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Why and how to build a social shopping project with Drupal: case study

01.09.2015
Why and how to build a social shopping project with Drupal: case study
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Discover the post on social shopping projects in Drupal with some of the best secrets
of ecommerce website development for you ;)

The World Wide Web has given people 2 unquestionable pleasures. The first one is the convenience of viewing and buying products online, sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of your favourite coffee. The other (since we are all social creatures!) is the joy of chatting to your friends on social media every minute you want. For example, to discuss the new awesome parcel from an online shop that has just been delivered to you doors.

A perfect combination of social media and ecommerce

Indeed, social media and ecommerce are great powers that rule the Internet. What do we get if we combine them? We get a super power! ;) It has a name — it’s called social shopping. This is one of the newest but already very popular ecommerce website development phenomena.

Social shopping is like taking your Facebook friends to a store with you. Just about the same fun, discussions, comments on the products you choose. Need your friends’ opinions about a product? Here you go! Want to boast your new purchase? :) Feel free! Social shopping includes these and many more options, while the comfort of your room is always with you.

Social shopping: much more than just social buttons

A few years ago, having social media buttons on your website was a sign of your up-to-dateness and respectability. Today, it’s no longer enough. Social shopping involves much deeper users’ interaction with your website. They should be guided through the whole shopping process on its every step.

Drupal’s the perfect companion to go social shopping with

Thinking to build your social shopping project, which platform to choose? It should:

  • be flexible enough to meet all your needs and implement all your ideas;
  • be powerful enough to handle lots of products and users quickly and without delay;
  • allow effective payment system integration.

Here, Drupal is a perfect fit just like a suit tailored specially for you. Obvious choice — let’s see in more detail why.

A “chic” example of a Drupal social shopping project

The best proof is a closer examination of an amazing social shopping website built with Drupal. You will see something that is really “chic” — and it’s not only about the design, but also about the functionality. Welcome to chiq.com, the “incarnation of chic” in Drupal ecommerce development! ;) This is our social shopping project that was build with Drupal to enjoy all its benefits. Today, the website is not using Drupal anymore, but this link will lead you exactly to the version we developed so that you can see how it was built. It’s a powerful aggregator of stylish and fashionable clothes. Our virtual journey to it will be both visually pleasing, useful and interesting, we promise. Let’s go!

As close to Facebook as possible: real integration

We’ll begin with the most important feature of a social shopping project, i.e. social media integration. We developed Drupal custom modules and algorithms to provide full Integration with Facebook. Users see items on their dashboard according to their Facebook likes, create FB photo albums and more. The position of each item depends on its likes calculated in real-time mode. People come to the website from the Facebook page and are redirected to vendors’ websites to actually make purchases.

Quick and “chic”! Really high website performance

When a website has over 1 million items, lots of Facebook fans, high traffic and a big amount of published content, it should be powerful enough to handle it proudly :) We made this social shopping Drupal site work really quickly, with an average page generation speed of less than 60 msec. Sometimes we got about 50.000 unique visitors in a few minutes after a new post on the Facebook page.

Just some Drupal secrets of how we made it. We didn’t use “heavy” Drupal modules like Views, Panels, CTools on dashboards. We used only one dedicated server with our custom configuration for all of this stuff. Of course, we achieved such results with no Drupal core hacks, just using a standard database, session and cache layers for Drupal. A custom caching algorithm was implemented for the website. CDN was used to store content. Some pages used only partial DRUPAL_BOOTSTRAP capability.

Integration with authorize.net payment system

When it’s convenient, easy and safe to pay, people are willing to make purchases on a website. Drupal allows effective payment system integration. So the integration with authorize.net payment system enabled easy payment process on chiq.com, right on the purchase page.

Store feed: an automatic item aggregator

It really made the life of content managers easier. They used to pick and add items from various sites before, but our aggregator enabled the display of all items in a convenient way and made it easy to add them with just a few clicks. This information is stored in a separate database table created specially for temporary storage. Only after a content manager clicks the “Add item” button, a separate node for the specific product is created on the site. The store feed is updated once a day.

Let’s sort out the necessary things: specific item sorting algorithms

How to show the items that deserve it most? We use logarithmic sorting and custom algorithm (depending on how popular the item is and how recently it’s been uploaded). The combination of these two factors is the best way to sort items. Those algorithms provide showing most popular and most recent items on top of the feed.

Rewards for active users: a flexible system of badges

Active users’ actions on social shopping websites should be encouraged, if you want them to show even more activity. Chiq.com users received special badges like:

  • Newbie: Welcome to the CHIQ Community;
  • Blue Ribbons are awarded to users with 5 Chiq points;
  • Fashion Leader: Where fashion followers become fashion leaders.

Chiq is always with you: special browser apps & bookmarks

No matter where users go, chiq.com is always with them. We developed special chiq button for Chrome and Firefox browser so everyone is welcome to “chiq” everything they like on any site to add it to chiq.com.

Briefly about other features

We have listed just a few important Drupal features, but there are more of them. For example, a flexible automatic discount system depending on the product’s votes, subscription to the product’s price change, a gift system, an advertising system, a “page refreshing to help circulate items” function and many more.

We hope you have enjoyed this virtual Drupal journey to chiq.com. Choose what suits you best and make people enjoy staying on your social shopping website!

5 votes, Rating: 5

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