State of eCommerce for 5.7

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TL:DR; If FoxyCart and SnipCart aren't for you, then how can we as a community foster the Store add-on, which is the only fully integrated system.

Hey guys, I wanted to chat with everyone about what's going on with eCommerce as it relates to Concrete5.7+

First of all, I have to mention that I've not yet played with 5.8 and what they're planning on releasing in terms of handling Foxy Cart. To me though, it seems like what Mesuva has already done with Snipcart. You'll have to find/create some way of managing your products, product lists, blocks, and then foxy cart does the rest for a fee. I think that's a really interesting approach, and truthfully, it handles most of the hard problems.

I imagine there's some drawbacks here, mainly in that if you have a feature that doesn't exist on foxy cart (and there are a few), you can't just hire a developer to integrate that new feature. I can think of many projects I've completed where foxy cart simply wouldn't be viable.

Right now, the only fully integrated option is of course our store:https://www.concrete5.org/marketplace/addons/store-ecommerce-from-vi... -- As of now, we're at version 3.1.4, which is pretty damn stable and has thousands of installations. It has a lot of great features such as one of the most flexible tax and shipping options off the shelf. We're working on improving the Discount section to be better than anything you've seen in Magento, shopify, woocommerce or anything else off the shelf. It will include features that other systems charge $200+ for. Coming in the next couple weeks are all the payment gateways and shipping methods you've been waiting for, as well as a few handy extensions (mentioned later).

It also has many drawbacks as well. It doesn't connect to your WMS or 3PL or other 3 letter inventory/warehouse/everything management system. That's a pretty big drawback for dealing with commercial and enterprise systems. Solving it requires potentially a couple hundred hours in time or equivalent budget from a client. Right now, I have neither the time or an interested client. It's not a project for the faint of heart.

It's not super popular, even among the C5 crowd. So extensions, and interest is frankly limited. That kind of sucks for everyone. I wish I could change that.

Mesuva recently challenged me with a question saying "What motivation, business-wise, drives the Store now?". This is an question I think I'm just now able to answer. Previously I could answer this easily. I ran VIVID, we did client/project work, had a few retainers and were heralded as experts in Concrete5. Google "Concrete5 web developers" and we're at the top still. After a client paid to have the store developed, it went into the marketplace and solidified our position as well versed C5 developers. Especially in 5.7. This is in the midst of other veteran C5 developers abandoning C5 altogether. Then late last year we stopped taking client work.

So now, what's the point? I couldn't answer him legitimately. I think I fumbled sentences like "I just want to provide something everyone could use" and "to have an excellent package and set a standard for some other packages"... all of this is kind of true, but ultimately horseshit. At this point, it had become a project of love. It's a baby of mine. To any other developer though who's got a business riding on it working, that's a terrible answer.

So if having a fully integrated C5 ecommerce system is valuable to you, here's what needs to happen:

1. We need help from the community. There's many that still herald C5 as the greatest platform to work with. Many of those work with ecommerce. (Hint: eCommerce is where the $$ clients are guys!). If you do, help us test what we have, add features back to the github, and contribute your work to the marketplace. We're going to follow the lead of WooCommerce and price most of our extensions a little higher at $60 (for reference, a payment method on WooCommerce is $79). It's been pointed out that developers may be hesitant to contribute to the core of the package as the license is not-quite-open-source. We've changed it to MIT. Store has always been on GitHub here:https://github.com/VividWeb/vivid_store...

2. I'm considering rebranding the Store as something separate from VIVID. Not sure what this will look like, but VIVID is a web design shop that no longer does client work. So there's no point in being associated with VIVID and the other add-ons. I'll figure how this should really look later.

I want to let you know that the following are either in PRB or on their way to PRB:

Shipping Methods:
- Calculated FedEx
- Calculated USPS
- Calculated UPS
- Calculated Royal Mail
- Calculated Australia Post

Payment Methods:
- Sage
- Stripe

Other Add-ons:
- Product Reviews
- Product Bundles
- Coupons
- Store Credits
- Membership (recurring payments for site access)

I would like to hear others feedback on what would continue to make the Store add-on a success, improve C5's reputation for eCommerce, and how we could help facilitate and foster the community.

Vivid
View Replies:
PineCreativeLabs replied on at Permalink Reply
PineCreativeLabs
I've played around with the newer release, and noticed there's now tiered pricing. One feature I'd really like to see in addition to this is the ability to set a specific price per product based on the quantity range. For example, 1 to 10 at $5 each, 11 to 20 at $4.50 each, etc.

Also, I still want to create a few ecommerce themes, so I'm wondering how much interest there might be in this.
Vivid replied on at Permalink Reply
Vivid
The way we're redeveloping the Promotion system almost covers this. In fact, frankly it does, it's just won't be the most efficient way of doing it.

I've often wondered if this is something that should be part of the system, or if it'd be good for someone to make an add-on for.

Given there's no ecommerce themes ready to go, I imagine they might fair decent. Especially if they gave good examples of how to use block templates, and style the cart modal really uniquely.
Mainio replied on at Permalink Reply
Mainio
I can definitely say there is a need for an integrated eCommerce platform. But is there big enough need in the c5 scope or coud something like Foxy serve the needs for most... Well, I think in the current user space probably it would serve the needs of most but where c5 wants to be at, probably not so well.

I can remember @frz saying in one of the eCommerce discussions that the cart and product functionality would be pluggable (i.e. replacable) but would default to Foxy. This way developers could potentially plug their own solutions on top of that, which would not make the whole system reliable on Foxy itself. I guess the core team wouldn't want to face another Picnik episode at least.

And I would guess it will still take a lot of time even from now on for the core team to ship their first release of the new e-com solution. As of my current understanding, it will not happen right after the 5.8 release.
Vivid replied on at Permalink Reply
Vivid
Right, it probably makes sense to a lot of stores. For me, I don't have time to wait on that, and once it exists, I likely am not interested in a third party, or it won't meet my needs for projects.

So, we have an open system that I manage, and it seems there's good opportunity to make it great for C5, and also an opportunity for developers to step up and make some extensions for it in ways that make it more useful.
JohntheFish replied on at Permalink Reply
JohntheFish
I would like to see a common plugin architecture shared between eCommerce solutions within concrete5. That way, a payment method, tax, discount, shipping .... etc., can be developed once and plugged in to whatever eCommerce addon is best suited to a particular project.

Without such an architecture, I suspect only one eCommerce addon can succeed in the marketplace, and which addon that is will be governed more by momentum and marketing than fit for any particular project.
Vivid replied on at Permalink Reply
Vivid
Well, as of right now there's one ecommerce solution you can do anything like that that with, which is ours.

FoxyCart, SnipCart and C5's idea that FoxyCart would be pluggable to another offsite-checkout system like foxycart, all rely on the 3rd party to provide the shipping methods, tax rates, payment methods etc... that's all built into the third party provider and isn't "pluggable"

So, I'm not sure how to collaborate with something that doesn't exist, and I'm not sure it would exactly be easy to do.
Mainio replied on at Permalink Reply
Mainio
As of my understanding, there would be nothing stopping plugging in a non-3rdparty checkout / cart management into the core ecom.
Vivid replied on at Permalink Reply
Vivid
I suppose, but at that rate, I have zero clue why you would use whatever C5 will provide to manage just the products and front end and then plugin Vivid Store or anything else integrated JUST for the cart... seems silly.

I think the goal would be to tie into other 3rd party cart only solutions.
Mainio replied on at Permalink Reply
Mainio
Yeah, hard to say at this point as there is no clear information. But the only person you'd need to convice is @frz and I think his mind is pretty set on the idea they've presented so far. If I was running a larger e-com site, I probably wouldn't want to choose a system that has a probability of becoming obsolete in 1 year or so.

I'd say usually more generalized and pluggable systems tend to solve more problems in the wider crowd.

And don't get me wrong, I think more competition is always better. That lets the people decide what the best system is.
Vivid replied on at Permalink Reply
Vivid
I'm not trying to convince Frz of anything. I'm just trying to get some community support to make the only real ecom solution that we have right now something that's usable and flexible for the foreseeable future :)
JohntheFish replied on at Permalink Reply
JohntheFish
Agreed, you are in the awkward position of being first, where perhaps the second or third will follow with an incompatible plugin architecture. So to achieve compatibility you would need to convince them to follow your architecture, or lead the discussion over agreeing a common architecture you can migrate to.

My comment was to at all potential developers of eCommerce addons, not just Store.
Vivid replied on at Permalink Reply
Vivid
Frankly, the way we integrate it, it wouldn't work easily with other systems. I don't know if I really want to plan to either.

You'd have to really want to waste time if you want to spend 300+ hours to make another ecom platform when an open source one exists they could contribute to, or make nearly any extension and be the first to do so...
ramonleenders replied on at Permalink Reply
ramonleenders
But what about this one then? Seems like you are not the only one with a store/eCommerce for concrete5?

https://github.com/concrete5-community-store/community_store...
Vivid replied on at Permalink Reply
Vivid
Actually, that is a fork/clone of mine from Mesuva. He forked it for his own reasons, but it's basically going to stay on Github, and won't be a MP entry at any point.