The Best Free Open Source E-Commerce Platforms

When choosing an open source e-commerce platform you will be bombarded with many different packages and options available. You will most likely get a lot of conflicting information and people will tell you one is better than the other. In this article we will look at the top 6 e-commerce solutions for your website. Some platforms that are good for one site, may not be so good for another, so it can be very difficult finding the perfect solution.

Each platform has its own set of pros and cons as they have been built and designed from different perspectives, with different users in mind. Creating a shop, uploading and tweaking an online shop can take a lot of time, so it is essential that you at least try a few different platforms before making your final decision.

1. Magento

Magento e-commerce

Magento is by far the most versatile and “heavy weight” e-commerce platform of them all. You have only got to look at Magento’s clients to see they are a big player. Companies such as: Nike, Lindt, Olympus and OfficeMax use Magento to power their online stores. Magento is used by over 30,000 online merchants and is the world’s fastest growing e-commerce platform. The Community Edition is free, but is only advised to be used by developers. The Enterprise Edition is extremely powerful and is jam-packed full of useful and amazing features, but this can be expensive. If you are not a developer, your best bet is to pay a web developer to build a shop using the Community Edition.

5. PrestaShop

prestashop

Powering over 150,000 online shops, PrestaShop is a fast growing free open source e-commerce solution. With 310+ features and over 2,500 modules and templates, PrestaShop is suitable for either big or small e-commerce websites. PrestaShop is proud of its powerful and easy-to-use product management, site management, product displays, and client accounts. PrestaShop also comes with powerful Analytics and Reporting features that goes side by side with marketing and SEO capabilities. Plus, you can easily reach customer support when you need help to resolve issues.

One thing to note is we have heard reports of people running into problems and needing coding experience to fix them. To sum up, we found PrestaShop to be a great e-commerce solution and we definitely recommend trying. Easy to set up, easy to use and lots of functionality.

3. osCommerce

osCommerce e-commerce

osCommerce is one of the older players in the e-commerce game and has proven to be a very popular choice for people looking to set up their shops online powering over 228,700 online stores. The set-up and running of an osCommerce store is incredibly easy and with all of the themes and plugins out there, it enables non-developers to set up a shop with little or no help. Although this can be a drawback, as it is hard to differentiate your site from others using the same theme.

osCommerce has also been known to have coding vulnerabilities and there has been many reports of stores being hacked.

4. OpenCart

opencart e-commerce

OpenCart is a very scalable, powerful e-commerce platform that can power an online shop of any size. You can create an unlimited number of categories, sell an unlimited number of products, accept multiple currencies, use multiple languages, choose from over 20 payment and 8 shipping methods. OpenCart is also know to be very search engine friendly so requires less work to achieve a good ranking in the search engines. One drawback to OpenCart is that it’s lesser know than other e-commerce platforms, therefore documentation and help may be hard to come by.

5. Zen Cart

Zen Cart is very easy to install, customise and manage which makes it the perfect choice for less technically minded people who want a simple e-commerce solution. Zen Cart contains handy features such as newsletter manager, discount coupons, gift certificates. There are many handy addons available to build and expand your shop and admin area, although too many can make the UI a little cluttered.

If you are looking for a basic store and aren’t fussed about the look and setup, or you are good with PHP Zen Cart could be a good choice for you.

WordPress

I know what your’re thinking, isn’t WordPress a blogging platform? Well, that is what it was initially created for, but has since turned into an extremely powerful and customisable CMS system with a vast range of plugins that can turn your site into an online shop. WordPress is the perfect e-commerce solution for anyone with little or no coding or technical knowledge. Basically my nan could set up a WordPress site with e-commerce plugin.

6. WP E-commerce for WordPress

WP E-commerce is very easy to install, only taking about five minutes. Adding products is very easy too and there is also a CSV importer included if you have lots products to add. Much like the other e-commerce platforms above, there are loads of great addons available to give your shop even more functionality. WP E-commerce also supports quite a few payment gateways, and even more if you purchase the “Gold Plugin”. So in conclusion, this plugin does have most of the functionality of a fully fledged e-commerce system and is great if your are a beginner looking for a simple and easy to set-up online shop. But if you need something with some power, you may need to look towards a non-Wordpress solution.

7. WooCommerce for WordPress

WooCommerce is a derivative of JigoShop, another WordPress e-commerce plugin. WooCommerce has many similarities with WP E-commerce but there are also quite a few differences. One of them being WooCommerce doesnt work with many themes, so if you have little coding knowledge it may be hard for you to customise your online shop. Also the shipping options are very limited compared to WP E-commerce.

WooCommerce’s back-end and front-end interfaces are very nice, with a smooth easy to use system. From a store owner’s perspective, an interface that’s easy for customers to use is likely to lead to more sales.

The best thing to do would be to try both WooCommerce and WP E-commerce to see which solution works best for you and your site.

Summary

To summarise, there are lots of different e-commerce solutions out there, all with different features, pros and cons. The best thing to do before making a final decision is to research and try a few. If you have had any experiences with these or any other e-commerce platforms, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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