If you’re the CTO or a Project Manager at a retail company who has just heard of Reaction Commerce and is wondering how it compares to the existing platforms on the marketplace, this article is for you. We will share some of the advantages that Reaction Commerce offers over other platforms out there and whether you should consider using it as the engine to run your e-commerce business.
When I first heard of Reaction Commerce, I couldn’t help but wonder whether there is a place for yet another e-commerce platform in the market. There are already dozens of e-commerce platforms competing with each other, such as Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, OpenCart, etc. Does the world really need another e-commerce platform?
Reaction Commerce is mobile responsive and blazing fast by default. No platform today can survive if it doesn’t meet the basic requirements of the modern web. While it appears faster, more efficient and more modern than most of its competitors, what does ‘faster’ and ‘modern’ mean to YOUR business? And more importantly, what unique value does Reaction bring to the end users — your customers.
Before we dive into that, let’s go over some highlights of Reaction Commerce:
- Reaction Commerce is the first ‘realtime’ open-source e-commerce platform.
- Reaction Commerce has more GitHub stars than many of its bigger competitors such as Woocommerce and OpenCart, which reflects the huge interest of the developer community in their technology.
- Reaction comes with detailed documentation to help your developers get started. There is also an active Glitter channel to answer your questions about the platform.
- It’s growing fast as many medium to enterprise level businesses are switching to Reaction Commerce. Sports Direct, one of the world’s largest sporting goods and fashion retailers is building its future on Reaction.
Need more convincing? Let’s dive in and talk about the core advantages of Reaction Commerce over its competitor platforms.
1) Reaction Commerce is real-time
As stated earlier, Reaction Commerce is a real-time e-commerce platform. With Reaction, the data on the server gets updated as the user interacts with the page in real time, not just for that user but for everyone viewing the page at that very moment, without them having to refresh the page.
Before you take real-time as a ‘nice to have’ feature, let us help you imagine how the experience of using a real-time platform can be different from a platform that is not real-time:
A customer is trying to check out with an out of stock product
Imagine you have a product with a limited inventory, and a customer adds a product to their cart. By the time they check out, the product goes out of stock, causing frustration to your customer. It may not seem like a problem if your website is new and has little traffic, but as your traffic increases and your centralized inventory gets distributed to multiple apps, it can become a real problem for your business.
By using a real-time platform, your customers will be able to see the current stock quantity while they are still on the page, which will prevent them from adding an out of stock product to their cart.
2) Reaction is lightning fast
When users land on a standard e-commerce website, they perform several common actions. They open your homepage, check collections, apply filters, open products, add to their cart, and so on and so forth. Every time a customer takes an action, text, and images are loaded on each page change by their browser.
And it’s not just the media, your server also loads third-party scripts such as tracking pixels with every page reload. Caching may help mitigate this effect, but ultimately, you’ll hit a wall in terms of optimization.
Reaction, on the other hand, works differently. It loads all the resources behind the scenes. And not just for the current request, but also for all the expected future requests. As all the data becomes available locally, the subsequent pages open for your customers at a lightning speed. Furthermore, using Reaction puts less load on the server as it only fetches what it needs and not the entire page. As a result, your customers are able to engage with your e-commerce website faster than non-reactive platforms. And this plays a huge role in helping to improve your conversion rate.
3) It’s full-featured
Whether you want to build a single shop or a full-fledged online marketplace, you can do it all with Reaction Commerce. It’s a truly full-featured e-commerce platform and covers everything that you would expect from an e-commerce platform, such as:
- Inventory management
- Heavily customizable navigation trees for managing menus
- Order management
- Customer profiles
- One-page checkout
- Advanced search, soon to be handled by ElasticSearch
- Flexible shipping rates
- Total freedom in storefront customization
4) Customize and scale however you want
Reaction Commerce gives your team the flexibility to build modern and scalable e-commerce solutions efficiently. From the front-end to the back-end, everything is customizable. Your team can either customize Reaction’s default storefront, which — by the way — is an excellent starting point to build a modern e-commerce experience or create a new storefront from scratch. They can even create as many storefronts as required and connect them to the same back-end. Very handy, for example, if you’re targeting multiple markets and need to adapt your customer experience to each of them!
Plus, Reaction comes with all necessary features to target an international customer base, such as currency conversion & localized currency formats. It offers easy integration options with all the popular payment gateways, such as PayPal, Auth.net and Stripe. It also offers plenty of third-party integrations, for operations such as shipping (with Shippo), and tax calculation with Avalara.
As with other platforms, you can also create a custom code to integrate with 3rd party APIs.
Hooks: Imagine you want to send an SMS to your order dispatching team each time a user abandons the cart. Or maybe you want to send an SMS to the shipper as soon as the administrator creates an order. You can create custom actions for any event using Reaction Hooks which allows your system to interact with any third party service in many different circumstances.
5) It’s headless – offer your customers a richer shopping experience
Typical e-commerce solutions are built in a way that the front-end and back-end work for each other exclusively. Your inventory team publishes storefronts from the operator interface exclusively for your website’s front-end, which is restricted by a rigid design. This results in a cookie cutter shopping experience for your customers.
Reaction Commerce, on the other hand, takes a headless approach. It is a decoupled solution where the front-end and the back-end can be operated independently, while still being connected with each other. Using a headless platform gives your front-end developers the ability to design shopping experiences with total freedom as they no longer need to confine themselves to a cookie cutter template and a single output possibility. With Reaction’s back-end and the endless possibilities of its API, you can push your products to more than just your website, i.e.—to your mobile app, event kiosk, a voice interface such Alexa, and more.
Furthermore, thanks to the GraphQL API, Reaction’s back-end can be leveraged from any satellite project such as mobile apps.
Ultimately, retailers that combine authentic content and commerce speak to the new generation of consumers.”
– Sara Hicks, Co-Founder of Reaction Commerce
6) Modern software stack
Many of the existing e-commerce platforms were created before the launch of the iPhone, and thus they are fundamentally not built for today’s connected audience. Reaction Commerce, on the other hand, is built to its core for real-time connectivity between users across multiple platforms. This real-time connectivity is made possible using a stack of most modern technologies including:
- Meteor – the most popular backend web app framework on Github
- GraphQL – Facebook’s open-source data query and manipulation language for APIs
- MongoDB – a popular NoSQL database
- Next.js – a lightweight framework for static and server-rendered applications
And it’s not just about the technology. If you check the Reaction Commerce’ demo storefront, you will notice that the front-end is designed using the most current design principles of e-commerce.
7) Easier deployment with Docker
Many content management systems and e-commerce platforms come with their own complex server deployment and management challenges. Thankfully, Reaction Commerce was built with Docker in mind. What is Docker? Docker is software which isolates applications to make them run inside what is called ‘containers’, which eliminate any external influences and act as a sandbox so the code runs the same everywhere.
Wrapping-up – What type of project is Reaction Commerce suitable for?
Reaction Commerce is a fast growing e-commerce platform for modern businesses. It is not just an “out of the box” solution like Shopify, but rather a much needed, NEW approach to commerce which addresses head-on the limitations of custom in-house solutions and legacy platforms.
To be more specific, Reaction is an e-commerce platform more suitable for fast-growing “miderprise” businesses (medium to enterprise). Most of these will have hit the upper limit of their existing e-commerce platform and are struggling to scale a bloated codebase, built upon an outdated technology. Undoubtedly, Reaction was made for those who want the speed, flexibility to innovate and are willing to try new things to stay ahead of the competition.
This article is sponsored by out:grow, an e-commerce consultancy that specializes in new and innovative e-commerce technologies like Reaction Commerce. Get in touch with out:grow to get a free assessment of your current and future e-commerce requirements, so that you can confidently decide whether or not Reaction Commerce is the right platform for your business.
Image credit: Lumi