I was approached by a person from a leading Finnish e-commerce software provider Smilehouse, that I should mention their web shop community, Wosbee. They claim that Wosbee is the world’s biggest web shop community.
Wosbee is based on Smilehouse Workspace, “the most advanced software platform for e-commerce”. Big words, especially from a Finnish company, as we are usually quite modest in describing ourselves. Workspace is aimed at big and mid-sized companies and Wosbee is their free service aimed at small companies and entrepreneurs.
Wosbee not only offers a free hosted webshop solution, but you can also download it for free for use on your own server. The idea behind Wosbee is to build a community that will take care of user support and at the same time aid the product development of Smilehouse’s commercial products.
The sign-up for Wosbee was very easy, it only took me 2 minutes to setup my own webshop. Some of the provided themes looked pretty nice although some were quite awful. The admin features are very comprehensive but the user interface looks and feels like you just stepped ten years back in time. The service feels like that it’s a stripped down from an enterprise-level product and not made for the small business owner, with little or no resources, in mind.
Wosbee is built on pretty decent work of Finnish engineering. It has all the necessary functionalities one needs from an e-commerce platform and seems reliable and robust. From a user experience perspective it feels cold and complex. I wish they would update the visuals and user interface to a more modern feel.
And what comes to their claim of being the world’s biggest web shop community, it’s hard to find evidence to back their big words. A discussion forum doesn’t constitute a community in this day and age. Although I like that the minimal user profiles have some information on he user’s web shop, like how many products are on sale and what is their average price. Besides the forum and the incorporated profiles, there are no other community features.
All and all, Wosbee is good try to as an effort do get small businesses to use Smilehouse’s products early on and hope that they will grow enough to need a commercial product one day. The idea of crowdsourcing user support and product development is usually good, but Wosbee is not quite up to the ask in it’s current form.
A lot better example of a simple, free (to a degree) Finnish e-commerce solution that is both user and admin friendly and also looks good is under development at MyCashFlow. Oh, and what about Fruugo?