An online presence where your products or services can be purchased is tantamount to success in modern business. For small businesses, especially those with very little extraneous budget, getting a solid e-commerce solution isn’t always in the cards, but that doesn’t have to be the case. With existing hardware and a LAMP (or WAMP) server, you can enjoy one of the more powerful shopping cart tools available.

TomatoCart is an open source shopping cart solution branched from osCommerce 3 that offers these features:

  • RIA-based admin panel
  • SEO ready
  • Web Analytics (Piwik)
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in CMS
  • Built-in email system
  • Site management
  • Catalog/product management and browsing
  • Customer/order management
  • Payment (gateways include: Amazon IPN, credit card/eCheck, Bank Wire, Google Checkout, iDEAL, PayPal, Safepay, Western Union, and much more)
  • Shipping
  • Stats and reports
  • Promotion tools

System requirements

  • Linux or Windows OS
  • PHP v5.2.0+(with MySQLi extension)
  • MySQL v5.0.7+
  • Ext JS 2.2.1

Installing TomatoCart

The installation for TomatoCart is fairly straightforward. It is primarily a web-based installation, but there are a few steps to prepare before you point your web browser to the install.vI will be installing TomatoCart on a Ubuntu LAMP server (the installation instructions will need to be modified for installing on a WAMP server).

The first step in the preparation is to create a MySQL database. I want to make this installation as painless as possible, so I prefer to use a tool like MySQL Workbench for this task. With that tool, create a database called tomcart using the utf8 – default collation.

With the database created, you need to create the folder to house the application. I created the folder /var/www/TOMCART. You can name that folder whatever you like, but for the purpose of this installation, I’ll stick with TOMCART. Create the folder with the command sudo mkdir /var/www/TOMCART.

Once the folder is created, give it the correct permissions with the command sudo chmod ugo+w -R /var/www/TOMCART. This command should take care of all the necessary file permissions.

Next, the curl extension for PHP will need to be instaled (if not already). To install that, issue the command sudo apt-get install php5-curl.

Finally, download TomatoCart (click the Download It Now link to make sure to get the latest stable version). Move that .zip file into /var/www/TOMCART and unzip the archive with the command sudo unzip /var/www/TOMCART/ (XXX is the release number). That command will explode the archive into the TOMCAT directory.

Now that the preparations are complete it’s time to start the web-based installation. For this, fire up a web browser and point it to http://ADDRESS_OF_SERVER/TOMCART. You will be greeted by the TomatoCart installation welcome screen, where you’ll see the EULA. Scroll down and click the Continue button.

The next window (Figure A) shows that the system will automatically check to make sure you meet all of the requirements. If anything is listed as unmet (with a red icon), resolve that issue, and click the Retry button. If all of the items in the pre-installation check are green, click the Next button.
Figure A

TomatoCart’s Pre-installation Check (Click the image to enlarge.)

The next screen (Figure B) is the Database Server Setup. Enter the details of your database and click Continue. (At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the database table prefix — leave it as default.)
Figure B

TomatoCart’s Database Server Setup (Click the image to enlarge.)

It’s time to set up your web server. The TomatoCart installer should pick up your settings by default (Figure C). Click Continue once these settings meet your approval. (If you make any changes here, you have to readjust permissions in any folder used outside the installation.)
Figure C

TomatoCart’s Web Server screen (Click the image to enlarge.)

The final setup page (Figure D) requires you to configure the basic information for your store. I highly recommend including the sample data for your installation; this will make it easier for you to start adding products. After this is complete, click Continue.
Figure D

The final setup for your shopping cart. (Click the image to enlarge.)

On the next screen where you can select either the Catalog or the Administration tool, click the Administration tool button. You will find yourself on the admin tool login (Figure E).
Figure E

These credentials were set up in stage five of the installation. (Click the image to enlarge.)

After you authenticate, you will be on the TomatoCart desktop (Figure F). The final setup wizard will ask for these pieces of information:

  • Store Information: Name, tax decimal, time zone, invoice start number, physical address
  • Email Options: Email address/from, send extra orders emails to, transport method, SMTP hose/port/username/password, send emails
  • Shipping/Packaging: Country of origin, postal code, maximum weight you will ship, package tare weight, larger packages percentage increase, default shipping unit

Figure F

You get an entire desktop at your disposal. (Click the image to enlarge.)

After you provide all of the information requested in the final install wizard, you can start creating products. We’ll go through the process of product creation and management in the next TR Dojo post. Until then, happy Tomato’ing!