How to Create a Node.js eCommerce Platform
eCommerce is a huge and lucrative market.
Fortunately, for all those startups that are looking to get in on the action, technology stacks for launching eCommerce ventures have become increasingly sophisticated, something which empowers developers to create innovative products that can give a new eCommerce site the wings it needs to fly.
Today, Node.js is one of the most popular and widely used tools developers use to create such apps. So, if you are an entrepreneur wondering how to create a Node.js eCommerce platform, I will show you how you can use Node.js to create the next revolution in eCommerce.
What is eCommerce?
Before we move on to this Node.js eCommerce tutorial, let’s discuss some basics.
eCommerce involves buying and selling goods over the Internet. Items are listed by sellers for buyers to purchase. Many think of eCommerce as buying and selling physical goods online, however, it also includes digital products and services.
The first eCommerce transaction took place on August 11th, 1994. It involved the sale of a music CD through a website named “NetMarket”. This website is an American retail platform. Read more about eCommerce in “What is eCommerce?”.
The global eCommerce market
As I said in the introduction, the eCommerce market is huge and is expanding rapidly. Several of the top eCommerce sites are now massive multinational companies. At the end of 2017, retail eCommerce sales amounted to US $ 2.3 trillion. Experts estimate that it will increase to US $ 4.88 trillion by 2021. Read “Retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2021 (in billion U.S. dollars)” for more details.
As of mid-2018, the top 5 countries in terms of eCommerce sales volume were as follows:
Read “The top 10 e-commerce markets you should target in the world” for many more interesting statistics.
The top 5 eCommerce companies in terms of “Gross Merchandise Value” (GMV) at the end of 2018 were as follows:
Find out more about these and other eCommerce giants in “The 7 largest e-Commerce companies in the world”.
What is Node.js?
Asynchronous event-driven programming eliminates blocking processes, therefore, developers can easily add capacity. Read about it in “Understanding Asynchronous Event-Driven Programming”.
Advantages of Node.js
Node.js offers the following benefits:
- Developers can easily create real-time web apps with it.
- It‘s open-source, therefore, independent developers have helped ensure there are a large number of modules and tools. “Node Package Manager” (NPM) has over 60,000 modules! There is a vibrant community of Node.js developers, therefore, we can expect many more such helpful modules in the future.
- Node.js makes data streaming easier.
- “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) providers like Heroku have enthusiastically embraced Node.js. PaaS providers make development easier, therefore, this is an added incentive for developers to use Node.js.
Popularity of Node.js
Ryan Dahl was the original creator of Node.js. The first release of Node.js was in July 2011. It‘s not even been around for a decade and some 4.87% of websites already use Node.js!
Examples of popular websites using Node.js include Twitter.com, Bbc.com, Forbes.com, Capitalone.com, and Aliexpress.com. Read this “SimilarTech” report for more statistics.
In 2018, 57% more technology job seekers searched for Node.js jobs, compared to 2017. At the end of 2018, Node.js was labeled one of the 10 hottest skills in the development industry. Read “The 10 hottest skills for tech job seekers” for more insights.
Why build a Node.js eCommerce platform?
So, is Node.js good for eCommerce?
Building an eCommerce platform with Node.js makes sense due to the following advantages:
- Cross-platform development is easy since developers only need to know Node.js.
- Performance is crucial in an eCommerce platform, and Node.js offers robust performance.
- Asynchronous event-driven programming helps with the scalability, and eCommerce websites need that. This is an advantage of Node.js.
- The vibrant Node.js community is a big help to developers since eCommerce platform development can often be complex.
- There are many plugins available for Node.js development, and these take care of various functionalities and features.
- Data streaming is important for eCommerce websites, and Node.js is a very helpful tool for this.
- Node.js is open-source. You will likely find skilled and experienced developers relatively easily.
- Node.js supports both frontend and backend development. This helps in building real-time communication that customers of eCommerce websites need.
- Websites built with Node.js are lightweight, and they load quicker. This matters to eCommerce platforms.
Read more about why it’s a good idea to build a Node.js eCommerce platform in “Benefits of implementing Node.JS in e-Commerce industry for 2019”.
How to develop a Node.js eCommerce platform?
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A software development project to build a Node.js eCommerce open source platform involves the following steps:
Step #1: Embrace Agile software development
eCommerce entrepreneurs frequently enhance their apps, therefore, iterative development is imperative. Agile is the right methodology for this project. Read “How to build an Agile development team?” for more information.
Step #2: Induct a skilled team
You need a development team with the following roles:
- Business analysts;
- UI/UX designers;
- Node.js developers;
- A project manager (PM).
Note that you will not need infrastructure architects or cloud platform architects since I recommend you use a “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) provider. Read on.
Step #3: Use Heroku PaaS
One of the most reputed PaaS providers, Heroku offers several advantages:
- Like other reputed PaaS providers, Heroku enables development teams to focus on coding. Heroku handles the cloud infrastructure, networking, servers, middleware, operating system (OS), runtime environment, 3rd party API integration, and scaling.
- Heroku has a razor-like focus on being a great a web app development platform. This ensures a good developer experience.
- Heroku enables developers to deploy, manage, and scale Node.js apps. You can access their comprehensive documentation here.
I have earlier explained how Heroku works, in “How to deploy your Dart app to Heroku?”.
Step #4: Download and install Node.js
Take the following steps to download and install Node.js:
- Visit the Node.js download webpage. Here you can find the platform-specific installers.
- Install Node.js using “Node Package Manager” (NPM). NPM is a popular package manager, moreover, it has a large collection of reusable code. Visit the js package manager webpage to learn how you can install Node.js for your platform.
Step #5: Use a reputed Node.js eCommerce framework
You can expedite the Node.js eCommerce development project using well-known frameworks. There are multiple options, e.g.:
Option #1: Ymple eCommerce Node.js framework
Ymple eCommerce Node.js open-source framework is a robust choice for eCommerce. It offers the following features and advantages:
- It uses a modern technology stack.
- You can get fully responsive design templates. Buyers can use it easily on mobile devices.
- It provides complete integration with frontend and backend.
- There are integrations with PayPal and Stripe.
- There is extensive documentation
- You can check out their eCommerce modules here.
- The development team can also access the detailed NPM documentation for Ymple.
Option #2: Schema.io eCommerce Node.js framework
Schema.io is an eCommerce Node.js framework platform, and it offers the following features:
- There are powerful APIs covering eCommerce functions.
- Entrepreneurs can easily configure their eCommerce store using the admin dashboard, where they can set up workflows.
- You can easily set up a responsive website that will work equally well on smartphones.
- The platform enables offers high performance.
- Entrepreneurs can customize how their eCommerce store will work.
- You can access their documentation here.
- There is also a comprehensive NPM documentation for Schema.io. It covers installation, connecting, usage, caching, etc. Your team can access it here.
Option #3: Total.js framework
- It‘s a full-featured framework, and it enables fast development.
- You can build a high performance eCommerce web app, and scaling it will be easy.
- The framework includes appropriate NoSQL databases, which are important for eCommerce.
- Media streaming, location, etc. are important for eCommerce, and this framework ably supports these.
- There is high-quality documentation for this framework.
- Your programmers can also access their host of tutorials.
- The coding team can also read the NPM documentation for Total.js.
Option #4: Koa.js framework
Koa.js is a Node.js framework that can help in eCommerce web app development. Check out the following:
- Their NPM documentation, which covers installation, various “How-to” guides, requests, responses, etc.
- There is a detailed tutorial that covers the development of the eCommerce web app with Koa.js, which can benefit your development team. You can read it in “E-Commerce for Node.js developers [with Koa.js tutorial]”.
Option #5: Reaction Commerce platform
- It’s a fully open-source project, developers have complete access to the code base. This enables flexibility.
- Product management, inventory management, adding product images, etc. is easy.
- The platform enables easy order management, customer profile management, check-out processing, and email management.
- “Reaction Commerce” offers product search, user authentication, payment gateway integration, etc.
- It‘s easy to configure discounts, promotions, and flexible shipping rates.
- The UI design is easier with its large library of themes, moreover, the platform has mobile-responsive design templates.
- “Reaction Commerce” has extensive documentation for their platform.
Visit their GitHub repository to download “Reaction Commerce”.
Step #6: Use Heroku DevOps for “Continuous Integration” (CI)
This is an iterative app development software project. Your team will develop, test, and deploy in multiple iterations. You need appropriate tools for build management, test automation, and deployment management.
With Heroku, which is a fully managed cloud PaaS, this is easy, as follows:
- They offer a robust CI process using their DevOps processes, methods, and tools (PM&T).
- Read about their DevOps capabilities in “Heroku is for developers”.
- Heroku also describes their “Pipelines”, CI, review process, GitHub integration, release, etc. with a considerable amount of details. Read “Continuous delivery on Heroku” for a description.
Step #7: Project management with the “Scrum” technique
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The best approach for managing this project is to use the “Scrum technique”. I have described this in detail earlier, and you can read “How to build a Scrum development team?”. You need to do the following:
- Form a cross-functional team where designers, developers, testers, etc. work together. This is a “Scrum team”.
- The project manager performs the role of a “Scrum master”.
- You have one or more “Product owners”, who provide the requirements as features in a document. This is called the “Product Backlog”.
- Iterations in a Scrum project are called “Sprints”.
- The team conducts a “Sprint planning meeting”. Here, they estimate the features, and slots different features in different sprints, based on their overall priority.
- When the team works on a “Sprint”, they conduct a “Daily stand-up meeting”. This is for project status reporting.
- When the features are working, and ready for a demonstration, the team calls a “Sprint review meeting”. The project stakeholders approve the sprint in this meeting.
- At the end of the sprint, the team meets in a “lessons-learned” exercise called “Sprint retrospective meeting”.
- Consider using a good project management tool like Asana. I have explained the importance of this in “The 10 best Agile project management tools in 2018”.
Building a strategic Node.js eCommerce platform?
eCommerce is a growing industry, however, it‘s very competitive. Using a PaaS provider and utilizing well-known Node.js eCommerce-specific frameworks can simplify development bit, however, developing a strategic eCommerce platform can be complex.
Node.js is a hot skill. Finding experienced developers can take time, furthermore, you need to manage the project end-to-end. Consider engaging a professional development partner if you don’t have the relevant experience or cant find the right developers.
Read more about it in our guide “How to find the best software development company?”.