osCommerce vs. Magento: Which ecommerce CMS should I choose?
OsCommerce is a great oldie of ecommerce: it was already a popular platform when Magento has not even been a stray thought. However, things do not necessarily get better with age on the internet: let us see whether today osCommerce is still a worthy challenger of Magento.
Topics that we are going to discuss below:
- Installation and use
- Appearance, design
- Updates, communities, support
- Advantages and disadvantages: summary
- Briefly about Magento
- Briefly about osCommerce
- Verdict – for the final decision
Prices and costs
Both Magento and osCommerce are systems of open source code, which means you do not have to pay to be able to download and install them. In addition, this is also advantageous because the developers can freely work on them, thus creating extensions to them and various modified versions of them.
The thing that you definitely have to take into account is the price of the hosting – in both cases, this depends on how big traffic you are planning with, how significant the online store is that you want to operate, so there is no difference between them in this respect.
Of course a commercial edition of Magento, Enterprise Edition, is also available, specifically planned for the needs of large companies, which can presently be used for an annual subscription fee of USD18,000. However, this has obviously been created for the global brands. Use of the Community Edition is totally free of charge.
osCommerce is a simpler system, it is even easier to make individual developments to it – if you want to completely transform Magento in a way that it meets your needs (or rather the needs of your target market), you will most probably need the assistance of professional developers, which will cost you money. Individual developments are of course worth the investment in the long run, you still have to take into account the budget, though.
Installation and use of Magento and osCommerce
Bringing the Magento online store to life is a complicated process, but the installation itself involves no particular difficulties. Installation of osCommerce is simple as well.
During utilisation it becomes clear that Magento is a more complex system: it was planned for more significant needs, for ecommerce stores with higher traffic, with a great deal of various features and options. As a consequence, the user interface itself is much more complicated as well, understanding it requires certain experience.
This is somewhat counterbalanced by the fact that a great deal of training material is available, from which you can learn the masterstrokes, and you can also ask your questions from a quite sizeable and enthusiastic community – which latter one we will soon describe in detail.
OsCommerce is much more user-friendly, even those can relatively easily learn how to use it, who have never managed an online store before.
A great strength of Magento is that you can manage more than one ecommerce stores simultaneously from the same administrative interface thanks to it. OsCommerce does not offer such a possibility. Consequently, a business that targets more than one customer groups simultaneously, that wants to sell its different products separately, undoubtedly benefits more from Magento, considering the two alternatives.
Magento is unbeatable in this category. It contains a large number of functions that are either not available with other ecommerce systems or they are only available in the form of different extensions (many times paid versions).
Promotional features like for example coupon deals are definitely worth mentioning, since sales within the online store can be increased quite effectively with their help: you can combine and offer certain products together, you can create special deals tailored to given groups of users, you can introduce discounts with time limitation, you can promote individual product groups and so on. You can even provide the possibility for the users of comparing the individual products.
The product search feature is outstanding as well, since you can define the attributes of the individual products perfectly freely in the system of Magento. You may create any kind of characteristics that you want, so this way the system is capable of adapting without difficulties to any kind of product range, even to the most diverse ones.
OsCommerce includes a much weaker set of tools: although you can find a series of functions in it, and you can further broaden the selection with extensions as well, it cannot get anywhere near Magento in this field. Among others it lacks coupon deals, discounts, which can be considered as a huge minus if you are searching for a flexible ecommerce system. On the other hand, it has a “what others have purchased” function similar to that of Amazon, which may compensate a little for this shortcoming.
Appearance and design
This “round” is won by Magento too. Because practically every single tiny detail of Magento can be transformed and customized – of course, as it is a complex system, you will need professional assistance to do that, but it is worth investing both energy and money in that. Obviously, nobody wants their ecommerce store look exactly like everybody else’s, that it is indistinguishable from those of the competitors. The risk of that is still there even if you change the standard appearance to a theme available free of charge or to a paid one. It is uniqueness that helps you avoid that.
Of course, you have the possibility of modifying the design in case of osCommerce as well, however, experiences show that this is a quite complicated and difficult task.
Therefore it is a fact that no matter which of the two systems you choose, you will by all means need to hire a developer, unless you are a professional at the modification and the encoding of similar systems, and in web design. On the other hand, a Magento developer is easier to find.
Updates, communities, support
Magento is considered to be the more modern system, because a new system update (and additional, specifically security updates) is released generally every month and it can be said that it completely meets recent user needs – it is fully search engine optimizable, it can be made responsive and so on. OsCommerce is certainly not regarded as an outdated system either, however, it is true that updates are released much less frequently, and the developer community works with lower intensity as well, than in case of Magento.
In case of osCommerce Support is primarily built on the community. Of course the platform has its own developers as well, but even their official website recommends hiring professionals for the more significant problems. In addition, you have the possibility of looking for solutions for your problems on the forum, and you can also live chat with individual members of the community.
The situation is similar with Magento as well: you are able to contact the company’s own developers, however, the real power lies within the enormous and active developer community.
Advantages and disadvantages of Magento and osCommerce: Summary
Briefly about Magento
It is a system that was not planned for those wishing to fill their first small online store with a couple of dozens of products, but it was planned rather as an ecommerce software application that is able to respond even to the most creative individual needs.
Magento is recommended for companies that already have established markets, with predictable and regular traffic, and which can definitely finance a professional online store.
Although the system is complicated, it offers an outstanding amount of settings options that both facilitate improvement of the user experience and can also increase sales.
The system supports several dozens of payment options, so you will not have difficulties either with the domestic or foreign transactions, integration is possible without problems, and the system naturally stores the data securely encrypted.
It may be a problem that the (otherwise well structured) user interface with the great deal of features and settings options may be perplexing for the beginners. And you will definitely have to turn to a professional when it comes to development – Magento can be exceptionally well extended, however, a thorough knowledge of the system is necessary for that.
Briefly about osCommerce
OsCommerce is a reliably running, stable system with a great deal of available extensions and plugins. It is an old and well-tried system that is not at all beaten by Magento when an ecommerce store with a more significant performance is necessary, unlike the majority of the systems that are available free of charge.
All in all, you will most likely have less expenses with the use of osCommerce, but it does not contain appropriate cross-sell and up-sell options or promotional features. It is updated slowly, it is difficult to modify and it is overall lagging a bit behind when it comes to the latest solutions.
It can be impartially said that for those who want to operate an even somewhat significant online store and are looking for a reliable, secure system that – though with the involvement of expenses – is transformable, customizable and flexible, Magento is the better choice. OsCommerce has become a bit aged by now and it is a good choice mainly for those who want a simpler but reliably operating ecommerce store and who do not wish for diversified features for boosting sales.