Drupal vs Shopify: A Complete Guide for 2023

Drupal Ecommerce vs Shopify for Online Selling

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If you're planning on building an online store, you know that you're going to need a few things to get you started. The first, and often most important element, is an idea. What are you going to sell online, and why? Next, you need an audience. Who do you want to target with your commerce site? Who can you best serve with whatever you're selling?

Once you've figured out those essentials, unless you’re selling offline with a point of sale, you'll need a home for your digital shop – somewhere your customers can go to find you and all the products you have to share. Fortunately, there are plenty of ecommerce platform options available to help.

Today's marketplace for site-building is more saturated than ever. You can experiment with everything from Amazon, to BigCommerce and Magento, depending on how you want to sell.

Today, we're looking at two excellent options: Drupal and Shopify.

Let's find out which one is better suited to your brand.

Drupal vs Shopify: An Overview

Drupal and Shopify are both sensational tools for online selling. If you're searching for a flexible website building solution with plenty of scalability and room for growth, both tools are great. Drupal is one of the most immersive open-source ecommerce projects on the market. The technology is licensed under the GPL, and there are no fees associated with any of its features.

Drupal is one of the oldest tools for ecommerce available today. It's been around longer than WordPress, although it lacks the significant market share. Drupal is responsible for about 2.3% of all the websites online, and it supports companies like the University of Colorado, Nasa, and even The Economist.

Shopify is a fantastic alternative to Drupal, better-suited to people with limited coding knowledge. Shopify is widely regarded as the ultimate ecommerce site builder, ideal for helping companies to stand out with things like SSL certificates, and social media integrations. Compared to tools like Weebly and Wix, Shopify is one of the largest ecommerce platforms around.

Shopify supports countless companies with sales tools like shopping carts, checkout tools, and various other elements. If you're looking for an easy way to get online, and Drupal commerce seems too complicated, Shopify has virtually no learning curve as an ecommerce solution.

Drupal vs Shopify: Pros and Cons

When you're comparing Drupal Commerce and Shopify, it's challenging to get a full apples for apples insight into which tool is better. Drupal and Shopify are very different, one is an open-source solution, while the others is more of a complete service for beginners. Let's take a closer look at some of the pros and cons you'll need to think about when examining these tools.

Shopify Pros 👍

  • Personalization: Lots of customization options and themes to choose from, Shopify makes it easy to showcase your brand.
  • Brilliant ecommerce features: Shopify makes it easy to make a profit from credit card payments and regular purchases. There are tons of ecommerce software tools
  • Flexibility: Shopify's app store is one of the most comprehensive available. You can find plugins for everything from a new payment gateway, to SEO.
  • Powerful support: If you're struggling to make the most of your ecommerce website, Shopify will give you the service you need.
  • Community guidance: Shopify makes it easier to reach out for help with a huge community of helpful professionals.
  • Easy to use: Shopify has a simple back end that small businesses can get used to very quickly. You don't need to worry about a complex code base.

Shopify Cons 👎

  • Fees: Shopify comes with transaction fees to consider, whereas Drupal is a free-to-use solution because it's open-source.
  • Limitations: Because Shopify isn't open-source like Drupal, there are some limits to how much tweaking you can do with the code.

Shopify is a fantastic platform brimming with tools for sales and ecommerce. With Shopify, you can build a fantastic online business, often without too much extra help. Drupal, on the other hand, offers a more flexible approach to online selling, with endless support for coding and growth. Here's what you need to know about Drupal.

Drupal Pros 👍

  • Global commerce: Drupal is perfect for online selling around the world, with support for all currency, language, and tax needs. The full-featured system also supports shopping carts, multilingual checkout forms, and more.
  • Extensibility: Like Shopify, Drupal integrates with a host of third-party solutions for fulfillment services, gateways, accounting applications, and more. The open-source API gives you plenty of room for updates.
  • Complete design freedom: Although Shopify is very customizable, Drupal gives you absolute freedom with a theme layer featuring CSS and HTML support. Drupal is one of the most flexible products out there.
  • Constantly updating: As an open-source project, Drupal is constantly updating and delivering new features. We're currently at the point of Drupal 7, and new functionality is appearing all the time.
  • Lots of control: Drupal has a built-in system for access control where you can create individual permissions depending on your needs. Drupal will scale alongside your business with no problem.

Drupal Cons 👎

  • Less support: Although you can get third-party support from companies like Commerce Guys, there's no direct support for Drupal like you'd get from Shopify.
  • More complex: For beginners who don't have a lot of coding knowledge, Drupal is bound to be more daunting as an open-source solution.

Drupal vs Shopify: Pricing

While there's a lot more to consider for small businesses building ecommerce sites than just pricing – budget is important to any entrepreneur. You need a service that you can afford to scale alongside your business.

Shopify and Drupal take very different approaches to pricing. While Shopify's pricing structure is straightforward, it can get expensive very quickly. Drupal pricing is different. The service is free to download, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not going to cost you anything.

Using Drupal as an open-source software for your ecommerce website won't cost you anything. However, there will be higher up-front costs associated with building your custom website in some cases. For instance, you'll need to pay for things like security and your SSL certificate separately. Then there's hosting and extra functionality to think about.

If you're not comfortable with coding, then the price of Drupal goes up again, because you'll need to hire a professional to work on your site for you. Some code professionals can cost tens of thousands of dollars to hire. That's assuming that you already have your criteria in mind for what you want to accomplish with your website.

Ongoing maintenance is another expense to consider with Drupal. Besides the massive implementation costs, you should also consider the cost associated with looking after Drupal sites when they're ready. Remember, because this is an open-source solution, the Drupal platform is always evolving, and you'll need to install updates and patches manually.

You can learn how to manage Drupal on your own, but it is a time-consuming process. Most larger companies prefer to have a professional on-site instead.

So, how does Shopify compare when it comes to pricing options?

shopify pricing - drupal vs shopify

Well, Shopify is a little simpler than Drupal in terms of pricing structure. You get everything you need to run your store in a package. There are three plans to choose from:

  • Basic Shopify: With a price of $29 per month
  • Shopify: With a price of $79 per month
  • Advanced Shopify: Price of $299 per month

You can also consider two extra Shopify plans – Shopify Lite, which simply places a button on an existing web page, so your customers have an option to buy products, or Shopify Plus, which is for enterprise customers.

For the most part, the standard Shopify plan will be the best option or growing businesses because it comes with extra functionality, like CSS coding, gift cards, and more. Advanced Shopify also supports third-party shipping rates, to reduce your fulfillment costs.

Although, at first glance, Shopify might seem to be more expensive than Drupal, because you have a monthly fee to pay, it can actually end up costing less. Shopify has things like hosting and maintenance built-in, so you don't have to work as hard at finding third-party solutions.

Shopify also comes with most of the tools that you need to build a website built into an accessible back-end that doesn't require a lot of coding knowledge. You don't need a professional to get started. You can even access a free trial with Shopify to see how you feel about the tech before you pay anything. This reduces the risk associated with selecting a new ecommerce tool.

Drupal vs Shopify: Sales Features

Both Shopify and Drupal are highly flexible tools for online selling. Shopify might be easier to use for beginners, but Drupal provides a lot more customization for those who know their way around code.

Both Shopify and Drupal give you the freedom to do all of the selling you like.

Shopify Features

shopify features - drupal vs shopify

Shopify comes with the critical tools for online selling already built-in. The solution is one of the most popular and comprehensive ecommerce platforms available today. Shopify can cater to all sizes of business, with the option to accept payments from about 70 different providers.

Shopify's ecommerce platform comes with tools for building a complete online experience, including editing options for HTML and CSS. You can easily design your own website using premium or free themes through Shopify, and there's a content management system for blogging too.

You can access payments with credit cards and PayPal, and accept global currencies, just like you can with Drupal. Shopify also gives you the functionality you need to better understand your customers through immersive analytics tools. This ensure that you can thrive and grow as a bigger store.

Depending on the Shopify package you buy, and the addons you're willing to experiment with, the functionality of Shopify knows virtually no limits. You can even connect an offline POS to your online store so that you can sell in reality when you're still making money online. Features of Shopify include:

  • Free and professional themes
  • Domain name access
  • Drag and drop website building
  • SSL certificate included
  • Access to dozens of payment options
  • Automatic shipping carrier rates
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Automatic tax calculation
  • Customer accounts and profiles
  • Fulfillment and dropshipping tools
  • Blogging and SEO optimization
  • Marketing and email templates
  • Social integrations
  • Discounts and gift cards
  • Inventory management for unlimited products
  • Product reviews

Shopify's team isn't afraid to experiment with new technology either. Recently, the company introduced an Augmented Reality tool to help with product viewing. There are also tons of integrations and add-ons to make your Shopify experience better.

Drupal Features

drupal features - drupal vs shopify

Like Shopify, Drupal is a versatile ecommerce website building tool – although it takes a different approach. While Shopify is all about supporting beginners, Drupal gives complete flexibility to those who know how to work with code. This open-source project is beyond flexible, with access to custom-coded solutions for everything you need.

While themes for Drupal are available, most of the websites that use this service opt for a custom-coded theme. This means that you have no limits to what you can do with your website. Drupal is a lot more complicated than Shopify from a usability perspective, but it also has more room for growth.

Drupal Commerce is completely mobile-ready, with responsive functionality throughout so you can serve your customers wherever you are. The custom code is easy to adapt and enhance, with tons of third-party integrations and extensions for social networks, accounting apps, fulfillment services, and more.

The Drupal open-source software is available under public license, which means that it's free to use and customize, with no monthly subscription. Additionally, the tool is completely scalable, with the capacity to project millions of requests each second.

Drupal is a global tool that works for selling products around the world, with international currency, language, and tax needs. Plus, it's extremely secure, with many safety tests always delivering results from a worldwide community. Features include:

  • Absolutely customization friendly
  • International selling supported
  • Mobile friendly throughout
  • Free to download and customize
  • Easy to extend with integrations included
  • Administration system included
  • Shopping carts and checkout forms
  • Vast community to connect with
  • Complete design freedom with HTML and CSS
  • No hard-coded requirements on your site
  • Constant innovation with new tools and features
  • Access to social media integrations
  • Community-driven growth
  • Built for scalability

The design of Drupal commerce is all about helping merchants and business leaders to focus on innovating with their business, rather than working according to pre-set guidelines.

Drupal vs Shopify: Design and Customization

So, how do Drupal and Shopify compare when it comes to making your website look and feel incredible? Shopify benefits from being one of the easier-to-use products on the market for store building. You can design a great website that ranks well on Google without having to know much about PHP, CSS, and HTML.

People love Shopify for it’s ease of use and versatility. There are tons of free and premium themes to choose from for your ecommerce store, and plenty of guidance out there if you want more information on how to make your website unique. You can even have someone create a special theme just for your website, though this can get a little expensive.

Shopify is a great solution for businesses from all backgrounds, even if it’s not technically a website builder as much as it is a dedicated service for ecommerce. If you’re not looking for a way to sell products online, then you probably won’t need something like Shopify.

If you are thinking of selling online or building your own SaaS company, then Shopify is a great choice. It’s easy to use and convenient.

Unfortunately, while both Shopify and Drupal are great for allowing personal customization of your website, Shopify is much easier than Drupal to use in this regard. Drupal 8, or the latest version of Drupal when you start building your website, is all about open-source building. Shopify easily allows users with limited background in design to start building.

However, with Drupal, you’ll need a basic understanding of coding. If you’re new to this landscape, it can take a little while to apply the right features and make your website work exactly how you want it to. There’s no drag-and-drop functionality here, and everything needs to be coded from scratch. This requires a significant amount of extra effort on your part.

You don’t get the same templates that guide you through the process of building an amazing website with Drupal as you’d get with Shopify. Drupal also doesn’t have the option to use pre-existing templates and themes. Using Drupal to create your site will typically demand some help from a web designer or developer.

Drupal vs Shopify: Customer Support

Even if your website builder is extremely easy to use, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have any issues that you need a little extra help with. Having access to customer support that you can trust is crucial when you’re trying to accomplish great things as an online store owner.

The good news for people using Drupal, is although it is a little tougher to use than Shopify, there’s plenty of support available if you need it. You can search the website and look for information on the knowledgebase that will help answer your questions. Alternatively, you can visit the Drupal forum and ask questions about everything from payment processing to popups and ecommerce module functionality.

There’s Slack and IRC online chat available, Drupal answers on the Stack exchange, and Project issue queues where you can get specific help. If you’re really in a tough spot with Drupal and you don’t know what to do next, you can even find professionals who you can hire part-time to help you out. Or why not read up about Drupal from one of the published books?

Shopify is also pretty helpful when it comes to customer support to assist with your website and storefront. Depending on your needs, you can access Twitter or Live Chat to get quick responses to your questions. There’s also email and phone support, and help is available as part of every plan except from Shopify Lite.

This high-tier level of support is great for people who are just getting started in building a successful website online. However, anyone can benefit from a good quality of customer service.

Drupal vs Shopify: Apps and Addons

One of the reasons why Shopify is such a popular tool for ecommerce site building, is that it’s extremely flexible. This service comes with a massive marketplace full of apps and add-ons that you can implement to make your website more appealing.

However, it’s important to note that as an open-source service, Drupal is pretty flexible too. In it’s official directory, Drupal lists around 39,000 modules that you can add into your site, and more than 2 and a half thousand themes.

Shopify isn’t quite as flexible as Drupal when it comes to add-ons because it’s not open-source. However, the difference between Shopify and Drupal is that it can be much easier to implement an integration on a Shopify site than it is to add something to your Drupal site.

Shopify vs Drupal: Which is Right for You?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing the right ecommerce site builder. Everyone has their own preferences, expectations, and requirements. Shopify is likely to be the go-to choice for people who want a quick and easy way to get started with online sales. Shopify is easy to use, diverse, and packed full of customization options thanks to the presence of various add-ons and extensions.

Shopify also provides users with fantastic customer support when they need help with any issues they might have online. You can also get a relatively low price for all the features that you’re accessing – particularly if you’re willing to sign up with Shopify for an extended period of time.

Shopify is the perfect product for those who want to build a website that can scale with them. However, if you want absolute freedom to control every aspect of your site on the back-end – including what kind of hosting you use, you might prefer Drupal.

Drupal is much harder to use than Shopify from an objective perspective, but it comes with a lot of excellent features to enjoy. For instance, one of Drupal’s biggest selling points is its amazing security, which ensures that you keep all of your data and information private. If you know your way around code, and you’re not afraid of a learning curve, Drupal could be a great choice.

Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter is an experienced content creator, news reporter, and blogger specializing in marketing, business development, and technology. Her expertise covers everything from artificial intelligence to email marketing software and extended reality devices. When she’s not writing, Rebekah spends most of her time reading, exploring the great outdoors, and gaming.

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