Oscommerce Plugins

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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"Plug-ins," in software speak, refer to programs which are launched by browsers, that are utilized to run specific kinds of files. When you download a file for which you don't yet have a plug-in to operate, a little window pops up saying "unknown file type." Plug-ins, then, are tools that are plugged in, or activated, only when needed to run specific programs. RealAudio is one example, as is Shockwave.

Though plug-ins are most commonly needed to run audio and video files, there are other specialized files which use plug-ins too. Adobe's Acrobat reader, for example. In terms of osCommerce, plug-ins are considered add-ons, or modules, that are purchased above and beyond the basic program, to supplement browser capabilities and take advantage of special technologies.

Examples of Plug-Ins

There are a wide variety of osCommerce plug-ins available. Some are designed to enhance the customer's experience; others to improve shop function and management. Some plug-ins are available for free download; others are available only for a fee. Many of the free plug-ins which are available are built by individual hobbyists--most message boards advising downloading these "contributions" at one's own risk. Finding plug-ins from a osCommerce host, or from reliable online osCommerce forums helps reduce risk.

Examples of plug-ins available that improve customer experience would include Back-order customer requests. With this plug-in, a customer could place an order for an item currently out of stock. The customer's credit card is charged only when the item arrives, and is ready for shipment. Another uses "pop-up" coupons, redeemable immediately, to encourage consumers to click through to purchase. Another plug-in can calculate real-time shipping rates based on vendor/buyer locations. Ask your osCommerce web host for more examples, or search around on the Web by visiting osCommerce message boards for leads on the best and brightest of osCommerce plug-ins to enhance your specific business.

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