Advantages of open source commerce | Acro Media
Acro Media

Author

Acro Media

Posted in Drupal, Software & Development

October 23, 2022

Advantages of open source commerce

Companies are breaking free of restrictive proprietary platforms in favour of custom open source solutions. Find out why in this comprehensive article.

Ownership of data & technology

If you use an open source commerce platform, you own the code.

You need to look at your website like you would a brick-and-mortar storefront. Paying a monthly licensing fee for a hosted platform is like having a leased property -- you’re only adding to your overhead costs, and you have no control over your future. Hosted solutions don’t allow you to own the code, which business owners often don’t think of as a problem until something terrible happens. If a hosted solution goes under, they take you down with them. You lose your online presence and have to rebuild from the beginning. That’s a long and expensive process.

If you use an open source commerce platform, you own the code. If you work with an agency and choose to move to an in-house development team or a different agency, you can do so at no cost or risk to your business.

Download the PDF version of this article | Acro Media

 

Integration with virtually any business system

The code is completely exposed for you to use.

If you judge ecommerce solutions solely on their feature set, hosted solutions like Magento, Shopify, and Volusion will always look good upfront. But your ecommerce platform is more than just window dressing. Open source frameworks can have an impressive feature set, but the most significant advantage is the expansive list of backend systems integrations.

Proprietary platforms can offer standard integrations with customer relationship management (CRM) systems and fulfillment solutions. Still, you may need more integration for your sales process if you're a big retailer.

Open source platforms are precisely that. Open. The code is completely exposed for your use. Combine this with the modular architecture, and you have a platform that can integrate with virtually any business system that allows access, from CRMs and shipping vendors to payment gateways and accounting software. Your ecommerce site can become an automated business rather than just a storefront.

A custom user experience

A custom user experience gives more power to the marketer.

Regarding user experience, hosted platforms give you a best-practice, industry-standard, cookie-cutter execution of a shopping cart. It’s a templated design that is sold as a finished product, so you know you’ll have a catalogue, a simple checkout, account pages, etc. Outside of choosing a theme, there is very little room for customization. Open source allows for all the same functionality and a powerful theme system to easily add unique and advanced features.

A custom user experience gives more power to the marketer, allowing them to create custom conversion paths for different user types and integrate those paths within the content experience. You can generate personalized content based on customer data or provide different content to users based on their geographic location.

Open source commerce is also ideal for omnichannel selling. You can set up content, layout and functionality to respond to non-desktop devices such as smartphones and tablets. The consumer path is seamless across all sales channels, devices, websites and retail tools throughout the customer experience.

The omnichannel experience and a single source of data

Open source platforms use a single data source, making it optimal for creating omnichannel strategies.

Today’s ecommerce landscape is rapidly evolving. It’s no longer just about selling products online. The advances in mobile technology have given consumers constant and instant access to information. Companies are expected to create immersive shopping experiences for users. They expect their favourite brands to be able to deliver an integrated shopping experience across all channels and devices, complete with personalized content, consistent product information, and simple conversion paths. This is not an easy task. The challenge is even more significant for retailers selling online and in-store channels.

Open source platforms use a single data source, making it optimal for creating omnichannel strategies. Rather than having to force together multiple platforms that pull data from various systems, open source allows for one centralized data centre that can be accessed by any of the systems you need.

What does this mean exactly?

Customer data, product details, promotions & sales information, inventory numbers and more can all be easily defined and streamlined across multiple channels. For example:

  • Your customers can start a purchase online and then pick up where they left off in your store. 
  • Customer data can be accessed easily for automated marketing, loyalty programs, birthday “gifts,” and personalized recommendations.
  • If your products are sold on your ecommerce store and third-party marketplaces, your product info is always consistent without having to apply multiple updates on various backends.
  • Easily define and promote location-based pricing and offers.
  • Real-time inventory numbers can be shown online to ensure product availability and minimize back-order risk.
  • Tax & shipping rules can be defined per city, state, and country to ensure all customers are shown the correct cost of items at checkout.

A flexible platform that aligns with your needs

Exceed the boundaries of a traditional sales platform.

Any ecommerce platform today needs the ability to adapt. If your platform is locked down, you risk losing to your competitors. Hosted ecommerce solutions are just shopping carts with conventional catalogue management and the ability to sell physical or digital products.

Open source commerce releases you from these industry-standard restraints. Organize your products using virtually any attribute. Display your products in any style, from lists, grids, or tables to a customized look that can make you stand out from your in-the-box competition. Integrate features that go beyond commerce, such as custom applications, web services, and customer portals. Exceed the boundaries of a traditional sales platform.

Don’t be tied to someone else’s development path. By leveraging an open source platform, you allow yourself to be the frontrunner in your market.

No licensing fees, revenue sharing or mandatory support contracts.

Open source commerce is free to use.

Anyone with the appropriate development skills can pick up an open source framework and begin working with it immediately at no charge. If you require development help, you will need to pay a contractor or agency, and depending on your needs, these upfront costs can seem like a lofty investment. However, there are no mandatory ongoing costs associated with open source after the upfront development.

Start-up costs are minimal if you are utilizing a SAAS or proprietary platform, but most have various ongoing costs.

  • Monthly contracts — SAAS platforms will charge you a monthly fee to use their platform. In addition to this fee, you may have to pay for additional functionality, integrations, and support.
  • Licensing fees — The big enterprise platforms (Demandware, Hybris, Magento) charge a yearly license fee to use their software platforms. These fees can range from $50,000 - $700,000 per year.
  • Revenue sharing — SAAS and proprietary platforms often require a revenue share contract to supplement their low monthly fee. A typical revenue share agreement is a 2% transaction fee. Depending on your yearly gross revenue, this can be a significant blow.

1000’s of supporters and continued development

Open source platforms are pushed forward by thousands of developers and supporters worldwide; agencies, contractors, & enthusiasts all have a shared goal of bettering their software and creating an accessible and stable platform. Proprietary systems can’t compete with a large or focused workforce. Open source evolves at the pace of the web. By leveraging this platform, you can be a frontrunner in your market. Often before a retailer even knows it needs a specific new integration or piece of functionality, someone is already building it.

Drupal Commerce and Acro Media

Drupal Commerce is a powerful ecommerce software that extends from the open source Drupal platform. It is a truly open platform that provides both structure and flexibility. Drupal Commerce was built onto the content management system using the same architecture, allowing for a true marriage of content and commerce.

Acro Media is the leading Drupal Commerce agency in North America. We work exclusively with Drupal and Drupal Commerce and currently develop and support one of the biggest Drupal Commerce websites in the world. Our Drupal services include the following:

  • Drupal Commerce
  • Drupal consultation and architecture
  • Drupal prototypes and modelling
  • Drupal integrations to replace or work with existing platforms
  • Drupal website migrations (rescues) from other web platforms
  • Custom Drupal modules

Are you ready to escape?

Break free from the proprietary platforms and legacy software you’re handcuffed to and create the commerce experience you want. Open source commerce gives the power to the business owner to create a commerce experience that meets the ever-changing conditions of your marketplace as well as the complexities of your inner company workings.

Next steps

Want to learn more about open source, Drupal Commerce, or Acro Media? We want to help if we can. Book some time with one of our business developers for an honest conversation to answer any questions and provide additional insight. Our team members are here to help provide you with the best possible solution, no sales tricks.