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osCommerce Online Merchant v2.2 RC2a

upgrading securing optimizing

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#1   obcbeatle

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 15:24

Hello:

I used osCommerce Online Merchant v2.2 RC2a for about a year for selling sports cards. After about a year of hard work listing cards, etc. it became apparent to me that my little osC store could not compete in the least with eBay's huge customer base. I received very little traffic, had few sales and basically gave up and started using eBay again. At one point I even marketed my osC store via links in my eBay listings, but eBay started blocking those links. Anyway, I'm getting tired of paying the enormous eBay fees again so I thought I'd give osC another try. I have a few questions that I thought I'd post here first. Please feel free to point me to the proper link/thread or if you have any general advice/tips, it would really be appreciated. Meanwhile I will start reading forum posts to try to regain the osC knowledge I lost after a years absence. Thanks in advance:

1) I'm currently running osCommerce Online Merchant v2.2 RC2a. I see there is a version 3.x. Is there any compelling reason for me to upgrade to 3.x as far as security, features, obsolescence?

2) I sell primarily sports cards. Is there anyone else here that does the same and has found a way to get even a tiny share of the customers who currently use eBay for purchasing cards? I'm not trying to be lazy or steal anyones thunder. I'm just curious if anyone else has had ANY luck at all selling sports cards using osC? Also wondered if there is a way to batch upload listings in osC, e.g. listing 50 identical items (same price) in one fell swoop?

3) Related to question 2 above, what SEO package or other search optimization package should I consider to help market my osC store? I believe the main reason I was not successful before was I did not install an SEO package.

4) Another small reason I stopped using osC was the complexity of reading all the instructions for installing security packages, SEO packages, etc. I know it's a small price to pay since osC allows me to sell items for free (compared to eBay) but I was wondering about other users thoughts on how osC may have improved as a selling platform over the past year? And BTW...for those that take the time to assist others in their osC endeavers, I applaud your efforts. The time you spend helping others keep their online stores better secured and working optimally is VERY much appreciated!

Thank you.

#2   DunWeb

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 15:33

@obcbeatle

1) I'm currently running osCommerce Online Merchant v2.2 RC2a. I see there is a version 3.x. Is there any compelling reason for me to upgrade to 3.x as far as security, features, obsolescence?


DO NOT use v3.x, it is a developers release only. The latest stable version is 2.3.1 and it has many advantages over the RC2a version you last used. Security and Stability are the greatest strengths.

2) I sell primarily sports cards. Is there anyone else here that does the same and has found a way to get even a tiny share of the customers who currently use eBay for purchasing cards? I'm not trying to be lazy or steal anyones thunder. I'm just curious if anyone else has had ANY luck at all selling sports cards using osC? Also wondered if there is a way to batch upload listings in osC, e.g. listing 50 identical items (same price) in one fell swoop?


SEO is the best way to gain page ranking and draw customers into your e-store. Seek out a professional for the quickest results. You can use Easy Populate to batch upload your products.

4) Another small reason I stopped using osC was the complexity of reading all the instructions for installing security packages, SEO packages, etc. I know it's a small price to pay since osC allows me to sell items for free (compared to eBay) but I was wondering about other users thoughts on how osC may have improved as a selling platform over the past year? And BTW...for those that take the time to assist others in their osC endeavers, I applaud your efforts. The time you spend helping others keep their online stores better secured and working optimally is VERY much appreciated!


v2.3.1 doesn't require any additional security contributions, but you may want to install a couple to help you monitor your store.


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#3   toyicebear

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 15:37

1. V3 is just a developers framework release and not a complete shop suitable for a live shop, you should use v2.3.1. Its has much higher security and compatibility with newer PHP/MySQL versions.

2. N/A

3. If you use V2.3.1 , then something like, Modular SEO Header Tags, would be a good fit...and the install is very easy.... You can also easily add something like Ultimate SEO Urls, SEO Sitemap and All products SEO.

4. V2.3.1 is slightly more modular than 2.2 something which makes adding some extra functions easier.... (you can for instance look at a 2.3.1 add-on like: Modular Front Page and Modular SEO Header Tags)

#4   obcbeatle

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 16:33

Thanks for the quick replies! I can't quite seem to find a thread on specifically how to upgrade from v2.2 RC2a to v2.3.1. Maybe I'm just missing it? Also, it looks like I've already done all the security patches/fixes/tips from the security sticky. If I upgrade to v2.3.1 will it break any of those packages e.g. Site Monitor...? Is there anything else I need to know before upgrading that might break my existing install/e-store (I guess if I could find the sticky, that would answer my questions)? Thanks again for the help!

#5   DunWeb

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 16:47

@obcbeatle

The upgrade guide can be found in the v2.3.1 download. that upgrade guide covers CORE CODE updates only so any contributions you have installed will have to be updated individually.

If your RC2a store is secure and updated to work with Php 5.3 (most hosting providers are updating) then use the store you have.


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#6   MrPhil

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 17:19

Depending on how much you've customized your store (including add-ons), it may or may not be clean and easy to jump to a 2.3.1 installation rather than upgrading. This will give you a cleaner installation than doing an upgrade. You can always install 2.3.1 in its own directory and back up and import the current store's database, and see what you've got (and what you need for add-ons).

Your major problem doesn't sound like anything that osC is going to fix with an add-on. SEO can help a bit, but you need unique content to stand out in the search engines. Have you pretended to be a potential customer googling for baseball cards (as well as other sports cards)? How well does your store stack up against the competition? How does it look -- is it inviting or still pretty much stock osC in appearance? Are your terms and conditions reasonable? Do you offer popular payment methods and affordable shipping? Do they work all the way through? For example, if you don't have PayPal returning to the right place, you can lose them right there at the very end (and after getting knocked out once, they won't bother coming back).

Are your prices competitive? There are probably lots of sports card and memorabilia dealers out there -- what can you do to stand out from the crowd? You might look around at not only your specific area, but also sites for other kinds of collectibles, to see what they do. Have you looked at your server access logs to see where visitors go, and where they bail out and fail to convert to a sale? Finally, are you doing anything that might be penalizing you on the search engines, such as duplicate content, poor/duplicate titling, "black hat" SEO techniques, extraneous pages being cataloged? (use robots.txt to narrow them down to useful product pages)

#7   obcbeatle

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 01:32

Thanks again for the quick replies! I think I will try upgrading my RC2a store to PHP 5.3 since it's already secure. I believe I saw a thread and contrib on how to do this earlier today. MrPhil...you ask a lot of good questions, many of which I've been grappling with recently in trying to decide to maybe give osC another shot. The bottom line for me is, for what I currently sell, eBay's customer base is too large to ignore (as I suspect is true for many other sellers). However...eBay seller fees just keep climbing so I need to make the time to re-learn osC set-up/config/maintenance (or some other e-commerce solution), to supplement what I continue to sell on eBay till I can build up a customer base and wean my way completely off eBay (man would that be nice!) It's all about customers and customer satisfaction, IMO. Anyway...I was hoping this time to install/configure SEO and other contribs for aesthetic, batch listing, etc. to see if I have any success. So thanks for all your good timely questions!

#8   obcbeatle

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 02:15

OK...I guess I spoke too soon. I've been searching the site for an add-on, contrib, or thread re: how to update an RC2a store so it will work with PHP 5.3, but I can't find anything. I thought I saw a thread earlier today on how to do this, but maybe I'm mistaken? TIA.

#9   DunWeb

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 02:16

@obcbeatle

Here are the core code update files


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#10   toyicebear

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 02:18

You can simply download 2.3.1 and then follow the upgrade guide included in the download...you will then have PHP5 compatibility. (Up to and including PHP5.3)

#11   obcbeatle

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 12:45

Got it! Thanks!

#12   a.forever

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 18:35

2) I sell primarily sports cards. Is there anyone else here that does the same and has found a way to get even a tiny share of the customers who currently use eBay for purchasing cards? I'm not trying to be lazy or steal anyones thunder. I'm just curious if anyone else has had ANY luck at all selling sports cards using osC? Also wondered if there is a way to batch upload listings in osC, e.g. listing 50 identical items (same price) in one fell swoop?


Shady ways to get eBay visitors to visit your site:
  • Post a link, or text ad, and hope it doesn't get reported (bold, and daring).
  • Embed an image advertising the site, whether hyperlinked or not (use well-known image host such as Photobucket).
  • Link additional product information to the products page on your site (doesn't imply not providing any information on auction listing)
  • Embed video provided that you own its rights and properties and is hosted on a authorized video host (such as YouTube)
I don't know why one would need 50 identical items with the same price in one's personal store. You wouldn't be competing for product visibility. But for batch product uploads, check out Easy Populate.

#13   MrPhil

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 21:29

I don't know why one would need 50 identical items with the same price in one's personal store. You wouldn't be competing for product visibility.


Agreed. In a store, you would have one item at one price, inventory quantity 50. Now, if there are minor differences, you can either upload them as separate products, or use product attributes (color, size, etc.). Otherwise, to list the same thing 50 times, you would be severely annoying customers who realize they're wasting their time looking at all these "different" products that are all the same! IIRC you don't even have to do that on eBay any more... you can list one product and a quantity to sell.

#14   14steve14

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 11:58

I used to sell on ebay, but the costs became prohibitive. I know only use ebay when i bring out a new item, just to see how it is responded to, or want to increase sales in a perticular area. I mention my company name in the adverts but not as a link and any images have copyright text with the company name on. Believe it or not people do come to the website and as the prices are cheaper than on ebay, they buy from the website. I seem to win all round and all it costs is a small charge to ebay to list the items. Ebay pages get listed on google which does also help if you get the iytem name and description right. Saying that i am also the manufacturer of the items that i sell there.
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#15   DunWeb

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 13:44

@14steve14

hey Steve, off topic.......have you read your signature line lately ? I thought is said CANCER at first...I had to read it twice.....lol



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#16   obcbeatle

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 15:23

Agreed. In a store, you would have one item at one price, inventory quantity 50. Now, if there are minor differences, you can either upload them as separate products, or use product attributes (color, size, etc.). Otherwise, to list the same thing 50 times, you would be severely annoying customers who realize they're wasting their time looking at all these "different" products that are all the same! IIRC you don't even have to do that on eBay any more... you can list one product and a quantity to sell.


True. But example. The 1962 Topps set has approx. 600 baseball cards (players). Approx. 75% of that set may have cards that are priced (valued) at $3 ea. Now I could just bundle that 75% of the cards and sell it as a "card lot". OR I could list/sell each card individually for say $3 ea (I'd make more $ this way). The unique attribute being the baseball card # as most set collectors look for the card number when trying to complete a set of 1962 Topps cards (as well as about every other card set ever produced...usually). So if I really want to try to sell all those cards individually, I'd need to either scan a ton of cards and list each for $3 OR I could scan one card and add in the description something like, "all the other cards are in exactly the same condition and here are the card #'s" (thus I would list all the card #'s in the one listing and scan just one card as an example of the product condition). But of course most card collectors want to see the exact card(s) before they purchase. Not sure that made sense /whistling.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':-' />) Maybe I'm missing something but one of the BIG problems sellers like me have with eBay, osC or any other e-commerce solution is being able to batch list a significant # of items that are priced the same but have unique attributes (player name/card #). Perhaps there is a way to import the data directly into the osC db. Still have to scan the cards though /whistling.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':-' />) Anyway...that is the pill collectible card sellers have to swallow. But we aren't the only ones I'm sure /whistling.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':-' />) Thanks for the tips BTW re: linking from eBay. Not sure I'll try them, but it sure is hard to ignore eBay's customer base of buyers. I have been a buyer and seller on eBay for years. Wish I could get off their fix but for what I sell eBay has the market share of my potential buyers /whistling.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':-' />(

#17   NodsDorf

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 16:17

Jerry, if it was easy everybody would do it. Your best bet is use Easy Populate or (I prefer OSC Store Manager (not free)) to upload your products. There is a LOT of work that goes into listing that many products, days if not weeks, but that work turns into money. If you take the easy way out your customers will see that and may not buy from you.

I will also add to the above discussion about eBay. You may want to only list your more profitable cards there and then when you mail them the card include a Thank You Card with your website URL and a discount code on it for their first purchase. Hell you could give them 10% and still save money vs eBay...

#18   a.forever

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 17:20

But of course most card collectors want to see the exact card(s) before they purchase. Not sure that made sense /whistling.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':-' />) Maybe I'm missing something but one of the BIG problems sellers like me have with eBay, osC or any other e-commerce solution is being able to batch list a significant # of items that are priced the same but have unique attributes (player name/card #). Perhaps there is a way to import the data directly into the osC db. Still have to scan the cards though /whistling.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':-' />)


It's never a bad idea to have stock photos of your entire inventory. Although I've never used it, I do believe Easy Populate has Attributes and Options features that match what you're seeking.

#19   obcbeatle

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 17:10

Thanks again for all the replies! I d/l'd Easy Populate and SEO and am going to try them out as soon as I finish doing some aesthetic work on my front page, list a few new items, test the PayPal module then back everything up. I've decided to stick with 2.2 RC2a with the security contribs... and hope my host dosen't upgrade PHP tomorrow /whistling.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':-' />) I probably will install 2.3.x soon in another directory and check it out. Thanks for the "discount coupon" tip. Good idea!