OSCommerce Review

The OSCommerce solution is a shopping cart that is versatile and continually updated. The “OS” portion of the name stands for “open source,” meaning that anyone who knows how to modify the code can do so.

The OSCommerce source code is available to anyone who wants to work on it. Any developer who wants to re-work, re-package, and re-sell it can do so, which is why there are hundreds of shopping cart software packages available on the market today: Most are simply different versions of OSCommerce.

This cart has been around for a long time since developers have been working on it for years. Hundreds of business owners choose this shopping cart because of its price. The word “free” has people the world over getting excited. Over 2,000 developers work on this open source software, meaning that if something significant is needed, it will be created.

Highlights

With OSCommerce, a professional web developer can create a search engine friendly website. The source code is not for the novice or small business owner who will spend countless hours trying to figure it out.

SEO features of this shopping cart include modifications to the title, meta tags, URLs, H-tags and so on. It all depends on which version you are using. The basic version comes in a non-optimized state.

Currently, one of the most talked about factors in SEO is page naming. Placing the target keywords in a page name can boost search engine rankings. The default version of OSCommerce has awfully long URLs that are very “un-search engine friendly.”
For true expert coders, there are ways to modify the URLs into somewhat more palatable URLs. For example, most online stores using OSCommerce have product URLs that look like this:

www.store.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=565&Identifier=rt764

These are bad for optimization. Fortunately, there is a way to convert a URL such as the one above into a more SEO acceptable version. For example, an OSCommerce SEO URL might look something like this:

www.store.com/clothes/product_info_productname-productIDnumber.html

There are many variations to the software and some (smart) companies have begun offering OSCommerce SEO modules as add-ons that can be purchased and used in a ready-made search engine friendly format. Note that each of these versions carry their own advantages and limitations. For example, some my have accounted for the URL problem while others have not.

The organization’s website has an area for “contributions” which can be helpful. For example, there are some contributions for SEO, including an OSCommerce Google XML Sitemap feed offering.

Limitations

OSCommerce requires careful installation. It will be confusing for those with little database, security, and/or e-commerce experience. Only experienced professionals will truly get your site optimized and looking good for your visitors.

OSCommerce templates exist and any serious marketing effort will require a lot of work on the default template. After all, your website should inspire confidence in the end user, not look like a high school student put it together.

Some hosting companies charge for “easier to use” versions but the time saved may make it worth the price. Also, some custom OSCommerce template stores sell pre-configured templates, which may or may not be search engine friendly.

Many people will “cheap-out” and try to use this cart as a solution, only to discover that they got headaches instead of results. There is no direct support for this cart so you can’t just call a company and get your questions answered.

There is no one looking out for you, so to speak, and so you probably should not expect a profit-driven approach where updates with your personal website in mind frequently come out (such as new marketing ideas, stats approaches, search engine friendly ideas, and so on). In this case, to a large extent, you get what you pay for. By the way, you should read the article on affordable SEO services.

Overall

OSCommerce is free shopping cart software that may be worth a look. One option is to hire a website design and development company to take the free source code of this cart and develop a custom-made website that is search engine friendly. Of course, this assumes you know how to guide the developer into what are important aspects of a search engine friendly shopping cart (or he/she can do it on their own). On the downside, it’s most likely too complex for the average web designer or small business owner to build as an optimized option..

Visit the site: http://www.oscommerce.com/

6 Comments on “OSCommerce Review”

  1. C. O. S. says:

    I believe that open source shopping carts are the best thing for independent web developers and seo specialists as they are the most customizable.

  2. Dano says:

    I have been running a osCommerce site for 5 years.I began running version 2.x and upgraded to version 3.x. Our store has about 50 – 100 items and runs hundreds of transactions per month. The system is integrated with Paypal Pro and USPS/UPS for shipping. We have SEO Mods, Security Mods, Reporting Mods and several other mods.

    A couple of comments for those looking at OSC:

    – Overall I am very pleased with OSC. It has been reliable and very accommodating to my needs.

    – It requires OSC & technical (PHP programming, Mod installs, general server and DB skills) knowledge to customize your store. If you don’t have these skills, there are lots of folks you can contract for hire.

    – Although it requires some technical skills, it is straightforward and I have been able to do some of the work myself (I have limited/entry level programming skills).

    – I feel the SEO capabilities are OK, we use an SEO Mod, but still it is not 100% search engine friendly.

    – Our site was hacked last year (@#$%!) so we added extra security mods and seems fine now.

    – Selecting a good host is just as important as the right ecomm package, so make sure you spend some time picking the right hosting company. For example my host has gets “brain damaged” about the same time every fall and starts doing server upgrades – it causes my store to go down unexpectedly. Typical level 1 support folks are in the dark and usually cant help. Again -pick a well respected host.

    Overall, I am very pleased with OSC. There are other packages with newer/more features, but what is missing in OSC can usually be accomplished with Mods or customizations and a good php programmer…OSC is for the do-it-yourself, techie type. IMO.

    Happy Selling.
    Dano

  3. Adam Wills says:

    Thanks for such good information about Oscommerce.

  4. Jeremy Query says:

    can anyone share the average price or price range on the OScommerce?

  5. Marbletech says:

    OSC is Open Source and therefore Free

  6. Rahul says:

    What doyou mean by open source. Is it gNU or Apache type of licence.

    Can use oscommerce or prestashop and customize their code like add columns in db , modify javascript, form inputs and css to my commercial needs ?

    Do we need to publish the combined (their code and mine) to the public or have the rights not to publish my code?

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