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Spree Commerce vs. Magento

Posted on June 04, 2015 by Kurt Prosser

About the Author

Kurt Prosser works with Easton Digital. Easton Digital is a full service ecommerce agency that helps small and medium-sized merchants create and grow their ecommerce businesses. Our team of marketers, developers, and designers offer PPC, SEO, and development and design services. We work with merchants in Columbus, Ohio and throughout the U.S.

The most important decision that an online retailer has to make when starting out is choosing the online shopping platform that’s going to serve as the base of their ecommerce store. The shopping platform you choose not only influences the layout and look of an ecommerce store, but it’s also used for handling the various backend functions in the website. Some of the important functions that the shopping platform should handle include management of inventory, delivery tracking and discount management.

Essentially, the platform manages all the operations of your store. Thus, choosing the right one is important. This article highlights a few of the differences between Magento and Spree Commerce.

Magento is an open source platform owned by eBay. It was founded in 2008 and acquired by eBay in 2011. Magento is built on the Zend Framework, which is an open source, object-oriented web application framework implemented in PHP 5. Spree Commerce is an open source platform built on Ruby on Rails. It was created by Sean Schofield in 2007 and has since been further developed with the help of over 600 contributors.

Magento is the most popular ecommerce platform online. Out of the box, it’s extremely powerful and filled with numerous features. Furthermore, Magento has a lot of extensions that can quickly add features and/or connect to other applications. However, Magento does have a reputation with some of being overly complicated, bloated, and a resource hog.

Spree Commerce is regarded as the new alternative to Magento. Like Magento, it’s free and open sourced. Spree is built using Ruby on Rails, which has earned a great reputation for producing fast, light, and elegant sites. In fact, many say that operations in Spree take 1/10th the code as Magento.

Spree Commerce has a robust community of contributors that work to constantly improve and enhance Spree. According to a recent Spree Commerce review, the amount of developers for this platform is rapidly increasing, and the contributors are making some innovative changes, while still keeping Spree responsive and light.

While there are many extensions available on Github, you’ll likely need to budget to have custom extensions built. Fortunately, the Spree team has created Wombat, "The Operating System for Ecommerce.” Wombat helps storefronts avoid the pain of customizing by connecting your Spree storefront (and any other ecommerce storefront) to any service, such as QuickBooks, ShipStation, and MailChimp, without any custom coding on their behalf.

If you happened to try Spree before reading this article, the first thing you’ll be blown away by is its admin panel. The Spree admin panel is one of the most well-designed, elegant admin panels out there. It’s extremely lean and efficient, but you’ll have to be prepared to load features you’ll need, like a CMS.

Magento and Spree Commerce are similar in many ways. Both are open-sourced, powerful, and fully customizable ecommerce platforms. The differences between the two platforms stem from PHP vs. Ruby on Rails and the collections of extensions, tools and themes. If you have a set budget, Magento may be the correct platform for you. If you’re seeking a leaner, faster, and more elegant platform, then Spree Commerce may be the correct platform for you.

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