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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.


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!

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