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Nikita Kakuev
Nikita Kakuev

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Static eCommerce website with Gridsome, Commerce.js and Vercel

In this post I’m going to talk about how to build a performant eCommerce site for a rather simple purpose.

Situation

My wife is a pastry chef who has a blog where she shares her best recipes. It’s currently a bit outdated and hosted on WordPress. Recently she decided to start selling a digital product — e-books, a collection of her unique recipes. For that, we’d needed an eCommerce solution, obviously.

Normally, if you have a WordPress site already, you’d go with something like WooCommerce or maybe a Shopify plugin for WordPress or some other plugin solution, which I don’t like for multiple reasons:

  1. Performance: WordPress sites are not known for their best time to load speeds.
  2. Maintenance:
    • I’d need to write in PHP, which I personally don’t enjoy as a frontend JavaScript developer
    • To update something on a website, I’d need to go through a complicated and lengthy process of updating a theme, building CSS and JavaScript assets locally with Webpack (because I’m also using Vue on her WordPress site, long story), packaging it into .zip folder, naming it differently from what it’s currently is, and then uploading it through FTP and activating that theme. Then if I find something wrong with it, I’d need to go back to fix it and do this whole process all over again.
  3. Customization:
    • Same as 2a
    • If you want to create custom functionality you’d either need a plugin, which would mean a cost of a third party service, and it will damage your performance, or I’d need to do a lot of hacking to make WordPress do something it wasn’t supposed to, which is not ideal.
  4. Cost:
    • I’m currently paying US $5-10 per month to host the WordPress site on AWS’s LightSail service, which isn’t a lot, but if it could be nothing, why don’t I use it?
    • Same as 3b, since my wife has me, i.e. her personal developer, we don’t need to pay for a plugin and overload our site with more scripts/CSS. I could just quickly put together a lambda function that would do what we need through a rest API, e.g. syncing users to a free CRM of choice to start with, such as CapsuleCRM, who seems to have quite a good API Docs.

Solution

To have an easy deployment, freedom in customization, and enjoy the dev process in general, I’ve decided to move away from WordPress once and for all.

Here’s the stack for the new version of the site;

In this post, I'll only cover the Commerce.js integration, but you can always mix and match and use anything you like for your CMS, advertising, etc.

I like working with Vue for my side projects, since in my full-time job I work a lot with React, so I went with Gridsome for a static site generator.

Setup

Following the Getting Started guide, let's install Gridsome and create a project

npm install --global @gridsome/cli
gridsome create static-eshop
cd static-eshop
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To launch our dev server we'll need to run:

yarn develop
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Now let's add TailwindCSS for nice and easy styling. For that we'll need Tailwind Gridsome plugin. It will initialise global styles for us and give us a script to generate a tailwind.config.js in case we'll want to customise anything.

yarn add -D gridsome-plugin-tailwindcss
./node_modules/.bin/tailwind init
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Our gridsome.config.js should be aware that we're using Tailwind, so let's put this in our plugins property

{
  use: "gridsome-plugin-tailwindcss";
}
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Now when we run yarn develop, we can see that styling has changed to default tailwindcss.

Before we get to styling and outputting items on a page, let’s get the content first. For that, I put together a Gridsome source plugin for Commerce.js that will help you query all your products from your store.

yarn add -D gridsome-source-commercejs
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For now we'll also use the Commerce.js demo key that they provide in their docs to avoid creating products on our own, and put code for the Commerce.js source plugin setup in gridsome.config.js.

{
    use: "gridsome-source-commercejs",
      options: {
        publicKey: "pk_184625ed86f36703d7d233bcf6d519a4f9398f20048ec",
      },
    },
}
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NOTE: in production, you better keep your keys in a separate .env file or elsewhere safe.

Query the data

So now we can launch our dev server, go to http://localhost:8080/___explore and query our products with properties that we need. For current purpose I'll only need a few.

query {
  allCommercejsProducts {
    edges {
      node {
        price {
          formatted
        }
        name
        description
        id
        media {
          source
        }
      }
    }
  }
}
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Insert the same query on our Index.vue page in <static-query></static-query>.

To query each product's info on a single page, we'll need to use <page-query></page-query> which allows use of dynamic data, i.e. product id in our case. To setup a single page, we'll need to use templates. In gridsome.config.js we'll put

templates: {
  CommercejsProducts: "/products/:id",
},
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Note: in templates, the property should always be named CommercejsProducts because that's the name for it in gridsome-source-plugin.

So now, when we go to /products/product_id we'll use CommercejsProducts.vue page in templates folder.

Page query for a single page would look like this:

query ($id: ID!) {
  commercejsProducts(id: $id) {
    price {
      formatted_with_code
    }
    name
    description
    id
    media {
      source
    }
  }
}
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Now let's put all this data on a page, and create designs.

Design

For that we'll need a <Product /> component with tailwindcss styling (only!).

<template>
  <div class="max-w-sm rounded overflow-hidden shadow-lg relative">
    <g-link :to="`/products/${id}`">
      <img class="w-full" :src="image" :alt="name" />
    </g-link>
    <div class="px-6 py-4">
      <div class="flex justify-between align-center mb-2">
        <div class="font-bold text-lg" v-html="name"></div>
        <div class="font-semibold text-gray-800" v-html="`$${price}`"></div>
      </div>
      <p class="text-gray-700 text-base mb-8" v-html="description"></p>
      <button
        class="text-sm bg-green-500 hover:bg-green-700 text-white font-semibold py-2 px-4 w-full absolute bottom-0 left-0"
        @click="onAddToCart(id)"
      >
        Add to cart
      </button>
    </div>
  </div>
</template>

<script>
export default {
  name: "Product",
  props: {
    description: String,
    id: String,
    image: String,
    name: String,
    onAddToCart: Function,
    price: String,
  },
};
</script>
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And modify the layout a bit. Add margins at the bottom to make it look a bit better. And use our <Product /> component

<template>
  <Layout :quantity="quantity" :checkout-link="checkoutLink">
    <h1 class="text-lg font-semibold mb-8 text-gray-700">All Products</h1>

    <div class="grid grid-cols-3 gap-4">
      <Product
        v-for="product in $static.allCommercejsProducts.edges"
        :key="product.node.id"
        :name="product.node.name"
        :image="product.node.media.source"
        :description="product.node.description"
        :id="product.node.id"
        :price="product.node.price.formatted"
        :onAddToCart="addToCart"
      />
    </div>
  </Layout>
</template>

<static-query>
query {
  allCommercejsProducts {
    edges {
      node {
        price {
          formatted
        }
        name
        description
        id
        media {
          source
        }
      }
    }
  }
}
</static-query>

<script>
import Product from "../components/Product";
import commerce from "../utils";

export default {
  metaInfo: {
    title: "Hello, world!",
  },
  components: {
    Product,
  },
  data: () => ({
    quantity: 0,
    checkoutLink: null,
  }),
};
</script>
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We'll also need a <Cart /> component to have a checkout button and display number of items in a basket.

<template>
  <div
    class="font-sans block mt-4 lg:inline-block lg:mt-0 lg:ml-6 align-middle text-black hover:text-gray-700"
  >
    <a :href="checkoutLink" target="_blank" class="relative flex">
      <svg
        class="flex-1 w-8 h-8 fill-current text-green-300"
        viewbox="0 0 24 24"
      >
        <path
          d="M17,18C15.89,18 15,18.89 15,20A2,2 0 0,0 17,22A2,2 0 0,0 19,20C19,18.89 18.1,18 17,18M1,2V4H3L6.6,11.59L5.24,14.04C5.09,14.32 5,14.65 5,15A2,2 0 0,0 7,17H19V15H7.42A0.25,0.25 0 0,1 7.17,14.75C7.17,14.7 7.18,14.66 7.2,14.63L8.1,13H15.55C16.3,13 16.96,12.58 17.3,11.97L20.88,5.5C20.95,5.34 21,5.17 21,5A1,1 0 0,0 20,4H5.21L4.27,2M7,18C5.89,18 5,18.89 5,20A2,2 0 0,0 7,22A2,2 0 0,0 9,20C9,18.89 8.1,18 7,18Z"
        />
      </svg>
      <span
        class="absolute right-0 top-0 rounded-full bg-gray-600 w-4 h-4 top right p-0 m-0 text-white font-mono text-sm  leading-tight text-center"
        >{{ quantity }}
      </span>
    </a>
  </div>
</template>

<script>
export default {
  name: "Cart",
  props: {
    quantity: Number,
    checkoutLink: String,
  },
};
</script>
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Cart

<static-query/> and gridsome-source-commercejs plugin allows us only to query the data. To actually create a cart, add, delete, and remove items from it and create a checkout process, we'll need a @chec/commerce.js SDK. Let's install it, initialize and export it from a separate utils/index.js file so that we could reuse it across different components.

yarn add @chec/commerce.js
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// utils/index.js
import Commerce from "@chec/commerce.js";
export default new Commerce(
    "pk_184625ed86f36703d7d233bcf6d519a4f9398f20048ec"
  );
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Now let's get a number of items in a cart (which will be 0 at first, obviously). In our Index.vue page:

// up top
import commerce from '../utils.js'

// down in Vue
mounted() {
    commerce.cart.retrieve().then((cart) => {
      console.log(cart);
      this.quantity = cart.total_items;
      this.checkoutLink = cart.hosted_checkout_url
    });
},
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We'll pass this info to our <Layout /> component (just because I want to, no particular reason) where our <Cart /> component is. So our <Layout /> component would look like this.

<template>
  <div class="layout">
    <header class="header">
      <strong>
        <g-link to="/">{{ $static.metadata.siteName }}</g-link>
      </strong>
      <nav class="flex align-center">
        <g-link class="nav__link" to="/">Home</g-link>
        <Cart :quantity="quantity" :checkout-link="checkoutLink" />
      </nav>
    </header>
    <slot />
  </div>
</template>

<static-query>
query {
  metadata {
    siteName
  }
}
</static-query>

<script>
import Cart from "../components/Cart";

export default {
  name: "Layout",
  components: { Cart },
  props: {
    quantity: Number,
    checkoutLink: String,
  },
};
</script>

<style>
body {
  font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, BlinkMacSystemFont, "Segoe UI", Roboto,
    "Helvetica Neue", Arial, sans-serif;
  margin: 0;
  padding: 0;
  line-height: 1.5;
}

.layout {
  max-width: 760px;
  margin: 2em auto;
  padding-left: 20px;
  padding-right: 20px;
}

.header {
  display: flex;
  justify-content: space-between;
  align-items: center;
  margin-bottom: 20px;
  height: 80px;
}

.nav__link {
  margin-left: 20px;
}
</style>
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Since we already have the Commerce.js SDK initialized, we can add our addToCart method for our <Product /> component. We'll keep it in Index.vue though, and pass it down to Product component as a prop.

methods: {
  addToCart(id) {
    commerce.cart
      .add(id, 1)
      .then((response) => {
        console.log(response);
        this.quantity = response.cart.total_items;
      })
      .catch((e) => console.log(e));
  },
},
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Note: I’m being very lazy here and doing console.logs, when in real eCommerce store we should probably setup something like vue-notifications to have a better feedback for the user.

Let's not forget the single CommercejsProducts.vue template. Together with styling and query, it'll look like this:

<template>
  <Layout :quantity="quantity" :checkoutLink="checkoutLink">
    <div class="w-full py-8 px-6 bg-gray-200 grid grid-cols-1 md:grid-cols-3 gap-4 rounded shadow-lg">
      <div class="col-span-1">
        <img :src="this.$page.commercejsProducts.media.source" />
      </div>
      <div class="col-span-1 md:col-span-2 relative">
        <div class="flex justify-between mb-8">
          <div>
            <div
              class="text-2xl font-bold text-gray-800"
              v-html="this.$page.commercejsProducts.name"
            ></div>
            <div
              class="text-gray-700 text-sm italic"
              v-html="this.$page.commercejsProducts.id"
            ></div>
          </div>
          <div
            class="text-gray-700 text-lg"
            v-html="this.$page.commercejsProducts.price.formatted_with_code"
          ></div>
        </div>
        <div class="font-semibold text-gray-800 mb-2">Description</div>
        <div
          class="mb-16 md:mb-6"
          v-html="this.$page.commercejsProducts.description"
        ></div>
        <button
          class="text-sm bg-green-500 hover:bg-green-700 text-white font-semibold py-2 px-4 mx-auto rounded absolute right-0 bottom-0 w-full"
          @click="onAddToBasket($page.commercejsProducts.id)"
        >
          Add to basket
        </button>
      </div>
    </div>
  </Layout>
</template>

<page-query>
query ($id: ID!) {
  commercejsProducts(id: $id) {
    price {
      formatted_with_code
    }
    name
    description
    id
    media {
      source
    }
  }
}
</page-query>

<script>
import commerce from "../utils";

export default {
  name: "Product",
  data: () => ({
    quantity: 0,
    checkoutLink: null,
  }),
  mounted() {
    commerce.cart.retrieve().then((cart) => {
      console.log(cart);
      this.quantity = cart.total_items;
      this.checkoutLink = cart.hosted_checkout_url;
    });
  },
  methods: {
    onAddToBasket(id) {
      commerce.cart
        .add(id, 1)
        .then((response) => {
          console.log(response);
          this.quantity = response.cart.total_items;
        })
        .catch((e) => console.log(e));
    },
  },
};
</script>
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Note: I'm copy/pasting onAddToBasket method, but you can probably abstract it into a util function and import and reuse it.

Checkout

To save some time for this example, I’m going to use a hosted_checkout_link to finish the checkout process (you can code your own checkout using their checkout API but Commerce.js also has hosted checkout pages). We get it from the cart object in our mounted() method together with the quantity.

Getting ahead of myself, I've already added that link to the <Cart /> component named checkoutLink. So now, when you click on a cart icon, it opens a new tab for a hosted checkout. After filling in all the fields and submitting the form, we can return to our site, refresh, and we'll have 0 items in a basket. Magic!

Deploy

Deploying is rather simple. We just to need push this code to any Git repository. Then link that repository in our Vercel admin area, and deploy from there. Vercel even recognizes Gridsome and applies a pre-defined build script, which you can always override if you need to.

And we'll have our shop online at https://blog-static-eshop.vercel.app.

Last few words

Combination of Gridsome, Commerce.js, and Vercel gives us agility and a lot of freedom to do any checkout experience and any other features we want. For example, we can:

  • create our own styled checkout form
  • capture custom data at the checkout
  • create a custom thank you page
  • create a custom lambda/serverless function to sync user data/info through API with other services, like a CRM, loyalty program/system after the user completes the order.

And if we're updating products in Commerce.js admin area, we simply need a webhook to tell Vercel to rebuild the site every time a product is added or edited.

You can find the final project in my GitHub repo.

Discussion (2)

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sepi2048 profile image
sepi2048

Thank for this in-depth tutorial and github upload!
If I where to ONLY sell digital products using this commerce.js setup, is it possible to create a simplified checkout?

I.e. shipping method seems a bit unnecessary, how would you go about this?

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olusola profile image
olusola ak

thanks for the tutorial, will be checking out commerceJS