Did you know that electronic commerce (eCommerce) is responsible for more than $200 billion dollars changing hands every year? In fact, the WSJ believes that number will balloon to $327 billion by 2016. If you’d like to capitalize on this trend and add eCommerce functionality to your Drupal website - whether it is a blog, community, or organization centerpiece - it can be done by utilizing several contributed modules.
Drupal is a content management system at its heart and great alternatives exist for large eCommerce applications if your online store has a substantial catalog of products. However, for an eCommerce application with a modest inventory, Drupal and some of its modules provide all the tools an Administrator needs to accept orders and begin generating revenue online.
In order to accept credit card orders a website must be hosted within a private server to ensure the safety of critical data that will be submitted to your server through SSL protocol. A Drupal eCommerce application can be hosted within a virtual private server but due to financial data concerns store payment methods will be limited to third-party options like Paypal. Without a private hosting environment your website will be unable to guarantee data security and, therefore, is not in a position to accept credit card orders.
Harness the following Drupal modules to create an eCommerce application for your website and begin enticing interested users to your website using the powerful functionality offered by these add ons.
This module is Drupal’s solution for handling all aspects of eCommerce through the CMS - payments, pricing, and products. Drupal Commerce allows Administrators to create product types and product displays while managing the order and payment processes directly through the site’s back-end. Its maintainers tout Drupal Commerce’s ability to integrate online commerce, community, and content to deliver a robust user experience to your website’s end-users. The module is extensible and can be custom configured to keep up with a store’s ever-changing needs through feature enhancements and third-party integrations.
Metadata is identification information embedded into XML for search engines to understand what content is located within each of your website’s pages. This module provides Administrators a place to define metadata for content types ranging from events to products, which allows search engine site crawlers to better understand the content of each page on your website. Metadata is defined behind-the-scenes and never displays publicly on a site - it is hidden from an end-user's view. Metadata answers inquiries about what information a specific page contains - a great way to let search engines, search engine users, and other interested parties know about each of your products.
This module empowers an Administrator to create an index of their website coded in the aforementioned Extensible Markup Language. A Sitemap displays links to all accessible pages which allows the crawlers used by search engines to learn about the layout and relationships between a site’s pages and content. By submitting your Sitemap to search engines its inclusion in their search results is guaranteed - there aren’t many other tasks as imperative to a successful eCommerce revenue stream.
Mobile device use accounted for 55% of all internet traffic in the United States in January of 2014 according to this CNN report. More and more users are attempting to visit, and do business with, websites through their mobile device(s) - is your eCommerce store ready for the change? This module provides Drupal sites with a theme switch function to detect, and account for, mobile devices requesting a webpage. Smartphone or tablet specific directories provide your visitors with an experience that compares favorably to the desktop interactions they’ve become familiar with - no matter their device.
Website end-users, especially paying customers, are sharing information on social media so quickly that creating and monitoring store social media accounts has become a marketing team necessity. The customer feedback generated and exchanged through these communication channels is too valuable to ignore - why shouldn’t store products be shared? In order to capitalize on the power of this data the ShareThis module sets a site and its eCommerce store up for growth with one click social sharing functionality. ShareThis can be displayed alongside all of your pages and products or restricted to certain content types - Administrator’s choice.
eCommerce expects to see persistent growth over the next few years as people continue turning to the internet for their consumer needs. If you already have a robust Drupal website it’s time to consider adding some eCommerce functionality to capitalize on the interested parties that are visiting. When managing products and customer orders strong systems administration and a content management system like Drupal have proven to be a successful solution to many eCommerce needs.
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