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osCommerce is the maker of the very popular open-source shopping cart software known as Online Merchant. This free software is widely supported and has a large community of users who also contribute to Online Merchant’s ongoing development.
Why Choose osCommerce Hosting?
If you sell products or services online, choosing a hosting plan that supports, or comes preconfigured with, ecommerce capabilities is a must. Ecommerce software enables you to run your business by allowing your customers to place orders and pay online, collecting and organizing customer information, and helping to manage orders and inventory, as well as many other more advanced features to manage your store.
One of the most popular ecommerce solutions is Online Merchant, the free, open-source shopping cart software from osCommerce (which stands for "open source Commerce"). First released in the year 2000, osCommerce Online Merchant was one of the first open source shopping cart solutions built with PHP.
osCommerce is known for being a basic ecommerce solution that’s easy to learn and modify for your own needs. The fact that it’s open-source and that many add-ons are free also make it a popular choice for online stores just starting out. If you have a small budget and some basic technical or coding skills, osCommerce may be the perfect choice for you to run your online store.
Using Online Merchant, you can access a server-side backend to manage your customer accounts and inventory, edit your store design, and configure your store settings. On the front end, your customers will be able to browse your catalog of products for sale, add them to a virtual shopping cart, and checkout and pay on your website.
In its current iteration, it is being developed into a complete site-building tool, so users can create a one-stop ecommerce website without the need for additional design software or coding knowledge.
osCommerce Online Merchant Features
Online Merchant has a wide variety of features, from basic to advanced, to help you build your online store:
- Robust product and catalog creation
- Automatically calculate shipping costs based on multiple carriers
- Easy database and inventory management
- Customer account management allows customer to view order history, change addresses, etc.
- Support for multiple languages
- Multiple payment options, including Paypal, Stripe, and Authorize.net
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security on all transactions, plus other security settings
Online Merchant also has many free third-party plugins, add-ons, and modules to provide more advanced features. With the optional feedback module, you can even set up a customer comment and review system, and install social media sharing to help your customers share their favorite products via Twitter and Facebook.
Finding a Host With Online Merchant
Because Online Merchant is open source and free, you can install it on any Linux- or Windows-driven server with support for the PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) framework (version 5.5 or later recommended) and the MySQL database application (version 5 or later recommended). Always be sure to check with your host, however, for full details before you install any third-party software on your server.
Some hosts also offer plans optimized for ecommerce and built around Online Merchant. Many of these plans come with the software pre-installed, and offer optimized servers, free store transfer, free SSL certificates, and 24/7 support specializing in ecommerce. If you’ve already been using Online Merchant and know it’s the right option for your ecommerce store, finding a host specializing in osCommerce will keep your website running smoothly so you can focus on your business.
osCommerce Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is osCommerce?
osCommerce is an e-commerce application that allows you to create and manage an online store.
How much does it cost?
The software is free, open source software licensed under the GNU General Public License. Anyone is free to use, redistribute and modify it as they see fit. As a result, osCommerce has been used as the basis for a number of other e-commerce applications, including Batavi and Zen Cart.
What are the requirements for osCommerce?
osCommerce can run on any web server that supports PHP and MySQL databases.
What are some of the key features of osCommerce?
osCommerce has powerful administration features that allow you to set up unlimited categories and products, as well as manage physical and virtual products.
The shipping options support real-time quotes via FedEx, UPS and Postal Service lookup, as well as shipping calculations based on destination, price and weight.
osCommerce’s supported payment gateways include Authorize.Net, iPayment, PayPal, Trust Commerce, SECPay and more. If your preferred gateway isn't available by default, chances are it can be added via the osCommerce add-on site.
What alternatives are there to osCommerce?
The shopping cart market is a crowded one, with many programs that compete directly with osCommerce. Some of the more popular ones are Magento, Zen Cart and PrestaShop.
osCommerce vs Magento: Which is better?
In terms of raw functionality, Magento has a definite advantage. It has a number of features that osCommerce does not yet have. Some of these features include superior SEO, low inventory stock alerts, more mobile options, comprehensive customer management and more advanced security options, including suspicious activity tracking.
Another significant advantage Magento has a faster update cycle. This means new features and improvements at a faster pace than osCommerce currently delivers. These updates come at a price, however. While both applications are available as open source software, Magento is also available as a commercial application that offers enterprise-level features and support.
Another price of Magento’s features is a higher server requirements threshold. There are few, if any, web hosting companies that will allow Magento to be installed and run from a basic or shared hosting package, with VPS or dedicated servers required.
osCommerce, on the other hand, is completely free and open source. There is no commercial version, with all users having access to the same software and features. Because of its lighter footprint, osCommerce has lower system requirements, and is often found on shared hosting plans.
osCommerce’s relative simplicity is also an advantage for users who may not be tech-savvy. Many users find it easier to dive into and understand than the more complicated Magento.
osCommerce vs Zen Cart: Which is better?
osCommerce and Zen Cart share many similarities, largely as a result of Zen Cart being a fork of the osCommerce project. The developers of Zen Cart split off to address what they perceived to be some of osCommerce’s major flaws.
Two of these major flaws were the speed of osCommerce releases and the visual design of the software. In each case, the Zen Cart developers have worked hard to overcome these issues, releasing updates more frequently than osCommerce. Functionally, Zen Cart usually wins praise both for being easier to use and more visually appealing than osCommerce. Whereas osCommerce relies heavily on modules for additional functionality, Zen Cart ships with more features by default.
In contrast, osCommerce continues to have better integration with third-party services, as well as more add-ons and modules than Zen Cart. This gives it a greater degree of flexibility than Zen Cart.
osCommerce: Is it right for you?
As with most things, the answer to that question depends largely on you.
If you are in the market for a powerful, open source shopping cart platform and don't mind the extra work involved, osCommerce is an excellent choice. It is an extremely powerful application, made all the more so by upwards of 7,000 extensions that add to its base functionality. Programmers, of course, have the option of tinkering with it even more to customize it according to their needs. Be warned, however, that osCommerce has a reputation as a developer’s shopping cart, meaning that its design and general functionality lack the polish of other packages.
If you like what osCommerce has to offer, but prefer more frequent updates and a more visually appealing option, Zen Cart may be a better choice.
If you are in the market for one of the most advanced shopping cart packages, along with the support that comes with a commercial application, Magento may be a better option. While there is an open source version available, the paid commercial version has more features and comes with support from the company.
In contrast, if you want a strictly open source package that may not be quite as flexible as osCommerce, but is easier, looks better, updated more frequently and has more momentum, in terms of marketshare and mindshare, PrestaShop may be your best option.