If you're setting up your site to handle online sales, you could do worse than to use osCommerce. This article explains how to configure the software to get you up and running. It is excerpted from Building Online Stores with osCommerce: Professional Edition, written by David Mercer (PACKT, 2005; ISBN: 1904811140).
Basic configuration of osCommerce - My Store (Page 3 of 4 )
There are a few settings of interest in this section, and they warrant a fair investigation. For the most part, however, it is pretty plain sailing and there isn't too much in here that should cause stress. The first four items in the table—Store Name, Store Owner, E-Mail Address, and E-Mail From—are reasonably straightforward to understand, although there are a few things you might want to consider before writing in your personal details.
The Store Name property will appear in emails sent to the store owner when customers use the ContactUs page on the site. The Store Owner is most likely yourself—if you are developing for someone else, then your employer's name should go in here. Not very exciting stuff, but you will notice that the store owner's name is the name that appears in the To: field of the emails received from customers.
Talking of which, the part worth thinking about here is do you really want all customer queries (complaints, compliments, suggestions, or anything else for that matter) to land up at your personal email? The answer is probably an emphatic "No!" So what do you do? The best way to get around this is to create an E-Mail Address on your site that is used to collect all the customer emails in one place, which you can then peruse at your leisure, or pass off to an employee, or deal with in whatever manner you choose—at least they aren't clogging up your private email inbox.
So, in this instance, it is probably best to ignore the short description of E-Mail Address (The e-mail address of my store owner) given by osCommerce, and enter an address that you have access to but is not necessarily your personal email—in this case, I have used firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to test out this functionality, then you will need to ensure that whatever address you enter is at least valid and can be accessed by you.
The following screenshot shows an email sent from a client (you may remember Janet Doe from an earlier chapter) to the store, and the reply from the store to the customer, shown below it. Take note in particular of the values in all the fields shown:
This brings up an important point, which should be mentioned before we continue:
Just because a configurable property has a given name and description, doesn't mean you have to follow the wording precisely. It is far more important to think about how you want your site to work when filling in values.
Next, the Send Extra Order Email To option allows you to specify who else receives a copy of the order confirmation email sent out whenever a customer completes an order. By default this is only sent to the customer, but you may wish to set up an email address to which these order emails are sent so that you can keep track or maintain copies of orders via email—you don't have to do this; it is quite easy to track orders through the admin tool as well. So, assuming you had the email address email@example.com, you could edit the option to send a duplicate email by typing the following in the textbox presented: Order Email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
At the time of writing, the Use Search-Engine Safe URLs feature was still under development, and should be left as false unless you have a newer version where this is a tried and tested feature. The Store Address and Phone option allows you to enter the details you wish to be made available to customers who are using a check or money order to pay for their goods. Apart from these options, the rest are all pretty self explanatory, and it is really up to the individual to make a decision. The following screenshot shows all the My Store settings for the demo site:
Notice that the Default Search Operator and Show Category Counts options have had their values modified, while the Display Cart After Adding Product has been left as true—these simply reflect my personal preference for how a site should be presented, and I am quite certain that ten different people will have ten different opinions. The rest of these properties are left in your capable hands to decide on.