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Which cart would you recommend - and which one would be easy to use and administer? I'm about to set up my first ecommerce site (moving on from the affiliate side of things) and am hunting around for carts to use.
I had thought of OS Commerce since it is free and included in my hosting.
But I'm VERY open to suggestions. :)
Instead I'll tell you what I don't like about the 2 you mentioned:
- OsCommerce is a real pain to customize the layout with all the PHP code weeded throughout and all of the stores look pretty much the same. You can smell OsC the minute you hit the page, and I often wonder if that same old look freebie cart doesn't result in lower sales. I think their admin side takes way to many clicks to get any work done.
- Miva has some issues as well, like when you add things to the cart and the same page shows up with no clue that something was added except maybe a small type number of items in cart somewhere. I hear lot's of non-savvy shoppers complain about them. Also, Miva's admin side is another click happy obtuse interface but I think OsC has it beat in obscurity.
I'd say start with some ecommerce comparison reviews, pick the features you absolutely can't live without and then narrow the field from there and THEN read webmaster reviews of those products and see which are the best of the worst :)
There's been a lot of work done recently so that the base code is more search engine friendly. And there are several contributions that handle the session ID issue. Still, you would need some custom work done to get it in to shape.
IMHO, Miva is way easier to administer.
Trying to customize the layout and look of osCommerce is a nightmare. Miva also has many third party add-on modules that can go a long way towards improving the look & functionality of the store. The modules tend to be fairly inexpensive and easy to use.
osCommerce also has their version of modules (I forget what they are called) but they can be far from user friendly. For example, one osCommerce add-on that allows you to set separate price groups for wholesale & retail purchasing requires modifying code in 41 separate files just to install! By comparison, this feature is standard in Miva.
Unlike what was stated earlier in this thread, Miva does allow you to set page titles and meta tags, and plenty of other stuff, by the category and by the product. Also, if you don't want customers being returned to the page they were on after placing something in their shopping cart, that too is easy enough to change. (personally i like it that way.)
I also respectfully disagree that osCommerce is more SE friendly. Perhaps, right out of the box that may be true, but Miva has many options/modules for helping with SEO.
Miva is far from perfect but much easier to customize and use. osCommerce is fairly full featured and, of course, free. But if you value your time osCommerce may actually be more expensive to use in the long run. Naturally, this is all just my personal opinion.
Os commerce: tough to optimize, customize, manage.
Miva: Easier to customize but you need modules for just about any thing you want to do. They use a proprietary script which is not widely used, the learning curve is just not worth it. You can customize the look/feel but only to a point. Its also very bad for SEO.
While google will index your pages, Yahoo and others won’t even touch anything to do with Miva.
IMHO any cart that uses common solutions such as cfm or asp.net where source code is available is a better choice. You have carts such as ablecommerce, storefront.net (not my favorite) and bvcommerce.
One of the most important advantages of going with an asp.net or cfm that companies selling the cart solutions give you a “framework”. You can take it and build upon it. Scalability is important if you think your company is going to grow.
Hope this helps.
By Framework I ment an out of the box solution. Where someone takes it from there it is absolutely up to that person. I myself am comfortable with HTML, CSS and learning some asp.net out of curiosity.
Companies like ablecommerce, storefront.net or bvcommerce will give you all of the code that is clearly written and generally pretty well commented. There are also a lot of support groups were folks are very helpful. Why I like working with asp.net better than php(oscommerce) is because I can better understand it with my background in html, it seems more clear to me.
When coding I can actually imagine what the effects will be. Can’t do that with php. That just may have do with my lack of knowledge of php. I just think that the learning curve for asp.net, cfm is much shorter than PHP.
Once you get the framework setup, you can start with simple html modifications which are easy and do some minor tweaks in asp.net also as it is not that hard either. CSS can also be used very effectively and actually should be used for uniformity.
Lets say in the future your company growths, you want to add some custom UI functionality that links to user behavior, personalize their experience even more. With Miva you will have a problem, OS commerce is tough but it can be done. I would choose asp.net or cfm solutions with that in mind.
Miva does not support MySQL (maybe in ver 5 which is still full of bugs) which for my is a major problem.
I don’t want my sites to look like all the other ones, I my work to really stand out and not being recognized as a mod of oscommerce or any other solution.
I am happy with Miva. It provided an ecommerce "playground" where I could test store add ons and change the look and feel of the store on a whim and look at conversion rates. After 2 years I decided I am knowledgeable enough with what it takes a store to succeed and no longer wanted to be confined within the miva space and switched over to cartweaver which integrates to DreamWeaver and allows me to do whatever my programming skills will let me.
In other words, I would not hesitate to recommend Miva as a solution to learn with.