Friday, April 8, 2011

Open Source Shopping Cart Software: How to Select the Best?

Almost all businesses nowadays, small or big, are using the open source software to run and operate their businesses daily. Open Source Software can now meet the needs of various industries even those that are requiring for an ecommerce shopping cart software, (ERP) enterprise resource planning software, productivity suite and many more.

Merchants must choose the best product that suits their needs and unique requirements. When choosing a shopping cart system to operate your online store you must study and evaluate the technical and operational functions and specifications before launching the whole operation. Shopping carts are there to help merchants operate their businesses smoothly but this can only happen if you have chosen the one that meets all your needs and requirements.

To choose the best open source shopping cart software you must start by gathering a list of the major players in the small business market. There are ten (10) requirements that your shopping cart must have in order to come up with such list. Here they are:

1. The source code should be centrally controlled

2. There should be an established developer community

3. Good third party extensions (the payment gateway extension must be a PCI compliant)

4. Can be used with Linux and Microsoft Windows hosting environments

5. Software download must include all features listed on website (e.g. not crippleware or demoware)

6. Well written installation guide and user guide. Documentation may be available as a PDF document or as an HTML file.

7. Installs on a standard SSL certificate

8. A custom notification email should be sent to the merchant and customer

9. Bug fixes and safe upgrade path

10. Installs in a dedicated and shared hosting environment

These things should also be considered in selecting the best shopping cart for your business:

Capacity: Always consider the capacity of the shopping cart when you purchase. The capacity should be inline to your needs. For example, if you have 5,000 products you should look for a shopping cart that can store 5,000 or more products.

Performance: You must also consider the performance of your web store. Your ecommerce store must be fast even with high user loads. It should process huge amount of data without sacrificing the speed. If you don’t pride your site with regards to this, definitely your customer will shop somewhere else wherein they’ll have a must faster and more convenient shopping experience.

Community Support: Always check if the software has a strong development community that exists already. See the feedback of users from online forums about the said software and see also of they have an active community of developers so that you wouldn’t have much difficulty when you’ll encounter problems in the future.

Technical Support: Be sure that upon availing of the services of a certain product, there is an online technical support that can assist you as soon as possible. It would be a nightmare if your operation would stop for a few days because it will take much more time for the customer support to answer your queries or solve your problem.

Payment Gateway Support: To avoid hackers from doing fraudulent transactions using your customers’ information, be sure that the shopping cart you’re buying has a third party payment gateway extension. In this way, your store is more secured and you can foster trust among your clients.

Search Engine Friendly URL: Your goal is for your web shopping cart to be more popular among people and to have more customers. So, you must have a search engine friendly URL for your store to be indexed by the search engines and can put among the top searches.



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