Tag Archive | "Commerce Platforms"

Choosing an E-Commerce Platform

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Choosing an E-Commerce Platform


If you want to build an e-commerce site, then you have probably noticed that your web host offers you a choice of “shopping cart” or e-commerce platforms. The most common ones are Tomato Cart, Magento, OSCommerce and Zen Cart. For those who are new to e-commerce, selecting the right platform for their needs may sometimes seem to be difficult. But there are ways to simplify the process. Here are some things to do if you are new to building e-commerce sites:

 

  • First, get informed

 

There are plenty of websites, blog posts, forum posts, articles and guides which are available freely online and deal with all aspects of e-commerce websites. By reading those, you will have more of an understanding of how e-commerce sites work and how the system which powers them works too.

 

  • Read some reviews

 

To get some information, you can read some reviews of various e-commerce platforms that were left by other online entrepreneurs and webmasters. This will give you a general idea as to which platforms are preferred by webmaster communities and which ones are not so good. However, it is important not to base your decision exclusively on comments left by others, as a platform that may be appropriate for one webmaster may not be for another one.

 

  • Do a test installation

 

The easiest way to accomplish this would be to create several subdomains on your main site and then install a different e-commerce platform on each one. That way, you will be able to try various platforms for yourself. You will be able to see the admin panel of the e-commerce suite right away and can see whether you are more comfortable working with one platform over another one.

 

  • Check for the availability of themes and add-ons

 

Most platforms come with a default theme, but many webmasters would like to customize their site even more. See which themes are available for the platform of your choice and consider whether they would go well with the website ideas that you have. Most e-commerce platforms also have additional plugins and add-ons which you can add that allow you to expand on the functionality of your e-commerce site, such as by adding multiple language support, etc.

 

  • Look at the support available

 

When it comes to support, you should be aware of one important thing: if you are using free, or open source software, the support that you will get will be quite limited. After all, it would be quite illogical to demand 24 hour a day phone support for a product that you are getting for free. Most of the support on open source products is done through community forums. If you are having a problem, chances are that someone else also experienced the same or a similar issue and posts were made on the forum regarding a resolution. But you should consider whether the support forum is really active and the users are interested in sharing information and helping each other. Obviously, if the entire forum is full of “Look at me! My site is the best!” threads, it will not be very useful incase of a problem.

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Is Magento E-Commerce a Good Solution for Beginners?

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Is Magento E-Commerce a Good Solution for Beginners?


If you are building an e-commerce website, you basically have two options. The first one would be to simply build a static site and add payment buttons for a service such as PayPal. While this may be OK for some people, it is not the best solution, especially not when you are building any kind of serious e-commerce site. You therefore need to use a type of content management system that will allow you to do things such as add and remove products, put some products as “featured” on your home page, etc.

 

There are dozens of different e-commerce platforms available out there. Some are free, while some cost thousands of dollars. One free e-commerce platform that many people talk about is Magento. It is included in the automatic installers for many web hosts and is touted as the most advanced free e-commerce platform. But is it really the best choice for you? Especially if you are new to e-commerce?

 

Well, to be honest, it is not. The first thing that you need to know is that Magento is an enterprise class e-commerce solution. Powerful, yes. But it is also very complicated to use for new users. But what about support? Isn’t there a knowledge base or something? Well there are support forums that are provided for users of the software. The problem with them is that there is not much “support” going on there. Mostly users saying “Oh! Darn this doesn’t work” and others joining in with “Yeah! It doesn’t work for me too! Bummer”. Magento staff rarely answer any questions on the forum and there is a reason as to why: the software is free. The support isn’t. If you want support from them, well then you would need to pay for it.

 

There are also a few other issues with Magento. The first thing is that the admin panel is quite slow. Sometimes it takes up to one minute for a page to refresh after you have made a change. It is not my hosting or my server that is a problem, believe me. I have tried with a cloud server and a shared hosting account. Both have given the same results.

 

What about customizing it? Magento says that you can customize their software fully to fit your exact needs and make the site look and work just like you want. Well, this is not a lie. It IS possible. Just extremely hard. There are some templates provided with the software, but they will not work for everybody. You can download some free ones or pay for premium templates, but the issue is that many of them are buggy and have problems working. You can also modify the code, as it is open source software. But you better be an expert on the Zend Framework. Otherwise, expect to spend several months (that’s right, months) learning it before you can accomplish anything useful with it. Quite simply Magento is not the best solution for beginners… unless you just want to take the default template and add a few products for your e-commerce site.

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