Ecommerce Spot

What database do I need for my shopping cart software?

What database do I need for my shopping cart software?

Almost all shopping carts use a shopping cart database to store their information in. This allows them to easily manage & update all the aspects of your shopping cart such as products, customer reviews, customer information, sales history, stock levels, etc. Without a database managing all the pages in a typical shopping cart would be a nightmare. Databases use a language called SQL which allow you to program questions like "show me all products which cost more than $50 which are available in red". Fortunately you don't need to know how databases work to get the advantages of having one.

...you don't need to know how databases work to get the advantages of having one
The most popular databases are listed below, this list covers almost all shopping carts.
  • MySQL. This is the most popular. It's a fast fairly powerful database with excellent integration with PHP. Being free probably helps its popularity! It's a good all round choice. osCommerce is an example of a popular shopping cart that uses MySQL.
  • Access. This is the popular Microsoft database that some people may have installed on their computers. The advantage of access is that it's very easy to deploy & to use. The downside is that if you are expecting a lot of visitors to your shopping cart (thousands a day) it might not handle it so well. A good database for small to medium size sites. Magic Way Shopping Cart uses access.
  • SQL Server. This is Microsoft's high end database, used to power some of the busiest websites in the world. There's no doubt this can handle your traffic, and its feature set is excellent. SQL Server can be pricey so web hosts offering SQL Server will often charge a premium of $10 - $20 a month or more, although some good deals can be had. It's a good choice for heavy duty web sites. ShopDotNet uses SQL Server.
So what's the right database for you? The chances are it won't make much difference unless you are expecting a lot of visitors. If you are committed to a particular web host, check which databases they support as that might restrict your options.

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