In the second quarter of 2015, the U.S. retail...
Key Drupal’s Advantages to Leverage by E-commerce: Top 4 Reasons to Convince Business OwnersWhat makes Drupal a good choice for running an e-commerce website is a combination of in-built characteristics, which lay the basis for a successful online shop, and modules, which add e-commerce-focused features or enhance them.
Effective Content ManagementToday e-commerce websites need to leverage multiple types of content - lookbooks, tutorials, editorials, product demonstration videos, mood videos, testimonials - to make the customer’s journey on an e-commerce website as pleasing as possible. Managing such rich content can be a hard task for purely e-commerce systems like Magento, which have been focusing more on order management systems (OMS), product information management (PIM) and other shopping tools. Meanwhile, Drupal has been developing its content management and editing tools - and has achieved significant results in this direction.
What unique benefits does Drupal offer to e-commerce?
- Facilitating management of various types of content. Drupal treats pieces of content of one type as nodes, thus allowing to diversify the content and to manage this diversity. First, it allows to create different pieces of content for different purposes and configure their publication. Second, it makes it easier to introduce and manage changes, as they will apply to all content of one type.
- Organizing content in any chosen form. Drupal’s taxonomy stands for organizing and tagging content in any chosen way with keyword-rich terms and references. Thus, different products get interrelated not only within a single tree structure, but get interconnected with products from other trees, significantly diversifying the links within an e-store and allowing to create a content structure of any form.
- Multichannel experience with decoupled Drupal. With the decoupled CMS, content is stored as structured data components and uses common APIs and repositories. This allows to post products and other content from an e-commerce website anywhere and on any device in the right format. Hence, posting products on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay gets extremely easy.
- Easy content sharing across multiple channels. Drupal is extremely modular and boasts thousands of modules on its official website. Among them one can find a wide array of social media integration modules which easily connect online customers to the Twitter and Facebook social media feeds from an e-commerce website - a fact not to ignore when you think about 32% more sales achieved by stores which have a social account.
One of the successful examples of applying the content-driven approach to a Drupal-based website has been presented by Lush: all products are accompanied by a video demonstrating each product in action, with separate products being interrelated in diverse and non-typical ways. The first 18 months of the website work proved its extreme efficiency, with a 64% increase in orders and 75% in sessions.
Constant User EngagementDrupal has a number of modules aimed at engaging customers and building long-term relations with them.
- Personalization Module, which builds a personalized profile of a customer based on his or her geolocation and behavior on the website, and helps deliver relevant content.
- Browsing History Recommender, which, by using the customer’s browsing history, provides 2 types of recommendations: ‘Users who browsed this node also browsed’, which is associated with a node’s page and doesn’t change for different users; and ‘Recommended for you’, which is personalized and based on the customer’s browsing history.
- Commerce Recommender, which provides recommendations based on the customer’s purchasing history.
- Context Module, which allows to set contextual conditions to be met to trigger a certain reaction (for example, a special theming of a view page or additional sidebars popping up).
Payment Transaction ManagementWhen it comes to payment transactions, an essential feature of an e-commerce website, Drupal has numerous modules which provide for seamless and secure checkout experience. First of all, these are modules which support integration with the principal payment gateways like PayPal, Amazon Pay, Authorize.Net and many others. Second, there are modules extending the gateway functionality. For example, PayPal Payments Advanced allows to process the full payment transactions without redirecting the customers to the payment gateway site. Another example is the First Data Global Data e4 solution or PayPal Website Payments Pro Hosted which enforce the payment security.
Built-in SEO functionalityIn the era of online shopping expansion Google rankings can help an e-commerce business quickly succeed - or fail. And though no one can replace highly-qualified SEO specialists, still there are features in Drupal which will assist them in their work.
Which features guarantee Drupal’s SEO friendliness?
- Native caching. Usually caching is the main reason of a lower page load speed – and this criterion is crucial for Google’s search engine. Turning content into static pages for quick and easy retrieval often passes with no native caching, i.e. the user computers need to retrieve all that data from the server to load everything. Drupal, on the contrary, is empowered with extensive caching options. This results in a much quicker page load, which is well indexed by search engines for boosting the e-store's page rank.
- Flexible control over URL links. Though any CMS can provide customized URLs, Drupal executes this customization especially effectively. It gives a custom URL, i.e. URL alias, to each node and allows to automatically generate user- and search engine-friendly URLs based on any information related to the node: content type (page, blog post, etc.), date, time, or anything else.
Besides Drupal's native SEO-friendly functionality, a number of freely distributed modules can be added to a website to improve its SEO characteristics.
- Metatag, which automatically provides structured metatags about the website in the header part of the website. Metatags get added to HTML pages in order to provide more information about the page for search engines, social networks, and other services. The module places metatags and HTML title tags into the header part of the website, thus facilitating the work of the search engine in defining the content of a webpage.
- Search 404, which, instead of showing a standard ‘404 Page not found’ notification, performs a search on the keywords in the URL. This is done for retaining visitors coming in from old URLs, which are placed on other sites or from search indices.
- Pathauto, which automatically turns URLs into clean ones, i.e. URLs which can be read and understood by the user.
E-commerce Project Cases When Drupal Will Be the Best SolutionThe choice of the platform on which an online store will be built depends much on the specific requirements of a business. For example, a small e-shop demanding a fast delivery and frequent updates will work well on a WordPress website. But in some situations Drupal’s above-mentioned characteristics make it a great match for e-commerce projects.
Uniquely-looking websiteToday customers are no more satisfied with a simple e-commerce catalog giving a brief product description: they want videos (73% customers feel persuaded by it); authentic customer reviews (55% admit their power), and product comparisons (as stated by 46% customers). Those e-commerce business owners, who want to comply with the trends, will appreciate Drupal for its extreme flexibility and a bunch of modules, which allow to create a website of any form. When hiring a trusted Drupal website developer, an online store owner can be sure that all the necessary pieces of information will be integrated without going deep into coding.
In practice it means:
- More quick and consequently lower costs for content integration work;
- Less chance of eventual bugs, and therefore a smoother functioning of a content-heavy website.
Non-typical forms of catalogizationThis feature comes hand in hand with the previous one. Drupal can provide really original ways of interconnecting different pieces of content thanks to Drupal’s taxonomy. If you check such different from each other websites as Eurocentres global language center, Make Up For Ever cosmetics manufacturer and Sport Master sports shops chain, you will see that each time products and services are organized in a unique way.
More social engagementInteractive content on an e-commerce website wins: for example, interactive video ads boost viewing time by 47%. Drupal as a CMS makes the process of adding videos, forums, polls, quizzes, product ratings, FAQs and others pretty simple. Purely e-commerce platforms like Magento provide this possibility as well – but the final development price will be much higher. Integrating interactive content pieces will be resolved through designing the second platform, which will entail additional work hours to guarantee a seamless functioning between the two platforms, or through tweaking the current Magento platform, which initially doesn’t provide these types of content.
Drupal E-commerce Modules: Quickly Turning the CMS Platform into a Full-Fledged E-commerce SolutionHowever, one of the factors confusing potential Drupal customers, is the fact that Drupal is a non-specialised solution for e-commerce. As a website application development company with expertise in Drupal projects, we, at R-Style Lab, have faced these concerns many times from our clients. Noneetheless, turning the Drupal platform into an elaborate e-commerce solution is not an unsolvable task. Drupal provides a number of ready-made e-commerce modules, among which the most popular ones are Drupal Commerce and Ubercart.
Drupal CommerceIn September 2017, the Drupal Commerce 2.x version was released, adding new capacities to a module, which has already become known for providing a specialized platform for online stores. Its functionality includes basic features, like Product description, Order history, and a possibility to integrate 3 party payment gateways, as well as advanced features, which can be additionally extended by integrating modules: simple integration with 3 party shipping services like FedEx or UPS, multiple order types, or multistore functionality. Compared with its competitor, Drupal Commerce has a steeper learning curve, as it is more customizable. This customization is explained by a set of features in the core module, making Drupal Commerce more configurable than Ubercaft, which presents only one module as a core of the system, enhanced by additional modules. Thanks to its greater modularity, Drupal Commerce is more suitable for intensively growing projects, with an evident necessity to scale up in the future.
As a result, this robust nature makes Drupal Commerce a perfect solution for large online shops, displaying a great amount of products, or niche stores, which tend to present their products or services in a non-typical way.
UbercartIt’s another module that represents a full-sized e-commerce solution. It once gave birth to Drupal Commerce, and has always been appreciated for its benefits, first of all simplicity. Ubercart is easier to set up and deploy, compared with Drupal Commerce, and it comes with more out-of-the-box functionality.
This makes Ubercart a great solution for small to medium-size online shops with a modest e-commerce functionality, like a shopping cart feature or third-party payment gateway integration.