osCommerce Review: Feature-Rich E-commerce Solution for Bloggers
osCommerce is a simple, self-hosted e-commerce platform. The platform started out in the early 2000s, developed by a small team in Germany. Since then, it has evolved into a quick and easy tool, designed to get your store up and running quickly.
The “os” in the name stands for open-source and the platform itself is backed by a community of developers and contributors who continually work on osCommerce as well as provide support in the official forums.
osCommerce comes with all the features you need to add products, keep track of your inventory, send promotional updates and newsletters to your customers, set shipping rates and taxes, as well as view sales reports.
To use it, you’ll need to download it from the official website and then upload it to your hosting server and follow the web-based installation process. It’s also worth checking with your hosting provider to see if it has a one-click installer that will simplify and speed up the installation process.
Since the platform is open-source, you can freely modify it and find support and answers to some of the most commonly asked questions in the community around osCommerce.
You can add an unlimited number of products, both physical and digital. Products can be organized into categories and you can set various product attributes such as color, size, model, or even version if you’re selling software.
Customers can leave reviews on each individual product and you can create products that are on sale under the Specials section. Live search and basic filtering options are enabled by default and the platform allows you to select the language used to serve your visitors.
Other notable features include the ability to print invoices and packaging lists from the order screen, multi-currency support, and automatic currency exchange rate updates.
Among advanced features, it’s worth mentioning cache control, which can help your store load faster, security checks to ensure the platform is up to date and secure, and database backups.
In terms of design and templates, the platform looks a bit dated and the theme selection on the official website is rather slim. However, there are various third-party marketplaces such as ThemeForest, where you can find a larger selection of more modern looking themes.
You can upload your logo and banner through a pre-installed module but if you want more extensive customization options, you will need to install a theme and use its features to change colors, fonts, and other options.
By default, osCommerce integrates with PayPal. The cash-on-delivery module is enabled as well when you first install the platform. However, thanks to various add-ons, you can enable additional payment integrations such as Braintree, BitCoin, WorldPay, eMerchant Pay, and many others.
One of the biggest benefits of osCommerce is the ability to extend the platform’s functionality through the use of add-ons. There are more than 8,000 add-ons available that allow you not only to add other payment gateways but also add features like infoboxes, integrate your MailChimp newsletter with your store, add Google Maps to your orders, add more product options, and much more.
Add-ons can be downloaded from the official community pages and installed manually following the installation instructions provided with each addon.
Support and Pricing
When it comes to support, one downside is that there is no official documentation for osCommerce. You can find support on the official forums as mentioned above. Another way to get support is through its LiveChat room where you can chat with other osCommerce users and community members.
If you don’t mind paying for support, you can opt to get paid support from one of osCommerce’s partners or hire a developer in the dedicated subforum.
Considering the platform itself is free, there are no associated costs with downloading and using it. However, you will need to pay for a hosting account and a domain name to be able to install osCommerce and make your store available online.
Pros and Cons
osCommerce has its own set of pros and cons that you need to consider before deciding whether the platform is the right choice for you.
The biggest advantage of osCommerce is the fact that it’s open source and free, which means you are free to modify it to better suit your needs. It’s also very easy to setup and add your products and the platform has the essential features perfect for beginners.
When it comes to cons, keep in mind that the platform looks a bit dated out of the box. The default design is also not responsive, which could result in losing customers who are browsing your site from a mobile device.
While osCommerce offers everything you need to start an online store, it does have some disadvantages that make it less attractive for those who want a more feature-rich platform. Here are some alternatives to consider.
Like osCommerce, AbanteCart is a free platform that can be downloaded and installed on a web server. It allows you to sell both digital and physical products and features a mobile-first design approach which means your store will look good no matter the device or screen size on which it’s viewed. Aside from complete product and inventory management, the platform also allows you to offer guest checkout, optimize your product descriptions for search engines, the ability to collect customer’s emails, and more.
AbanteCart supports multiple payment gateways and has hundreds of themes and add-ons to add even more features to your store.
PrestaShop is another self-hosted tool that can be downloaded and installed onto your hosting server for free. It boasts more than one million users and comes with responsive design out of the box. You can create products and product packages as well as track inventory, create supplier profiles, use one or more of 50 payment gateways, set up different shipping options, and configure one-page checkout.
What gives PrestaShop a significant edge over osCommerce is the ability to re-engage customers in case of abandoned carts and set up multiple stores using only one installation.
Who Is osCommerce Best For?
For bloggers looking to set up a simple store for selling digital products, osCommerce is a great way to test the waters. The platform is easy to use and offers enough features that will help you understand what all is involved in running an online store.
The platform can also be used by those who sell handmade items or a small number of products and want a simple, no-frills way to set up a site as quickly as possible.
However, if you need more robust features or want to sell a high volume of products, then you might want to consider one of the alternatives mentioned above.