Today I attended a track very focused on eCommerce as Drupal traditionally has not carved out a niche in the eRetail market. I was particularly interested as we are a Magento Silver partner and while we've done some terrific work on the Drupal platform for eCommerce it's not nearly as developed or have the focus to manage large retailers without substantial heavy lifting. First here are some of great examples we were given that I'm going to disect:

  • Ioby New York City, Strong Donations Process
  • Sosense, Simply Donations Process
  • EuroCentres, Find Your Languages, 250,000 
  • TicketCake.com, Ticket Hub
  • Coals2U, Physical Location Purchase Process

During the session some bold claims were made that had me concerned. As mature as Drupal is, there is room for growth as it pertains to understanding the online commerce space. These concerns start with case studies like EuroCentres with a 250k product catalog that was described as "impossible to automate" and was brought in manually via a CSV file. This is simply not the case and it is odd to me when presented as such. Of the examples provided above only one provided a level of complexity worth noting as most were focused on very straight forward donation capabilities.  

With that being said there is hope! A large amount of money has been injected into the Drupal Commerce project from outside VC funding to the tune of $5M. These enhancements include:

  • Complete documentation and to revamp DrupalCommerce.org
  • Relaunch of Commerce Kickstart. This needs to be polished with a wider set of modules and a better base design
  • An additional Drupal Commerce developer
  • A greater team of experts to eCommerce integrators

While these are strides in the right direction I believe that more definition is required. Right now it's very flexible and that's the claim to fame, but we want to be careful on what is "flexible" and what is feature weak. Drupal Commerce is not practical for standard eCommerce vendors that need a significant amount of "industry standard" functionality out of the box. Having these items available doesn't necessarily hurt the flexibility of the platform and I'm excited to see how Unleashed Technologies' maturity in this space can provide guidance to the future development of Drupal Commerce.

We use UberCart (not Drupal Commerce) today and have done some very complex eCommerce presences. It's worth noting that on UberCart as well we did a substantial amount of development to ensure the necessary features were available to our clients. I'd like to see those options get standardized and take the best of UberCart and bring it into Drupal Commerce. I've found this as a great area of interest and I'll be doing some additional research and providing more information along this track during the course of the conference.

I want to be clear that this presentation has also shown me that Drupal will grow very quickly in this space and there is a substantial dedication from the community to make a better and flexible platform that focuses on the eRetailers market.