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Improve your Craft CMS skills

The Benefits Of Using Craft CMS For Commerce

10 min read
Shape April 2022 HR 197

Ecommerce is more competitive than ever. To stand out, you need a platform that enables complete control and flexibility to realize your commerce vision. Craft CMS provides the most customizable, extensible ecommerce engine available. This guide explains the key benefits of using Craft for your online store and how its power and versatility translates to commercial success.

Craft CMS enables full front-end and back-end customization with unlimited design flexibility. It centralizes intuitive product and order management while empowering advanced workflows. Craft offers optimized checkout and built-in SEO along with extensibility via 300+ commerce plugins. The open-ended platform provides unlimited commerce control.

Flexibility and Customization of Craft Commerce

Craft Commerce provides store owners with extensive flexibility to customize their ecommerce site's front-end and back-end to perfectly match their brand, products, and business needs. The open-ended nature of the platform makes it easily modifiable and extensible.

Customizing Storefront Design and Logic

One of the major advantages of Craft CMS is the ability to fully tailor the front-end design and logic of your online store. The templating system makes it simple for store owners to modify existing templates or create new ones from scratch to achieve a unique look and feel aligned with their brand.

You have complete control over the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript powering the front-end, allowing you to realize any design imaginable. Tweaking the CSS opens up endless possibilities for implementing custom fonts, colours, layouts and more to differentiate your store. If you have a talented front-end developer on your team, they can modify Craft's out-of-the-box templates or build new ones to match the desired UI perfectly.

Beyond surface-level design changes, Craft empowers deep customization of the storefront logic and behaviour. For example, you can modify the templates powering catalogue pages, product pages, cart, and checkout to inject new components, change layouts, and alter the display logic. The open-ended nature of Twig templating enables implementing any frontend functionality needed to create a unique customer experience.

Craft also makes it simple to integrate custom JavaScript and jQuery code on the storefront for added interactivity. This allows further customizing elements like animations, popups, data filtering, and more. The sky's the limit for tailoring the frontend design and functionality.

Extending Functionality via Plugins

The functionality of a Craft Commerce store can be extended by installing plugins from the official Craft Plugin Store. There are over 300 commerce-related plugins that add ecommerce features like subscriptions, memberships, event bookings, custom product types, and more.

Popular plugins like SEOmatic help optimize your product pages for search engines. Others like Volume Discounts enable offering tiered quantity pricing. Plus there are niche plugins like Matrixmate that make managing complex Craft product matrices easier.

The key benefit of Craft's open plugin ecosystem is the ability to add just about any feature you need. Before investing development time in building custom functionality, it's worth browsing the Plugin Store to see if an existing add-on can get the job done quicker. With a single click, your store's capabilities expand greatly.

Back-end Customization and Integration

For advanced custom ecommerce functionality, Craft Commerce offers developers deep control over customizing the back-end code and logic. The open-source nature of Craft allows modifying files directly to alter behaviour or inject new features as needed.

For example, you may want to build a custom product management UI tailored to your inventory workflow. Or add complex custom business logic for calculating shipping rates. Craft empowers developers to customize any backend behaviour by modifying the core PHP code powering the CP.

Craft also makes it easy to integrate your ecommerce platform with other business systems via APIs. For instance, you can build custom integrations with your ERP to sync product data, integrate with fulfilment systems for inventory syncing, or connect to accounting software like Xero for automated order processing. The sky's the limit for backend customization and integration capabilities.

The open flexibility Craft provides sets it apart from closed-off SaaS ecommerce platforms. You are not limited by the constraints of proprietary systems and can instead build a truly custom commerce solution tailored to your brand's needs. Whether you want to customize the storefront design, extend functionality with plugins, or deeply modify backend logic, Craft provides endless possibilities.

Intuitive Product Management with Craft CMS

One of the standout features of Craft Commerce is its intuitive, easy-to-use admin dashboard for managing products. Store owners have complete control over products directly within Craft's control panel.

Managing Products from the Dashboard

The Craft admin dashboard provides a central hub for store owners to access, update, and manage all products. Rather than using a separate system, you can handle all product tasks directly within Craft's intuitive interface.

Upon logging into the secure control panel, you can view, edit, add, and delete products with just a few clicks. Craft displays all products in a sortable, searchable overview grid, making it easy to find and select any product.

Detailed product analytics are also available right on the dashboard, like total sales, average price, and more. And utilising Craft's user permissions, you can restrict access so staff only see and manage certain product sections.

The dashboard essentially serves as an all-in-one command centre for handling every aspect of your product catalogue. No need to toggle between systems or platforms.

Product Editing Fields and Options

Craft really shines in the product editing experience it provides. Each product has a detailed edit page with every field imaginable for customising products.

This includes fields for titles, descriptions, variants, images, pricing, dimensions, shipping details, SKU, related products, videos, and more. Additionally, custom fields can be added to match your business needs, like material, ingredients, or other attributes.

Advanced multi-variant product matrices are also easily created with dimensional variants for size, color, style, etc. Other ecommerce platforms make managing complex configurable products difficult - but Craft allows full customization and flexibility.

SEO optimizations can be added directly on product pages too, like meta titles and descriptions. And utilizing Craft's localization features, products can be translated into multiple languages and currencies.

Whether simple physical products or complex configurable items, Craft provides all the tools needed to craft completely customized products.

Product Organization and Attributes

To help organize your product catalogue, Craft allows assigning products to hierarchical categories, enabling multi-level product categorization.

For example, you may have a "Clothing" parent category, with children categories for "Shirts", "Pants", "Jackets", etc - each with respective sub-categories dialing down. This allows creating a structured, segmented product navigation on your site.

Custom attributes can also be assigned to categories to cascade down to products. For instance, defining a "Material" attribute on the "Clothing" category allows selecting materials like "Cotton", "Polyester", "Wool" on the products level.

Advanced matrix-based attributes take product organization even further. For example, you can add a matrix with rows for sleeve length, collar style, and fit type - enabling tailoring products to every combination.

Between categories, hierarchies, and custom attributes, Craft provides endless possibilities for organizing, segmenting, and structuring your product catalogue to match your business needs. No constraints placed on your inventory workflow.

Craft Commerce simplifies product management by consolidating everything into a user-friendly dashboard. You have complete control over products without toggling between systems. And the flexible editing options empower customizing products and inventory workflows to your exact needs.

Order Management with Craft Commerce

Craft Commerce provides robust order management capabilities directly within its intuitive admin dashboard. Store owners gain complete visibility and control over orders.

Real-time Order Visibility and Updates

The admin dashboard serves as a central hub for tracking and managing orders in real-time as they are placed and processed. As soon as a new order comes in, it immediately appears in the dashboard with complete order details.

Key data like customer name, items purchased, total cost, and current status is visible at a glance. Drilling into any order allows viewing additional details like shipping address, discounts used, taxes, and more.

Store owners can also quickly update order statuses on the fly. For example, when an order ships you can instantly mark it as such, with the customer receiving an email notification of the change. This enables real-time order tracking without toggling between systems.

The dashboard essentially provides an eagle-eye view of every order as it flows through your fulfillment workflow. This real-time visibility ensures orders are fulfilled accurately and efficiently.

Customizable Order Workflows

Craft allows creating customized order management workflows to match your unique business needs using custom order statuses.

Rather than relying on generic statuses like "Pending" and "Complete", you can define statuses like "Payment Received", "Ready for Pickup", "Awaiting Local Delivery", etc.

This enables tailoring the order flow to your specific fulfillment processes. Additional custom statuses can be defined for situations like orders requiring review, payment issues, item stockouts, or other exceptions that require intervention/action.

Beyond statuses, user permissions allow controlling which staff members can view, edit, and update orders depending on status. For example, warehouse staff may only see orders with "Ready for Pickup" status.

These tools provide flexibility to model order workflows perfectly aligned to your operational processes.

Order Processing Automation

Mundane order management tasks can be automated in Craft to optimize fulfillment. Workflows triggered by order status changes can streamline operations.

For example, when an order status changes to "Shipped", Craft can automatically email the customer with tracking info. Or when an order is marked "Complete", details can sync to accounting software.

Workflows can also connect to warehouses APIs to automatically print packing slips, courier integrations to generate prepaid labels, inventory systems to update stock levels, and more.

This automation eliminates the need for repetitive manual order processing tasks. Combined with custom order statuses, remarkably efficient workflows can be realized to accelerate order fulfillment.

Craft Commerce centralizes order management into a single intuitive dashboard providing real-time tracking, customizable workflows via custom statuses, and automation through workflows - enabling highly streamlined order processing tailored to your business.

Optimized Checkout in Craft Commerce

Craft Commerce comes equipped with an optimized, seamless checkout process to convert sales. Flexible payment options, discount codes, and customizable design empowerCraft stores to realize frictionless checkout tailored to their brand.

Flexible Payment Options

Craft supports integrating with all major payment gateways to accept payments from customers worldwide. Options like Stripe, Braintree, Authorize.Net, and PayPal allow accepting credit cards. Region-specific gateways like Adyen cater to local payment methods in international markets.

Craft handles the technical integrations, so all that’s required is configuring your gateway credentials. This enables offering customers their preferred payment option optimized for conversion across geographies.

For businesses selling locally or offline, external payment methods like bank transfers, cash on delivery, or phone payments can be configured as custom gateways. This flexibility ensures your online checkout mirrors real-world payment preferences.

Support for subscriptions and recurring payments is also built-in for SaaS, memberships, and other recurring models. In summary, Craft empowers global commerce by connecting to any payment method needed.

Coupons, Discounts and Promo Codes

Craft enables creating flexible coupons, discounts, and promotion codes to incentivize customers at checkout. Percentage and fixed amount discounts can be applied sitewide or to specific products and categories.

Codes can also be restricted to customer groups. For example, wholesale customers may have a special 30% off cart discount code. Customers who subscribe to your email list could get $10 off their first order.

Promotions can even be configured to apply automatically based on conditions like cart subtotal or number of items. Craft empowers any promo, incentive, or discount needed to increase sales.

Customizable Checkout Design and Flow

Store owners can tailor the frontend checkout design and logic using Craft's templating system. This allows matching your online checkout experience perfectly to your brand style.

Customize the layouts powering cart, customer details capture, shipping, payment, and order review sections. Re-arrange elements as needed or even split across multiple pages to shorten individual steps.

The HTML and CSS can be modified to implement unique design elements like custom typography, colours, and branding. Or inject custom JavaScript/jQuery to create interactive widgets and animations.

The templating flexibility also enables localizing the checkout to fit regional design patterns. For example, Asian sites traditionally place order review first, while Western sites display it last.

Craft empowers global commerce by providing customizable, optimized checkout tailored to your brand, geography, and customers - driving sales and conversions.

SEO Optimization in Craft Commerce

Craft Commerce provides powerful built-in SEO capabilities to help ecommerce sites achieve top rankings. Optimized metadata, sitemaps, and developer controls give merchants complete ability to optimize SEO.

Product and Content Optimization

Dedicated SEO fields on product and content pages make optimizing pages easy in Craft. Merchants can craft SEO-friendly page titles, meta descriptions, alt text, and other metadata.

For example, products can have a custom title like "Blue Cotton Crew Neck T-Shirt", rather than just "T-Shirt". Descriptions provide search engines more context about the product.

Image alt text helps search bots understand the content of product photos. The goal is painting a rich picture of each product to improve ranking potential.

The same SEO principles apply to CMS content like blog posts and category pages. Well-optimized page metadata improves discoverability and drives organic traffic.

Automatic Sitemap and Feeds

Craft Commerce auto-generates an XML sitemap containing every product and page on your site. This helps search engines efficiently crawl and index the entire site.

The sitemap dynamically updates as new products and content are added. And page priority can be configured so key pages like category and homepages are crawled first.

For product discovery, Craft also outputs product feeds in formats like Google Shopping compliant XML. Feeds make it easy to syndicate your product data to shopping comparison engines to drive traffic.

Between comprehensive sitemaps and product feeds, Craft empowers search bots to fully explore your catalog and optimally index your site.

Developer SEO Control

For advanced SEO needs, developers have full control over the front-end code powering URLs, metadata, rich snippets, schemas, JS, and more. Clean URLs can be implemented using Craft's templating engine to produce user and

SEO-friendly paths like "/blue-socks/". Custom routing logic filters out unwanted pages from sitemaps.

Developers can also inject schema.org structured data for rich search engine snippets - like product schema for enhanced listings. Additional metadata like canonical tags prevents duplicate content issues.

JavaScript can also be customized to enable dynamic functionality without hampering SEO. For example, single page apps that fetch content client-side. Complete front-end control enables tackling SEO challenges on emerging search platforms like Google Discover and voice search. Craft remains optimized even as algorithms evolve.

Craft Commerce provides extensive SEO capabilities out-of-the-box combined with infinite extensibility to customize optimization - ensuring your site ranks highly across search engines.

Getting Started with Craft Commerce

Launching an ecommerce store with Craft Commerce is straightforward when you follow these steps for setup, configuration, design, content and product import.

Initial Setup and Configuration

Choose a hosting provider that meets Craft's server requirements, like Bluehost, SiteGround or Cloudways. Install Craft CMS with PHP 7.0+ and MySQL 5.5+. Enable mod_rewrite for clean URLs.

Point your domain to the hosting account and setup SSL for security (free with Let's Encrypt). Craft can run as the primary domain (example.com) or in a subfolder (example.com/store).

Once Craft is installed, setup admin accounts for staff. The admin CP lets you configure site settings, fields, etc. Install Craft Commerce plugin and enter payment gateway credentials.

Complete SEO basics like setting the site name, meta descriptions and Google Analytics ID. Enable templates for the homepage, product pages, cart and checkout.

Site Design and Development

Work with a web developer to design and build the front-end templates that power the customer experience. Craft's templating engine Twig makes customizing designs easy.

Typically you'll want homepage, product (single/archive), cart, checkout, and account page

templates to realize the customer journey. Navigation, headers, footers, and styling tie the templates together.

Front-end logic can be customized using Twig, JavaScript, and CSS. Test across devices to ensure mobile responsiveness. Focus on conveying the brand and optimizing conversion rate.

Importing Products and Content

To launch, import an initial collection of products into Craft using CSV import or feeds. Add essential product details like titles, descriptions, pricing, images, etc.

Organize the catalog using hierarchical categories and custom tags/attributes for easy site navigation. Enable any configurations like product variants.

Seed the CMS with core content pages for "About", "Shipping", "Returns", etc. Good copy builds credibility. Blog posts further inform and engage visitors. Fine-tune SEO optimizations for key products and pages to improve organic visibility. Set up email notifications and test order flows before launch.

With these steps complete, configure a SSL certificate and swap the site live. Monitor activity post-launch, promote your store, and continually add products and content. Use Craft's analytics tools to identify opportunities to optimize and grow the business over time.

By approaching launch in a step-by-step fashion, anyone can get an ecommerce store up and running on Craft Commerce. The flexible platform scales from small to enterprise, supporting your business growth into the future.

Shape April 2022 HR 202
Andy Golpys
- Author

Andy has scaled multiple businesses and is a big believer in Craft CMS as a tool that benefits both Designer, Developer and Client. 

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