osCommerce Shopping Cart Review

oscommerce-review-logoLooking to transfer platforms or start an entirely new online store? This unbiased osCommerce review will help you learn the fundamentals  as well as your fit with the ecommerce platform.*

Curious about how other platforms measure up? This osCommerce review is the 15th installment in our ecommerce platform series. Check out how the top ecommerce platforms stack up against each other here.

osCommerce Review: What Kind of Merchant Should Use the osCommerce Shopping Cart?

osCommerce’s online merchant platform is a comprehensive PHP-based ecommerce solution for online retailers. Think of it as the grandfather of all open-source shopping carts (“os” means open-source). Zen Cart is actually a branch off of the osCommerce software (see Zen Cart review here). Currently, more than 12,000 business owners use osCommerce as the backbone for their self-hosted (vs. hosted) online store.

Because osCommerce (v2.3) is a self-hosted, open source solution, there are no limits to the number of products that can be uploaded using the platform. Additionally, thousands of free community add-ons make just about any in-store functionality possible. If you’re looking for a differentiating factor for osCommerce among the sea of other open-source solutions, it’s that osCommerce has been in the business for over 13 years now. This means that the cart already has a built-in, active community (which is huge for open-source) and that there are many 3rd party services that integrate easily with it. Customization is one of osCommerce’s strong suits.

The general consensus is that although osCommere was the Model T that started it all, it simply does not compare to the more advanced and improved open-source shopping carts available today.

Ideal for: Any-sized retailer (osCommerce is the 5th most used ecommerce software among the Alexa Top 1M; the top 5 are all self-hosted open-source)


osCommerce Review: Good osCommerce Features

Ecommerce Platform Comparison: osCommerceFeature Grade
Pricing - free download AND free add-ons (with over 7000, the add-on selection is one of the biggest extension marketplaces out there)A+
Industry experience (more than 13 years old)A-
Customer support - very active and large community forum AND offers commercial support with the purchase of a "community sponsorship" (~$65/year); commercial support is typically not available for free, open-source solutionsB-
Very bare-bones - allows for any imaginable customizationsB-

osCommerce Review: Bad osCommerce Features

Ecommerce Platform Comparison: osCommerceFeature Grade
Requires hosting - suggested hosting services hereC+
Limited out-of-the-box ecommerce functionality - ex. no reporting toolsD-
Poor inventory management - can support an unlimited number of products, but making modifications to with a large inventory is extremely cumbersomeD-
Poor SEO - inherent URL structure makes SEO difficult (can be user-modified) and osCommerce's template structure does little out-of-the-box to improve SEOD+
Little documentation on add-ons - not enough guidance on installation of add-on integrations; hired development in general ends up being longer than it needs to be (a.k.a. you end up spending more on web development than you should)D
Weak security - has gained the reputation of being a "hacker's playground" (see complaints here) because of how many osCommerce sites have been pillaged; results in the need to purchase additional security integrations from the start ($$$)F
Design templates - few template options and most are dated-looking, only minor adjustments can be mad to headers/footers/etc. for templates downloaded for freeD-

osCommerce Review: Submit Your Product Data Feed from osCommerce to Google Shopping

Haven’t tested these, but there appears to be a number of add-ons made specifically for creating a Google Merchant feed, like this one and this more recently made one. The perks of having an active community of developers who’ve been conditioned to be resourceful…

osCommerce Review: Bottom Line

As the original leader in open-source ecommerce software, osCommerce’s run at the top has dwindled as more and more improved-upon solutions popped up on the market and surpassed it (see Magento, CS-Cart, Zen Cart, and PrestaShop). Your main expenses with an osCommerce shop will be for web development services, hosting, and added security.

Recommending osCommerce to the masses of medium-sized retailers would be like recommending a DeLorean to a family man with 4 kids (another one of my attempts at analogical humor…). There are simply more robust, streamlined, and updated software available for arguably less of an investment of time and resources.  Nevertheless, with affordable and capable web development resources, an ecommerce business owner could still have a very functional online store, yet the effort required to get that point will probably not be worth the ROI.

Merchants can be ensured a blank slate and uphill battle with osCommerce.

osCommerce Ecommerce Platform Comparison Grade: C

Email jon@cpcstrategy.com and request to have your experience be part of this osCommerce Review.

View the master list of our ecommerce platform comparison to make the most informed choice when choosing your ecommerce platform software.

*Note: Grades are subjectively based on analysis and comparison to other ecommerce platforms, based on availability, significance, and functionality of the platform feature and overall value.

How do you think osCommerce stacks up against the rest? Have your voice be heard and your opinion known!


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About the AuthorJon Gregoire is the Director of Demand Generation at CPC Strategy. Jon heads up email marketing, content strategy, co-marketing, and revenue cycle efficiency. A UC San Diego grad, Jon is a Chicago native and full-time San Diego tourist. He enjoys Bear Grylls-like backpacking trips, archery, weekend getaways in Southern California, watching his beloved Chicago Bears, and bidaily coffee consumption. Want to pitch a story? Reach out directly at jon(at)cpcstrategy.com. See all posts by this author here.