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View Full Version : Should I use MIVA or OS Commerce?



markw10
08-03-2006, 11:02 AM
I'm not sure if this is the place to ask this but maybe I should. I am fairly familiar with computers but am far from being a computer technie or programmer. I'm studying web page design now on Dreamweaver. I have found it hard but am slowly moving on and it's getting easier with time but things like PHP scare me a lot.
I originally planned on using MIVA which my Westhost account will handle. Two things that later swayed me to OS Commerce are first, it's easier to set up a second store on one westhost account. I heard for a second store either there is a way you link to one store from both account domains or you pay a $199 one time fee for the second miva store on that account. Is this true?
Second is it's $395 for the module to interface with Quickbooks which is very important to me.
What it comes down to though is if MIVA is better i'm fine with paying more unless it's far more in cost. I want something that looks nice online but my main concern is ease of use. I want something that's easy to set up and most of all, easy to administer from then on. I want something that I can modify instead of having one generic look but it doesn't have to be something that can be heavily modified. Any suggestion on which I should go with?

rispku
08-03-2006, 02:58 PM
Based on the criteria you presented, Miva Merchant would be the better choice. However, you didn't say what features you'd need other than the ability to export orders to quickbooks. You also didn't say what you'd be selling.

Your skill level will probably be a hindrance; you can't use Dreamweaver to directly alter the design of MM or osC's templates/frontend. MM requires some level of HTML skill, and osC forces you to alter the design by editting the source files (no integrated template system, yet).

Adding a second store is a simple matter with Miva. You can do it within the admin area. You do need to purchase an additional license, but Westhost can probably give you a discount.

Merchant can be expensive -- especially if you're going to need additional features. That said, osC requires some skill, and you'll be spending a lot of time getting it set up. Adding features to Merchant, as I said, can be costly, but it's easy to install modules. With osC, you'll be inserting code, uploading files, and sometimes patching the database. It's a choice of costly convenience or free (complex) flexibility.

Keep in mind you're not going to get a lot of help from Westhost if you're having trouble using either cart. Both carts are quite complex and having a considerable learning curve. Miva Merchant has a large manual that covers all of the basics, and both carts have active online communities that provide some level of support.

My suggestion would be that you play with the Merchant demo on Miva's (http://smallbusiness.miva.com/products/merchant/mm5/demo_mm5.html) website and the osCommerce demo at OpenSourceCMS (http://www.opensourcecms.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=139&Itemid=159). You might also want to look into using a hosted solution. Yahoo's service (http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/) has a Dreamweaver extension (http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/merchant/dmx.php) that can plug right into their catalog/inventory system, and Mal's e-commerce (http://www.mals-e.com/home.php) is a popular service for beginners that want to add ecommerce abilities to their existing sites.

HTH

markw10
08-03-2006, 04:25 PM
I appreciate your help. I will be selling console video games as well as audio/video products (DVD players, mostly accessories such as cables). I will have a web site with a lot of online content (product reviews) and then the store for people to buy from. Sounds like from what you said MIVA is the one for me even if more costly. I just want something that is easy to maintain, keep inventory such as when I get new products in, nothing really fancy but most of all user friendly.

rispku
08-05-2006, 02:53 AM
Sounds like from what you said MIVA is the one for me even if more costly.
It might be, but I would advise you to play with the demo and see if it's something you'll be able to use on a regular basis and be able to familiarize yourself with. Take a look at their forums and see if the answers to the posted questions aren't too advanced for you to understand. Their forums are very helpful, and will likely be your only source for free user support.

You're in a very competitive business with a market totally saturated with outlets for your product. I imagine you'll be looking for ways to incite people to shop with you. Typical strategies are to have sales, distribute coupons, and feature products. MM doesn't come bundled with the ability to handle any of these things, so you'll need to purchase modules for it. You should carefully consider what your needs will require, and price the modules for it before you invest any significant amount of your time into this. If the initial investment is too great, bear in mind that there are more than two choices available to you.

I just want something that is easy to maintain, keep inventory such as when I get new products in, nothing really fancy but most of all user friendly. We used MM4 for around 4 years on our website. I found the (advanced) administrator interface to be incredibly easy to use. It's a little different now, and has some added complexity due to the new template system, but it is still fairly easy to figure out. It also has a "simple administration" interface which will help guide you through the process of setting up your store and adding products/categories.

hth

markw10
08-05-2006, 09:17 AM
Thank you again for your help. I have been using google to find a lot of information about MIVA. I have seen some reviews, some bad, but many for MIVA 4 and I was hoping MIVA 5 was much better. Are most of these modules a one time fee? I assume they are which would help.
As well, are there options besides OS Commerce and MIVA on Westhost? As well, where can I get pricing info. on these modules? I see Synchro as the only module Westhost supports. Do I go to MIVA for the pricing info. or is that something I buy through Westhost since it appears they are the one 'hosting' the MIVA software?
Like you said it's a competitive market. I'm not set on one single market. Currently I have a EBAY business that is doing very well but EBay's fees are almost 10% of what I sell. I want to become more profitable. EBAY is very competitive but of course they have the traffic so I am coming up with plans to drive traffic to my site and they include the options you mentioned as well as other ideas I have to set myself apart from the competition.

markw10
08-05-2006, 09:29 AM
I probably left this out earlier but I plan on having the web site 50% content, 50% store and plan on using Dreamweaver to design the web site. The store will be just part of the web site. These are items I sell successfully on ebay but yet I'm not tied to any one item and with time it could include others instead or in addition to this. The point is I'm moving towards a content based web site with advertising support but reviews of products, how to guides, etc. and thats' how I hope to build traffic and of coures the store will be there as well to sell and sell items reviews are up for, etc.

rispku
08-08-2006, 09:04 AM
I have seen some reviews, some bad, but many for MIVA 4 and I was hoping MIVA 5 was much better. Reviews are of course entirely subjective. A lot of the problems people have with MM can often be attributed to improper setup, installation, or a total lack of support from their host. I used MM4 on Westhost for about 7-8 months without any dire problems. Perhaps the biggest issue people had with MM4 was their inability to make it look the way they wanted. MM5, I think, corrected a lot of this. The biggest change in MM5 over MM4 is the new template system. Unfortunately, with the added flexibility also comes a new level complexity.

Are most of these modules a one time fee? Yes.

As well, where can I get pricing info. on these modules? I see Synchro as the only module Westhost supports. Do I go to MIVA for the pricing info. or is that something I buy through Westhost since it appears they are the one 'hosting' the MIVA software?Miva Central (http://www.mivacentral.com/) is a good starting point.

As well, are there options besides OS Commerce and MIVA on Westhost?osC and MM are the only carts you can install through Westhost's control panel. However, there are a ton of carts out there that can be installed on a Westhost account. Westhost will only support the installation of osC and MM, though.
There are also some hosted proprietary carts out there that might be easier for a beginner to use and setup. These would require you to leave Westhost, or at least open another hosting account. Who you're being hosted by should come secondary to being able to make money with a shopping cart you can actually use, imho.


I probably left this out earlier but I plan on having the web site 50% content, 50% store and plan on using Dreamweaver to design the web site. By default, osC and MM are installed in a subdirectory. This way they can be used in a complimentary manner to your website.