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  • Agora Cart

What is AgoraCart?

AgoraCart is an open-source, template-based shopping cart application that offers a flexible and affordable ecommerce solution for site owners on a budget. AgoraCart is more than just a shopping cart. AgoraCart offers the power and flexibility to be the complete ecommerce platform for your online store.

AgoraCart was launched about a decade and half ago and is supported by a dedicated user community of “AgoraNauts”. Ongoing open-source development is driven by this community of AgoraCart users, and this keeps the focus of ongoing development firmly on merchant needs. Original development and current versions of AgoraCart were written in the Perl programming language. Future releases of AgoraCart in PHP and Ruby are planned in addition to Perl.

AgoraCart offers design flexibility. Many templates are available, and you have full control to create new templates. The platform is based on the use of flexible modules for each component of the site: headers, footers, product pages, order forms, thank you pages, emails, and more. Each module can be customized to suit your needs, as can the default template modules. However, AgoraCart is designed to be simple to use and built-in templates can be used to power your site without requiring modification. In the end AgoraCart can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.

AgoraCart is a self-hosted ecommerce platform. What this means is that if you choose AgoraCart you are using a software package that you will install on a domain and be responsible for setup and configuration of the store. In addition, if you run into trouble you’ll be reliant upon the AgoraCart user forums for support. There are hosting companies that offer a fully-managed AgoraCart deployment which they will install on your domain. If you chose a fully managed hosting plan you can expect to receive personal support from your hosting provider to help you get your store up and running.

If you’re looking for a low-cost feature-rich ecommerce platform to power your online store AgoraCart is an option you should check out.

What is AgoraCart used for?

AgoraCart can be used to power any ecommerce site. Adding shopping cart software to your website is a task that used to be relegated to the company webmaster, but if you’ve minimal programming knowledge and a modest budget, a free, turnkey solution like AgoraCart may be the answer. Designed for maximum flexibility with minimal tinkering required, this open-source software is a great way to add ecommerce to your site without learning a single line of code.

AgoraCart is template-based, and supports multiple currencies, payment methods, and languages. It also supports more than a dozen payment gateways and fully supports Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to protect customer data as it travels from your site to their bank or credit card company and back again. In-cart fields for customer tax information, account access, and shipping information can all be configured from the main control panel, and advanced features like custom reports and real-time shipping rates can be added by purchasing the appropriate plug-in from the AgoraCart marketplace.

What is unique about AgoraCart?

AgoraCart is an open-source solution with exception flexibility, power, and customization. AgoraCart comes with the following pre-packaged features and options:

  • Unlimited Products and Product Categories
  • Support for Multiple Tax Rates
  • Complete Control of Shipping Methods and Rules
  • Support for all Major Payment Solutions
  • SSL & Shared SSL Compatible
  • SEO Friendly URLs
  • Unparalleled Design Flexibility: Prebuilt Templates, Custom Templates, Customizable Modules
  • jQuery Ready (javascript)
  • Automatic Resizing of Uploaded Images

Since AgoraCart is a self-hosted open-source solution power users with programming knowledge also have the ability to create new modules for needs that aren’t addressed by the already robust standard package.

What does AgoraCart cost?

AgoraCart’s “community” version is free, and a Gold version is available with advanced features and a “members only” support forum. The Gold version is priced at $19.95 for access to the current version, and $159 for a lifetime “Gold” subscription that covers all future upgrades.

If you purchase a dedicated ecommerce hosting plan through one of the company’s affiliates, you can expect to pay around $30 to $40 a month for hosting, which will include a free installation of the Gold version of the Agora Cart software and access to the premium plug-ins in the AgoraCart marketplace, as well as a storefront site on a dedicated server or virtual private server .

What are some alternatives to AgoraCart?

There are two types of alternatives to AgoraCart. The first type of alternatives are self-hosted. A self-hosted ecommerce solution is one where you build the site and own the code. You purchase server space from a hosting company but the rest of the process is up to you. Some popular self-hosted alternatives to AgoraCart include:

  • OpenCart
  • Magento
  • osCommerce
  • Zen Cart
  • WooCommerce (Wordpress)
  • Drupal Commerce (Drupal)

The second type of alternative to AgoraCart is a hosted ecommerce solution. A hosted ecommerce solution will generally cost more than a self-hosted solution, but will also be a lot easier to get up and running. If you aren’t looking for complete control over your web store then a hosted solution might be just what you’re looking for. Popular hosted ecommerce solutions include:

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • Yahoo Small Business Ecommerce
  • Volusion
  • Public shopping platforms such as Ebay, Etsy, and the Amazon Marketplace

How do I install AgoraCart?

The community version of AgoraCart is available as a one-click install from several hosting providers. Check with your hosting provider to see if they offer one-click installation of AgoraCart.

If your hosting provider does not offer one-click installation of AgoraCart you can purchase and download the Gold version of AgoraCart for manual installation. A new release of the community version of AgoraCart is currently under development, and in the meantime the free community version of AgoraCart is not available for download.

AgoraCart Pros and Cons

Pros: AgoraCart is an open-source self-hosted ecommerce platform that offers exceptional flexibility, and complete control over every aspect of your web store’s operation, appearance, and functionality.

Cons: Unless you choose one of the fully-managed AgoraCart plans expect to spend some time getting your site to look just right. The strength of AgoraCart is also its weakness: since it offers such exceptional flexibility and customization it requires more design input than a hosted ecommerce solution.

Server Requirements

If you prefer to add AgoraCart to your server on another host, you can purchase and install the Gold version, or install the community version using the one-click installation options on participating hosts (currently, only the Gold version can be downloaded from the AgoraCart site itself). Whichever version you choose, you’ll also need to make sure your hosting package includes at least one MySQL (the most popular flavor of Structured Query Language database application) database and compatibility with modules written in Perl, the language used to create AgoraCart. Check with your host for details.

Watch for future versions written in PHP and Ruby in addition to Perl. Future versions of AgoraCart written in PHP should mean that virtually any web server will be able to host AgoraCart.

Agora Cart Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • I’m just looking for a shopping cart to add to an existing site. Can I AgoraCart for this purpose?

    Yes! You can use AgoraCart to build a storefront while you maintain your website separately. AgoraCart’s customizability means that you can make a finished product that is visually compatible with the rest of your site - just go ahead and plan on spending some time on the AgoraCart forums as you work through the process.

  • Is a self-hosted of a hosted ecommerce solution right for me?

    When you think about developing an ecommerce site what factors are the most important to you? The answer to that question will determine which option is best for you. If you want to get your site up as fast as possible, with as little effort as possible, with an attractive layout designed by someone else then a hosted solution is probably your best option. On the other hand, if you’re willing to take the time to make the site your own, and if you insist that your store look perfect, then you will probably be happier with a self-hosted solution.

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