If you’re running an e-commerce store, one which provides a platform for users to purchase products and services, but that “knows” them and interacts with them, then firebase could be a route to take, but it requires specialized developer knowledge and only really lends itself to certain types of uses.
So is it good for e-commerce and if so how does it serve them? In this article, we’re going to dive into that question and relate it to your ideas or concepts for your e-commerce platform.
But first, here’s the quick takeaway short answer, then we’ll look at some details and models…
Is firebase good for e-commerce? As a platform, firebase is a software development kit that combines end to end build, improve, and grow functionality for apps. For e-commerce, this product suite can be used as an add-app for your website. You can connect audiences, communicate with them, analyze the data and add features.
But it’s not a plug and play type of software, Firebase is more akin to backend development that provides a framework for front end User Interface. And it’s not something you can run through your website, it’s aimed at iOS and Android platforms. But the features and scalability are pretty endless.
So yes, you can build your e-commerce offering through Firebase… or should we say “employ, someone,” specialized in using Firebase to build your e-commerce store using firebase.
And it has been done! We’ll go through a couple of examples shortly, but first, let’s take a look at what Firebase actually is and what it’s aimed at!
What is Firebase?
Firebase is a software developers kit provided by Google. It’s a suite of some 18 web and mobile app building modules used to create feature-rich apps for your website or mobile app.
These modules… or features are built into three distinct areas that provide options to build, improve, and grow your app and your business – end to end.
According to Google, Firebase “Build apps fast, without managing infrastructure. Firebase gives you functionality like analytics, databases, messaging and crash reporting so you can move quickly and focus on your users.”
What is Firebase Used for?
Firebase is used to build bespoke web applications such as web-based platforms, examples include social media-based apps and sharing platforms. As well as applications for mobile apps on iOS and Android, predominantly game-based apps.
Why is Firebase Good for E-commerce
Firebase leverages data, this means that it gathers, stores and calls upon data from all your users to enable you to improve upon your app features and better target your audience with relevant information and provide a pathway to richer user experience.
This means you can, over time, develop a more bespoke app experience for all the users on your website or mobile platform.
Because Firebase uses mass data that can be hosted in the cloud, that means the growth of the app is unlimited, this is vital for future scaleability as it means the platform will grow with your business, rather than having to switch to a different platform, and all the inherent difficulties that come with that kind of mass-scale project.
Because this is a kit provided by Google, it comes with Google’s own analytical platforms alongside it – as one of the connectable modules. This enables you to interrogate how users are arriving, using and experiencing the app.
Firebase for E-commerce
When we look at Firebase use for e-commerce, we can see a number of advantages.
First of all, I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that the basic version of this app is also free as part of Google’s suite of products!
The “spark plan” is free for hobbyists and provides a handsome amount of cloud space and features.
This means as a small business – or someone testing this platform for use in their e-commerce solution, has the ability to test the environment and begin building and using the platform, without having to change the whole setup when it’s time to scale up.
You can simply add a suitable paid package as you grow.
How to Get Firebase
If you have a google account already, you can simply head over to their Firebase home page and hit “get started”.
In fact, if you have a google account already, you can even install it from the browser bar – as it’s already ready to integrate into your other Google-based apps – good huh!
Because it’s hosted in the cloud, your users will almost always be recognized when they log in. Because you can store and sync user and usage data between both users and devices. Not just locally, but globally.
So let’s dive into a bit more detail and list some of the features that can be helpful for your e-commerce site or app.
Firebase Features that Benefit E-commerce
- Cloud Firestore – This is the feature that enables you to store your user data and sync it across devices. This means that your users will be recognized when they return to your store. Their shopping carts and other data will still be intact. No more frustration for users in losing already inputted information.
- Cloud Functions – You can limit the amount of server-side programming by extending features straight from the cloud …using cloud functionality. Events actioned by visitors to your e-commerce store can then be designed to trigger functions that are delivered by other Firebase features, Google Cloud services, or even third parties with the use of webhooks. Such as messaging or recommended products etc.
- Authentication – Users can be managed simply and securely using multiple methods such as email, Google, Facebook authentication. You can build your own interface for authentication or use a third-party open-source product.
- Cloud Storage – Where your users interact with your site app or mobile app, you can store and even share any user-generated content. This can include audio, images or video. For e-commerce, this is great for product reviews and feedback – and it’s all stored securely by Google.
- Performance Monitoring – You can get instant awareness of device issues and initiate fixes for your users without having to be told about them. Performance monitoring can diagnose app performance issues occurring on your users’ devices. Even specific parts of your app can be monitored. Things like startup time and HTTP requests can be logged and monitored too.
- In-App Messaging – This one is a great reason why firebase is good for e-commerce use. You can use real-time in-app messages to engage your active users. This enables you to deliver targetted and relevant messaging, content and recommendations right within the user screen. You can trigger these messages based on what events are triggered on your site so it’s fully customizable on the events and the delivery design.
- Google Analytics – Use a single dashboard to monitor and analyze user behavior and other factors. Empowering you to make informed decisions regarding your user experience, the journey through your app and your product roadmap. Gain insights and information from realtime reporting and raw data.
- Predictions – Every e-commerce platform wants to predict user behavior. Google’s machine learning allows you to anticipate user behavior, aspects such as what particular segments of users are likely to spend or other conversion metrics.
- A/B Testing – You don’t have to risk breaking your program to try something new. You can use A/B testing to see if you can improve the customer journey and your e-commerce conversion rates!
- Cloud Messaging – Not to be confused with In-App messaging. This feature allows you to send FREE messages and notifications to your users across Android, iOS, and the web. Send targetted messages tp groups of devices, or users, single users, or targetted segmentation. You can deliver hundreds of billions of messages every day if you wanted to! But you may not want to spam everyone!
There are others too, third part payment options without the need for a server, customized ad experience for your users, referral scheme options, and more.
Firebase also comes with additional bolt-on extensions. These are also useful for your e-commerce platform. Enabling you to sync with Mailchimp and other third-party apps. And instead of programming from the ground up, why not check out these Firebase e-commerce templates.
Who Uses Firebase (Examples)?
Here’s where we provide you with some real-world examples of where Firebase has been used to customize, enhance and analyze the experience for users. There’s an impressive list, but here are a few to give you the confidence you can use it for your e-commerce platform.
- New York Times
- The Economist
We hope this has been useful in understanding more about how Firebase by Google can be used to build, improve, and grow your e-commerce business.
Firebase isn’t a plug and play “off the shelf and go” type product. You need a developer’s skill set in order to program it, and it takes time. Or you could employ a Firebase programmer to build it for you.