HowTo – Setting Up A Online Store With osCommerce Online Merchant

Filed under: Site Management,Web Design

Whether you are deploying a store for yourself or your design customers what you need in a Shopping Cart system is the ability to quickly manage products, inventory and allow for a variety of different payments and calculate shipping and handling costs based on one or more carriers.

The osCommerce Online Merchant store continues to be one of the most popular methods of deploying a shopping cart that you control. The important part about controlling your shopping cart yourself is making modifications to the design and functionality.  Although hosted solutions may allow you to brand your shop with logos, backgrounds and font selection they also force your visitor to travel away from your main site or require you to use iframes which can cause scripting problems.

Server requirements for this product are pretty light.

PHP v5.2.0+ (with MySQLi extension)

MySQL v4.1.13+ or v5.0.7+

Even the cheapest website hosting companies should provide these versions

SSL certificates are an option and not really necessary if you are using an external service like PayPal to process the payment however they can be useful for customer satisfaction.

General Features of Note

Allow Customers to view their order history
Different ship and bill to addresses
Print Invoices and Packing sheets

Control online inventory so you don’t sell product you don’t have

Payment Plugins

There are approximately 30 different merchant plugins for osCommerce however you will most likely limit your payment methods to just a few or maybe even just one.

When selecting a payment plugin and method you should make sure that the payment processing company has a relationship with the development team.

PayPal has their own official plugin for payments PayPal Processing will cost you about 3% of your order so you need to factor this into your handling charges when your orders are  processed.

You can also accept orders online and payments by mail This is not an optimal situation but it does allow customers to pay by check or other methods.

Delivery Methods

Allowing your customers to select the method of delivery is also an option.  I suggest that you limit yourself to 1 to 3 services at most because this will reduce headaches in tracking orders and processing packages for delivery.

Drawbacks of this solution

Core development of this product has been delayed substantially the alpha 5 version has been on hold for at least a year and the older stable version is at least 2 years old.

It is important to select a software package that sees continued and consistent upgrades and patches for features and security.

Although the plugin features are relatively up to date you must remember that this is an open source project and it needs better management.

Several projects based on osCommerce are now on the market and also free. It is difficult to say whether they offer a better solution or if they will last.

Benefits of this Project

There are approximately 250,000 users of this software so the project should be able to support its self for some time. It is well accepted and businesses such as Google also use this product.

Here are a list of merchant stores that use osCommerce so you can get a look at how it is implemented

Installing or Downloading

osCommerce is available from within most webhost’s cPanel options but you can download the software and plugins at.