New Fine Art Shop – Zen to Magento

Some of you will have noticed we have been operating a Fine Art Print Store for a little while.  Our current version is based on the Open Source, osCommerce spin off, Zen-Cart.This is a mature and sophisticated platform and offers a method of integrating with Gallery 2, which we use for our Client Galleries. The shop, in fact, grew almost as a side effect of using Zen as the eCommerce part of our galleries. The integration module eventually proved to cause more problems than it cured and Gallery’s own Checkout plug in (extended by:  Alec Myers) had improved to the point of doing everything we needed for the gallery. So we severed the link between Zen and Gallery each now working entirely independently of each other.

Zen-Cart has grown over many years and is now (V1.38) rather unwieldy and often counterintuitive both for users and administrators. With the promise/threat of a brand new version I started to look at the possibility of improving the user experience making the shop easier and more fun to use. The new version 2 of Zen Cart has some impressive features but it is seriously behind schedule and would likely require a complete fresh start in customizing it.

Then I spotted the new kid on the block, another Open Source e-Commerce solution but this one has been built from the ground up using modern programming concepts (OOP and Zend Framework) and is almost feature complete ‘out-of-the-box’. In fact it has features that even some of the big, expensive, packages lack. The interface from the user and operator’s point of view is clean, simple and fairly logical and intuative. So for the last couple of weeks we have been evaluating and testing this new software. It is fairly demanding of the server and require a few non-standard modules installing. Our hosting provider, Express Hosting UK, have been extremely helpful, indeed I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are reasonably priced and their service is second to non.

So what is this wonder software? It’s called Magento and is reputed to be the fastest growing Open Source e-Commerce solution on the market. With any luck, assuming it tests out OK, we should have it stocked with enough Fine Art prints to roll it out in a couple of weeks.

Keep checking back to see how it is progressing.

Mike

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