Let’s Make an AliExpress clone with React, Django

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In this blog post, we will go through the full process of building an online e-commerce marketplace similar to AliExpress using the Django framework for the backend API and React for the frontend. This will cover everything from planning and design, to development of features, testing, deployment and post-launch work.

Let’s get started!

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1. Project Planning

The first step is to plan out our project. We need to define the core functionality that will be included and select the appropriate tech stack.

For our AliExpress clone, the main features will be:

  • Product listings with filtering/search
  • Product detail pages
  • Shopping cart
  • Checkout/payments
  • User profiles/accounts
  • Seller dashboard
  • Orders/order history

We will need a database to store product, user and order data. PostgreSQL seems like a good fit as it is reliable and works well with both Django and React.

For the backend API, Django is a natural choice as it is a full-featured framework well suited for building REST APIs. It has great ORM support for PostgreSQL out of the box.

React will be used for the frontend as it allows us to create reusable UI components and build a responsive single page application. React also plays nicely with Django.

Estimating around 6 months to develop and launch version 1 with the core features listed above. We will use Git/Github for version control and a ticketing system like ClickUp to organize tasks.

2. Database Design

We’ll use the Django ORM to define our models:

# models.py

from django.db import models

class Product(models.Model):
  name = models.CharField(max_length=100)
  price = models.DecimalField(max_digits=10, decimal_places=2) 
  description = models.TextField()

  def __str__(self):
    return self.name

class Order(models.Model):
  date = models.DateTimeField()
  # foreign keys
  user = models.ForeignKey(User, on_delete=models.CASCADE)

  def __str__(self):  
    return f"{self.user.name}'s Order"

class OrderItem(models.Model):
  order = models.ForeignKey(Order, on_delete=models.CASCADE)
  product = models.ForeignKey(Product, on_delete=models.CASCADE)
  quantity = models.PositiveSmallIntegerField()

  def __str__(self):
    return f"{self.quantity} of {self.product.name}"

3. Backend Development

We’ll build APIs with Django REST Framework:

# views.py

from rest_framework import viewsets

from .models import Product
from .serializers import ProductSerializer

class ProductViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet):
  queryset = Product.objects.all()
  serializer_class = ProductSerializer

# tests.py
from rest_framework.test import APIClient

class ProductTests(TestCase):

  def setUp(self):
    # create test data
  
  def test_product_list(self):
    client = APIClient()
    response = client.get('/products/')  
    self.assertEqual(response.status_code, 200)

4. Frontend Development

Create React app and fetch products:

// App.js

import { useState, useEffect } from 'react';

function App() {
  const [products, setProducts] = useState([])

  useEffect(() => {
    fetch('http://localhost:8000/api/products/')
      .then(res => res.json())
      .then(data => setProducts(data))
  }, [])

  return (
    <ProductsList products={products} />
  )
}

// ProductsList.js
function ProductsList({ products }) {
  return (  
    <div>
      {products.map(product => (
        <Product key={product.id} product={product}/>  
      ))}
    </div>
  )
}

5. Core Product Features

Now that our base framework is setup, it’s time to build out the main product features.

Products CRUD

The admin can add/remove products and edit product details from a seller dashboard.

Products Listing

Users can browse products filtered by category, brand, price etc. Load more products on scroll.

Product Pages

Individual product pages with photos, description, reviews/ratings etc. Add to cart button.

Shopping Cart

Track cart items in Redux state. Update quantities, remove items, view cart totals.

Checkout

Multi-step checkout form for address, payment details. Integrate Stripe payments.

Orders

Order confirmation page on checkout. View order history in profile.

User Accounts

Registration/login forms integrated with Django auth. Profile pages to edit addresses.

Product Search

Search bar to search for products by name or keywords in the database.

This covers the core shopping functionality to launch with. Further refinements and features can be added later in iterative cycles.

6. Testing

We’ll write backend tests with Django Rest Framework:

# tests.py

from rest_framework.test import APIClient
from django.test import TestCase
from .models import Product

class ProductTests(TestCase):

  def setUp(self):
    self.client = APIClient()
    self.product = Product.objects.create(
      name="iPhone", 
      price=499
    )

  def test_product_list(self):
    # get api response
    response = self.client.get('/products/')  
    self.assertEqual(response.status_code, 200)  
    self.assertContains(response, "iPhone")

  def test_product_detail(self):
    # get single product
    response = self.client.get(f'/products/{self.product.id}/')
    self.assertEqual(response.status_code, 200)

For React, we’ll use React Testing Library:

// Product.test.js

import { render, screen } from '@testing-library/react';
import Product from './Product';

test('renders product name', () => {
  render(<Product name="iPhone" />); 
  expect(screen.getByText('iPhone')).toBeInTheDocument();
});

7. Deployment

Deploy Django to Heroku:

# create app
heroku create

# deploy 
git push heroku main

# run migrations
heroku run python manage.py migrate

Deploy React to GitHub Pages:

npm run build

# publish build folder
gh-pages -d build

8. Marketing

Now it’s time to promote our new marketplace! Some strategies include:

  • SEO Optimization – Add title, meta descriptions for searchability and rich snippets.

  • Google Ads – Run PPC campaigns targeted at popular ecommerce keywords.

  • Affiliate Program – Partner with influencers and offer commissions for referrals.

  • Email Marketing – Collect emails on signup and send periodic newsletters.

  • Social Media – Promote actively on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest focusing on our target audience. Post new products, sales.

  • Influencer Marketing – Reach out to micro-influencers in relevant niches to review products organically.

  • Retargeting Ads – Show ads to past website visitors who didn’t complete a purchase.

  • Analytics Tracking – Use Google Analytics to track metrics like traffic sources, goal completions. Continuously optimize efforts.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we have successfully developed a full-stack ecommerce marketplace application using modern technologies like Django and React. The project provided valuable learning experience in areas like database design, API development, frontend coding, testing, and deployment. Building this real-world application equipped us with practical skills that can be leveraged for future projects as well.

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    Prasad Venkatachalam

    Prasad Venkatachalam is a professional writer with over 10 years of expertise in web and mobile app development. With a solid background in the field, Prasad has accumulated a decade of experience, honing his skills and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. His extensive experience in software development allows him to navigate the intricacies of the process, ensuring efficient and high-quality solutions. Currently, Prasad is a valuable member of the Zipprr team, where he continues to contribute his 10 years of expertise to develop innovative on-demand solutions.