What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.
Bob Dylan

Online store applications, or shopping carts, are specifically designed to handle online purchases and are normally arranged to simulate a real-world shop. So a typical online store comprises:

  • a catalogue of products on sale,
  • a cart or basket where the visitor places product he wants to buy,
  • a checkout desk where the visitor approves the invoice total, including delivery charges,
  • a payment processing system (typically taking credit cards)
  • in some cases (downloadable products) the software also controls product delivery

When implementing on online store, business owners have a choice of three different types of solution:

  1. “Buy now” buttons: Any web site can have an e-commerce element added by the use of a separate payment processor and some simple HTML code added to each page. The advantage of this system is its simplicity and minimal setup cost where the aim is to sell just a few products. The disadvantage is a serious lack of flexibility, which can become crippling for a store with a large range of products – changing a price requires finding every instance on the web site and editing each page manually.
  2. Hosted applications: These are typically closed-source applications entirely managed by the host. The business owner has access only to an admin panel where product descriptions and prices can be set up. The advantage of this type of system is that the host takes all responsibility for managing the application and keeping it secure. The disadvantages: without full access to the programming of the store it’s difficult to judge the quality or security of the system used, and (probably most important) it’s usually impossible to move your store to any other host without recreating everything from scratch. Avoid this “lock-in” unless you trust the host absolutely and you’re willing to stay with them for as long as you keep the store…
  3. Shopping cart application: In this case the web application (closed or open source) is installed into your own hosting space – you take control of both the application and your own data. This largely avoids the “lock-in” problem, particularly if you choose an open-source application, but does give the business owner the additional responsibility of maintaining and updating the store software.

BurstOpen can install an open-source application into your hosting space, customise it to your requirements and maintain / update it as necessary. As with a hosted application, the business owner has access to an admin panel for setting up the product catalogue and prices but still has complete freedom to move the site to another host or even another management service.

Setting up an online store involves a significant investment in time and / or money – protect your investment by choosing an open source application!

Recommended applications:

Zen Cart

Others to consider:

Magento