The global retail eCommerce market is anticipated to experience an exponential growth in the coming years, with sales predicted to surge from $3.53 trillion in 2019 up to an estimated $6.54 trillion by 2023. This rapid expansion presents a set of complex challenges that must be addressed in order to ensure continued success. Enterprise and mid-market retailers must be prepared to manage increased customer traffic, refine their analytics, and provide flexible options for quickly launching products. As a relatively new addition to the eCommerce market, Workarea Commerce Platform is positioning itself as an exceptionally customizable and technologically advanced solution, providing the necessary tools to effectively overcome the difficulties posed by this growth.
Workarea Commerce Platform
Prior to 2017, the commerce and operations management systems supplier known as WebLinc had been in business for over two decades, developing solutions to enhance eCommerce processes and increase customer efficiency. Several prominent companies, including Reformation and Lonely Planet, have recently adopted Workarea to replace their outdated platforms.
The Workarea Commerce Platform is an open-source application that enables merchants to manage their business operations with a comprehensive suite of features. This platform combines commerce, content management, site search, and insights into a single solution, allowing retailers to create online storefronts and transact with customers in both the B2B and B2C sectors. Additionally, merchants can take advantage of the integrated content management and insight analytics tools to ensure their operations are efficient and secure. With the Workarea Commerce Platform, businesses have access to the comprehensive set of features they need to set up and manage their enterprises.
The Workarea Commerce Platform offers comprehensive customizations that are often only attainable through third-party integrations or specialised solutions for specific requirements, like business intelligence dashboards. This flexibility and scalability enables businesses to tailor the platform to meet their exact needs.
The company provides a cloud-based service that utilises the open-source version as its foundation, with the addition of commercial plugins such as Business-to-Business (B2B), subscription, and multi-site administration capabilities. Furthermore, merchants are able to benefit from the complete cloud hosting and technical operations services necessary for running an enterprise-level commerce platform.
Due to the necessity of avoiding any potential obstacles to further growth, it is essential that merchants evaluate the impact that their chosen eCommerce platform will have on their business and customers in all aspects. This assessment is vital in order to ensure that the platform does not become a hindrance.
Characteristics of Workarea
Management of Commerce
Every merchant has a catalogue or inventory of available products. These can be tangible items that have a physical inventory, such as commodities, but they may also be intangible items such as digital downloads, warranties and services like repair time units or technical assistance. The basic data about the product is stored on the product itself, while the details about the variations of the product are stored on the embedded variations. Each variation is identified by its unique SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) which is a retailer-provided identifier that encodes the variant’s features and allows it to be identified across the Workarea system and other systems.
Workarea Admin offers merchandising capabilities that include a mix of:
- Search, suggestions, and analytics automation
- Navigation, content, pages, categories, search result modifications, suggestion settings, price, and discounts are all configurable.
Administrators may control which goods are shown to customers, as well as where, when, and how.
Effective content management is essential for achieving brand recognition in specific markets. Business users have the capacity to create, modify, preview, and publish material through a simple drag-and-drop interface. HTML code, a Ruby utility, and assets make up the Content Block, which is designed to support a wide array of content block types, including image, text, video, button, taxonomy, and quotation. For more technically-inclined users, the Content Block DSL may be used to extend and customise the various content block types available.
The management of search engine optimisation (SEO) in the workplace is designed to increase visibility in search engines by allowing business users to customise essential SEO elements, such as page titles, alternative text for images, and meta descriptions. By optimising these elements, businesses can ensure that their website content is as effective as possible in generating organic search engine traffic.
Workarea’s default catalogue search is a powerful and versatile tool that offers users a comprehensive selection of product results, philtre options, sorting capabilities, and pagination options on both category and search results pages.
Storefront searches can be tailored to meet customer requests by adjusting settings such as search terms, facets, field boosts, and product popularity multipliers. Administrators can also modify individual queries with highlighted goods, product rules, and query rewrites. Categories can be further enhanced with unique highlighted goods and product criteria, as well as custom phrases, ranges, and default sorting. Additionally, Workarea’s native product suggestions offer a useful marketing tool for the Storefront, providing shoppers with suggested products in a variety of scenarios. It is also possible to alter both the matching and relevance of documents in relation to a given search query.
Analytics and Insights
Businesses or technical users who operate an online store can gain a comprehensive understanding of the customer experience across the Storefront, thereby enabling them to identify potential opportunities for growth.
Workarea utilises Metrics to keep track of a website’s activity on a daily or weekly basis. This process allows us to collect valuable information and insights such as catalogue activity across SKUs and product levels, order lifecycles, discount usage, and search data, among other things. The majority of reports and insights that can be found in the Workarea admin are a direct result of this data collection.
While Workarea’s current suite of metrics provides insights into essential data points, some teams may require custom definitions of metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs). In order to accommodate this, a developer should create a new metric class to store the relevant data in the appropriate database. It should also be noted that the developer should have full control over how each new measure is collected.
The Workarea platform offers a selection of reports that can be used to accurately measure and assess the performance of an ecommerce website. Additionally, with the assistance of a developer, it is possible to generate new reports to review data retrieved from metrics or any other collection stored in the database.
Workarea development has a learning curve, and certain essential modules have insufficient documentation.
The Active Merchant gem provides a convenient way to manage interactions with payment gateways. In order to customise Workarea payment models to align with individual gateway implementations, it is necessary to undertake additional programming tasks.
Additionally, implementing a single-page application (SPA) framework for Workarea’s front-end development may prove to be more adaptive to changing needs and requirements. This approach would result in a more flexible system architecture and ultimately make it easier to implement and maintain.
Management of Design and Content
Due to the limited number of sample storefront themes that Workarea offers, it is highly likely that prospective merchants will want to customise the front-end of their store to create a unique user experience.
Due to the limited number of prebuilt content blocks, it may be difficult for administrators to manage large designs with complex structures. For example, if a layout requires text to be structured in three columns, custom content block types will need to be created.
The What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) editor is yet another option for managing content, however it offers only limited functionality. It does not provide any means to deal with images, adjust margins, or apply complex font styles. All of these operations can be done manually in HTML format, but it requires some technical knowledge to do so.
Workarea Commerce Cloud
Workarea Commerce Cloud is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product that provides customers with greater scalability and enhanced features, on top of the open-source core of the Workarea Commerce Platform, all hosted in the cloud. The SaaS product offers a comprehensive suite of features, allowing customers to easily access and manage their systems without the worry of hosting and maintaining the underlying infrastructure.
It’s crucial to understand that clients’ sensitive data will be safer with a hosted solution.
Workarea Commerce Cloud provides a wide array of features that make it an ideal solution for any retail business. With capabilities that are market-leading in terms of fundamental functionality, this platform offers a number of advantages that could make it a great fit. Some of the most beneficial features include:
- Upgrades are seamless. Workarea releases several new features in the background on a quarterly basis since the platform is SaaS.
- Support groups. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to handle any problems that may occur.
- By hosting Workarea Commerce Cloud sites across multiple availability zones, businesses are able to benefit from increased scalability and the elimination of the need to rely on on-premise systems to power their eCommerce websites. This not only allows customers to access the full range of services provided by their eCommerce website, but also provides redundancy, ensuring that the website remains available and accessible even in the event of a disruption.
- CDN that uses dynamic caching. This enables Workarea to provide the most material from the nearest locations to clients.
- PCI compliance and security at the highest level. This guarantees that sensitive information is accepted, processed, and sent safely.
Technical View of the Workarea
Our platform is built using a suite of top-notch open-source technologies, making the development process easier and allowing the online store to enjoy high speed and dependability.
- Ruby programming language and Ruby on Rails web framework
- Mongoid object-document mapper and MongoDB document database
- Full-text search engine Elasticsearch
- Sidekiq background jobs in Ruby on Rails
- Redis, among other things, stores the Sidekiq work queue, saves suggestions, and acts as the Rails cache.
- Templates for Haml
- Stylesheets in SCSS
- UI components based on BEM
- Utility library Lodash
- Ajax and DOM manipulation using jQuery
MongoDB and Elasticsearch Form an Effective Partnership
MongoDB, a NoSQL database management system, is a major driving force in current technology. Many eCommerce platforms rely on relational database management systems such as MySQL. However, this can lead to difficulties when attempting to quickly and effectively alter primary entities, as these systems use fixed schemas, requiring code retrofitting to upgrade. NoSQL, on the other hand, is more useful for data modelling due to its scalability. One downside to using NoSQL is its lack of performance when handling complex queries. To make up for this, Workarea uses a combination of MongoDB and Elasticsearch, which allows for fast and reliable querying.
Deployment and Source Code
Prior to the release of its open-source code in September 2019, the platform was developed through years of extensive research and engineering. The code, which is now available on GitHub, is neatly organised but may prove to be quite challenging for developers who are unfamiliar with Rails or eCommerce to comprehend due to the platform’s complexity.
Due to the need for testing before investing, the Workarea Commerce Platform can be quickly deployed locally using only one command with Docker. For hosting the program, merchants have the choice of Google Cloud, Azure, or Amazon Web Services. However, the complexity of hosting a product commerce application may be too much for some merchants, which is why they may opt to create their own cloud service.
Although Workarea applications can be deployed on Windows operating systems, the platform is best supported and optimised for Unix operating systems (such as macOS). Many of Workarea’s features and capabilities rely on a familiarity with the Unix shell. To facilitate the development of new sites and the management of existing ones, Workarea provides an intuitive command-line interface (CLI).
Testing is an integral part of the software development process. Due to the vast scope of the Workarea platform, it would be difficult and prone to errors if the evaluation process was done manually. To address this issue, Workarea has integrated a fully automated test suite in order to ensure accuracy and precision. These tests are written in Minitest and have been crafted with the same standards as tests for Rails apps, with some slight changes.
Tom Scott and Curt Howard, two ardent Ruby specialists, announce Workarea fixes and releases.
Numerous Customization Options
Workarea is designed to be flexible and customizable to meet even the most complex of eCommerce needs. Our platform allows extensive customization of both the client-facing elements, such as layouts and templates, and the back-end business logic, including discount types, product calculators, storefront searches, and middleware.
Due to the fact that the Workarea platform is built on an architecture of Rails engines, the same customization instructions for Rails engines also apply. The platform is created in strict adherence to the principles of Ruby on Rails, making it a straightforward and easy platform for developers to learn. Additionally, the platform features Rails decorators, which provide Rails developers with a familiar and uncomplicated way to customise Ruby classes while still maintaining a smooth upgrade process.
The Workarea platform is equipped with a library of plugins that are designed to expand its functionality. These plugins range from additional content blocks, wish lists, to integration with payment gateways. By leveraging these features, users are able to benefit from a more complete experience when using the Workarea platform.
Workarea is an exceptionally robust and powerful Representational State Transfer (REST) Application Programming Interface (API) that enables simple and efficient connection with other applications and headless commerce. This API empowers developers to make informed technical decisions while providing them with a comprehensive set of tools to do so.
Due to its straightforward design, scalability, and integration capabilities, Workarea presents a viable alternative to more widely-used platforms. That being said, businesses must be prepared to invest in the platform, either via the subscription-based Cloud solution or the open-source model, which requires a considerable time commitment but has a lower financial cost.
Workarea offers technology-savvy business owners the flexibility and ability to grow and manage their online sales. The Workarea dashboard provides business users with visibility into the most vital aspects of their sales operations, enabling them to keep track of the progress they are making.
Workarea provides an easy-to-use, customizable storefront that gives business users the creative control to manage catalogues, personalise their online storefronts, and initiate sales. Our straightforward drag-and-drop tools ensure that users can quickly and easily customise the appearance and functionality of their site. With an intuitive, reliable interface, Workarea simplifies the process for merchants and marketers to achieve results-driven sales.
Workarea delivers a familiar and current tech stack, a clean and modular codebase, and plenty of room for innovation for agile developers.
Workspace is incredibly versatile and, although it is still relatively new, it does not offer as much community support compared to more established platforms. However, the community is constantly growing and their dedicated Customer Success Team usually responds to questions posted on the forum within a day or two. Establishing a Workarea requires the use of experienced Ruby developers, yet once it is up and running, it offers an abundance of comprehensive features.