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GoDaddy Will Take On Shopify With A Simpler E-Commerce Storefront Arriving This Spring

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GoDaddy is launching a Shopify competitor aimed at small business customers, TechCrunch learned and the company has confirmed. The “GoDaddy Online Store,” as the new product is being called, will be announced later this week, and is intended as a replacement to the company’s current e-commerce offering QuickShoppingCart.

The forthcoming e-commerce storefront was built on top of Spree Commerce’s open source solution, and offers a number of customizations created by GoDaddy. It’s meant to serve the small business customer who may not be technically inclined when it comes to setting up an online shop. The service will offer these customers a variety of templates to choose from, various layout styles (think 2-column, 3-column, etc.) and will even walk customers through simple questions that will help them get their product inventory online. For example, a customer selling shoes might be asked which sizes are available, or which colors.

Explains Sandeep Grover, GoDaddy Head of Product for Presence and Commerce, the company felt the small business market was being underserved. “There are a lot of e-commerce sites out there, including our own [QuickShoppingCart] that are extremely complicated,” he says. The process today involves purchasing a domain, building a platform (or finding one to build on top of), then managing every aspect of running an e-commerce business yourself, even though a small business owner may not have the time or resources to learn the technicalities of doing so.

“We felt that there’s no solution that’s easy, affordable or extensible,” Grover says.

GoDaddy, which has been making a name for itself in Silicon Valley circles in recent months by snapping up early stage startups focused on small business customers, like Locu and MDot, for example, decided on Spree because it had a sizable feature set, extensibility, robustness and an active community, we’re told.

Spree today powers a number of more complex online stores, including Bonobos, Blue Bottle Coffee, Chipotle, Tommy John and others it’s not permitted to disclose. Its open-source solution for Ruby on Rails allows larger customers to “code their own,” and that’s what GoDaddy has done.

spree-commerce-example

Spree’s paid product has been focused on larger, more complicated online stores, not small business. “GoDaddy is empowering the smaller sellers, and they’re well-positioned to do that,” says Spree Commerce CEO Sean Schofield. “That’s not a strong suit for us…so the partnership made sense for us,” he adds. 

For smaller sellers, the GoDaddy online store is meant to offer the simplicity of a template-based web designer with the power of something like Spree, which lets users build responsive websites that work on mobile, and include integrations with major payment gateways “out of the box,” so to speak. Grover declined to say which payment options GoDaddy’s service would offer, but the payment gateway in Spree’s open source solution was written by Stripe and Braintree, it’s worth noting.

The decision to move to open source for this project is telling in terms of GoDaddy’s strategy, following its hiring of ex-Yahoo product chief Blake Irving as CEO last January. Irving brought a lot of execs from his previous life at Yahoo and Microsoft to GoDaddy, including CTO Elissa Murphy. One of the tenets for the company now is to shift its technical strategy to open source, says Grover, in order “to be a part of the community and give back.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 1.06.58 PMDetails on the GoDaddy Online Store pricing are not yet available, but Grover says it will be “affordable,” which means it should roughly be in the same ballpark as the company’s current solution, which has tiered plans starting at $5/month and scaling up to $25/month. GoDaddy will work to transition its customers off QuickShoppingCart in the months following the Online Store’s launch, which is pegged for sometime later this spring.

“We’re thinking of it as an end-to-end journey,” says Grover of how the online store fits into GoDaddy’s lineup of other offerings, including its in-house offerings and those it acquired, like Locu and MDot. The idea is to usher a small business customer through every step in the process from buying a domain, launching a website or store, acquiring customers, going mobile, and more. “That’s something which is unique to us, and I’ve not seen it anywhere else,” he says.

The forthcoming product will compete in the broader e-commerce market, which includes not only Shopfiy, but also other platforms, like Magento, Bigcommerce, Volusion, Squarespace, Wix or Weebly, to name a few.

Images Credit: Spree Commerce; Note that GoDaddy declined to share screenshots of the forthcoming solution, so Spree’s images were used for illustration purposes.