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Ecommerce Forum

    
What shopping cart should I use?
Wich shopping cart can be convenient for real ecommerce...
Sebastien

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 1:33 am on Jul 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

I am a junior webmaster and I can do pretty good with html, what shopping cart should I use? Does anyone have any ideas? I am looking for something very customizable so I can keep my site the way it is, dont want any template shopping cart!

Thanks

 

sonny

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 3:32 am on Jul 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

I like mals in conjunction with propay's merchant account.

Crazy_Fool

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 7:55 pm on Jul 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

your best bet is to choose a shopping cart that has the features you need and to rebuild your site. this gives you the advantage that maintenance becomes easier as your site grows, as products change and so on. spend a bit of time looking at the options and getting it right now and you'll save yourself countless hours in the long term.

1800espresso

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 3:38 pm on Jul 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

What kind of products or services do you sell?

It may be a good idea to use store.yahoo.com solution. It's not a shopping cart only. It will also drive a good number of sales to your store.

Eugene

[edited by: TallTroll at 9:01 am (utc) on July 16, 2002]
[edit reason] no URLs please [/edit]

blue_dog

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 11:56 pm on Jul 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi

Don't forget to mention that oscommerce is free!

BD

discod

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 1:37 am on Jul 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

Many hosts offer MIVA as part of their e-commerce package. I don't know the stats for sure, but I'd be willing to bet it's in the top 3 if not #1. The great thing about MIVA is it's constantly being updated and their are many communities that offer tips and tweaks, not to mention the support and tutorials that MIVA offers. I've seen hosting for as little as $20/month. I use Hostway personally.

Crazy_Fool

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 9:14 pm on Jul 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>Don't forget to mention that oscommerce is free

hi blue_dog, welcome to WmW
free doesn't mean best. oscommerce is no good if you want to be found on search engines. better to spend a few $$$ to get a cart that can be spidered - you'll soon make the costs back in extra visitors and extra sales.

blue_dog

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 9:35 pm on Jul 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

Crazy fool

Agreed. However, OSC has a global header for MT's and most people using it have an index page(hence OSC front page is called default.php

If I am mislead, please let me know 'cos I'll pick ya brains! :)

Laters

BD

Crazy_Fool

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 11:49 pm on Aug 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

a reply here is a bit overdue - i got kinda tied up with work and forgot all about replying here, but a couple of stickymails have reminded me to come back and explain things about oscommerce.

oscommerce has a couple of major flaws that prevent it being spidered properly by search engines and from hitting good rankings in SERPs.

1) oscommerce uses the session ID in URLS and search engines dislike session IDs in URLs. this will prevent pages from being spidered and listed in search engines. the reason given for this by oscommerce authors is that some people may have cookies turned off.

there are two occasions where session IDs appear in the URL:

a) when the visitor hits any oscommerce page, all links contain
the session ID regardless of whether the browser allows cookies
or not. because session IDs change on each visit, spiders can
identify them and will not index the pages with session IDs in
the links. when i queried this with the authors, one of them
claimed that this was the only way to test whether cookies were
turned on in the visitors browser (which is rubbish by the way)

b) when the visiting browser has cookies turned off, session IDs
will always appear in the URLs (you can check this yourself by
turning cookies off in your browser). search engine spiders do
not accept cookies and therefore they will always see a session
ID in the URL.

2) oscommerce uses a "global" title. every page on the site has exactly the same title. unique titles on every page is one of the "golden rules" for getting good ranking in search engines, so even if you can get around problem 1, you still have unique titles to deal with. last time i looked at oscommerce 2.2 it still didn't provide meta tags, but that may have changed by now.

the search engine safe URLs option provided is a waste of time because of the two problems listed above. oscommerce is a brilliant concept that has been let down by extemely poor programming.

you can see for yourself how many pages of an oscommerce site have been spidered by going to google and searching for
site:www.yourdomain.com "www.yourdomain.com"
every page in the cart should have a separate listing - each product page has it's own unique URL something like www.yoursite.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=3_15&products_id=20
if you have 100 products then you should have 100 product pages listed. if you have 10 categories then you should have 10 category pages listed as well. the other pages aren't as important, but they won't be listed either.

the good news is that there are ways around the problems. the bad news is that they involve rewriting some php code, and the bits you need to change are scattered all over the place.

to get around the session IDs problem, you can create a "site map" that links to every product page and every category page. you can create a php page that automatically generates links (without the session IDs) to every product page in the cart. because this page is created dynamically, when you add new products, the links from the "site map" page will be generated automatically. you should provide a link to this page from every page in the cart (ie, in the footer) so that spiders will always find it.

if php is daunting, you can create this as a standalone HTML page to link to all the pages. you'll need to update this manually when you add or remove products. carry a link to it from the footer of every page as above.

you can get around the titles / meta tags problem by writing your own code to pull the product information etc from the database and generate dynamic titles and meta tags in place of the single line that displays the global title. you will need to write an SQL query to retrieve the data from several tables, then parse the data to create strings for use in the title and meta tags. it'll take trial and error to get this working the way you want it.

i modified a cart a few months ago and managed to get several hundred pages listed in google, each page having unique titles and meta tags. the pages are still listed now and i believe it is the only oscommerce cart that has had all product pages listed in google.

if you don't make these modifications (and don't have a large number of other pages on the site), few people will find your site from search engines. you'll be better off buying something like actinic, which although costs 349 / $500 can be spidered very easily. the additional visitors to your site and the additional sales you make from using a commercial cart will soon cover the costs of buying the cart.

ask your self these questions - people often use oscommerce because it is free, but can you afford to use it? can you afford to lose visitors because your site cannot be spidered? can you afford to lose sales? have a real good think about it.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 341 posted 12:58 am on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Crazy_Fool!
Great answer, thank you.

Jan0815

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 9:00 am on Sep 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi all!

I am Jan Wildeboer, one of the core developers of osCommerce. Thanks Crazy_fool for telling me that we are poor programmers ;-)

When you say:

> the good news is that there are ways around the problems.
> the bad news is that they involve rewriting some php code,
> and the bits you need to change are scattered all over the place.

Could you be so kind to share these changes with me or any other Core Developer so taht we can incorporate it in CVS?

Please remember that Version 2.2 of osCommerce isn't released yet. We are working on it. The critics you make are not new and the solution is not trivial (unfrotunately).

Crazy_fool also says:

> ask your self these questions - people often use oscommerce
> because it is free, but can you afford to use it? can you
> afford to lose visitors because your site cannot be spidered?
> can you afford to lose sales? have a real good think about it.

But on the other hand you say you have succesfully modified osCommerce to get spidered. THAT is the freedom of free software. You are able to modify osCommerce to fit your needs. You can share your modifications to help us become better.

You will not have this freedom with any prortietary solution. So when we add your modifications we can all agree that osCommerce has just become a better alternative. Share it then :-)

And please don't forget - osCommerce is free. You can download it, install it, tweak it, modify it, enhance it with no extra cost. It is the freedom that counts IMHO.

If you ask google about oscommerce you get some 164.000 results. Not bad IMHO. The community behind osCommerce has shown to be a great source of knowledge. The continuing flow of contributions and modifications make osCommerce an ever-growing solution. And there is no company backing this project. So there is no risk of not getting support in future. I have seen many commercial shopping cart solutions that left their customers in the cold. osCommerce continues to grow.

Yes, this was a shameless plug, I agree. But it is free software, so there is no commercial interest in my posting. I hope this is acceptable.

Jan Wildeboer
osCommerce Core developer

Crazy_Fool

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 10:52 am on Sep 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi Jan
welcome to webmasterworld


Could you be so kind to share these changes with me or any other Core Developer so taht we can incorporate it in CVS?

No, for the following reasons:
A - the modifications are complicated and require a lot of changes to a lot of pieces of code - i believe over 30 files were modified or completely rewritten in my code. some of the modified files are specific language files, which means that my modifications cannot be guaranteed to work in all versions of 2.2 that are already in use. circulating my code could cause more problems for more people.

B - OsCommerce 2.2 is still not complete, so my modifications would need to be further modified later. far better to wait for development of 2.3 to begin, at which point i'm willing to offer my advice and some code.
C - the OsCommerce code is so poor that it would be far quicker, far better and far more efficient to completely rewrite the front end.

D - i believe that to further encourage use of OsCommerce (or any other software with similar problems) is not necessarily the best way forward or the best value for site owners (see below)

yes, i said the code is poor and i stand by that, even though it is powerful and it "works as intended". how you (as a group of developers) intended OsCommerce to work shows a clear lack of understanding about how search engines work.


Crazy_fool also says:

> ask your self these questions - people often use oscommerce
> because it is free, but can you afford to use it? can you
> afford to lose visitors because your site cannot be spidered?
> can you afford to lose sales? have a real good think about it.

But on the other hand you say you have succesfully modified osCommerce to get spidered. THAT is the freedom of free software. You are able to modify osCommerce to fit your needs. You can share your modifications to help us become better.

but the OsCommerce code is extremely complex, especially for new users. the freedom to modify the code is only of benefit to those with very very good knowledge of PHP and MySQL and a vast amount of spare time. it's often far better value to pay a small amount for software that can be spidered than to spend several days or weeks modifying free code.


And please don't forget - osCommerce is free. You can download it, install it, tweak it, modify it, enhance it with no extra cost. It is the freedom that counts IMHO.

but OsCommerce being free isn't necessarily a good thing. people use OsCommerce because it is free. they want free software because they don't have money. this also means they are relying on search engine traffic. yet they cannot gain much traffic from search engines because OsCommerce cannot be spidered. what possible benefit is there in that?

OsCommerce is great if you have a budget to spend on advertising to gain visitors, but if you have that money, why not spend it on software than can be spidered and can bring traffic from search engines?

IMO, it's far better value to pay for software (or for a web developer to build a site) that does what you need and can be spidered and can bring you search engine traffic that leads to sales, than to use OsCommerce. the money paid for the software or development will soon be recovered in sales.


If you ask google about oscommerce you get some 164.000 results. Not bad IMHO.

great for OsCommerce, not so great for site owners whose sites simply cannot be spidered.

perhaps the best thing would be if you and the other OsCommerce developers could stick around here and learn how search engines and spiders work etc. i think this would be of far greater benefit to OsCommerce and it's users than simply asking me to provide my modifications. people here at webmasterworld are very helpful and you'll be made welcome :)


osCommerce continues to grow.

under the (IMO) misguided assumption that free is always best :(

Jan0815

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 12:01 pm on Sep 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Long and lengthy explanations don't help anybody.

To go in detail. A little check in the application_top.php that examines the type of browser on the other end and if it is a google bot (or any other spider) makes sure that the tep_href() function will not add the session_id will solve this IMHO.

It is a minor modification and will be looked at when we are ready to solve it. osCommerce is maintained by very few people and we are drowning in feature requests, support questions etc.

We MUST focus on making osCommerce better. I have never said that we are THE solution. I know about the shortcomings of osCommerce, just as you do.

But please be honest. Some closed-source cart solutions might even be worse - you will never know as you are not able to check their sources.

An application of the size of osCommerce ofcourse is complex. But seeing the fact that we receive many, many contributions it seems there are a lot of people out there that understand it.

To program a payment module you do not need to know the complete sources.

The spidering issue can be solved in a rather simple way. I will look at it and will test my suggested solution (which BTW was posted in our forums a few days ago with complete code).

Your argument:

> A - the modifications are complicated and require a lot
> of changes to a lot of pieces of code - i believe over
> 30 files were modified or completely rewritten in my code.
> some of the modified files are specific language files,
> which means that my modifications cannot be guaranteed
> to work in all versions of 2.2 that are already in use.
> circulating my code could cause more problems for more people.

is rather poor. I did not ask you to circulate the code around. I asked you to send it to me or any opther core developer so that we can learn from it and maybe add it to CVS. Don't you think we are able to understand your code? ;-)

osCommerce is being used by many developers that implement solutions for their customers. We are happy to see this. Sometimes we get contibuted code back and integrate it. That's our way of working.

I have never intended to say that we are the one and only solution and I never said that Free Software rules the world. OsCommerce is yet another shopping cart solution. But when it comes to support we surely can be counted under the better solutions.

You think our coding is crap. Fine. I can live with that. People are free to choose. I think our coding is doing the job. It could be better, ofcourse, and we are working on that.

Nuff said.

Jan Wildeboer

fuzzbox

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 5:40 pm on Sep 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

To Crazy_Fool

This is just silly..., but...

Where can I download the changes you made to osCommerce you are obligated by GPL to share?

(just wondering..., hmmm...)

Crazy_Fool

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 341 posted 1:16 pm on Sep 6, 2002 (gmt 0)


We MUST focus on making osCommerce better. I have never said that we are THE solution. I know about the shortcomings of osCommerce, just as you do.

But please be honest. Some closed-source cart solutions might even be worse - you will never know as you are not able to check their sources.

your focus is on oscommerce and making it better. my focus is on the wider issue of ecommerce business as a whole, not on any particular shopping cart system. there are many factors which will determine the success or failure of an ecommerce site, and the choice of shopping cart is just one of them. making the right choices is vital for the success of any business. make the wrong choices and you could lose out.

many people choose products or services based almost entirely on cost. sometimes these products or services are free. although cost is important, it should not be the only or the primary factor in business decisions. i want to encourage people to look beyond the initial cost of a product or service and to look at whether it really will do the job they want, or to be more precise, whether what they think they need really is the most appropriate product or service to use, even as a short term solution.

whether the code is open source or not is totally irrelevant. what counts is whether the product is the right choice for a particular user. like i said before, sometimes it's better value to pay for the right solution than to use a free one. it's pretty easy to check whether a solution is suitable without needing to see the source code.

my comments dated august 1st (to which you initially replied) were in response to requests for comments specifically about oscommerce. they were not intended to destroy the reputation of oscommerce, but to highlight the need to think about some of the many factors involved in choosing available solutions. oscommerce was just the example used. i could (and sometimes do) post comments here and elsewhere about other shopping carts or payment systems or whatever. sometimes the comments are favourable, sometimes they aren't.

i'm not on a one man mission to destroy oscommerce. i'm just one of hundreds of people sharing information, knowledge and experience in these forums in order to learn more and improve our own businesses and those of our clients. i don't pretend to know everything about everything, but i do share the knowledge and experience i have, and i'm willing to listen, willing to learn and willing to put what i learn into practise.


To go in detail. A little check in the application_top.php that examines the type of browser on the other end and if it is a google bot (or any other spider) makes sure that the tep_href() function will not add the session_id will solve this IMHO.

that is part of the solution, not the whole of it. you may like to look into the logic of this partial solution in a bit more detail.

i made a similar modification a couple of weeks ago, but mine was the reverse - i check for the common browsers (IE, Netscape etc) and if it is one of these, then i allow the sessions to be added if required (normal usage). if it is NOT a common browser (it is most likely a spider) then prevent the session ID being added.

this solution should allow for virtually all spiders, including any new ones that come out and any that start using new IP addresses as sometimes happens. there are many smaller search engines with spiders you may not know about unless you frequent forums like webmasterworld.

i'm not a php expert by any means, but i am a trained and qualified programmer with some 20+ years of programming experience. if i'd had more knowledge of php at the time i made the initial modifications to my oscommerce site, i might have spotted this "fix" sooner. i still have to wait for the search engines to spider the site and update their databases before i know if the fix has worked.

other modifications i made included moving the main database queries above the HTML output and changing the queries to select more fields. this allowed me to replace the global title (same on every page) with a dynamically generated title (such as the product name and category) and dynamically generated meta tags for description and keywords. several pages (scripts) needed modifying to do this. remember that unique titles on pages are very important. i posted some code to do at least part of this in the oscommerce forums several months ago. others have posted their code too.


It is a minor modification and will be looked at when we are ready to solve it.

until these problems are solved, the faults remain (unless the user has the time and skills to solve them themselves). while the faults remain, you cannot expect praise without any criticism. you're not the only people who receive criticism for software.

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