Drupal Ecommerce Options and Solutions

ArticleMay 16, 2017

Drupal 8 is maturing. It’s not crawling around on all fours as it once was. It’s walking and talking and doing all kinds of interesting things. But there’s an important milestone it hasn’t yet reached in its young life, and one that’s important to its future. No, not learning to drive or going on its first date. Ok, the metaphor is breaking down now...

We’re talking about Drupal and Ecommerce.

The coming of Drupal 8 brought with it tons of innovation. Object-oriented code, configuration management, better web services and APIs, but it also came with few contributed modules. As with every new release, heavily used modules have to adapt with the help of dedicated contributing developers from around the world. In this blog, we’ll look at our options right now to achieving ecommerce with Drupal.


Contributed Drupal Ecommerce Modules

Since Drupal 8's release in 2015, Drupal eCommerce modules have struggled to keep up. A few, in particular need special attention: Drupal Commerce and Ubercart. Both are still in active development and preparing for full releases (though Ubercart’s development has appeared to have slowed in recent months).

Now, let’s make one thing clear. These are big, complicated modules that need a LOT of work to port to Drupal 8.

But for big Drupal 8 websites looking to sell online, sometimes waiting means losing revenue—it might not be an option. So, what’s a business owner to do?

There are three main options to pursue:

  • Throw caution to the wind! Dive in head first with a beta contributed module like Drupal Commerce 2.x

  • Play it safe! Develop on Drupal 7 now, but face an upgrade down the road

  • Have cake and eat it too! Integrate with a third-party commerce platform.


Let’s break down the options.


Drupal Ecommerce Option 1: Beta Commerce 2.x

With Ubercart still in early alpha stages, your best bet for native Drupal ecommerce is to use the current beta release of Drupal Commerce 2.x, which is in use on some production websites. It’s also rumored a release candidate will be made available at Drupalcon Baltimore, which our Drupal development team will be attending.

So let’s break down the pros and cons here:


  • Latest and greatest technology

  • New Drupal 8 features across the board

  • Extend future upgrade horizon

  • No licensing cost


  • Module bugs will likely come up

  • Limited community support for now

  • Customization could mean a lot of effort

While there are some risks, the potential upside and growing community support might outweigh the downsides.


Drupal Ecommerce Option 2: Drupal 7

A Drupal 7 solution is a viable option for some companies, especially if they already have a production Drupal 7 site that ecommerce is being added to. The contributed modules are proven, and there’s a lot of comfort in sticking with what works. But there’s a tradeoff, of course. Think of a used car. Sure, it gets you down the road. Does it have a touch screen and fancy seat warmers? Maybe not. But it still might be a safe bet.

Drupal 7 isn't necessarily a bad option, it is a safe bet for some, but there are factors to consider:


  • Proven Drupal ecommerce implementation

  • Plenty of add-on modules and community support

  • No licensing cost


  • Sooner end-of-life for Drupal 7

  • Lack of new features as more effort begins migrating to Drupal 8 modules

  • No Drupal 8 features.

  • Integrations with other systems might be tougher than with Drupal 8

Like I said, while this solution is great for a site already running Drupal 7, but without the ability to migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, the cons probably outweigh the benefits for most use cases.


Third-Party Ecommerce with Drupal

Integrating a third-party ecommerce platform with Drupal is nothing new. Ticketing systems like Galaxy or ecommerce platforms like Magento are always an option and something we’ve done a lot of. And there is a clear benefit to using some of these systems, just as you would a CRM or marketing automation platform.

Even our partner Acquia, the premier Drupal hosting provider, recently announced a partnership with Marketo to support a better ecommerce experience for Drupal 8 and Magento.

While it seems like a no-brainer to go best-in-breed, rarely is the solution that simple. Consider this:


  • The strength of Drupal 8 for content management along with an ecommerce platform

  • Freedom to choose the right ecommerce platform

  • The ability to take advantage of the best ecommerce providers like Magento, or Hybris or Shopify


  • Licensing costs (in some cases)

  • Effort needed to integrate, depending on the complexity

  • Long-term dependency on a vendor’s business logic and development roadmap

While the cost can sometimes be an issue, integrating with a third party ecommerce system with Drupal can often be the best solution when admin features and customer experience are the most important things.


So, what’s the right answer to the Drupal ecommerce problem?


It depends, of course. Every project is different, and each of the solutions above has their place. That’s why clients choose to work with an agency like us to find out the most effective way to meet the needs of their business.

Have an ecommerce project in mind? Let’s talk and see if we can help you find the right solution

Judd Mercer
Written By
Judd Mercer Creative Director

A dot-bom survivor, Judd learned the trade of a designer as a high school intern and has been doing it ever since. Expanding into design strategy, copywriting, architecture and analytics over 15 years, he’s evolved into a strategic design leader with the ability to think big and go wide.