There are so many shopping carts out there, and it is hard to know which one to use for your website. That is a common question for a web community which currently contemplates in eCommerce field truly impressive shift from stable and proven osCommerce to relatively new Magento eCommerce platform.
The interesting tendency we’ve traced
In fact osCommerce is now faced with a serious challenger which certainly has no difficulties to penetrate the market of eCommerce open source. The new Magento package is set to take the eCommerce community by storm. It is one of the most promising of the moment having already attracted a large following, and osCommerce the inevitable is going to have to leave its place. Google Trends, in particular, graphically shows this tendency reflecting the situation where the new Magento just beats the hell out of the traditional osCommerce. Magento is now officially the most searched-for eCommerce solution.
Let’s face it – before Magento’s release osCommerce was the most popular eCommerce platform. The situation has surely changed since then, and the greater amount of customers is going now exceptionally with a Magento based shopping cart. osCommerce in its turn enjoys less popularity, though remains being around with a very well established and responsive community to offer support and the majority of followers to prefer using it.
Magento and osCommerce – what’s behind each of them?
It is important to know when selecting your shopping cart what features you need, which is partially why we’ve composed this article to help you know the advantages and disadvantages of each platform. So let’s get it on comparing these two eCommerce applications and see which one is better to choose while launching online shops.
Magento eCommerce platform is a highly efficient open source eCommerce engine. It offers you an extensive suite of powerful tools for creating and managing an online store. Magento runs on the Apache/MySQL/PHP platform and to create an online store with it you need reliable web hosting services. Support for Magento shopping cart is provided free by an active open source community, professional support by subscription to Varien, the company behind Magento, is cost charging. The large array of the rich features is one of the main benefits of Magento. Let’s now review the key features of Magento that will help you get your store up and running:
- Analytics and Reporting – the script is integrated with Google Analytics (page view tracking, e-commerce tracking) and offers many different reports.
Product Browsing – multiple images for products, options for extensive reviews, wishlists and much more.
- Catalog Browsing – easy navigation, advanced product filtering system, product comparison.
- Catalog Management – inventory management, batch import and export of products, different tax rates per location, additional product attributes.
- Customer Accounts – order status and history, e-mail and RSS feeds for products in the wishlist, newsletter subscription, default billing and shipping address.
- Customer Service – enhanced features for customers’ accounts, Contact Us form, comprehensive order tracking and history, customizable order e-mails.
- Order Management – create orders through admin area, create multiple invoices shipments and credit memos, call center order creation option.
- Payment – different payment methods: credit cards, PayPal, Authorize.net, Google Checkout, checks, money orders, support of external payment modules like Cybersource, ePay, eWAY, regular credit cards like Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover, and many more.
- Shipping – shipping to multiple addresses, flat rating shipping, supports UPS, UPS XML (account rates), FedEx (account rates), USPS and DHL.
- Checkout – one page checkout, SSL support, checkout without having an account.
- Search Engine Optimization – the most search engine friendly e-commerce application, Google SiteMap support.
- International Support – multiple languages and currencies, list of allowed countries for registration, purchasing and shipping, localization.
- Marketing Promotions and Tools – coupons, discounts and different promotion options.
- Site Management – control of multiple web sites, multiple languages, tax rate with support for US and International markets, customizable outlook through templates.
- Encryption Key – security storage of the sensitive data in the script’s database.
osCommerce is a free open source online store-management software which is powered by very well established and responsive osCommerce community. To run any osCommerce website the web server should support the powerful PHP web scripting language and fast MySQL database. osCommerce offers a wide range of features that allows online stores to be setup fairly quickly with ease. This basic set of functionalities that meet the common needs of online businesses is:
- Administration / Backend Functionality
- supports unlimited products and categories;
– add/Edit/Remove categories, products, manufacturers, customers, and reviews;
– contact customers directly via email or newsletters;
– multilingual support;
– multicurrency support;
- Customer / Frontend Functionality
- all orders stored in the database for fast and efficient retrieval;
– customers can maintain their accounts;
- address book for multiple shipping and billing addresses;
– fast and friendly quick search and advanced search features;
– product reviews for an interactive shopping experience;
– foreseen checkout procedure;
– secure transactions with SSL;
- Product Functionality
- dynamic product attributes relationship;
– HTML based product descriptions;
- control if out of stock products can still be shown and are available for purchase;
– customers can subscribe to products to receive related emails/newsletters;
- Payment Functionality
- accept numerous offline payment processing (cheque, money orders, etc);
– accept numerous online payment processing (PayPal, 2CheckOut, Authorize.net, iPayment, etc);
– disable certain payment services based on a zone basis;
- Shipping Functionality
- weight, price, and destination based shipping modules;
– real-time quotes available (UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc);
- Tax Functionality
- flexible tax implementation on a state and country basis;
– set different tax rates for different products;
– charge tax on shipping on a per shipping service basis.
Why exactly Magento beats osCommerce – key advantages
- Magento shopping cart is built to be easy to update (+)
The issues why so many people opt for Magento shopping cart are rather diverse. The thing is that Magento is a new eCommerce solution which is being regularly improved. Varien, the company who backs the cart, is very active in updating the code and fixing bugs. At the same time osCommerce is rather outdated and it doesn’t surprise web developers and store owners with the new updates. Magento is superior to osCommerce in the useful features it has, programming structure, and frequency of project code updates.
- Magento has many add-on modules within the rest of new and important capabilities (+)
The feature set for Magento includes not only all of the features of osCommerce, but also many of the add-on modules. For instance, it includes coupons, order editing, SEO urls and meta tags, abandoned shopping cart reporting, product comparisons, editable order emails, shipping estimator in shopping cart without the need to login, and much more. Magento also 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 runs fairly slow, heavily layered and overly complicated coding style and thousands of files requires a lot of time to learn and do customizations (-)
Some people insist that OsCommerce is easier to edit and Magento is better for web developers rather than shop owners. Other people argue this statement proving that Magento is also easy-editable software. It seems Magento is really easy to install and manage if you know how to do it properly. However, getting started with Magento can be difficult without the right guidance. For some Magento is way overly complicated to customize efficiently. It is rather inconvenient to manually add a large number of products at once to a Magento installation. Plus it needs dedicated servers from particular hosting providers in order to run fast shops while shared web hosting account will be enough for osCommerce.
- another appeal of Magento is in its nice default template (+)
Magento templates and themes enable the owners to customize the look and feel of the store, even optimize it for mobile phones. Modular code enables them to upgrade the Magento installation while retaining their customizations. At the same time installing an osCommerce template is not an easy task. osCommerce does not support a template installer option. Installing a new template for osCommerce is actually a new installation of the osCommerce files. So, there is no graphic template system meaning it is harder to modify the design to adjust the style and layout. Additionally, it can take a lot of time and money to install all the add-ons you want. osCommerce, by the way, has the most available number of contributions and modifications which is a way beneficial.
- And finally Magento offers well organized back-end along with cleaner site structure (+)
People prefer using Magento for the cleaner admin, code, and much more. Magento system scores highly for its look and sensible overall features. Its back-end is well organized and most items of concern are thoroughly covered. Talking about osCommerce, some people admit that its code is a real mess and the back-end is really pitiful. Others mention that the structure of the site, written in PHP and using clear definitions, is rather sensible with all the text seen on an osCommerce store being handily stored in reference files which contain only plain text for translation. All in all, osCommerce is known to be easy to install but a real pain to configure and customize.
What this means for us as an eCommerce community?
Magento project has revolutionized eCommerce with its flexibility and power. It takes the best things from osCommerce such as being open source, easy to modify, and having a strong community, but then takes these to the next level of sophistication. Magento developers practiced all the advantages of the last time to shape web application incorporating the richer user interface and better ergonomics.
This comparison of Magento and osCommerce shopping cart does not claim to be anyway exhaustive. So, if you had experience with either Magento or osCommerce, please share your perspective in the comments to mention particularly what others should consider before switching from one application to another.
Do you love Magento shopping cart as much as we do? Well then feel free to check out the collection of free Magento themes that our friends from Templates.com blog have compiled!