Recently an e-commerce customer who uses osCommerce asked me about re-installing his e-commerce site from scratch or whether or not he should switch platforms:
1. Can I start from scratch to build an osCommerce site? What’s involved? Would I need to link my shipping and payment?
Yes, but I don’t recommend that because it’s out-of-date technology that’s hard to update and doesn’t look that good compared to what else is out there. Installing a new OS Commerce install involves:
- Creating a blank database via your web hosting control panel.
- Downloading the latest osCommerce zip file from osCommerce, unzip it and extract the ‘catalog’ folder.
- If you want your shop to be available at http://www.yourdomain.com/catalog then upload the whole of the catalog folder to the root directory of your website via FTP. If you want the site to be available at http://www.yourdomain.com then just upload all of the contents of the catalog folder, but not the folder itself.
- Make sure that the permissions on all of the folders are set to 755, and if that does not work then set them to 777. Make sure that the includes/configure.php file and the admin/includes/configure.php file are set to 777 for the duration of the install. Once the install is complete reset to 644, 444, or 400 depending on your server setup.
- Go to http://www.yourdomain.com/install and begin the install procedure. Your DB Server will probably be ‘localhost’, your db user name and password (for mysql access) will have been provided to you by your web hosting company. The name of the database you already know – because you just set it up. Do not enable SSL, elect to store sessions in the database and not files (untick the box), and do not enable persistent connections.
- After the install create a folder called ‘backups’ inside the ‘admin’ folder (via FTP), and delete the install folder. Reset permissions on the two configure.php files.
- Password Protect your ‘admin’ folder using the Password Protect feature in your web hosting control panel.
2. Can the new site be full screen format? Or can it have a different look? I have not yet figured out how to give my osCommerce site a different look.
The CSS files in the catalog folder control the color and look of the site. The “catalog/includes/header.php” and “catalog/includes/footer.php” files contain the structure of the tables that control the width of the site. A quick find and replace in your editor will replace all the pages that have the same code as above in the catalog folder. The header.php and footer.php files have a little different code and would need to be manually changed. Look for the “table” element that looks like this:
3. I’m not sure if I want a completely new site – different address or just revamp my current. I think maybe both. Can I use the same shipping and payment for two sites? New site would be O.S. only….I need a no cost option otherwise I would consider something else.
Magento Community Edition is a much better ecommerce platform and is free to download and use, but to answer your question, yes, you can use the same shipping and payment information for both sites. If you’re serious about considering Magento, there is a osCommerce Migration tool to convert your osCommerce site to a Magento site.
4. Why Magento vs. osCommerce?
Magento has ‘Store View,’ which allows online shop keepers the ability to set up multiple stores with the same products, at different prices, and even in different languages from a single admin area. Magento is better in terms of what it allows you to do and the customer experience. However, the community around osCommerce is huge, and even a person who does not know programming is able to enter and modify the code. If your shop is a huge online store and you are planning to have thousands of products then it’s better to use Magento as it is more robust and has a dedicated support team because of it’s enterprise customers.