FAQ? Seeking advice for simple e-store

I’ll bet a Lot of you have had people open this discussion with you:

People like this don’t know about Drupal or osCommerce or any other software. They “probably” need someone to help them setup.

Personally, I don’t want to go into the hosting business for them either. They can’t pay me enough to deal with all of the little things that come up with FOSS:

  • developer of some module won’t fix a bug
  • CMS upgrades and modules no longer work
  • you get asked for some feature and find that it’s been the #1 request on the FOSS forum … for 3 years

If FOSS eCommerce software wasn’t such a PITA, I would offer to host sites like this. I just don’t have the endless supply of hours to research and repair issues. Been there, done that, got the heck out of that non-profit business.

So I’m leaning toward recommending hosted solutions.

Perhaps some enterprising people here offer to maintain turnkey solutions for small businesses using one-click or custom-installed apps?

What recommendations might you folks make for commercial offerings? Here is a small set of options that I’ve already gathered:


Each of those and others have their pros and cons. I guess the real question is, where does someone who is not at all technical go to get a simple, stable, but fairly complete system for their small business needs?

Of course the common trailer to that is “oh yes, and free…” But in the real world very few things of any quality are truly free. We pay with cash or time. But people selling homemade widgets from their house obviously don’t have a lot of cash to spend on a website, so the operative word should be “affordable”.


Sadly, hosting your own ecommerce site is far from ‘simple.’ For the non-technically inclined, I still lean towards asking ‘Do you want to be technical and/or hire an expert?’ if the answer is no, then they need a hosted solution (like easy), otherwise it’s just going to be long and painful, because you have to learn a website and then commerce :confused:

Hoping to get more feedback here. To summarize:

If you are maintaining your own eCommerce site, have you found a decent one, even not free, that has everything you need without the pain of frequent customizations, dead modules, etc?

Is anyone out there a Guru with osCommerce or another package that we can host at DH?

If you are not using your own eCommerce site, where have you found excellent services?

I’ll host and run decent software if I can find it. But if not I’ll be happy to recommend quality services elsewhere. (Note, this is not about competition for DH.)


DreamHost works with CafeCommerce, it is even in their panel. Don’t know anything about it, but if DH has it as a partner in hosting/e-commerce it might be worth checking out.

Thanks for the note about CafeCommerce. This looks fine for non-developers, which is the original target audience.

I’m still looking for feedback on other eCommerce / shoppingcart apps that people are hosting here at DH.


Wordpress + WP e-Commerce works really well for many vendor types.

If you want something that’s low-cost, easy to get going, and actually works then take a quick gander at it.

Now I have to go scrub myself with steel wool and methylated spirits for typing that.

But it’s true.

Wordpress + WP e-Commerce
Zen Cart

What exactly is the difference between them?
From my limited understanding, CafeCommerce is for those who don’t have the know-how, nor want to be developers, whereas the other two require more coding experience.

As well, I would like to know about the payment abilities of these three for the customer.

Am I correct on this…or out to lunch?

Zencart you install on your site just as you would wordpress, and yes you do need experience so that you can customize the look, like anything there are theme’s available but unless you find a theme that you like and find out the developer has also made available files for zencart to match.

CafeCommerce is a hosted solution. Your store runs on their servers. you create an account and pay a monthly fee. I don’t know how far they go helping you customize or if that’s an additional charge, its been a long time since I look at it.

Figured as much from what I’ve been reading.

I’m going with CafeCommerce as I just don’t have the time to mess around with coding, installs, etc.

I already have a full time job, and this is going to be my startup online store