Is eCommerce Drupal’s Next Frontier?
“The next big thing for Drupal is eCommerce,” according to Robert Douglas of Commerce Guys, in a recent guest post published on the Drupal Association. It is undeniable that Drupal has seen tremendous growth in the twelve years since its inception, and the coming release of Drupal 8 seems likely to accelerate growth for the foreseeable future. A major area of growth potential in the Drupal community is eCommerce.
Douglas explains the situation, “As Drupal becomes the de-facto standard for many governments, media sites, and higher education, the market will mature. We already see more Drupal service providers entering the market than ever before.” In this view, many are wondering how to use Drupal to continue growing their business. “Fortunately,” writes Douglas, “[eCommerce] is an area where Drupal is uniquely well-suited, but still underexplored; where Drupal offers a complete, easy-to-sell solution; and where the market is huge - $225 billion in the US in 2012, and growing at 15% a year (PDF).”
Drupal is particularly well-suited for meeting eCommerce challenges because its versatility as a content management system provides unlimited integration opportunities. eCommerce sites that don’t use Drupal will likely put together separate systems to manage each aspect of a website including the content, storefront, and affiliations. Managing these systems all together can be a hassle. With Drupal integration, however, site owners can rely on all their content types operating in sync.
Under the Drupal solution, however, as envisioned by Douglas:
Each user is a blogger, forum member, affiliate, and shopper — you never have to sync them or plan to avoid conflicts. The blog and forum platforms are both core Drupal (or native add-ons like Advanced Forum). The affiliate program is Affiliate NG, and the shopping system is Drupal Commerce.
All parts of the unified Drupal-based system understand all activities. That means you can:
- Give discounts to people who participate in discussions (with Userpoints), or to those who respond to a poll, or read a review;
- Let users create their own subsites (using Organic Groups) to sell your products;
- Use the storefront to sell access to premium content on the website itself;
- Automatically compile product reviews and discussions as part of the relevant product's page;
- Integrate affiliate sales with the storefront's inventory;
- Recommend similar and popular products on content pages;
- Show you what your friends have bought.
The core benefit of Drupal as an eCommerce solution is the ability to unite content, community and commerce. The Drupal social network is famous for its openness and flexibility.
With an “estimated 100,000 online merchants in the USA alone, most of whom use antiquated eCommerce software,” Drupal has a remarkable opportunity to help online sites grow into dynamic, compelling, intelligent eCommerce providers. Drupal customization not only provides the ability for sites to accomplish any task, but the ability to have that site directly reflect the owner’s core needs. If you’re looking for Drupal commerce solutions, remember that there’s no better type of business than monkey business.