Is Drupal Commerce the right choice for you?
With its progressive framework and community led approach, Drupal Commerce is an interesting choice amongst alternatives. Its endless customisation and evolutionary modules are geared towards bespoke ecommerce stores, but does this mean it’s the right choice for you?
As an experienced Drupal development agency, Versantus has created this Drupal commerce guide featuring the key benefits and disadvantages of this web content management system. Keep reading to find out whether Drupal Commerce would be the best approach for your requirements.
What is Drupal Commerce?
Drupal Commerce is based on an open source framework where the original source code is available to anyone. In essence, you could modify the code as you wish, creating a constantly-evolving, customisable framework.
Drupal Commerce has been developed to provide the framework needed to build a tailored ecommerce store, rather than a restrictive, out of the box solution that isn’t customised to your requirements. With tens of thousands of modules at your fingertips and an ever-evolving framework, it’s easy to see why Drupal Commerce is widely used for ecommerce stores worldwide.
Option to decouple Drupal Commerce
With decoupling and headless rising in popularity due to its progressive nature, being able to decouple Drupal means you can stay ahead of the curve. Decoupled, or headless, Drupal Commerce is where the ‘presentation layer’, or simply the front end, is separated from the back end. Using a headless architecture allows you to push your content or data across different channels e.g website, mobile app, wearable tech. This means that your commerce solution will be easier to update and scale in the future, providing you with extra means of flexibility.
In Drupal 8, Drupal Commerce gives you the tools for multi-store management. Rather than running your multiple stores separately, you can do it all with Drupal Commerce. You can set each store to have its own currency, language and settings to provide a tailored experience for each site.
Payment gateways and multi-currency shipping
Through the use of Drupal’s payment API, you have the choice of a sizeable 139 worldwide payment gateways. If the payment gateway you’re looking to use isn’t listed, you can implement your own thanks to Drupal Commerce’s adaptable framework.
Coupled with the long list of available payment gateways, Drupal also allows you to use multiple currencies in your store which is easily set up through the commerce currency resolver module.
Drupal has provided the tools to create endless product variations for your store. Using product types, attributes and images you can customise your products to show multiple sizes, colours, content, languages and images.
Hooks are a Drupal function which allow Drupal developers to alter or add specific behaviours to base code or data. Rather than changing the base code, you can build on it by using hooks which are called at specific times to alter the front end.
Benefits of Drupal Commerce
With all these features, you should have a pretty good idea whether Drupal Commerce would be right for you, but what are the benefits of these key features?
Drupal Commerce allows endless customisation. As Drupal is more of a framework than a Content Management System (CMS), you can evolve its functionality to suit your specific needs. With Drupal Commerce development, you can create a bespoke store that gives your customers everything they need to convert, providing a fluid experience all the way through to conversion.
Easier for less technical users
The framework gives Drupal developers the opportunity to create a robust solution, without overcomplicating it for non-technical users. Once the store is set up and created to your specifications, the easy to use CMS allows less technical team members to make changes on the site. This smooth day-to-day running of the store means any new updates can be made without much technical knowledge.
Back end systems such as SalesForce and Pardot can be seamlessly integrated to your store, so you can continue to follow up on leads, track campaign metrics and create customer journey mapping.
The Drupal Salesforce Suite module allows Drupal entities to sync with Salesforce objects, so you can push data to and from Salesforce and Drupal and make live changes where necessary.
Pardot can handle your marketing automation by implementing tracking code, integrating core contact forms and tracking individual and web campaign activity.
The list of integrations is extensive so it’s worth reviewing your current systems and cross-referencing the integration available in Drupal Commerce.
Drupal Commerce offers high levels of security, offering more than password and data encryption. A worldwide team of 40 Security Experts monitor, review and improve Drupal’s security. If vulnerabilities are found, a patch is made and corresponding documentation is published to the community with any security advisories.
Search engine friendly
With SEO being a key consideration across all sites, staying on top of reporting, analytics and further optimisation is vital. The Drupal SEO Tools module does just that by providing you all the necessary tools to effectively manage SEO. Rather than reporting in one system and making improvements in another, you can manage it all through Drupal modules for a centralised approach.
Not vendor locked
If you were to build your store in a CMS such as Shopify, you would commonly need to pay a licensing fee in order to use their platform. This is called Vendor Lock, where you’re restricted by the constraints set by the platform. With open source ecommerce, you’re free to create, modify and enhance your project as you wish, with no restrictions on how you handle your own project.
Disadvantages of Drupal Commerce
Drupal Commerce is extensively customisable as it provides a framework to create a bespoke solution. With this level of flexibility comes a justified price tag. Drupal Commerce is geared towards developers, more so than other solutions on the market. Whilst getting started with Drupal Commerce is free, Drupal development can become costly when creating a bespoke site that handles specific requirements.
It’s important to remember that Drupal’s customisable and ever-evolving framework means it’s future-proof. So higher outright costs can lead to longer term gains when it comes to your end user’s experience.
High entry level
Whilst flexibility is a tangible advantage, it can also be complicated and daunting if you’re unsure what you’re doing, it would be advisable to hire a skilled Drupal development team. Even though the setup can seem daunting, once it’s all completed, the maintenance of the store is easy and smooth.
Alternatives to Drupal Commerce
After reading about the benefits and disadvantages of Drupal Commerce, you might think it isn’t the best solution for you. However, Drupal has another solution that could be better suited.
Commerce Kickstart is a faster way of getting a store up and running in Drupal. It’s an out of the box solution that is quick, easy and free to use. It’s compatible with multiple devices, simple to use, and provides a demo store where you can amend the content, modules and make changes.
The downside to Commerce Kickstart is that, whilst it’s free and easy to set up, it doesn’t offer the same flexibility as Drupal Commerce. It’s also worth noting it’s not compatible with Drupal 8, meaning you’ll have to use Drupal Commerce instead.
Is Drupal Commerce the right choice for you?
Drupal Commerce is a dynamic solution which can be modified to fit your needs. You won’t be restricted by vendor lock, or have issues with integrating your current back end systems. Equally, once the store is set up, it’s a great CMS for less technical team members to use, so maintenance can be streamlined appropriately.
Ultimately, whether Drupal Commerce will suit you or not depends on how much flexibility you need, whether you have the technical knowledge to correctly set up the store and how future-proofed you would like your store to be. With the option to create a headless solution, the progressive nature of Drupal Commerce means you can evolve the store as decoupling and headless architecture become commonplace.
In terms of the end user, with Drupal Commerce you can create an entirely unique website that has all the functionality, product variations and cart options you need to optimise the shopping experience for users.
We've been supporting organisations with their digital solutions since 2009, so don't hesitate to get in touch with our team to discuss whether Drupal Commerce would be the best fit for your business.
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