ECommerce packages - which one(s) are least worst?



  • Hello ladies and gentlemen of these weird and wonderful and only sometimes functional on an acceptable level fora.

    My wife is considering starting up a small sole trading business so she can stop working for other people (and start having my dinner on the table on time damnit, where's the MRA thread again?) and I am trying to help by utilizing my programmer skillz with her online presence.

    Unfortunately, my programmer skillz are more relevant to sometimes knowing if someone is dead or a train is going to crash (note - sometimes) than whether or not a website is going to be boss of the SEO swings. As such, I feel I should engage the TDWTF brain trust in helping out.

    I am looking into setting up an eCommerce package of some description, and I am firmly in the position of "end user" rather than "programmer tinkering with the source and then using that" on this. I want something that is pretty customizable (I am not scared of this bit) and looks good pretty easily, because I suck at that. I'm not massively concerned about being able to handle 500 hits a minute, that's a nice problem to have in a few months, and I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I am also looking for free solutions only in the first instance. I would rather wrestle with something now and then maybe pay for something else later when things get off the ground, since I am capable enough to do the wrestling.

    The recommendations we have received so far have been between 2 PHP solutions:

    and

    Judging from their demo pages, prestashop blows oscommerce right out of the water, by a massive margin. However, oscommerce is the only one I have knowingly seen "in the wild" as it were. That might be because prestashop is better at customisation and as such much harder to recognize, or it might be because it's rubbish and no one can get it off the ground.

    I am hoping @Arantor can use his PHP skillz to tell me if either/both of these are rubbish, and anyone else with ecommerce package experience who has recommendations or has used either of these or other packages (I'm sure someone here must have) has some insight that would be super sweet too.

    I am obviously not going to roll my own. I know enough about security to know I know nothing about security.



  • I'm currently in the same position you're right now. If I were you I would start with some SaaS like Shopify (there hundreds like them) and if things go well, you can migrate to something else.

    Now, I toyed around prestashop, magento and even some obscure JEE eShop that I don't remember right now, and they're pretty much the same thing.

    But, whatever you do, do not, I repeat, do not build your own or use some friend's one. Refer to http://what.thedailywtf.com/t/aspx-everywhere/3891 for a full reference.



  • @Eldelshell said:

    do not build your own or use some friend's one

    This, I have no intention of spending 6 months working solidly to get something that looks awful and gets hacked within a week.

    is there anything particular that steered you away from prestashop and the others? or something that attracted you particularly to Shopify (if you went with that?) or are you still picking yourself?

    I just installed prestashop locally to have a play around with



  • Well, the thing is I've seen my share of old, malware filled presta and ocomerce servers to know that maintaining them is a PITA, that's why I looked at the SaaS ones.

    Good thing about presta is that it has lots of plugins and allows mobile themes. There's also a Docker image for it, so it makes maintenance a little easier.



  • having spent a decent chunk of time today tinkering with it, I remain pretty impressed with prestashop. I think we may transition onto something more SaaSlike (be it a hosted & managed solution or a full SaaS solution) once a constant turnover is coming in, but until then it feels like I will have enough time to keep on top of it in terms of updates and the like such that it doesn't just end up being a malware ridden mess.

    Final decision remains to be made however


  • SockDev

    I've seen some terrible fuckups with PrestaShop. But as a general concept it's not entirely terrible, but I've never played with it as a hosted solution to see if it's just fundamentally flawed, or just badly implemented on a given site. OSCommerce is functional but from what I remember it's ugly to use.

    There's also Zen Cart but that's fugly too.

    Other options, depending on what your needs are, also include WordPress with WooCommerce - but that's pretty much a WTF on a lot of levels too.

    There is, of course, something like Shopify which is a PaaS option and it does have a plugin system - but its plugin system is primarily about using POST requests to alternative servers.

    I would imagine PrestaShop is probably the least worst of the options, and they're all modestly terrible for running your own store front. Perhaps it's something I should get into someday.


  • SockDev

    whatever you do, DON'T use Virtuemart!

    run away from that one! it's utter CRAP on a crutch.



  • What's she selling?



  • I hope it's not washable underwear for incentinence.



  • Well I'm just thinking like the online store for something like downloadable fonts is probably a pretty different problem than an online store for something like bricks with flowers painted on them.


  • SockDev

    @blakeyrat said:

    Well I'm just thinking like the online store for something like downloadable fonts is probably a pretty different problem than an online store for something like bricks with flowers painted on them.

    That's very true. I was kind of hoping we'd get some more detail about this, to be honest, because it does make a difference.



  • Made-to-order Jewellery


  • SockDev

    @algorythmics said:

    Made-to-order Jewellery

    So... Etsy?



  • @Arantor said:

    So... Etsy?

    doing that too,

    want to cover all bases, more professional to have a link to a hip and with-it looking personal website than just an Etsy page when selling at craft fairs and giving out promotional material and the like.


  • SockDev

    @algorythmics said:

    doing that too,

    want to cover all bases, more professional to have a link to a hip and with-it looking personal website than just an Etsy page when selling at craft fairs and giving out promotional material and the like.

    Sounds reasonable.

    Thing is, for that, it does almost sound less like any of the off the shelf packages will suit you anyway.

    Don't forget there's always Magento which will be able to do what you need... but it's a scary-ass mofo to install and use. Scary fucking thing, even if it is quite lovely for users (IMO)



  • Hi, full disclosure - I work at PrestaShop.

    I've just stumbled upon this thread, and I'm glad that we're listed in the least worst eCommerce platforms :smile:

    I just wanted to point out - for those hesitating because of the complexity of hosting the solution yourself - that we are releasing a 100% free, hosted version of PrestaShop (and it is hosted on good, optimized for PrestaShop servers too).

    This is still in beta, and you can register here: http://www.prestashop.com/en/beta (don't worry, access is granted quickly).

    We should go out of beta in a few weeks.

    @algorythmics: Whatever solution you choose, best of luck to your wife!


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