Solidus.io is a community-centered, open-source eCommerce framework that's 100% free to use. It’s powered by the ruby on rails framework and maintained by a passionate community of web developers. Initially, it was designed to help businesses, brands, and developers create unique and fully customizable eCommerce platforms. That said, here in this Solidus review, we're taking a deep dive into what this platform has to offer, how to use it, and our verdict on who this software would best suit.
Let's get started…
Solidus.io Review: Features
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of Solidus's features, let’s first clear up how Solidus works compared to other eCommerce platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce.
Solidus is a fully customizable open-source ecommerce platform based on the Ruby on Rails framework. It can it can be used as a monolithic platform (i.e. one where backend and frontend are bundled together) but it also utilizes headless ecommerce architecture, that's regularly maintained by its developer community. For the uninitiated, this just means that your eCommerce website's front-end is separate from its backend.
Headless eCommerce enables you to add only the features you need and ignore the ones you don’t. Solidus lets you choose what they call “modules” to pick the proper functionality for your store.
The platform even allows you to access admin functionality to build your own back-end UI and manage your storefront in the way that suits you best.
In this review, we will focus on three main modules Solidus provides for store owners:
Solidus.io Review: Products
First up, the product module.
This boasts three main product functionalities:
- Site/ product organization
- Product display/information
To begin with, let’s take a look at the inventory manager. You can control incoming and outgoing inventory across all your warehouses and storefronts and hook up your website to receive live information about your stock (usually held in a database of some kind). That way, you can rest easy knowing you have access to the most up-to-date inventory.
The next aspect is product management. Using the product manager, you can add products and create searchable product lists. Then, you can add data about the product for users to see, such as the product's name, description, and availability. You can also add metadata to your products for improved SEO. Lastly, you can also organize your stock using product attributes or information collected from users.
The last feature builds on website organization. You can use a taxonomic structure to systematically arrange your site’s products by categories and subcategories. You can give these categories user-friendly names so that customers can easily find the product they’re looking for. In addition, products can belong to more than one category, so you can enable website visitors dynamic use of your site.
Solidus.io Review: Payment
Next up, Solidus's payment module, which encompasses the following features:
- Payment calculation
- Payment processing
- Store credit
With Solidus, you get access to a built-in calculator that can work out the various taxes and rates applied to different products. It also considers the country, state, or custom zone the user is purchasing from and calculates the product’s cost accordingly.
When it comes to payments actually being processed, Solidus has several payment integration options, including:
This list isn’t exhaustive. There are hundreds of payment methods supported by Solidus’s framework, including digital wallets such as Apple and Google Pay. These make it easy for customers to make safe and secure payments through your site.
You can see the complete list of payment extensions available here. However, it’s essential to note that like many of its features, many Solidus extensions are developed by the Solidus community. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this. Still, as you scroll through the available extensions, you can see whether its been developed by Solidus's community, a third party, or created by the provider itself. That way, you can make an informed decision about the extensions you use.
Next up is the subscription support feature. This allows you to offer subscription payments for individual products and services. The subscriptions come with customizable start and end dates, so your customers know exactly what they’re paying for and for how long.
Then, there’s the promotions engine, which you can use to:
- Offer discounts on large orders
- Accept referral codes
- Offer freebies to customers based on their previous orders
You can also create and trigger promotions using various pre-set rules to help automate this aspect of your business.
The last aspect we’ll cover for payments is the store credit feature. You can grant store credit to customers as gifts or reimbursements. Store credit can also be set up as an additional payment option.
Solidus.io Review: Logistics
The next module we’ll cover handles your product’s shipping, postage, and transactions. Again, thanks to Solidus’s available extensions, you can seamlessly partner with several logistics providers, including:
- Ship Station
You can choose what service you require and even work with more than one provider simultaneously while retaining complete control over your data and your customer’s experience.
For example, you can provide multiple shipping options at checkout and request real-time rates from carriers for customers to choose the shipping option that best suits them. You can also decide upon your own shipping rates as a percentage or flat rate, or even offer free shipping if that works for you.
Solidus.io Review: Other Integrations
Although we’ve covered Solidus’s main offerings, several other noteworthy integrations might appeal to you. Perhaps the most useful are the ones related to marketing and reporting, including:
- Analytics: supports Google Analytics, giving you up-to-date information about all of your website’s critical metrics, such as page traffic and audience demographics.
- Marketing: You can integrate your Solidus store with email, SMS, and social media marketing platforms like Klaviyo or Drip.
Other noteworthy extension categories include:
- Content management
- Conversion optimizations
- Omnichannel solutions and social media
- Shipping and returns
- Payments, pricing, and taxation
…and many more.
Solidus.io Review: Partners
As we briefly touched upon, to use Solidus, you’ll need a base knowledge of the programming language Ruby and the framework Ruby on Rails. In addition, to install Solidus and migrate your store over from other platforms like Shopify or Magento, you’ll need some technical knowledge. If you don’t have this know-how, you may need to enlist the help of a developer to set up, run and maintain your online shop.
Luckily, Solidus has partnered with several trusted experts and specialists to help you get up and running. For instance, Nebulab is a consulting and full-service eCommerce agency that can help you do just that. They specialize in Solidus eCommerce development. From designing to setting up website functionality and maintaining your store, Nebulab can handle it all.
Soldius.io Review: Community
Solidus is an open-source platform maintained by its thriving community. That’s why it’s worth delving a little deeper into what support you can expect if you’re struggling with the platform.
Suppose you want to contact Solidus via the website’s ticketing system. In that case, you’re actually contacting its main contributor and project director Nebulab, which is, as we’ve already said, is an eCommerce consulting agency.
However, because of the nature of an open-source project, you’re not guaranteed immediate support. Instead, you can rely on a community of over 670 contributors and a Slack channel you can join with over 4059 members.
You’ll also find guides online to help you get started with the platform and with any contributions you want to make. The guides delve into the API for developers and explore various features, including customization, inventory, extensions, shipments, taxation, etc.
Keep in mind that because Solidus keeps evolving through new contributions from the community, you’ll need to be tech-savvy enough to understand how Github works. To get all security updates for your store, for example, you should enable alerts for vulnerable dependencies in Github or subscribe to the Solidus security mailing list. As you’ve probably gathered, staying up to date with Solidus will require you to be a little more involved than the average eCommerce platform.
Solidus.io Review: Our Verdict
In short, here’s what we think Solidus does well:
- Store creation: It allows you to create a highly customizable store.
- Headless eCommerce: Since this framework has no head, so to speak, it can be carried over to different mediums. You can run a store powered by Solidus on your own website and blog, no matter what tools you've used to build that site.
- Flexibility: You can use Solidus to manage vendors, logistics, payments, and marketing from one unified back-end. This gives you a lot of flexibility for creating and managing your store. With some Solidus coding magic, you can automate all the features that might traditionally slow your business down, such as inventory, stock, and product management. Not to mention with Solidus’s extensive integration list, you can streamline workflows using third-party or community extensions to manage the ins and outs of everyday business tasks.
All in all, providing that you have the right technical smarts (or you’re able to employ someone who does), Solidus offers all the building blocks your business needs to create a great eCommerce store.
What’s not to like? Tell us your thoughts about Solidus in the comments box below.
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