Top 5 Options: Create An Interactive Online Storefront For All Types Of Businesses.
In our age of e-commerce, the developers have fallen in love with Ruby on Rails and why not!
In the market, there are free and paid versions of Rails frameworks and extensions to launch an online store and make it stand shoulder to shoulder with the most prominent players out there.
Ruby is already a programmer-friendly language. Its Rails frameworks could make a shopping website up and running very quickly, even in a day’s time.
Here is the good part – there are several e-commerce solutions available within the ecosystem (free and paid) which make the process of building and maintaining online shopping websites look easy, thanks to Rails.
Creating a large-scale shopping portal not necessarily takes weeks and months anymore. It is being done within days due to intelligible frameworks Ruby on Rails offers, especially for the e-commerce platforms.
Now, let’s see the Top options to build an e-commerce store with Ruby on Rails:
1. Spree Commerce
Spree is an open source and 100% free-to-use platform to build feature-rich online stores. Considered as the future of online shopping industry, Spree Commerce is being used by many multinational giants like Airbnb, Groupon and Linkedin.
With no licensing cost involved, Spree’s effortless Rails architecture can be used to develop online businesses of all sizes. A fully featured e-commerce solution, it offers numerous advantages like: scalability, speed of development, ease of integration with any front-end application, vast library of plugins and extensions, easy maintenance, greater control over customization of functionalities and designs, supervision of self-hosted website and a large community of third-party contributors backed with a dedicated core team for extended support.
But wait, if it’s completely free, is it still that good?
The short answer is yes. Spree Commerce is an open source community which offers enough free extensions to integrate with your website in order to complete all the features you can imagine to run an online store successfully. Total freedom of your business stays in your hands at all stages- a common reason why Spree is a favorite amongst many well-known e-commerce firms like GoDaddy, trèStiQue and Urban Ladder with massive popularity.
Solidus was released as a fork of Spree Commerce. A newer entrant in the business, Solidus is also a free and an open-source e-commerce platform built on Ruby on Rails framework, meant to provide the business owners with full control of hosting and customization. Suitable for high-volume businesses, it offers all necessary e-commerce features like Spree.
On Solidus’ official website, you may find the mentions of out-of-the-box features like inventory management, order management, payment integrations, analytics etc. Nonetheless, the workings of Solidus are absolutely similar to Spree Commerce platform.
Given the ease of customization and adaptability to changes, it’s no brainer that Ruby on Rails is becoming #1 choice for large e-commerce websites like Yellow pages, Github, Groupon, and Shopify itself!
ror_ecommerce is a startup which is gaining popularity in the domain of e-commerce platforms. With Rails 5.1 in their latest version, this option is free to use and works very well for small-scale businesses as suggested on their official website ror-e.com.
The documentation on their GitHub page and the official website looks decent with detailed instructions to install and configure features like Cart, Accounting, Orders, Product creation and Shipments etc. Open to the community of contributors, ror_ecommerce is evolving to make its mark among the top names mentioned above.
4. Code Yourself with Rails
Ruby on Rails is a web application framework, which can be used by anyone. If others can offer solutions to create an online storefront, you can do it yourself as well!
Depending on the scale of your business, you can hire resources and construct your e-commerce business from scratch. The only difference is that you don’t get pre-built templates and features the ‘solution providers’ are happy to assist you with. However, you can always use plenty of third-party plugins and extensions once your website is made within your premises, not to forget the pre-cooked elements Rails already offers.
Pros of coding yourself
- Total control over your business, a common trait observed with The Four Horsemen of Tech (Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon).
- No external cost. You spend the same budget on your resources.
- Flexibility of changing the features whenever you want.
- Enhanced security if your trade secrets and source code stay in your hands.
Cons of coding yourself
- Time-consuming as you may have to reinvent the wheel whenever required.
- Professions who are in this business for decades would have answers to every problem you might face during development stages and operational process.
- Development may increase the overall investment. It is because the external consultants sell the same services over and over with pocket-friendly prices. It is similar to manufacturing a product in bulk.
5. Shopify: No coding experience needed
Shopify is undoubtedly one of the biggest e-commerce solutions and Software as a Service (SaaS) providers in the world. It is also Rails-based but a proprietary e-commerce platform which offers ready-made solutions (templates) to launch an online store in no time. Immensely popular with startups and small merchants, Shopify has simplified the process of launching a shopping website for those with no programming knowledge.
How does it work? Well, buy a plan, choose a theme, install the plugins, upload your product images with prices, start accepting orders, ship the products, and that’s it!
With a commodifying approach, Shopify allows anyone to set up a website, advertise and establish an e-commerce business very quickly. From hundreds of designs, you can choose a template for your website and add as many functionalities as you want using their easy to use ’Plug & Play’ interface. Rails knowledge is only required if you want to develop and integrate customized features with a Shopify storefront.
According to your business size and website visitors, you are required to buy a monthly subscription (and transaction fees) to use Shopify services. It hosts your website and provides you with a flexibility to combine a surplus of official and third-party extensions to your storefront. You can integrate almost all the possible features yourself by merely installing the plugins without any trouble.
Shopify has an excellent customer service department and pre-built user interfaces to manage inventory, orders, shipping, payments and reports.
Notably, Shopify does not give you the option of hosting your website yourself. Also, there is a commission on every purchase made, called transaction fee – perhaps one of the reasons why the industry leaders choose to build and operate their websites themselves.