Review: Moltin eCommerce Platform

Author: Alex Page

2/21/2019 at 10:03 am

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Today we review a true diamond in the rough: the Moltin e-Commerce platform. During one of our recent projects, our client expressed the need for a level of design and systematic flexibility that just would not be possible with Shopify, Squarespace, BigCommerce, or any of the typical players in the e-Commerce platform space. After a bit of research, my team stumbled upon Moltin. We were intrigued by their claim that it was a truly flexible platform, allowing you to wire up any front end and simply use Moltin as the glue. Though skeptical at first, after working with the platform for several months I can honestly say this is the answer to an otherwise unanswered question.

Moltin is a flexible, headless commerce platform made for developers by developers.

With Moltin, you are no longer confined to the rigid design constraints of Squarespace or Shopify. In fact, there is no concept of templates at all. The guardrails are completey removed. You write your front end component in whatever language/framework you want: React, Angular, Vue, Ember, Backbone, you name it. Since the Moltin backend is completely de-coupled, you simply need the ability to make basic REST API calls in order to send/retrieve data from Moltin's backend and the rest is up to you. If you are not a developer, this probably scares you! If you are a dev shop or a capable solo dev and you need this kind of flexibility, Moltin is a great candidate.

You actually can achieve this de-coupled approach by utilizing the Shopify API in a similar fashion. However, if you need to add a custom field to any of the Shopify entities (like Customer or Order), well quite simply you can't! This limits the flexibility to a large degree, and even basic things like the concept of trial items or complex product relationships quite frankly are not able to be achieved with the basic data structure Shopify provides. Moltin solves this by introducing the concept of Custom Fields which can be added to any of their entities. Additionally, Moltin allows you to create custom Relationships between entities which gives you the ability to codify relatively complex business requirements with relative ease.

If you are looking to build a custom e-Commerce site, we have the experience you need, so get in touch with us. Don't get ripped off by the major shops out there, we deliver quality work on tight deadlines at a reasonable cost to you.

squarespace to shopify

Additonally, we found the Moltin documentation to be succinct but sufficient. They do not dwell on irrelvant details or descriptions; they give you the request/response data you need and let you define the rest. We feel this may lead to a steep introductory learning curve, but after a few weeks we have determined their docs are just what you would need and nothing more. The online blogs were especially helpful in that hey go into more details on some of the more complex concepts. The Postman collection they have available for download on their website is a must-have, as it provides a request sample for each of their API operations complete with parameterized headers/auth tokens/url params.

The example projects they have provided on their github repo lend to the fact that the developers at Moltin know what they are doing. The javascript libraries they have chosen to use are definitely on the bleeding-edge side of tech, and the experts at Page IT were impressed with their choices. We feel the developer mentality at Moltin is on-point, and is reflected in the product they deliver.

  • Pros:
    1. Flexibility - Custom Fields, Custom Flows, and no design restrictions with a decoupled frontend.
    2. Reliability - We have yet to experience an outtage, and the fault tolerance they have implemented with a publish/subsribe architecture ensures no data loss in the event of an outtage.
    3. Community - While nowhere near Shopify, the community is large enough to generally find what you need online in Blogs (internal and external to Moltin's).
    4. Pricing - Moltin works with their customers on pricing and offers competitive rates compared to the other platforms with less flexibility.
  • Cons:
    1. Speed - It seems the Moltin AWS S3 buckets are in Europe, which leads to latency with US-based users.
    2. Admin UI - While usable, the Admin UI could use a refresher to make it a bit more intuitive.
    3. API-Only Operations - Some things (like re-assigning main images for child products) have to be done via API calls, and should really be made available in the Admin UI.
    4. Integrations - Besides Stripe, Moltin has not tightly integrated with any of the commonly used ancillary e-Commerce solutions like TradeGecko, Shipstation, Shippo, Mailchimp, Klavyio, etc. so these have to be wired up by you.

    Overall, we strongly feel Moltin is the best player out there with regard to absolute flexibility in the e-Commerce platform space. Flexibility always comes at a cost, especially in IT. But we think Moltin made the right choices as far as what they codified in their platform and what they leave up to you. We at Page IT will definitely be continuing to use Moltin when a custom platform is meritted by the complexity required with some of our e-Commerce clients.

    If you are thinking about starting an e-Commerce site and your design or system requirements won't fit into the strict mold of Shopify or Squarespace, get in touch with us to find out how we can build out a Moltin solution for your custom e-Commerce site.


    Published Comments 1

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    Ricardo
    • 2/21/2019

    Great review. We started using Moltin last month and like you mentioned at first we were a little turned-off by the lack of integrations, but the flexibility of the platform quickly makes up for that.