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Drupal Commerce or Magento? It’s Not Only about the Platform

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Invented in 1979 by Michael Aldrich, online shopping has come a long way and is growing at the speed of light: According to a recent report by eMarketer, ecommerce sales in 2012 crossed one trillion mark. The same report estimates that ecommerce sales will witness around 18% rise this year.

While there’s no denying to the fact that setting up an online store is what even the wisest would suggest nowadays, we often get stuck when it comes to choosing among different ecommerce platforms and later, we find difficulties in making the chosen one sustainable and user-centric. In this post, we’ll put two widely-used platforms – Magento and Drupal Commerce – in the foreground, talking about the advantages of one over the other and the advantages that they both give in respect to the world that’s rapidly going mobile. Later, we’ll go through the ecommerce best practices for 2013.

Friendly to heavy traffic, or rather transactions

Drupal is a CMS that runs some of the heaviest sites in the world – names like WhiteHouse.gov would be springing to your mind right now, aren’t they? Ever since Drupal proved its feat by powering such big names, and rather seamlessly too, it has become a very celebrated CMS all over the world. But does that prove Drupal’s potential as an ecommerce platform? Yes, to some extent though. Drupal is powerful enough to take on heavy traffic – a quality that every online store should have. After all, if an estore can’t tackle heavy traffic, how will it tackle heavy transactions? Well, Drupal has some things to boast in the game of heavy transactions too – McDonalds France, Royal Mail et al.

Magento, unlike Drupal, is a dedicated ecommerce platform, powering big sites like Samsung, Lindt and Nike Australia. The platform has specific solutions for small (Magento Go), medium (Magento Enterprise) and large (Magento Enterprise Premium) businesses. It also offers a Community version, which is open source.

First, let’s make it clear that deciding among the different versions (paid vs paid, paid vs free) is a hard decision in itself. The decision actually depends upon needs of your business. The open-source version has an active community but does not have as good support and functionality as the paid versions.

That said, let’s get back to the heavy transactions support debate. As of now, it would be best to sum it up like this: Drupal Commerce is yet to come in its best light and has many things to prove, while Magento is already there.

Ecommerce: Not only specific to user and product management

It’s about content management, too. And if we look at the content management part of both Drupal Commerce and Magento, the former has an upper edge and is more refined. This means, it’s the other way around: Magento is still coming of age, while Drupal, as we all know, has come of it.

Responsiveness to the future

The future is mobile; so no matter how good your online store is for desktops, it should be optimized for/responsive to mobile. Talking about leveraging mobile, three best methods have emerged over past few years: Separate mobile site, responsive site and mobile app.

A responsive theme enables a buyer to seamlessly browse through (and make purchases from) your estore, regardless of the device they’re using. A mobile site and a mobile app help you give a separate experience to the mobile users. Either way, you can embrace the unpredictability of the future. And both Magento and Drupal Commerce give you an opportunity to leverage any of the three best methods of going mobile.

It’s not only about choosing between Drupal Commerce and Magento

Yes, the real issue is not choosing between these two platforms, but about how you leverage them. Both the platforms are flexible and powerful, have some pros and cons – none of them is the ultimate solution, though. Because in order to give consumers an optimal experience, aside from using a good technology, we should keep ecommerce best practices in mind. Here we discuss them:

  • Invest in content
  • We all know the worst part of online shopping: We can touch, feel or smell the goods. So information/content in such a scenario takes a central place. Misinformation, incomplete content, poorly written copy won’t lead you far in ecommerce.

  • Optimize performance
  • Speed can severly affect your estore’s user experience and conversions. Make sure that your website’s loading speed in less than 5 seconds.

  • Acknowledge multiple types of shoppers
  • Aside from loyal customers, your vistors include one-time customers too. Similarly, they can be those checking out the best price for a product.

  • Optimize navigation
  • Keep navigation obvious. Embrace cross linking. Placing navigation bar on the left has always been a good strategy.

  • Simplify checkout process
  • Zero in on functionalities like guest checkout. Limit the number of checkout clicks (Amazon’s 1-click ordering continues to help it grow). And avoid prechecked newsletters – let your users decide.

  • Multiple payment options
  • This will help you keep the payment paralysis syndrome at bay.

  • Don’t forget users on the go
  • Make your estore mobile friendly, so your mobile customers don’t go to your competitors.

  • Help and guide user input
  • Exploit functionalities like auto-suggest.

  • Above all, keep it simple
  • Let your customers find whatever they want with ease.

Whether you choose Magento or Drupal Commerce, these practices will help you build an online store that your customers love browsing and making purchases through.

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Varun Bhagat is a technology geek and works in PixelCrayons as a Sr. Technology Consultant. He possesses in-depth knowledge of different web development technology and helps our clients to choose the best technology as per their needs.

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