Namaste Publishing Online Community and Store
0 min read
Over the past few months, The Jibe has been hard at work on the re-launch of Namaste Publishing's website. We are proud to say that the site is now live!
Namaste Publishing is a successful Canadian-based publishing house with a worldwide presence. Their goal was to have a website that could be easily updated, with an online store and space for their customers to learn and share. Drupal, with its flexible content management and social media capabilities, and Übercart, a great contributed e-commerce suite, were an excellent match for this project.
The development and launch of Namaste Publishing's website was a collaborative effort between Boxcar Marketing, Raincity Studios, Lift Studios and Namaste Publishing. The Jibe was brought on to assist with the implementation of Übercart, as well as other development components such as data import, performance optimization, Views, and content type setup (requiring complex content relationships and specialized categorization and taxonomies).
Übercart is a series of modules that fully integrate with Drupal. Übercart is:
powerful on the configuration level, flexible as it can integrate community contributed modules, and extensible as it offers a series of hooks which in turn allow developers to extend functionality without modifying the original code (read: easy maintenance).
One of the great things about Übercart is that the standard store functionality required by many online businesses is provided 'out of the box.' This functionality includes: product and sales reports, checkout processes, flexible payment gateway integration, inventory management, user account integration with Drupal, anonymous checkout, and the ability to utilize Drupal's content creation functionality.
There is one limitation with Übercart which primarily affects Canadian companies: There are very few existing payment gateway modules which support Canadian merchant services. This is in contrast with the bulk of the gateways which are geared towards US providers. Thankfully, Übercart provides a module which supports Paypal Pro, and thereby offers merchant services to Canadian stores. If you need to use a different merchant service provider, you will most likely need factor in development time for integrating with that service.
One of our aims was to limit the amount of work that would be required by the store administrators, particularly around shipping and inventory management, as these can be fairly labour intensive for a thriving business such as Namaste Publishing. Due to the volume of their sales, manual management of the orders would not make Übercart's default settings a feasible option for Namaste Publishing.
Namaste uses a third party fulfillment house for their shipping services. Utilizing an API that they provide, we extended Übercart to automatically send order and shipping information. This system also allows Namaste to import the returned shipping and product reports to update their order status, sales and stock levels.
We needed to ensure that visitors were not making purchases of products that were out of stock or unavailable. To this end, we made adjustments to the display of the "Add to cart" button on product pages. Based on stock levels and product taxonomies that administrators can set, the "Add to cart" button is either available or replaced by an invitation to contact Namaste Publishing's customer service department.
CCK and Views
CCK and Views are used heavily throughout the website. This is fairly common, as these are two of the most popular modules. [So much so that we will see much of CCK’s functionality (Fields) in core for Drupal 7.]
We used Node reference and User reference extensively to define relationships between content and users. This was particularly useful for creating and displaying relationships between Authors and Products.
Some examples of how we used Node/User reference are:
Taxonomy and Products
In building the website, it was critical to set up a product content type and categorization system on par with industry standards.
BISAC classification codes are the standard categorizations that North American publishers use to identify in which part of a store a particular product should be placed. This is a fairly large categorization system containing many terms within multiple hierarchies.
Drupal worked very well in this instance, as it has a robust taxonomy/categorization system. By using contributed modules to extend functionality (e.g. Hierarchical Select), we were able to configure a categorization system to utilize the same structure and categories of the BISAC system.
We are thankful that we were able to play a part in this collaborative project, and really appreciate the efforts and skills of everyone involved.
We are excited that we have the opportunity to continue working with Namaste Publishing in providing long term support and further enhance the website.
Blessings and Namaste!