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Recommendations

We get many requests asking for our recommendations as to what changes should be made to their osCommerce shop to improve it. This is a very difficult question to answer since a shops purpose or product line will effect what changes are needed. For example, a shop that sells images would definitely need one of the additional images addons. While a shop like ours has very little need for such an option.

But we will attempt to offer what, we think, makes for a great osCommerce shop. Our selections are not in any order of importance. First, you may want to take a look at the Most Popular page. It lists the addons that have been ordered based on percentage of sales.

  • Easy Populate - if you have more than a handful of products, this package is a must have. It allows you to quickly edit hundreds of products in a matter of minutes.
  • Google Sitemap - as important as google is in today's world, this addon is a must. It adds a site map to your shop (actually three of them) that google will find and use. What's better is that google will then track your visitors and generated reports as to what they were looking for on your site.
  • Header Tags - no shop would be complete without Header Tags. This one addon does more for your shops ranking in the search engine listings than any other addon. Newer versions of oscommerce have a cut-down version of this addon. It does well for what it is but if you want full power, this is the correct package to use.
  • Master Password - until you need it, this might seem like a waste of time. But there may come a time when you will need to get into a customers account. Without this change, you can't do that. It's value will become evident then.
  • Must Agree to Terms - many of the credit card processors are requiring this option to help reduce cases of fraud. But even if yours does not require it, it is a good option to have. By having the customer agree to your terms, you can show the credit card companies, in case there is a dispute, that the person knew what he or she was doing. It is not guaranteed to prevent fraud but the chance are less if you use it.
  • Paypal App - if you are going to offer Paypal as a payment option, this is a must. It updates the stock module to work with the modern options Paypal offers. It will prevent orders from being lost if the customer does not return to your site after making a payment. This is built into the latest oscommerce versions.
  • Order Editor - this great addon allows an order to be edited. Sometimes it is necessary to change the customers shipping address, quantity ordered or any number of other aspects of their order. Without this option, you simply cannot do it.
  • Recover Cart Sales - this often overlooked addon can generate sales for you. If a visitor starts to buy something but then changes his or her mind, you will never know about it. This package will find those lost carts and allow you to send a polite message to the visitor asking if you could help in any way. Many times, the people are so impressed by the follow up that they return to the site to make a purchase.
  • Site Monitor - More and more sites are being hacked it seems. If that happens to your site, you may not even be aware that it has happened. The hackers could deface your site or, even worse, insert code to grab all of your customers data. It could end up costing your thousands of dollars if not caught in time. What this addon does is monitor your shop for changes to the files. If any are found, you are notified via an email. This won't prevent your shop from being hacked, but it will let you know if it has been so you can take immediate action.
  • Site Search - The search function included with the oscommerce shop is very limited since it doesn't search the products descriptions. This addon not only adds that option to the search, but it also adds the ability to search attributes and files - a complete site search. This is important since a customer may assume you don't carry what they are searching for if it doesn't show up in the search results.
  • Text Master - if you have ever needed to edit the text on one of your pages, you know how difficult that can be. This handy little change allows changes to be made from the admin of your site. Plus, it uses an HTML editor so you have complete and easy control over how the text looks.
  • Thumbnail Generator - The osCommerce package does a great job of displaying images. But as the number of images grow, especially if they have not been properly edited for web work, they can slow down the loading time of the shop. This addon will force the use of small thumbnail images. A saving of 10-30 seconds of page load time is typical once this change is installed. And the quicker a page loads, the less likely it is to lose customers who become bored while waiting.
  • Ultimate SEO - The url's in a standard shop are very difficult to understand and are not search engine friendly. This option will change the wording of the url to English (or whatever your language is) instead of the cryptic usage it normally has. It also makes the url more compatible with what the search engines want, resulting in better listing positions for those pages.
  • Additional Images - there are several packages we recommend to accomplish the task of adding extra images to your shop. If you have the need to show a front and back image of a product, for example, then you need one of these. But only if your shop is an older version since the newer versions have this feature built-in.

The above list is very short when you consider that there are well over 3,000 addons. So a well put-together shop will contain much more than the above packages but adding the above will be a good start. Also, there's little doubt that we probably missed someone's favorite addon. If you use one that is not listed here, please send us the name so that it can be considered in the above suggestions.

Helpful Things
 
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