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The Ultimate Guide to Headless Commerce | Drupal + Magento Integration

The Ultimate Guide to Headless Commerce drupal +. magento

With 82.2% of business leaders, according to Net Solutions’ State of B2B Commerce 2020 report, rating ‘customer experience’ as the most important factor to boost their online visibility, the eCommerce landscape is changing and becoming headless commerce.

What do my customers want? Are they more interested in ‘how’ my organization delivers for them or ‘what’ it delivers?

Today, this question is asked by the savviest executives more frequently than ever, and rightly so. Leading businesses are aware that technology has handed customers the power to pen down the rules of purchasing goods and services, and in this Age of Consumer, it all starts with how they buy.

Consumers have explicitly made it clear that their buying decisions revolve around purchasing experiences rather than products. Thus, they expect nothing less than a seamless, compelling digital-first experience across all channels, which has given rise to the headless commerce architecture.


73% of businesses claim that improving customer experience (CX) is a strategic priority. However, according to Forrester, only 1% of companies deliver excellent CX.


Why do Only 1% of Companies Deliver an Excellent CX?

Technology, Marketing, and Commerce.

These are three individual groups that often operate in silos, thereby resulting in a fragmented digital presence, which confuses the consumer.

Today commerce is flipping from attention to intention, and still, the organization wishes to steer the buying journey of a customer, thereby resulting in delivering a poor eCommerce customer experience. To blend these three factors into a single solution, savvy businesses are shifting towards adopting headless commerce solutions.


U.S. companies lose more than $75 billion annually due to poor customer service.


Blending Content & Commerce: A Hybrid Solution to Deliver a Great CX

In 2019, for the first time, online shopping overtook a significant part of retail: rising from below 5% in the late 1990s to about 12% in 2019.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that without meaningful content and a robust platform to deliver that content, your chances to meet rising customer expectations and provide an excellent customer experience will fall flat.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

Most of the enterprise CMS platforms, existing today, are capable of delivering some sort of commerce solution, and vice-versa is right too. However, none of the existing platforms or eCommerce solution provided both, thereby leaving gaps with regard to a true omnichannel digital experience.

To overcome this limitation, it becomes vital for organizations to embrace headless commerce platforms – integrate their eCommerce platform with a Content Management System (CMS) to build content-rich shopping experiences.

What is Headless Commerce?

To understand what is headless commerce architecture and its working, let’s first look at how traditional commerce architecture worked. Historically, websites were created by choosing a Content Management System (CMS), which is also called the back-end, where all the information of the website and visitors was contained that maps what visitors witness when they visit the website (called the front-end).

The point to note here is that all the information and code for the website (front-end presentation layer) existed in the CMS (back-end), and in order to make any change to the website, the concerned stakeholder would have to make changes in the back-end.

Headless Commerce


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In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, where speed is the new currency, such tasks are pretty cumbersome, thus giving rise to a new way of doing things in the commerce landscape: Headless commerce architecture

Headless commerce is an eCommerce solution that decouples the front-end user interface and back-end of a commerce platform to deliver a seamless and customer-driven digital experience. The headless commerce architecture allows stakeholders/developers to build and connect different ‘heads’ (touchpoints) to the back-end via APIs, giving the choice to deliver a unique experience to your potential customers.

How Headless Commerce Architecture Works?

In the previous section, we discussed what is headless commerce: a decoupled architecture. Integrating headless commerce architecture into your eCommerce strategy means that an eCommerce owner will have a PIM or CMS to store and deliver product information. However, the front-end is no longer part of that.

In the case of headless commerce, retailers will have the flexibility to store all their website information in the back-end, instead of operating the entire website as one chunk of technology. A website owner can use APIs to push the desired content, products, and payment processing to the platforms where it gets delivered to customers: the platform could be any – mobile, smartwatch, app, etc.

That’s why headless commerce is gaining popularity because it allows website owners/marketing teams/ front end developers to make backend system changes and push their content to many channels at the same time.

How Headless Commerce Architecture Works

Approach Contextual Commerce at Enterprise Scale with Drupal and Magento Headless Commerce Integration

A hybrid Drupal CMS/Magento eCommerce store.

What does that mean exactly? Won’t the idea of merging the two systems result in a complicated solution?
The answer is NO.

  • Drupal’s eCommerce options are limited even though it’s an unparalleled leader in content in the enterprise market.
  • Magento cannot handle the kind of content that customers crave.

Just combine the two—content power of Drupal with the best-in-class open source enterprise eCommerce platform (Magento)—and you are ready with a market-leading system.


The Drupal + Magento is a clean, robust, and logical way to go, particularly for any organization with a large sales volume that’s looking to implement clever marketing content.


Headless Commerce Benefits: Magento and Drupal CMS Integration

What do companies like Mint.com, Wilson, and Acquia have in common?

Have you got an answer? No?

Well, all of these web stores are powered by the Magento and Drupal headless commerce integrated approach.

The Drupal and Magento CMS integration is a hybrid solution that delivers a powerful and engaging website capable of moving massive sales volume, personalizing the content based on demographics (gender, geo-location, age, etc.), customers’ journey, and handling huge publishing flows.

1. Flexibility

Magento development, with its second version, offers the component-based structure of modules and the flexibility. The modules provide the freedom to the developers to enable or disable the components that they want, thereby boosting the flexibility and performance of the Magento 2 powered website.

Headless Commerce


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With Drupal, you can sell your products across the globe in multiple languages. Drupal is flexible, and its flexibility lies in the fact that the basic functionality and modules of Drupal come in 100 different languages. Thus, as Drupal says, “Build what you want, with the languages you know best.”


eCommerce fields like price, SKU, and stock should live in Magento. And product marketing information fields can be managed in Drupal.

When modeling these fields, it’s critical to take into account the needs of the multilingual and global platform as certain teams may be in different time zones, using different languages, or have a-typical publishing flows.


2. Performance and Scalability

More than 40k extensions are offered as unique add-ons to Drupal and Magento digital commerce modules, with many more constant updates added daily to the Magento and Drupal headless commerce integration.

‘Speed’ is one of the essential parameters that play a vital role in delivering a seamless user experience. Even a 1-second delay in web page loading can reduce conversions by 7%. However, with Magento 2 upgrade, websites perform 20% faster than Magento 1, and in some cases, up to 56% faster.

Moreover, the highlight of Magento 2.0 is its improved performance and scalability over Magento 1.x.

On the other hand, Drupal is a highly scalable CMS. It’s easy to build a Drupal site that can be set up to autoscale (add more servers during peak traffic times and shut them down when not needed). If you are planning to grow your site, then Drupal 9 + Magento 2 can help you scale well to millions of users, if the website is optimized well.


Scaling is built into the Drupal and Magento integration from the ground up.

Instead of pulling the product and promotional data required for display at render time, it is synchronized. The sync process uses an efficient and effective incremental method to pull product updates.


3. Security

According to Net Solutions’ State of Digital Transformation 2020 report, 37.3% of business leaders cite digital security as one of the biggest challenges that organizations face on the road to digital transformation.

Download Net Solutions' 2020 State of Digital Transformation Report

All eCommerce websites, irrespective of the platform, are attractive targets to hackers. Thus, Drupal follows a security-first approach with its dedicated security that quickly reacts to vulnerabilities found in Drupal core. The goals of this security team are:

  • Resolve reported security issues in a Security Advisory
  • Provide assistance for contributed module maintainers in resolving security issues
  • Provide documentation on how to write secure code
  • Provide documentation on securing your site
  • Help the infrastructure team to keep the drupal.org infrastructure secure

Vulnerabilities by year

You can go ahead with the following two approaches when you decide to integrate Magento and Drupal and embrace a headless commerce architecture:

  • Side-By-Side Integration: In this approach, Magento handles the eCommerce store, and Drupal takes care of the content; both platforms exist on the public internet. Both Drupal 9 and Magento serve pages of the digital experience to the end-user in case of the side-by-side approach.

  • Headless Commerce Integration: In this approach, Drupal acts as a frontend of the website and Magento as the cart backend. Visitors will always experience Drupal. In a headless integrated approach, the end-user interacts with Drupal, even in the shopping cart, which means Drupal 8 serves every page in your site.

In a headless commerce Magento integrated approach, the end-user interacts with Drupal, even in the shopping cart, which means Drupal 9 serves every page in your site.

Side-By-Side vs Headless CMS Integration of Drupal and Magento

In the side-by-side Drupal and Magento CMS integration approach, following are the roles of both the systems:

  • Magento provides category landing pages, product detail pages, and the cart and checkout flow.
  • Drupal deals with the marketing-driven landing pages, the homepage, blog content, and the content widgets on Magento pages.

Network architecture of Headless CMS integration approach

The significant advantage of the side-by-side approach is its ability to make use of the existing Magento CMS modules having the frontend component. The same functionality, in the case of a headless commerce approach, needs to be crafted in Drupal.

In the case of the headless CMS integration of Drupal and Magento approach, the communication takes place between Drupal and Magento through Magento’s REST APIs. The following are the roles of both the systems:

  • Magento deals with all the mechanics of the commerce experience.
  • Drupal manages every page on the site.

Side by side integration approach

Since Magento is never on the live internet, the store is restricted to only specific traffic, thereby reducing the attack surface by a considerable margin. Thus, security is a major benefit of the headless CMS integration approach.

The Pros and Cons of Side-By-Side and Headless CMS Integration Approach

When it comes to choosing between side-by-side and headless commerce integration, remember, there is no right or wrong approach to integrating these two systems. Both approaches have pros and cons. Take into account your digital experience and business and functional requirements to drive to the conclusion.

Headless CMS Integration Pros

  • Highly secure
  • Robust content marketing platform for editors
  • Fast time to market for content-first sites
  • Drupal and Magento themes cannot be shared

Headless CMS Integration Cons

  • Despite Magento’s robust and modern API architecture, headless is not the most common use case
  • Forward-facing Magento extensions will assume Magento is controlling the glass (the platform building the web pages that the end-user interacts with) and may require additional refinements to work

Side-By-Side Integration Pros

  • Maximizes the values of both platforms since both will work on their strengths
  • Magento extensions are unlikely to be complicated by integration

Side-By-Side Integration Cons

  • Since two platforms are in total action in this case, thus, twice the attack surface than headless integration
  • Magento requires API-level tuning, and Drupal needs full-stack performance tuning
  • Two themes are required to be built and maintained

Conclusion

Today, businesses are looking for ways to build content-rich shopping journeys, and thus they are looking for tools to deliver a seamless customer experience. Embracing the headless commerce architecture is the answer.

Most organizations prefer best of breed solutions. The integration of Magento and Drupal CMS combines the strengths of both platforms, and this harmony results in a powerful site, compelling brand, and a robust eCommerce solution.

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Lalit Singla

About the Author

Lalit Singla is working as Project Manager at Net Solutions since the last 5 years with over 10 years of experience in LAMP Stack. His expertise lies in Enterprise eCommerce and custom database driven development. In his free time, he enjoys listening to classical music.

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