The Nuts and Bolts of eCommerce Hosting

For newbies to eCommerce there are many difficulties in the early stages of setting up business. Those difficulties may include the minor problems of hosting issues, learning the CMS admin panel, etc. But a thorough understanding of the three e-Commerce engines is the first and possibly most important thing to learn. These are CRE Loaded, ZenCart and osCommerce.

These systems have some things in common, but the most important thing to understand is their differences. OSC (Open Source Commerce) is considered the least complicated shopping cart and is suited for small and medium-sized stores. ZenCart is a little more advanced, has more included features, and is a bit more complicated to learn. And finally CRE Loaded is the newest and most impressive shopping system. CRE Loaded has lots and lots of features already built-in – even some you never knew existed. It takes some effort to learn to operate, but it can be used by the largest of internet stores that do complicated processing of thousands of customers per day.

Hosting of any of these three systems is important to understand. Any of these three systems must have specialized hosting. This means that your hosting provider must have all the necessary supports for these systems so they can run effortlessly and without modifications to your new website. It is also desirable that your hosting provider would install Zen Cartâ„¢ free of charge (basic installation with no customization).

Now let’s take a short tour through each of the 3 engines’ hosting requirements.

osCommerce

Once again the most simple and easy in the installation process. With OSC hosting your website will at first take up very little server space, but as you add products and images that space will need to grow. The same is true for bandwidth: if your store has little traffic then you do not need much bandwidth. But if you have more visitors who spend more time paging through your eCommerce store you might eventually need to have a dedicated server. If you know you will need a lot of room and bandwidth the best thing would be to get a host that will allow you to start small but to grow as you need to.

ZenCart

The minimum/suggested server requirements: PHP 4.3.2 or higher (PHP 4.4.x for best performance), Apache 1.3.x and MySQL 3.2.x or higher. “RegisterGlobals” may be on or off, safe_mode off recommended. Also please note that many shipping and payment modules require the cURL to be installed/compiled with PHP. Another thing is that support for https may be required, depending on the accepted payment methods. The use of SSL (secured socket layer) during account creation and checkout is recommended.

CRE Loaded

Basically the same server requirements (unless “Registerglobals = On” is set). The installation process is a little more complicated, you must go through some additional steps for installation. This process includes running the installation script at your actual domain name and /pathtocatalog/ with the folder that you installed the CRE Loaded engine into. Then you adjust some settings considering tax zones, shipping modules, payment modules and other options. You may also set the store configuration settings using the store administration tools configuration menu.

Development of PHP 5 and mySQL 5 compatible releases is in progress for both CRE Loaded and ZenCart.

The big bottom-line is: the more complex your store – the more effort in installation it will take at first. If you run a small store and use osCommerce your hosting process will be easy and painless. When your business grows it will require more from your hosting plan and from everything else in your system. It’s the same everywhere: no pain – no gain, and sometimes hosting can be a real pain

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