In a previous blog, Michael Reich, our Vice President of Operations, presented an overview of Magento, the robust ecommerce platform that we believe is one of the best options available. This seems like a good time to compare Magento with another framework that many may be familiar with '- Drupal Commerce.
Drupal Commerce was created by The Commerce Guys, a Drupal-based company which believes in the power of content. It is an open source platform that manages to reinforce the excellent Content Management System offered by Drupal with hundreds of different modules which provide many ecommerce functionalities such as invoices, receipts, orders, and payments; and performs other functions needed by online merchants. Still, Drupal Commerce distinguishes itself from Magento with the strength of Drupal's CMS capabilities. Magento has CMS capability built into it, but it is not a CMS. When managing products is more important than managing content, we suggest Magento to our clients.
Drupal Commerce offers shopping cart extensions into their CMS, and those extensions are very good for permission-based content, membership services, and subscriptions; but they aren't robust as far as selling products is concerned. If you have a site where people are going to pay an annual subscription in order to receive premium content, or membership services are the key functions of your website, then Drupal Commerce is an excellent solution, because all that information is integrated into the excellent Content Management System that Drupal provides. There is a Drupal Magento module https://drupal.org/project/magento that integrates Magento functionality into Drupal, but it doesn't provide that functionality. If your sales and services are simple and uncomplicated, Drupal Commerce will serve you well, provided that the CMS functionality is more important to your overall needs and goals.
Those types of shopping carts, however, aren't suitable for the types of demands that complex products or high volume sales sites require. For example, if you're selling shirts, you probably only need one image of the shirt, but you may have numerous sizes, each necessitating a different SKU. These are called variant options, and Magento handles their requirements very well. Maybe you have an order going to two different shipping addresses, or your business has multiple stores with the same back end; Magneto's shopping carts manage all these capabilities seamlessly. Do you offer coupons? Drupal Commerce needs to have special code written for this functionality, whereas Magento does not. The list of capabilities out of the box in Magento, dwarfs Drupal Commerce http://www.magentocommerce.com/product/features.
Free is good
Custom code writing is possible for a CMS site like Drupal Commerce, but that becomes expensive, and rarely works as well as something out of the box. The beauty of Drupal is that all modules are free, with a huge, active community supporting them. Magento modules, although open sourced, must be purchased. Magento has a certification process, allowing their developers to eventually design, build, and then sell their own licensed modules. Drupal doesn't sell anything. All Drupal modules are free to download.
The greatest distinction between the two is determined by answering the question, 'Which shopping cart do I need for my business '- a stand-alone product-based shopping cart, or a CMS permissions'-based shopping cart?' If you aren't sure, or you're looking for some guidance, please feel free to ask us!