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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.


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.


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.“


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?

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Spree 3.0.1 Released

Posted on May 05, 2015 by Jeff Dutil


Spree has issued new 2.3.10, 2.4.7, and 3.0.1 releases which are available now! These releases are primarily focused on bug fixes particularly with promotions.

You can review the Github Compare for a complete list of 2.3.x changes.
You can review the Github Compare for a complete list of 2.4.x changes.
You can review the Github Compare for a complete list of 3.0.x changes.

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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.