In any eCommerce situation, there are a lot of moving parts all interworking at any given time. Points of failure can arise from any number of different areas. This article is geared towards the folks out there who are looking to get started with their very first subscription service on the Drupal platform. If you don’t know what Drupal is yet, we’ll cover that in a moment.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to review all of the pieces you’re going to need here. You’ll need:
- Drupal 7
- A Merchant Bank Account
- A payment processor
- A subscription service to process and handle the payments
We’ll pick through this list to give you a better understanding of each.
This is an open-source Content Management System (CMS) that is freely available for download. If you’ve never heard of it, give it a look. Drupal basically provides you a way to manage your content without needing the help of a developer. It has many great features that are useful in this given scenario and it is our platform of choice for Subscription Services.
Merchant Bank Account
Pretty much any bank you go to will have something like this. You’ll simply need to call the bank and have them set one up for you. This account is where all of your funds will be transferred and where you’ll be able to grab the actual money from your subscriptions. A simple google search will provide any number of options.
A Payment Processor
A payment processor processes transactions it is handed from your website. It checks to see if the card is valid and then deducts the funds from the user’s account. You’ll need this portion in order to allow people to pay. Probably the most prevalent one out there is PayPal. There are a few variations depending on what you need to do: PayPal Payflow Pro or PayPal Express are two of the more common.
A Subscription Service
While this can be handled with a bunch of custom code, we find it best to defer this portion to a third-party. The reason being is that is reduces the technical debt (or cost incurred over time) for most of our clients. You won’t have to worry about PCI compliance and how the credit cards are stored. Note: if you are processing hundreds of thousands of users, you may want to approach a custom solution.
For subscription services you really need to look at a.) what’s available and b.) which has the features you must have. With Drupal you have a few options:
This is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that helps with recurring payments.
At the time of writing this — the unfortunate point of this service is that it doesn’t have Roles integration (which you’ll need).
This service offers pretty much the same options as the others but is much more straight forward in their pricing and features.
Recurly is our favorite out of these options. Their platform seems to be the best built and well-suited for Drupal. The module has a branch that includes integration with Roles that is incredibly helpful. Efforts are also being made to include Rules integration as well.
A few honorable mentions that are also out there: