5-ish Reasons Why You Should Consider Drupal Commerce 2
The online commerce ecosystem is diverse and continuously evolving, and as any web development company can tell you, the business requirements for an ecommerce project are just as unique to each client project we do. Most comparisons of top ecommerce platforms are done as either a checklist of published features, or architectural comparisons, rather than thinking in terms of the bigger picture-- does the platform fit your current and future business requirements, and is it the most cost-effective solution to meet your needs?
As a business owner, the most important, high-level questions you need to ask are:
Do you know what you want?
How do you want that to be achieved?
If you can’t answer those questions, chances are, you’ll most likely look for an ecommerce platform with a lot of out-of-the-box features to cover 80% of the common scenarios. But that comes with some big tradeoffs of such as a bloated codebase (i.e., only using 20% of the features of the platform), assumed functionality with hard-to change conventions, and the temptation to use third-party modules to fill the features gap — which can lead to conflicting extensions, and the need to unravel a tangled ball of suck. Alternatively, if you know what you want and how you want it to be done, you can use a platform that has either a larger set of features, but fewer concrete assumptions/conventions, or a platform that has a core set of features, and offers sensible solutions to extend or override the feature set to “custom fit” your business requirements.
At the recent 2017 DrupalCon North America hosted in Baltimore, the Commerce Guys announced in their Launching Online Stores with Commerce 2.x on Drupal 8 session that their Drupal Commerce 2.x project is expected to be in release-candidate stage by late May or early June. This is exciting news, because it means that Commerce 2.x will have a supported and stable upgrade path for 2.x releases, which means now is a great time to start planning and building your ecommerce project with Drupal 8 + Drupal Commerce 2.x. To back that up, here is list of five reasons why you should consider Drupal Commerce 2.x.
Website content, and smart strategies to manage that content, is extremely critical in today’s era. With voice-based assistants (i.e., Alexa, Siri, OK Google, Cortana), and voice-based search showing strong year-over-year growth patterns, and emerging technologies like virtual and augmented reality quickly becoming the next big step in how humans will interact with your content, you need a powerful and flexible content management system (CMS) like Drupal to be part of the core of your digital marketing plan. Drupal Commerce 2.x (via Drupal) offers the ability to create endless amounts of content types with their own custom fields and attributes, easy editing of data, and rich media/assets management. It’s simple to relate different pieces of content to each other and use those relationships to display related products or blog posts on product pages. Or create customized landing pages with unique product listings. Or content for your end customers, and can usually be accomplished without touching a line of code.
Drupal Commerce 2.x provides “the necessary functionality that all eCommerce requires without the restrictions of imposed workflows and design.” The ability to “build-up” a solution rather than “tear-down” a bloated platform may mean higher initial budget impacts, but you should factor in the benefits of crafting a custom-fit solution for your current and future business needs versus the future maintenance and development costs of using a less-flexible platform.
Customizable Order Checkouts & Workflow
If you sell physical and digital/downloadable products, you probably already know the pain of trying to optimize order checkout steps, because a speedy checkout helps convert quotes to sales. Not every store sells physical products, and with subscription-based business models becoming the way of the future, you need a platform that offers the flexibility to handle these unique requirements. Commerce 2.x offers that capability out-of-the-box with the ability to configure different order types (i.e., events, downloadable, recurring services, or physical products), and customers can have multiple carts so you have the flexibility to optimize the checkout process as necessary.
BigPipe for Page Speed
This is more of a core Drupal 8 feature, but we’ll count it. BigPipe – aka how to make your site fly. What does it do? Simply put, BigPipe “speeds up page delivery times by sending unchanging parts of a page to the browser immediately while rendering and streaming other, dynamic parts as soon as they are ready”.
Drupal Commerce 2.x being able to utilize BigPipe is a huge advantage and should help your digital marketing efforts as well as provide a better user experience to your end customers.
In an ecommerce platform, page speed is crucial for retaining customers and sales conversions. Here are some key stats from the Quicksprout blog on how load time affects your bottom line. Just a one-second delay in loading time results in:
16% decrease in customer satisfaction;
11% fewer page views;
Amazon says that one second of load lag time would cost them $1.6 billion in sales each year.
7% loss in conversions.
The Commerce Guys have done a great job of taking their experience from Drupal 7 Commerce 1.x and utilizing lessons learned to refactor, improve, or create core PHP libraries and features for Commerce 2.x. Some of their libraries are even used in other php ecommerce platforms, so they have the added benefit of being battle-tested and used successfully in production environments.
“For Commerce 2, we have native support for stores. Stores are used for invoicing, tax types, and any other settings necessary for understanding orders.”
Improved Libraries and Core APIs
There’s been a big push within the Drupal community to “get off the island” and use or share other popular PHP libraries. The Commerce Guys have taken this to heart and have created some open source ecommerce PHP libraries for:
Internationalization (currencies, locales, date/time, etc.);
Addresses (utilizes Google’s dataset and is responsible for address formatting/manipulation);
Taxes (provides a tax library with a flexible data model, predefined tax rates, powerful resolving logic, etc.).
They’ve also improved their APIs for creating payment gateways and shipping methods which should dramatically help developers speed up the process of extending or creating new modules. Commerce Guys have also been instrumental in developing and improving several contributed Drupal 8 modules for the benefit of the entire Drupal community.
Bonus: Open Source Code
Drupal and Drupal Commerce are both open source software platforms which means you won’t have to pay one-time or annual license fees, and third-party modules will typically be free. You may have to sponsor the development of custom modules to fit your business requirements, but that should be expected for a custom fit solution.
If you'd like to talk more about your ecommerce site and how Drupal, or another platform, might be a good fit for you, let's start a conversation.
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