of the tables and replaced them with CSS. This work has now been merged into the edge master. It is still a work in progress but this will give everyone a chance to see where this is headed. Wynn Netherland has offered to help with the styling of the interface (he did the design of the backend.) I spoke with Wynn earlier this week and he seems to think we will be getting to this next week.

We are now using BluePrint CSS to assist with the layout and styling. Check out their wiki to learn more about it. We’ve also introduced the Compass and Sass frameworks to help simplify the stylesheet design. Yes, that is a total of three new frameworks to deal with but they are actually quite complementary and should simplify the stylsheet design.

We are considering various options for making it easier to modify and override these stylesheets, especially for those not comfortable in the ways of Compass and Sass. The first step will be to provide a way for the site extension to overload with its own styles. Ultimately the entire process results in three compiled spreadsheets: ie.css, print.css and screen.css. The primary spreadsheet to focus on is the screen.css file.

These changes will likely cause several headaches in your site extension. I recommend that only the most adventurous programmers consider updating to the latest version of the edge for the next several days. Wynn is likely to make several changes to the layouts and styles so there is no need to fix your site extensions now, only to break them again in a few more days. Please consider waiting until we announce that the interface refactoring is completed before updating your fork.

Now Using Authlogic for Authentication

Posted on April 02, 2009 by Sean Schofield

Thanks to the industrious efforts of Dale Hofkens we are no longer using restful_authentication to handle authentication. We have now switched to the very promising authlogic gem. This gem is by the same author of search_logic and also has a very extensive README explaining how it works.

Authlogic supports a ton of nifty features, including password reset and optional email confirmation for new accounts. It also uses the much stronger SHA-512 hashing algorithm to store passwords and will work with existing restful_authentication SHA-1 passwords by upgrading these users after their first return login. It also has a cool ability to bind UserSessions to a controller so that the current_user could be retrieved outside of the typical controller/helper context that was previously required.

Be sure to run the new migrations and expect to make minor tweaks to your custom login forms, etc. The default admin user now has a login of spree@example.com (instead of the old admin.) Of course you will also need to install the auth_logic gem itself (rake gems install). This functionality will be part of the upcoming 0.8.0 release.

Goodbye attachment_fu ... Hello paperclip

Posted on December 04, 2008 by Sean Schofield

Spree now uses paperclip to manage its image attachments. Up until this point we had been using the venerable attachment_fu. We were pleased enough with attachment_fu until we discovered that someone had forked Spree in Github and created a patch to use paperclip.

Well we did a little digging and found an interesting blog post. Attachment_fu relies on the mini_magick gem which the Thought Bot folks suspect causes memory issues. When we looked at it we saw the opportunity for one less gem dependency and a slightly cleaner implementation.

Bobby Santiago (bullrico) was kind enough to supply the excellent patch. He’s also made it easy to tweak so that you can upload all sorts of generic assets (not just images.)

Fair warning, the new migrations will totally reorganize your image records and move things around on your filesystem. Product images will be moved from public/images/products to public/assets/products. We’ve tested the migration the best we can but you never know what we might have missed. If you have a lot of real world assets you should back up your filesystem and database before attempting the migration.

New SEO friendly Taxonomy URLs

Posted on December 03, 2008 by Sean Schofield

Spree now features new SEO friendly URLs for browsing taxnomonies, this feature builds on top of the existing products SEO / permalink functionality to allow browsing products based on their location in a taxonomy. This is helpful for tracking how a user browsed to a particular product (ie. breadcrumbs), considering that products can have more that one taxon associated with it.

So now you can browse taxons using URLs like:

   /t/categories/clothing/<br />
   /t/categories/clothing/shirts/t-shirts/

You can also view products with URLs like:

   /t/categories/clothing/shirts/t-shirts/p/apache-baseball-jersey<br />
   /t/brands/apache/p/apache-baseball-jersey

A new helper method called seo_url(taxon, product) is available in the ProductsHelper to give you the correct URL using a taxon and/or product. You can call the method two ways:

  1. For taxon’s you just need to pass a taxon object:

    seo_url(@tshirt-taxon) #=> /t/categories/clothing/shirts/t-shirts/

  2. For a combined taxon and product URL you pass in both objects:

    seo_url(@apache-taxon, @apache-tshirt) #=> /t/brands/apache/p/apache-baseball-jersey

    seo_url(@clothing-taxon, @apache-tshirt) #=> /t/categories/clothing/p/apache-baseball-jersey

All taxon related customer facing views have been updated to utilize these new URLs / methods.

Extension Tip: Migrations for your Configuration

Posted on October 28, 2008 by Sean Schofield

Spree comes with all sorts of default configurations that you will likely want to customize. Many of these values can be changed now through admin screens (those that can’t be changed will be able to shortly once those screens are written.) Once a preference is changed from its default, the value is stored in the database.

It is possible to use a migration to setup these preferences so that you can set the preferences of your site automatically. This is handy when migrating a new series of configurations from a tested development environment to production. You no longer have to remember to manually change these settings, just run the migrations like normal.

For example, the default country in Spree is United States. If you wanted the default country to be Ireland you could add the following to your site extension:


<p>class AddCustomConfigurations &lt; ActiveRecord::Migration<br />
  def self.up<br />
    Spree::Config.set(:default_country_id =&gt; 96)<br />
  end</p>
def self.down
end
<p>end</p>

Extensions Now Support Images

Posted on August 19, 2008 by Sean Schofield

Extensions now support images, javascripts and stylesheets. When you start your Spree application the contents of your extension’s public directory will be copied over to the application’s public directory. This means that extensions can make use of images and scripts now.

Stylesheets are technically available (in that they are copied to the public/stylesheets directory) but there is not currently a mechanism for including the stylesheets in your layout. We’re happy to consider a patch for this if someone out there is interested in writing one.

If you’re curious about the Spree extension system, we’re hoping to add some more information to the website and the wiki in the coming weeks.

Introducing Rails 2.1 Support

Posted on June 23, 2008 by Sean Schofield

Spree now supports Rails 2.1. This change is effective immediately for all of those working off the latest Github source code. If you are using the gem version of Spree (as opposed to the source) you will have to wait until the upcoming Spree 0.3.0 release. We are also no longer including a frozen version of Rails in the gem (or git repository.) This will cut down on file size considerably. If you require a frozen version of Rails you can add it to your app and/or local check out of the Spree git repository and things will work fine.

We’re still working out the process of how to smoothly upgrade from 0.2.0 deployments. Most likely there aren’t too many of those yet but we intend to make future upgrades as easy as possible so we are doing our best to resolve these issues. Please read the wiki for complete details on how to upgrade your existing application (you can ignore these instructions if you’re starting a new Spree application.) Please report any issues on the spree-user mailing list.

Goodbye Test::Unit (You won't be missed)

Posted on March 26, 2008 by Sean Schofield

I’ve never been a big fan of the testing that ships with Rails. In particular I have been struggling with a way to properly test my model objects without dealing with fixture data or any dependency on the database. In the case of ActiveRecord that is a little bit unrealistic since it needs access to the database to provide the field name accessors and other goodies. So I needed a solution that would help me mock the stuff ActiveRecord provides without having to manually specify it in the mock (otherwise that kind of defeats the point of using ActiveRecord right?)

Enter the rspec on rails plugin and the very cool mock_model helper. With this simple helper you get a mock of your ActiveRecord object with minimal database overhead. I’ve also decided to bypass fixtures completely since they aren’t really appropriate for a unit test IMO. The other major reason is that they add a ton of time (several seconds) to the test execution. Unit tests are crucial to TDD/BDD and if you’re running them dozens/hundreds of times a day these sorts of annoyances add up.

To run the tests from the spree code just type the following


<p>cd starter-app<br />
rake spec</p>

Fixtures are another testing annoyance that we are phasing out. Some instances have crept into the code through the contributions of other developers back when the project was starting. Our new approach does not rely on fixtures for the unit tests. I do find fixtures useful in other contexts but that is the subject of another blog post.

It looks like we will be completely phasing out the Test::Unit stuff shortly.