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
contributions. While o 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
page. It lists the contributions that have been ordered based on percentage of sales.
- 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.
- Easy Populate
- if you have more than a handful of products, this package is a must have.
- Google Sitemap
- as important as google is in todays world, this contribution 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 contribution does more for your shops
ranking in the search engine listings than any other contribution.
- 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 IPN
- 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 IPN option Paypal offers. It will prevent orders
from being lost if the customer does not return to your site after making a payment.
- Order Editor
- this great contribution 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 contribution 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 contribution 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 contribution 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
- 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 contribution 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.
The above list is very short when you consider that there are well over 3,000 contributions. 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 contribution. If you
use one that is not listed here, please
the name so that it can be considered in the above suggestions.