As eCommerce is thriving today with new online shopping website starting everyday, there have emerged multiple options to help create an online shop, support with different functionality and add-ons/plug-ins have been developed to make the whole eCommerce site-building easy and comprehensive.
Out of thousands of such solutions, some of them have been successful to win the hearts of thousands in the eCommerce community. They are popular because of their low cost, rich functionality, active large community (constantly developing plug-ins and add-ons and such features) and such other facilities provided to make the eCommerce segment as feasible as it could get even for the least tech-savvy person. Thanks to such developments, people totally unconnected with IT field are able to start their own online shops – obviously, with basic functionality if they don’t hire the professionals. But, point is, they can do it on their own now.
Here, we have gathered a list of top 5 open source eCommerce solutions which seems to be the best options for online shopping website owners. If you are an eCommerce website owner, possibilities are, you are already using one or more of them. But, still take a look and compare them to find out the most befit solution according to your business in every term.
Magento is the most popular and famous eCommerce solution which you would definitely come across during your search. It enjoys the similar status in eCommerce websites to WordPress in normal websites. Magento is purchased by the eCommerce giant eBay and is being developed further and marketed heavily for people to use it.
We can easily put our trust into it as eBay being an eCommerce business itself would find out the best comprehensive solutions for the eCommerce businesses. Not only it would boost up the quality of Magento but also eBay itself would require such frequent, constant upgrades to compete in market successfully. We can get sure of team Magento’s genuine commitment and the will to develop in right direction.
The product itself has also nicely grown over the year to serve according to the eCommerce needs. After its initial establishment in 2008 as ‘Bento’, it has seen many changes, customization and vast upgrades to keep up with the rapidly changing needs of the market. Around 200,000 eCommerce business owners have put their trust into the brand with worth of $25 billion plus transactions a year.
- Creation and management of multiple stores
- Attributes based product definitions
- Guided/filtered/ layered navigation in category and search pages
- Configurable search with auto-suggestion
- Multi-tier pricing
- Web Services API, can be used for integration with 3rd party software
- Integrated with Google analytic
- Admin Dashboard for report overview
- Multilingual support
Though, to gauge the software’s capability to suffice your needs, you will need to understand the good and the bad factors of Magento itself. Here, we have gathered some bullets to understand Magento’s real-life output.
- Comprising more features into its free version than other similar options. For instance, Supporting multiple languages, multiple currencies, mobile friendly and capability to support multiple store-fronts
- One free version is available – called ‘Community version’
- Rich ecosystem – many developers/users have created numerous add-ons, plug-ins to choose from
- User-friendly interface with simplicity in mind
- Significantly flexible and scalable
- Hard to find Magento developers
- Costly if you are running a good business – though, the Community version is free, other options for large business are costly. For instance, the Enterprise version starts around $15,000/year and ‘Premium’ Enterprise version costs you no less than $50,000
- It generally needs specialized hosting on dedicated servers. Shared hosting will negatively affect on the website’s smooth experience
Choose Magento if you are sure for your business to expand to large scale in near time or are already running one, Magento is the best option. If your business is limited to local sells or you are tight on budget, there are other nice options available for small-scaled online businesses with enough customization, add-ons and flexibility.
First two letters ‘os’ stand for ‘Open Source’ and commerce, obviously, stands of eCommerce.
As the official website stats, the developers of the product are purely geeks and such developers gives the attention to the functionality and working sides of the software over the commercial or fame-related success. Genuine geeks, generally, are crazy after making the product better.
We can see that in their final product. osCommerce has came out an all-inclusive product with enough community backup and add-ons (around 7000).
osCommerce is 14 years old. Though, statistically it lags far behind Magento, but for beginners and low budgeted entrepreneurs, this is one of the best option.
- Compatible with all PHP 4 versions
- All features enabled by default for a full out-of-the-box solution
- Object oriented back-end
- Multilingual support
- Easy integration, changes and support for dynamic images
- Numerous offline payment processing
- Flexible tax implementation on a state and country basis
- Weight, price and destination based shipping modules
- Orders stored in the database for fast and efficient retrieval
Though, just like every other software else, it would come with some good and bad factors:
- It’s Free: the biggest pro. It comes with two versions, ‘stable’ and ‘in development’.
- Also, all the add-ons are free
- It’s template based
- New versions has automatic browser based installation and upgrade procedure
- Customization requires deep programming knowledge with higher learning curve
- Vulnerable towards hackers
- No technical support
Prestashop is another major eCommerce solution similar to Magento. As of now, around 165,000 online shops are using its open-source, free service.
Prestashop started in 2007. Since then, it has won the title of Best Open-source Business Application award in 2010 and 2011. As of today, PrestaShop supports popular gateways such as DirecPay, Google Checkout, Skrill and PayPal, etc. It shows its trustworthiness in the market.
It’s written in PHP and has around 600,000 active members in its rich community.
- Unlimited product inventory management
- Layered navigation
- Fully customizable templates
- Promotion rules
- Multi-store management
- Unlimited currency support
- Return management
- Features regarding to Search Engine Optimization
- New Modules API
- Improved After-sales services
PrestaShop could be said as similarly popular or competing with Magento in terms of feature range and its reach into the global market. And similarly, has pros and cons.
- Flexible administration panel
- Being a light-weight software, it gives its share of improving the site-speed
- Over 63 languages are supported
- Powerful security measures
- Mass inventory changes enabled
- More suitable for small or medium scale business
- Some important add-ons are to be purchased
- Complicated programming
- No export tool
OpenCart is another powerful open source eCommerce solution with similar functionality and features like other carts. Though, a thing or two could differ in operating style or some unique features could be there. But, everything else at operating, you will find it easily manageable and useful.
- Unlimited categories, products and manufacturers
- Multi-languages, multi-currency support
- Product reviews and ratings
- PCI compliant
- Unlimited Module Instance System
- Error Logging
- Multiple Tax Rates
- Appealing Interface
- Large number of extensions and plug-ins to choose from
- Tools available for backup and restore
- MVC and XHTML
- Efficient for server resources
- Occasional errors with updates and plug-ins
- Large code file size of the basic unoptimized version
- Though, feature-rich, some functionality are still missing
WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress based websites. Any WP based website needing to transform itself into an eCommerce website, could use this plugin.
Although, nothing can beat the dedicated eCommerce platforms like Magento or Prestashop or Shopify, WooCommerce could be extremely easy, useful and kind of a boon for the business owners who are familiar with the functionality of WordPress and are reluctant to learn Magento or other eCommerce platforms.
Being an extension to WordPress, WooCommerce pays pretty useful functionality establishing itself as a serious contender for other dedicated eCommerce platforms in the future. Around 171,000 online retailers have already installed it.
- Multi-download support for digital products
- Real-time Checkout validation
- CSS overhaul
- Inline star rating display
- Cache friendly cart widgets
- Huge Flexibility
- Great integration with WordPress
- Familiarity of longtime WordPress users
- Vast Customization option
- Big Community
- Benefits of WooThemes
- Top Notch security features
- Not a dedicated eCommerce platform
- Cost of extensions and extra features could add up
- No technical support for free version
- Slower store page load
- Supports only PayPal and offline payments
- Somewhat complex
Each of the listed solution is good or bad in one area or another. You are required to evaluate the options according to you needs. If you are a new player with limited budget, go for the solution which is free and still provides enough features to run your initial business easily. If you are bigger player with enough budget and very serious goal to grow into Goliath-sized business, go for the option which provides all-round services keeping the future needs in mind (not necessarily the priciest ones). We have just represented you the different ways. You are the one to decide what you will need.
If the decision is tough, you always have the option of the professional help – both free and paid – available.