Spree - Open Source E-commerce

What you need to know before choosing Spree for you e-commerce

I recently started to work with a startup helping them to build a social network based on emotions. The project if you want to check it out is called emotionalworld

As part of the natural growth of the platform the founders are exploring new commercial opportunities and one of them is selling physical products based on the cool designs of the page. I was asked to review our options and propose a way to prototype and push to production an online store that would integrate with our existing technology.

In this case the same questions always arise:

  1. Is there an open source project out there that can do the job and has an active community we can learn from?
  2. Should we build it from scratch as using an existing project maybe an overkill?

After an extensive benchmark we decided to use an open source e-commerce platform called Spree. Spree is "complete open source e-commerce solution for Ruby on Rails" and has we are using Rails for emotionalworld backend it made sense to give Spree a go.

So what about Spree?

The pros

  • Open source
  • It offers a very complete and powerful application for e-commerce out of the box
  • The extensive admin will allow you to handle different tax systems, shipping companies and products specifications
  • Latest releases have included Bootstrap for the front end which makes it fairly easy to customize
  • It can be used as backend and API with Javascript or mobile app front end
  • Large community and contribution that have build many extension and gems to extend functionalities
  • If you have experience with Ruby and Rails you are at home

The cons

  • It might well be an overkill for a simple online shop
  • Spree has evolved to become a very complete (and complex plateform)
  • The learning curve might be a bit steep if you don't have much experience with Rails
  • Beside a large quantity of gems to expand functionalities, the community remain small and it's not very easy to get answers to your questions

In summary

If you have a few years of Ruby on Rails experience under you belt you should definitely go for SpreeCommerce. The robust platform will provide a strong base to any e-commerce project and you can gradually built on top of it and create an amazing shopping experience. Your client will certainly be impressed with the level of details which one can administrate his store. If you are relatively new to Rails you may be better off building a shopping cart from scratch and aggregate functionality as your experience grow. And finally if you are sole owner looking for a quick solution you should consider options like Woocommerce or Shopify.

If you are opting for Spree for your e-commerce Spree google user group as well as stackoverflow will be handy to come over your main hurdles.

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