The internet is barely two and half decades old and online shopping is already surpassing offline stores. Essentially, 67% of millennials now prefer the former over the latter.
Realistically, the web is yet to spread to all parts of the globe- only about half of the world has internet access. But still, ecommerce businesses are already raking in trillions of dollars.
Want to know a secret?
Online income is the new drug money. Numerous new businesses might be sprouting every day, but we’re barely just getting warmed up.
We’re probably centuries away from a glut. And that’s only if that will even be practically possible.
So, of course, there’s space for everyone, especially if you have a product that the market desperately needs.
But, make no mistake…
I’m not suggesting that ecommerce is easy. A global prospect base is exceptionally promising, but it also complicates accompanying variables.
At the very least, you’ll be increasingly facing logistical challenges as you grow and expand. More customers from different locations basically introduce additional complications.
Plus, unless you’re planning to sell unicorns, you can rest assured that you will not be alone.
The web doesn’t only serve customers. It also extends to other entrepreneurs worldwide. That translates to tight competition not only from beginners but also large established brands.
So your strategies need have the precision of a Japanese sword if you intend to stand out from the crowd.
Marketing is only one part of the puzzle. When you attract traffic, you still have to provide a holistic platform for exploring products, interacting, and conducting transactions. Across multiple devices.
I’ve been through all these demands. I know how it feels. As a matter of fact, this alone is a real headache for most online entrepreneurs because of its technical complexities.
We have third-party solutions like osCommerce, which seek to provide a host of features to support and facilitate ecommerce processes. I will be reviewing its core elements to help you understand its functionalities, and consequently, make an informed decision.
osCommerce Reviews: Overview
OsCommerce has been around for quite some time now. Founded in 2000 by Harald Ponce de Leo, the German-based ecommerce solution is almost as old as Google.
It’s one of the oldest kids on the block running shopping carts built on PHP, while providing a host of features for launching ecommerce businesses. As a result, we’ve seen it over the past 18 years being adopted by thousands of online stores across the board.
Well, to be completely honest…
It has seen its fair share of bad days, pretty much like any other web-based solution that has been around for that long. Like the hacking attacks that, for some time, targeted online stores that were hosted on it.
Fortunately, its developers swung into action and patched things up. Since its open source, you’re also free to modify it further if you have some tricks up your sleeve.
And that brings us to the brighter side of things…
osCommerce does not just cover your store’s front-end. It also extends to products and further provides a wide array of features to facilitate back-end management. I’m talking about tasks like managing sales, plus adding and tracking products, among other things.
It’s also readily available. To leverage it, simply go to the main site, download osCommerce then upload it to your main site.
The subsequent installation procedure doesn’t need a user with extensive coding skills. It’s pretty basic and straightforward.
And now for the big question. What do you get after installation?
Well, let’s get this show on the road and find out!
osCommerce Reviews: Top Features
osCommerce is a holistic solution that attempts to comprehensively cater to all the possible needs that come with standard ecommerce stores.
All things considered, a service that that just supports shopping carts and the corresponding payments would 2000-and-late.
So osCommerce takes it up a couple of notches higher and helps store owners also generate sales reports, determine shipping rates and taxes, send out newsletters and promotional updates to customers, track inventory, as well as add and edit products.
In other words, an old dog, many tricks!
Thanks to its wide community of developers, which continues to adapt it to changing ecommerce trends.
You don’t even have to worry about integration, as long as your web server or site has installed MySQL and PHP. Simply plug and play. If you’re ever unsure about anything, you can easily find answers and support in its community.
One of the best things about osCommerce is the fact that it doesn’t set any limits on the number of digital and physical products you can sell. If you think you have the ability to auction all items in the dictionary, then, by all means, give it a shot.
To make the navigation process conveniently simple, all these products can be sorted by model, size, color, or even version if you’re more into digital stuff like software.
Your customers, on the other hand, will be able to conveniently search through the products thanks to its basic filtering options. Then they’ll probably love the fact that shoppers are can drop their personal reviews on individual products.
And in case you’re worried about international customers…
You’ll definitely appreciate the platform’s multi-language support. That essentially means you can expand and comfortably tap into multiple markets worldwide.
And speaking of which, osCommerce also supports a wide range of currencies.
Among its notable advanced features is database backup, automatic security checks and updates, plus cache control- which essentially serves as the turbo for shorter load times.
When it comes to templates and design, osCommerce might be making a good attempt at keeping up with the latest trends. But, the theme choices are rather limited within its official site. Fortunately, if you need more, the platform supports additional themes from third-party marketplaces like ThemeForest.
Now, of course, we can’t talk about ecommerce without mentioning payments.
Primarily, osCommerce can be integrated with Paypal.
But, while this option is predominantly popular among western-based customers, there are many other consumers who’d prefer other channels. That’s why it’s additionally open to numerous payment add-ons like eMerchant Pay, WorldPay, BitCoin, Braintree and many others. The choice is all yours.
Now hang on a minute. Did we just mention add-ons?
Yes, and in fact, this is one of the principal features that osCommerce boasts about.
Its developers seemingly acknowledge that above everything, ecommerce is pretty wide and diverse.
We might be sharing the basic concept of selling via the internet. But all our stores operate on different frameworks, with varying setups, catering to separate market bases. And each comes with its unique set of needs and preferences.
So, of course, a one-size fits all ecommerce solution would never be feasible. To work around this, therefore, osCommerce provides more than 8,000 add-ons, all of which can be easily integrated to customize your ecommerce site in line with your specific needs.
That said, here’s a summary of osCommerce main features:
- Automatic updating of currency exchange rates
- Support of multiple currencies
- Customer and product statistics
- Package list and Invoice printing straight from the order screen
- Simple database backup and restoration
- Ability to reach out to customers through newsletters or email
- Administration back-end authentication through a username and its corresponding password.
- Support for both virtual (downloadable) and physical (shippable) products
- Management and editing of product reviews, customers, manufacturers, products and categories
- Categories to categories structure
- Products to categories structure
- Hosting of unlimited products and categories
- Compatibility with all PHP 4 versions
- Technical support and customer service
- Payment processing
- Extensive integrations
- More than 8,000 add-ons that are all accessible free of charge.
osCommerce Reviews: Ease of Use
As we’ve previously mentioned, installing osCommerce is as easy as reciting the alphabet.
Ok, not exactly. But you get the picture.
The overall design process is systematically organized by templates to make it simple, and help you implement a well-thought-out structure. But, of course, this is only useful to compatible ecommerce sites.
Coming to think of it, that makes me appreciate osCommerce’s simple but critical concept of universal integration. If you’ve been the web development block, you might have come across a wide range of seemingly attractive solutions that, unfortunately, come with limited integration options.
And even when they are compatible with your site, quite a significant number of them act like the entire web is based in the U.S.
osCommerce, contrastingly, facilitates localization by supporting a wide range of languages and currencies. A Russian-speaking user, for instance, will be able to use it just as easily as their English-speaking counterparts.
osCommerce Reviews: Pricing
Quite a solid list of features we’ve mentioned there, to say the least.
Now, I’ve seen many licensed and cloud-hosted shopping cart solutions charge monthly fees. The ones that don’t mostly require users to pay upfront fees, possibly after a selected free trial period.
Basically, different payment structures with varying prices. But pretty much the same concept altogether.
So, of course, I expected more or less the same pricing approach when I first landed on osCommerce. Especially considering the fact that it’s more than just a cart.
All these features should come at a comparatively higher cost, right?
But, you know what? Here’s the kicker…
osCommerce is completely free. Yeah, you’ve read that right. Excuse me for going around the site over and over again trying to find the pricing page.
It’s free at least as a platform. Downloading and using it won’t cost you even a dime.
Doesn’t that leave its developers out in the rain? They must be, at least, charging users for add-on installations, right?
Well, here’s another shocker…
They actually don’t!
All the add-ons are free of charge. You can uninstall and use as many as you please.
But, you’re right about one thing.
Its developers need an income stream, one way or another. That’s why instead of greedily imposing fees on the add-ons, they use a structure that’s rather convenient for all parties.
You can choose to optimize your overall experience by paying one of osCommerce’s partners for support. Or alternatively, hire a developer from the dedicated sub-forum.
That said, please note that you’ll have to fork some pennies out to pay for your store’s domain name and hosting account. Because you’ll need a place to install osCommerce, right?
osCommerce Reviews: Customer Support
The team at osCommerce is not paid for creating, distributing and updating the platform. Quite remarkable, I’ll give them that.
Now, we all know that customer support is usually resource intensive. It not only involves hiring agents on a permanent basis but also training and managing their shifts.
That’s probably why support tickets and live chat come at an extra cost.
Previously, this came in a package called the Community Sponsorship Program, which required $65 every 12 months. Now that, frankly, was quite reasonable to the bulk of ecommerce business owners.
Needless to say…
osCommerce then changed the name to Ambassador and, surprisingly, made it even cheaper. It now costs €49 for a lifetime membership.
If you insist on the free bandwagon, on the other hand, you’ll still get some support. But fairly limited since you’ll only be able to seek answers from osCommerce’s active forum.
All things considered, osCommerce has enjoyed quite a remarkable run as one of the premier open-source ecommerce solutions.
But, we live in an age where things keep changing faster than our overall adoption rate. New ecommerce trends and systems are coming up before we even learn our way around the outgoing ones.
That’s why it’s not surprising at all that osCommerce is now facing exceedingly stiffer competition from a wide range of new entrants like PrestaShop, Zen Cart, CS-Cart, Magento, and many more.
While some entrepreneurs feel that the latter group is better streamlined to their ecommerce needs, many are still sticking with osCommerce because of its rather attractive array of features.
How this platform fares against the competition over the long haul is a mystery that is can only be determined by future ecommerce tides. Let’s wait and see how it responds to upcoming online shopping patterns.
Meanwhile, your ecommerce platform choice should be fundamentally based on your precise needs. If osCommerce seems like the best corresponding fit, then what are you waiting for?
Just one final thing to remember as you embark on this. Please feel free to drop in a comment regarding your experience. We’d definitely love to hear what you think about osCommerce.