The hype around Amazon and eBay has driven up the demand for marketplace development services. Business owners turn to software consultancies to launch a thriving e-commerce website. Here comes a question: what do they need to get the most successful online marketplace website?

We believe that a profitable e-commerce project starts with the right tech stack. The main qualities that a modern marketplace should possess are scalability, easy customizations, and flexibility. Therefore, it’s important to choose the technologies that will help these qualities.

In this article, we will discuss Spree Commerce as an effective and reliable solution for building online marketplaces within a short time frame. You will know the main features of this framework and its key benefits for your business. Also, you will read the success stories from famous brands that created e-commerce sites on Spree.

Finally, we will share our experience in delivering websites built with Spree Commerce.

What’s Spree Commerce

Before we share our ideas and practices on how to build an e-commerce site on Spree, let’s define what this term means. Basically, Spree Commerce or Spree is an open-source e-commerce solution built with Ruby on Rails. With the help of this free collection of code, developers can quickly create online stores and marketplaces of any complexity.

The modular structure of Spree Commerce simplifies the customization and upgrades. As a result, customers get a distinctive marketplace tailored to their specific needs.

Sean Schofield, an RoR developer, created Spree in 2007. Since that time, the popularity of Spree Commerce has been steadily growing.

Let’s take a look at the specific figures that prove the undying interest in this platform.

  • 1100000+ of downloads;
  • 10100+ Github stars;
  • 2000+ commits;
  • 780 contributors.

Benefits of Spree

So why choose Spree Commerce for starting your online service marketplace website? To answer this question, let’s take a look at the key benefits offered by this platform.

Rapid development

We have already mentioned that Spree is built with Ruby on Rails. Like the Rails framework itself, Spree is noted for high development speed. For example, coders using Spree Commerce for online marketplace development write ten times less code in comparison with other platforms like Magento.

Rapid development serves as a key reason why startups with tight deadlines start wondering how to build an e-commerce site on Spree.

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Related reading: What Makes Ruby on Rails Perfect for Marketplace Development?

Easy customization

Using Spree Commerce, you get extensive out-of-the-box functionality. However, it cannot take into account all specific business needs that may appear. Luckily, you can always upgrade and customize your online store with the help of a big number of extensions.

Besides, a skillful Ruby on Rails developer can create personalized extensions as well. They will add so much needed flexibility, scalability, and uniqueness to your e-commerce site on Spree.

It should be noted that Ruby is famous for a great amount of gems, free open-source libraries. Owing to them, developers do not have to build some functionality from scratch. They just need to use a specific gem for each particular feature such as product reviews, wishlists, or payments.


Even if you are planning to launch a small online store, always consider the possibility of further scaling. Remember that your e-commerce website should be able to handle lots of traffic. In this regard, Spree Commerce may become your ultimate choice.

This framework is robust. It means that Spree can serve a great number of simultaneous user requests. There will be no interruptions in response time. When you build an e-commerce site on Spree, you do not have to worry about higher loads. Large traffic will not be a problem for your growing business.

Mobile-first approach

According to Business Insider, mobile commerce is expected to reach $488 billion in 2024. It will be 44% of the whole e-commerce industry. This statistic explains why more and more e-commerce brands stick to the mobile-first approach.

Spree was created with smartphone users in mind. The websites built with Spree Commerce have intuitive UI design. Besides, the framework is compatible with frontend technologies used for PWA development. What do progressive web app development services give to business owners? These business owners get fast-loading PWAs that can function with a poor Internet connection or even in offline mode.

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Spree is free

Finally, it is worth noting that it will cost you nothing to download Spree Commerce. The scope of your project does not matter. You can build a small online store or a large multi-vendor marketplace like Amazon; there will be no license fees.

Besides, all extensions that support extra functionality are free as well. Suppose you need multi-domain support or custom themes. You can download these extensions and apply them to get a unique and eye-catching design of your e-commerce site on Spree.

Numerous promotion opportunities

The launch of an online marketplace website is only half the battle. You need to adopt the most efficient marketing strategies for attracting as many buyers and sellers to your platform as you can.

So what are the core Spree Commerce features for marketing? The following functionality will make the promotion of your e-commerce platform easier than ever.

  • Enhanced user analytics.
  • A/B or split testing. You compare two versions of any marketing asset and measure the difference in performance.
  • Loyalty programs management.
  • Integrated SEO (search engine optimization).
  • High-level email marketing.
  • Heat maps. They will track user flow and understand customers’ behavior better.
  • The analytical dashboard. With its help, you will make deliberate, data-driven decisions.

Core functionality

Let’s take a closer look at the vital Spree Commerce features that help you get the most out of this e-commerce solution built with Ruby on Rails.

  • Convenient search. There is a predictive search function on e-commerce sites on Spree. It means that customers are suggested products while they are still typing their requests.
  • Reports. The seamless integration with Google Analytics allows you to track your traffic. Also, you can learn about customers’ demographics, and get other valuable marketing insights.
  • The support of country-specific payments. Spree framework is noted for its support of local payment gateways that operate in more than a hundred countries.
  • Subscriptions support. Spree offers multiple benefits to subscribed members. They include discounts, priority customer support, and free shipping.
  • Straightforward order management.. This functionality allows searching, viewing, and managing clients’ orders. You can process payments, issue refunds, etc.
  • Customer self-service. Help shoppers find answers to the common questions with an extensive FAQ knowledge base.
  • Products. This functionality goes with several options. For example, you can create, edit, and remove items from your store. It is also possible to write a detailed description to highlight the key characteristics of the products you offer.
  • Returns. With this feature, you will learn how to handle returned goods quickly and effortlessly.
  • Taxation. Spree provides specific tools for handling taxation. Taxes can vary depending on the country, zone, or state where your multi-vendor marketplace operates.
  • General settings. You can always edit your e-commerce website’s name, currency, or update the security policy.

Examples of e-commerce sites on Spree Commerce


Garmentory is a US-based online marketplace for emerging and contemporary fashion. The brand decided to choose Spree Commerce to provide customers with a curated shopping experience. As a result, business owners got a flexible and scalable website, which was the key to their success.

e-commerce site on spree Garmentory | Codica

Garmentory was launched in 2014. Since then, the traffic to their e-commerce site on Spree has grown by 3,000%. At the same time, the customer base has increased by 3000%. This exciting data proves the fact that Spree Commerce works well for fast scaling companies.

Finery London

Finery is a British brand offering contemporary, affordable, and luxury womenswear. The company opted for Spree Commerce to develop a modern and elegant e-commerce platform.

e-commerce site on spree Finery London | Codica

Their e-commerce site on Spree was launched to the public in 2015. In the first year after the release, it attracted 100,000 customers and brought the company £5 million.

Moreover, Finery London’s website was named the Website of the Year. It happened at the Retail Systems 2016 Awards.

What helped the brand achieve such tremendous success? Basically, it is a clean and contemporary UX design together with a great user experience.

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Violet Grey

Violet grey is a US brand that provides shoppers with the collection of luxury beauty products. The company needed a highly customizable website with straightforward billing and fulfillment systems. So Spree Commerce was the ultimate choice for Violet Grey.

e-commerce site on spree Violet grey | Codica

Their e-commerce site on Spree was released in 2015. Since that time, the brand has reached a cult-like status among all kinds of customers, from leading Hollywood actresses to fashionable teens.

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How Spree helps us quickly launch marketplaces

A client from London had contacted us and asked to help with the implementation of a lucrative e-commerce project. The idea was to create an inclusive AI-powered beauty platform. Its purpose was to help customers discover and buy beauty products from famous brands all over the world.

The client requested us to build an intuitive beauty marketplace website. It should enable visitors to choose cosmetic products based on their individual goals and preferences. Customers should be able to complete a quiz to sort out irrelevant products and find those that will work for them.

Since a short time to market was crucial for our client, our team suggested using Spree Commerce as the main technology. This framework allowed us to quickly build a scalable, fast-loading, and beautiful e-commerce website. It has all the functionality of a profitable online marketplace.

The basic feature set was as follows:

  • Quiz page;
  • User profiles;
  • Search and filters;
  • Product page;
  • Multiple payment options;
  • Shopping cart;
  • Wishlist;
  • Ratings and reviews.

e-commerce site on spree YutyBazar | Codica

The search and filtering system was customized by adding new fields (brands, location). Also, we implemented the multi-currency feature that allows recalculating prices automatically. As for third-party services, we integrated such a payment solution as Stripe and a multi-carrier shipping API called Shippo.

As a result, the client got a flexible and scalable beauty platform within a short time frame. The e-commerce site on Spree was delivered on time and on budget, according to the specifications provided by our client.

Final thoughts

If you need to launch your multi-vendor marketplace in the shortest time possible, you should definitely give Spree Commerce a try. Its extensive out-of-the-box functionality allows you to go to market quickly. Besides, detailed guides and manuals help answer how to build an e-commerce site on Spree that will bring value to your customers.

However, be aware that this framework requires a fair amount of technical knowledge. If you are looking for a reliable online marketplace development company to build your online store with Spree Commerce, feel free to contact us. We will eagerly take on your project and bring it to reality.

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Alina E-Commerce & SaaS Strategist | Codica
E-Commerce & SaaS Strategist
Alina has solid research skills focused on delivering engaging and useful content. She has a passion for educating and entertaining readers and strengthening the brand.
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