Michael and Dillon from Sellry Commerce discuss Ecommerce platform selection!
Michael: Hello folks, and welcome to eCommerce QA. This is the podcast where store owners, directors of eCommerce and eCommerce managers can stay up-to-date on the latest tools and technologies in eCommerce. I’ll be joined on the show by my colleague and partner-in-crime, Dillon Holst. Our goal is to handle one or two questions per episode. You can check us out on the web at ecommerceqa.tv. There, you will be able to get in touch, ask us questions, and just generally participate. All right, we are live.
Dillon: Cool. What’s going on, Michael?
Michael: Hey, not too much Dillon, how about you?
Dillon: Doing pretty well, doing pretty well. Happy to be here today.
Dillon: Today we are going to be talking about platform selection, if I’m not mistaken.
Michael: That’s right we are going to do the – the gauntlet approach. We are going to talk about some old faves and some new ones too.
Dillon: Cool, sounds good. So I’ll throw you some scenarios and why don’t you go ahead and tell us what platform you think best fits this scenario. Sound good?
Michael: Sounds perfect.
Dillon: Cool, alright, so the first one, we will start off real basic. Would just be somebody who has…let’s say they’ve got a store –physical store location– let’s say they are selling tennis apparel at a pro shop. But they want to start selling their stuff online. They don’t have a store, but they want something that is really simple and easy to set up. They don’t want to have to spend a lot of time setting it up. So what would say to this person?
Michael: Well this is a really common situation for someone who is looking to get into eCommerce. They’ve got some product, they want to sell them. The best way to get started in eCommerce –this is what I tell everybody– is go to shopify.com and sign up for a free trial and get it rolling. It will take a few hours and then you will have the fully functional store. We actually have a service where will help people set up their Shopify store, for free, in 2 hours. We can help you do that or you can do it yourself. It’s a really good way to get started.
Dillon: Okay, let’s throw a wrench in it though, let’s say that we have got somebody who sells guitars, custom made guitars, right? And he has a product page for each one of his different guitars. And he wants to put a whole lot of content, a whole lot of pictures on each different page. So, the requirements are a little bit different right? What would you say to this person?
Michael: So, I’m thinking of this site as being a little bit more of a curated/discovery-style experience. Where, you know, if somebody is going to lay down a bunch of cash for a custom-made guitar they probably want to know something about the product– maybe there is going to be a lot of storing information. Maybe there’s gonna be even a photo gallery. This is much more than just a product, right? This is a whole experience.
Michael: So, I’m thinking that it would be a great way to go with the platform that has a good support for CMS pages and content. Even blogging, things like that. So I’m thinking of a platform called WordPress. Specifically for the CMS and then on top of that a plug-in called WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a really up-and-coming, strong contender for the SMB eCommerce space. And there is a reason: it’s because it’s just really well designed, it fits really well into WordPress and it’s actually pretty easy to work with an extent. So I would check out WooCommerce.
Dillon: Ok, cool. Well let’s say that we want to set up some sort of a shop that allows us to use a variety of different languages. And we want to launch it in different countries. So we are going to need to have support for different currencies, different languages. What kind of a platform are we looking at for something like this?
Michael: I’m already thinking Magento. When you say multilingual, you know, multicurrency, it’s not that you can’t do it with these other platforms, but Magento –this is just kind of one of it’s core features. It’s really really good at it. So you can set up multiple quote unquote stores within one Magento install. And then the different stores can each be talking a different language. Magento is also – I mean, Magento is just really good in general for being able to extend and modify, and that’s really the core value [property] with Magento is that they designed it to be highly highly extensible.
Michael: If I could just add in here, there is a really good way to make Magento even better: it’s called Nucleus Commerce. This is kind of platform on top of a platform if you will, or like a layer on top of Magento.
Michael: Nucleus Commerce is developed by one of the top Magento agencies out there –check them out definitely if you are looking to do a new Magento build– you will definitely want to check out that platform.
Dillon: Ok, cool, and where can they find out more information about that platform?
Michael: Yeah, so it’s just going to be, so far, the gauntlet would be shopify.com, WooCommerce –you actually go to woothemes.com, although they just got bought out by WordPress so pretty soon you will just be able to go to wordpress.com. Magento is going to be magento.com. Nucleus is going to be nucleuscommerce.com.
Dillon: Ok, cool, and we will have the links to all those in the podcasts notes as well.
Dillon: Alright so lets talk about another scenario –let’s say that we have an existing product, and we have a lot of customers that repeatedly order the same product. But, some of the customers aren’t coming back because it’s taking too long to ship from our warehouse –the warehouse that we currently have. And, we want to do something different. We want to maybe use some sort of a 3PL or somebody else’s warehouse. Some way to make the product get to the customer faster. Is there a platform that will enable our client here to do this?
Michael: Yeah there is a platform and then some. I am thinking of a new contender called Symphony commerce. By the way this is not S-Y-M-F-O-N-Y like the framework, this is symphony ‘P-H’. Symphony Commerce: they call themselves a fully vertically integrated eCommerce stack delivered as a service. If you can imagine that; so, it’s not just a platform. They basically handle all of your fulfillment; it’s kind of a FBA-style thing, on top of eCommerce. So, they literally do everything for you. They are looking for clientele starting in around the you know –a few million basically– where, you know, multiple warehouses and all that complicated logistic stuff really makes a lot of sense. They have a really, really powerful subscriptions functionality. It was developed for diamondcandles.com. So, yeah, if you are getting to that you know larger phase of growth and you’re maybe moving from Shopify and you need to find something bigger and better, you want to look at Symphony Commerce.
Dillon: OK, let’s talk about – let’s say that we have some pretty complex integration needs. For whatever platform we end up using –and not to use too much jargon or anything– but let’s say that we have a 3rd party integration hub service to handle all of our data in and out all of the back-office apps that we are currently using. What kind of a platform best supports complex integration needs?
Michael: That’s actually kind of a tricky question because it depends on the type of integration.
Michael: But let’s take a more of a like a standard eCommerce start up.
Michael: They have launched a few years ago, they used to be on a simple platform and now they need something more robust. Maybe they have got, you know, a couple of inventory locations. I’m assuming they have got an accounting package, they are probably using, you know, a few different services to do things like transactional e-mail and so on. This is going to be a classic case for a platform called Spree Commerce. Up until recently, Spree was kind of the go-to Ruby on Rails platform. I say ‘up until recently’ because there is now fork of Spree Commerce called Solidus that is being sponsored and built out by the team at Bonobos. So check them out, Solidus – I think it’s solidus.com. We’ll put it in the show notes.
Dillon: Cool. Ok, so last scenario here, Michael. So let’s say we have got a business that sells a ton of different products, right? We have thousands and thousands of products. And we need to have an easy way for the customers to sort through the products, to view thousands of items and inventory. Are there any platforms out there that are set up specifically to help with this kind of volume service?
Michael: Yeah, so I mean, you say ‘volume’ –I think that you can do a lot of volume on a lot of platforms we talked about. I mean even Magento: you can do, like, millions of products if you scale it out right.
Michael: But, I’m actually kind of seeing that more of a b2b use case right? Can we take in that direction? So, business to business?
Dillon: Sure. Sure.
Michael: Yeah, there is a new platform actually. It’s called ORO Commerce. And it just came out of public alpha –you can actually download it off of GitHub right now. And set it up and try it out. Right now, it’s not fully developed –meaning it doesn’t have a super nice front end yet.
Michael: But if you go into it you will be able to see they have a fully different concept on how to do eCommerce, from a customer side. So, basically, like, the customer and their concept needs to be able to see the maximum amount of information about the product as quickly as possible. Get in, get out. Very no-nonsense approach. So if you are that type of a person selling to that type of people, you want to check this out, it’s built by a company called ORO Incorporated. They are also another – a lot of the people there are – used to be on the Magento team so it’s a very high quality product.
Dillon: Ok, and it’s ORO Commerce right?
Michael: Yeah, right. They already have a CRM product, which is pretty cool and the two products are going to work really, really well. Their 1.0 should be out by early 2016.
Dillon: Cool, awesome. Alright, well, I think that’s all we have for today, Michael any closing thoughts?
Michael: Yeah I would just say that, you know, if you are a new eCommerce merchant or a seasoned veteran, it’s always a good time to look out and see what technology trends are going along. You know, even a platform like Shopify: you might think of Shopify as an entry level platform –well, guess what?– Shopify has a ShopifyPlus now. And they are getting – they are moving up market pretty aggressively in that way. You know, I mean, we might think of Magento sites that look a particular way. Well, Magento 2 is just around the corner and it’s going to be really sweet. So, definitely check out the show notes, and if you have questions about platforms or you have a particular use-case that you want to support that maybe doesn’t fit in the scenarios that we’ve talked about, let us know and we will help you figure out what you should go with.
Dillon: Awesome, thanks for having me on today Michael, appreciate that. And, until next time folks.
Michael: That’s right you can reach us at ecommerceqa.tv and there you will be able to get in touch and find out more about us and we would love to chat with you.
Here’s a list of all the platforms we talked about!