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Which Ecommerce Script Should I Use?

I'm working on a project where I have to put online an ecommerce system which will require some good amount of custom features. I'm therefore looking for a framework which makes customization easy enough (from an experienced developer's perspective, I mean). Language shoul be PHP and time is a constraint, I don't have months to learn.

Additionally, the ecommerce will have to handle around 200.000 products from day one, which will increase over time, hence performance is also important.

So far I examined the following:

  • Magento - Complicated and, as far as I could read, slow when database contains many products. It's also resource intensive, and we can't afford a dedicated VPS from the beginning.
  • OpenCart - Rough at best, documentation is extremely poor. Also, it's "free" to start, but each feature is implemented via 3rd party commercial modules.
  • OSCommerce - Buggy, inefficient, outdated.
  • ZenCart - Derived from OSCommerce, doesn't seem much better.
  • Prestashop - It looks like it has many incompatibilities. Also, most of its modules are commercial, which increases the cost.

In short, I'm still quite undecided, as none of the above seems to satisfy the requirements. I'm open to evaluate closed source frameworks too, if they are any better, but my knowledge about them is limited, therefore I'll welcome any suggestion.

Thanks for all replies.

Update 1
- Project is for one of my customers, therefore I don't "call the shots" on most things. - There is no time, nor budget to write a completely custom system, nor the resources to maintain it once it's up and running. - I managed to write off most of the required customisations, as they would not be mission-critical. Two of them are still required, though:
- Import data from external systems. Interfacing with an internal system to import products. I'd have to write an interface to import the data into the ecommerce on a regular basis. This functionality must be available on the ecommerce Admin Dashboard, as they may have to upload files manually from time to time, therefore I need to be able to plug it in the framework. I therefore need such framework to be easy to extend, as I don't want to start hacking it, or bypassing it and writing straight into the database.
- "Publish basket" function for Sales Agents. Agents will need a way to prepare and "publish" a shopping basket. Such "public basket" will then be picked by customers, who will get the products in their own basket. Commission will be awarded to the Agents if customer will buy all the products that were in the original "public" basket.

- Agent prepares a basket with Prod1, Prod2 and Prod3 (quantity 1 for all).
- Agent publishes a link to the basket.
- Customer clicks the link and sees the basket. He likes it, and "takes it" into its own basket. - Three things can happen now:
1- Customer buys the basket straight away. Agent gets the commission calculated on the basket he prepared.
2- Customer adds stuff to the basket, in addition to the original products. Agents get the commission as in case 1.
3- Customer removes one or more of the items that were in the original basket, then he may add something else. Agent does not get a commission.

It's a fairly simple system from a logical perspective, but implementation can become difficult, depending on framework's structure and limitations.

Update 2
I'm still looking around, and I found two more frameworks:

Any opinions about them? Thanks.

share|improve this question
It would be helpful if you touch on the customizations you are planning on making. I also think you are going to have to accept the fact that you are going to have to make a forward investment into hardware to have a successful store with 200k skus. You are going to hit sales targets slower if your site is slow. –  bikedorkseattle Apr 3 '12 at 22:31
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marked as duplicate by John Conde May 27 '12 at 16:45

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I don't mean to be rude, but your constraints are almost impossible to meet, you need a Opensource e-commerce software that:

runs on shared hosting (as i assume since you're not going to start with a VPS) is easy and fast to customize is flexible handle a large e-commerce operation

Every solution will have it's pitfalls, but in my opinion for the size of the e-commerce you are planning Magento would be the best opensource option.

The problem is not so much that magento is slow, but that it is resource intensive , also its not a out of the box solution as it may look like, it will need a lot of configuration, tweaking and it's extremally flexible, but needs a developer with knowledge on the plataform to make use of this flexibility.

Bottom line I don't think you will find any opensource or proprietary solution that meets all your requirements, you'll have to trade something.

once again, not to be rude, it's just my opinion as I've used magento, opencart and prestashop, but I really hope you find your solution :)

share|improve this answer
Thanks for your opinion, it's welcome and I don't think you've been rude. Unfortunately, Magento is definitely out of the game, as the initial costs are way too high: - In terms of resources. A software that demands more and more hardware is extremely poor, no doubt about it. - In terms of knowledge. I can't afford, nor I want to support "elite" developers who are the only ones able to run a system (even worse if they are "academics"). Thank you anyway for your time. :) –  Diego Apr 5 '12 at 16:56
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I am aware of many performance-related issues with Magento, and considering you have 200,000 products I think it is a certainty you would experience them too.

I have played around with OpenCart and, on first impressions, I wouldn't expect it to be fit for purpose for what you want to do.

Have you considered writing your own or employing a developer(s) to do it? What about some Web Agencies that specialise in eCommerce?

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Developing a complete custom system is out of question, not enough time for it (and for sure no budget). Also, I don't have the interest in creating and maintaining it, as it would be a once-off project for a customer and not a product I would be reselling. –  Diego Apr 4 '12 at 13:37
@Diego I think an agency, who may have their own platform, would be the way to go then. As you say, some of the options out there don't suit you for various reasons. –  crmpicco Apr 4 '12 at 13:56
I'd have to check which agencies are available and how much they would charge for everything. I saw that there are many hosted solutions too, but customer has clearly stated that he's not willing to pay a high monthly fee. The budget to put the shop online with the customisation is well below five figures, and it's supposed to include the design. –  Diego Apr 4 '12 at 14:05
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