5 people with shopping bags
Drupal 8 and E-Commerce
2019-01-21
Old Moon Digital

There are a few things to consider when thinking about a Drupal 8 and e-commerce solution for your existing or new website.

First things first, Drupal 8 isn’t an e-commerce platform at its core. It has slowly become more of a framework geared towards content creation, management and curation. With Drupal 8 you get a platform that doesn’t make too many assumptions about what you intend to do with it, apart from the fact it assumes that you’re going to have users with varying levels of permissions and that you will be defining different types of content. Anything outside of the core utilities is left up to the discretion of the community and the developer.

This may sound quite daunting, and perhaps it is for someone who isn’t technical minded or a developer with experience in Drupal, but it really does bring a lot of freedom. Drupal 8 is a canvas with which you can express the needs and requirements of your organization, and that does include e-commerce.

 

What are my options?

There are two main competitors in the Drupal space for e-commerce, these are Drupal Commerce and Ubercart.

Ubercart was the creation of the current Drupal Commerce leader, who left his original creation to work on Commerce. Despite this, both are very different animals. As of writing this article, Ubercart has 30,000+ active installations and Drupal Commerce has 60,000+, which should give you an idea of the usage.

Drupal Commerce has a lot of momentum with the Commerce Guys doing a lot of work in moving it forward, along with a popular installation profile called Commerce Kickstart, which places like Pantheon allow installing when initializing a new site with them. Both of these modules are good choices, however, some people may find Drupal Commerce to be a little more complicated than Ubercart, however Drupal Commerce really does allow for a lot of complex use cases and also has a great number of community modules at the ready that can be leveraged.

 

Anything I should be aware of?

As mentioned previously, Drupal is a content management system, it’s prime goal isn’t to serve as an e-commerce website, that functionality has to be included into the site via a module or bundle of modules. Other platforms that focus on e-commerce as its primary function will often have a full suite of tools and utilities under the hood and at your fingertips. Things like reporting, product variations, inventory control, google analytics integration, product sliders and metrics are usually included in platforms like Shopify, Magento, XCart.

The good thing about Drupal 8 is you only get what you need. A lot of things that come bundled with e-commerce platforms you may feel you have no need for. On top of this, e-commerce specific platforms often tend to be just that, and the content side of things can leave a little more to be desired. Another thing to be aware of with Drupal, especially with Drupal 8, is that your products become content. That means where you define a product with a specific set of attributes, you could essentially link that product to all sorts of different displays, with their own fields attached to them also, which allows you to be very creative with how you choose your products to be displayed.

 

All I want to do is sell, do I need Drupal?

This is really the big question I suppose.

Drupal’s key selling point is it’s completely customizable content, taxonomies, views and permission system, along with its ability to be completely customized from the ground up. While this may sound totally awesome with an endless vista of possibilities, which it is, sometimes this can be overkill for someone who has products ready to sell and just wants to get on doing it.

If you have no desire to branch out in the future and start publishing different kinds of content, if you don’t care too much about where or how you host, and you want to cut back on a lot of development fees when you’d be quite happy with just a simple and fairly generic commerce deployment, then I would direct you towards a platform intended for people like you. To somewhere like Shopify, Magento or XCart.

If you have the desire to be a little more creative, to scale out beyond just the commerce side of things, or you want to tie in your business workflow and process directly to the site, then I would definitely recommend taking a look at Drupal, because it’s something you can mould into something really special and unique.

Curious about what we can do for you?

Get in touch and let's talk!