Ecommerce is now one of the most popular ways of shopping. People don’t need to go into town to get their goods anymore, they can simply order whatever they want from the comfort of their sofa. In business terms online stores now contribute a significant amount to the earnings of many businesses; online stores open businesses up to a far wider target audience than they would get with a regular high street shop. If you haven’t setup an online store yet then you could be failing to invigorate your business with a new, potentially huge, source of income.
Here we will look at some of the most popular ecommerce shopping basket platforms and depending on your existing setup, one of these could hold the key to the success of your business online.
OSCommerce is a standalone ecommerce application that provides a platform and community that you can use to develop a truly unique online store. With over 7,000 plugins available for OSCommerce, if there is a payment gateway or shipping company that you would like to use, then the chances are that someone has already developed an add-on to meet your need. The add-ons are well worth a browse, you might even find an additional feature that you didn’t think you would need, or even excited! Having been established for over 14 years now, OSCommerce certainly has a proven track record and is one of the best applications in its field.
Zencart is a branch off of OSCommerce. In comparison with other popular ecommerce choices, Zencart is in fact a standalone platform that is fully customisable and can be modified to look and function exactly how you would like it to. The best part about Zencart is that it is compatible with virtually any web hosting platform, just so long as your package supports PHP web pages and you are able to host MySQL databases, but these are common features of many web hosting packages these days anyway.
Woocommerce is designed exclusively for the WordPress blog and CMS platform. Dubbing itself as the “most popular WordPress ecommerce plugin”, it provides a range of features that allow you to develop your own fully-fledged online store alongside your existing WordPress website. Although a plugin itself, you improve the functionality of Woocommerce with a range of third-party extensions; these include Paypal and Amazon Payment for billing purposes, along with UPS and Fedex for shipping. The features of Woocommerce include payment processing, shipping management, inventory management, reporting on a wide variety of statistics, as well as marketing management. As is the case with most WordPress plugins, Woocommerce is free to download and use.
WP Ecommerce is a plugin that has been designed exclusively for the WordPress platform. With WordPress used by many businesses as their CMS of choice, it is ideal for scenarios where you are looking to adapt an existing website that is based on WordPress. Although designed as a WordPress plugin, you can expect all the same features of a standalone platform with WP Ecommerce; integrated components including shipping modules, secure payments using gateways scuh as Paypal and Authorize.net, and tax management. The management of your WP Ecommerce store will be through the same WordPress interface that you use to manage your website, removing the need to remember an additional set of login details. The best part about WP Ecommerce is that like WordPress itself, the plugin is free to download and use.
Virtuemart is a free and open source ecommerce platform that offers more than 500 features and describes itself as having “no limits” as well as being “flexible” and highly performing. Rather than being a standalone application, Virtuemart must be used in conjunction with the Joomla CMS. Similarly to WP Ecommerce this can provide the added benefit of not requiring any additional login credentials and means that existing Joomla-based websites can be ecommerce-enabled easily.