What is osCommerce? OsCommerce is an open source online shopping cart script. Using this software you can set up and operate an online store. This script handles everything from inventory management to payment processing. Being open source means that every bit of the source code is available to you, thus if any changes that you would like to make can be done by editing the PHP code. OsCommerce is considered by many to be the shopping cart that all other open source, and perhaps all other PHP based shopping cart solutions are compared to.
This script is built to run on both Windows and Linux servers. The only requirements are that the server must have PHP installed and must have access to a mySQL database server. These features are an industry standard and are offered by most, if not all, internet web hosts.
In order to install osCommerce in your hosting account you need access via FTP to upload the files and access to the mySQL database server in order to create a database to be populated by the installation script. Basic installation involves extracting the files and uploading them to your web space, running the installation script, following the “step by step” setup script and finally deleting the installation files.
Once installed osCommerce needs to be configured. There are many options and features that can be enabled and disabled. At the very least you will need to define your store details, such as name, address and shipping zone. One area to pay close attention to is the shipping options configuration area. Setting an inaccurate package tare weight can lead to much frustration with shipping costs. In addition to the configuration listed above, you will also want to be sure to set up your shipping and payment processing methods.
Although there are modifications that can be installed to aid in the product catalog creation, using the basic install of osCommerce you must list each product one at a time. One important thing that I have found is that every product you upload must have a weight defined lest the shipping calculation will not work correctly. An image optimization feature is not provided, so every image that you upload should be resized and optimized beforehand.
Not everyone is able to modify PHP code to attain their desired results, thus there are over 4,000 contributions available to customize nearly every aspect of your store. These are provided by other cart users and are not endorsed by the osCommerce development team so great care should be taken when choosing which contributions to install. A few of the contributions that I highly recommend are:
- SEO URLs
- Easy Populate
- Header Tags Controller
Support for this script is primarily provided via the very active osCommerce Community Support Forums. Using the forums you can search for solutions provided to others with similar problems that you are having or create a new post to request help with any issues you may be having. The forums are populated by many avid and experienced osCommerce users that are sure to be able to help with any needs that you may have.
Without adding a template mod such as BTS (basic template system) or STS (simple template system), you are tied into making changes to the look of your site by editing the stylesheet. By installing either of the template systems listed above you can use templates for stunning new looks.
- Open source
- Excellent support community
- Over 4,000 user provided mods available
- Offered FREE of charge
- Difficult to upgrade after modifications have been applied
- Administration panel contains far too many settings and options for beginners
- Many SEO features considered essential do not come preinstalled
Despite it’s relatively steep initial learning curve osCommerce is a highly recommended shopping cart script.