The explosion of popularity of the World Wide Web has enabled small businesses to reach out
and distribute their products worldwide whereas before they could only distribute locally.
In addition to enabling existing businesses to expand their markets exponentially, countless
of online retail distributors have sprung up and successfully taken advantage of an almost
limitless customer base. One thing that all of these online stores have in common is that in
order to effectively sell to their online customers, they must be able to showcase their
products; all of them require e-commerce and online store management software.
OsCommerce is a popular e-commerce software application that has one major advantage over
almost every other commercial software application available: it?s completely free.
Oscommerce is what is known as open-source software which means that it has been developed
solely by individuals and organizations that volunteer their time and services in order to
develop comprehensive alternatives to commercial software applications. OsCommerce is
distributed under the GNU Public License, which ensures that the software remains free even
if it is altered or improved. Other popular open-source software includes the Linux
operating system and the Mozilla line of products including the Firefox browser.
Os Commerce is highly customizable and relatively robust, especially when its price is taken
into consideration. Updates and patches are fairly frequently released and current releases
are competitively stable when compared to similar commercial software. OsCommerce has been
designed specifically to provide a functionally base that adequately meets the most common
needs of online businesses without overcomplicated functionality.
This type of setup is able to accomplish this feat by maintaining the need for robust
applications without being an oversimplified system through the use of its community-driven
system of add-ons. Contributions or add-ons are custom code contributed by the members of
the osCommerce community that adds increased flexibility and functionality to the program.
OsCommerce is able to be installed on any web server that features MySQL and PHP. While the
core package is compatible with PHP 4, it is a quick fix to enable it for PHP 5. It features
an automatic web-based installation, multi-language support (English, Spanish, German by
default), and can support multiple forms of currency when paired with an available update.
Other features are dynamic pages, supports down loadable products as well as physical
products, and can be paired with numerous e-commerce automated payment systems.
One large benefit of using the OsCommerce Templates
combined with and all open source software is the strong sense of community and support that
is available online. While users cannot utilize a telephone hotline to a tech-support group
of any kind, most common questions have already been answered in one form or another and are
easily search able. Even if a problem arises that hasn?t been answered before, the
open-source community is always more than willing to share their expertise with other