Global e-commerce sales topped 1 trillion US dollars in 2012 for the first time in history. Industry estimates projected that sales will reach 4 trillion in 2020. As more enterprises conduct their core businesses on the Internet, Drupal has evolved from being a pure content management system to a full-fledged e-commerce site-builder. While e-commerce is not (yet) part of Drupal's core, support for it comes in the form of contributed modules.
A quick search on Drupal.org for stable actively developed e-commerce modules generated 330 hits. Many such modules are optional for your online storefront. For example, AdSense, Affiliate Store, and Amazon Store are of no interest to you unless you want to monetize your website through advertising and affiliate marketing. Some modules such as Barcode are only relevant if your storefront requires that specific functionality.
In this post, we describe a set of 7 best-of-breed e-commerce Drupal modules which together implement the core functionalities of an online storefront. These modules focus on enterprise mission-critical operations that drive business results and have a direct impact on the bottom line.
7 E-Commerce Modules that Every Drupal Website Must Have
So let's not keep you in suspense for too long and list e-commerce modules that we at Vardot think are essential for every online shop built with Drupal:
Drupal Commerce vs Ubercart
Commerce Recommender / Ubercart Recommender
Commerce Upsell / UC Upsell
Mailjet / MailChimp E-Commerce
Now let’s discuss each of the modules in particular and see why it is so great.
Drupal Commerce vs Ubercart
As I mentioned before, e-commerce is not a built-in core feature of Drupal. The easiest way to add e-commerce functionalities to your website would be installing one of 2 competing Drupal modules: Drupal Commerce vs Ubercart. The 2 modules are often described as e-commerce ecosystems or frameworks which depend on third-party modules to make them feature-complete.
Drupal Commerce and Ubercart are both excellent e-commerce frameworks with their own active developer community. Ubercart is known for being easier to configure, and being more ready to deploy out-of-the-box. In contrast, Drupal Commerce is designed to be customizable and can scale up to support large enterprise e-commerce operations.
If you operate a small business with modest e-commerce requirements and a small I.T. budget, Ubercart is a good choice. Medium to large enterprises should consider Drupal Commerce because it is flexible enough to satisfy more complex requirements and scalable enough to support future business growth. One caveat is that you need to possess technical expertise and be prepared to spend considerable time and resources to extend Drupal Commerce to do exactly what you want. You can find a more detailed comparison of Drupal Commerce with Ubercart in this article.
Commerce Recommender/Ubercart Recommender
To optimize revenue growth in e-commerce, enterprises need to find ways to boost revenue per order. Cross-selling and upselling are 2 key techniques to achieve revenue growth objectives. Commerce Recommender and Ubercart Recommender are 2 Drupal modules you should install to enable cross-selling on the Drupal Commerce and Ubercart platforms, respectively.
Both modules make personalized recommendations for your web users. The recommendations are based on the user’s current order and any previous purchases.
If the user is a new customer, the lack of a prior purchase history limits the recommendations that the software can make. In such a scenario, the cross-selling module analyzes the purchase history of other users who previously bought the same product in the current order, and recommends products which these users also ordered in the past.
Commerce Upsell/UC Upsell
Upselling is different from cross-selling in that the former entices the customer to upgrade to a more expensive product with a better profit margin, while the latter is about buying additional products such as an accessory. For upselling, Commerce Upsell and UC Upsell are the respective modules to install on the Drupal Commerce and Ubercart platforms.
The 2 modules allow site builders to define related products for upselling purposes. During a customer checkout, the software recommends product upgrades based on what products are in the shopping cart.
Invoice is a Drupal module which generates sales invoices for your online business. You can customize the format as well as the content of your invoices using template files. After instantiating your sales invoices, you can view them online as well as output them in PDF or HTML format.
Your online customers can place their orders from any country in the world. Before they purchase your products, they want to know the shipping options and their associated cost. Commerce Shipping is a shipping rate calculator. It is designed as a shipping calculation platform which depends on third-party carrier-specific modules to provide the actual shipping rates. For instance, it supports UPS, FedEx, and USPS through the modules Commerce UPS, Commerce FedEx, and Commerce USPS, respectively. Using rules, site administrators can configure which shipping services are available on a web store and how they are charged, including flat shipping rates.
Despite the phenomenal growth in social media, email marketing remains an integral part of any online marketing plan. Marketing and sales campaigns are regularly conducted by sending email to people on subscription lists. The Mailjet module supports email marketing on Drupal Commerce. Alternatively, MailChimp E-Commerce supports both Drupal Commerce and Ubercart. One e-commerce best practice is to offload email sending to third-party cloud-based email service providers.
Mailjet and MailChimp E-Commerce integrate with the Mailjet and MailChimp email service providers, respectively. To use either module, you need to first sign up with the respective company.
The services are free if email volume is kept below a certain threshold. Both modules enable site administrators to create email campaigns, personalize the marketing message, and track campaign effectiveness.
E-commerce reels in online customers from the farthest countries of the earth, together with their different local currencies. The online store must be able to convert product prices from the enterprise’s own preferred currency to the local currency of each customer. In addition, the newly converted local amount must be presented in a format that conforms to the customer’s regional convention.
Currency is a Drupal module that specializes in converting world currencies based on stored exchange rates. In addition, this module can automatically customize the display format of price information based on the locale of each online shopper.
Summary & Conclusion
E-commerce is the key to unlocking revenue generation potential of an enterprise Drupal website. Drupal provides excellent e-commerce modules under two main technology ecosystems, Drupal Commerce and Ubercart.
While integrating the right modules is critical to providing the necessary e-commerce functionalities, site builders also need to pay attention to other important factors such as SEO and site security. SEO will bring more visitors and potential customers to a website, and site security will protect them against hackers when they transact business online. For more information about essential Drupal modules, please refer to our earlier blog posts: 5 Security Modules for Every Drupal Website and 10 SEO Modules That Every Drupal Website Must Have.
The building of an e-commerce website, that is SEO-friendly and secure, requires expertise that may be beyond the capability of many enterprises. If you require professional Drupal assistance, please contact Vardot.