which open source shopping cart is best for ecommerce?


Ecommerce has always been a large industry. In fact, in 2014 alone, there were an estimated 15 million online stores and of this, around 650,000 were generating over $1,000 in sales yearly. Giant players in the eCommerce marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay made it possible for these online stores to sell goods and to reach to as many prospective customers as possible. With the growing demand in the industry, eCommerce technology has been constantly evolving – providing more options and ways to sell and market goods online. Customizable and easy to manage platforms such as open source shopping carts started to emerge and become a powerhouse solution in the industry.

With the current market competition, launching an online store for small to medium players has become more and more challenging. The wide selection of eCommerce platforms also adds up to the already challenging task. If you’re just starting out, you’re certainly not exempted to this. Luckily, your business can always move forward from this challenge and do well even before starting your first online store. With this guide, you’ll be able to choose the right open source shopping cart for your online store and move forward with ease and convenience.

Top ecommerce platforms

So Why Open Source Shopping Cart for Ecommerce?

One of the main reasons of the increasing popularity of open source shopping cart in the eCommerce industry is that it allows owners to take full control of the platform, offering a wide variety of available solutions that are easy to manage. This comes with customizable functions that can always be tailored to any online store’s needs. Gone are the days when all you need is a Paypal button in your store checkout. Putting up a more modern online store requires a shopping cart. To make it more appealing to your customers, a customizable shopping cart in your online store is a must. This is made possible with the attractive open source option.

Top Open Source Shopping Cart for Ecommerce

  • Magento is one of the biggest names in eCommerce. If you’re the type of person who wants to immerse into the technical aspect of your online store, you’ll not be disappointed with this platform. The open source version of this platform is the community edition. It is also free. If you’re a developer, this is the right eCommerce platform for you. The platform, however does not include the following so you will have to purchase them separately:
    • Payment processor
    • Domain name

Key features:

  • Manage multiple shops with its available functions.
  • Advance Analytics and Reporting – The code for analytics can be integrated into your Google Analytics to tailor specific and advance reporting.
  • Search Engine Optimization – Top of the notch tools for your SEO needs.
  • Plugins and Extensions – While the open source platform is free, a ton of readily available extensions can be purchased to improve functionality and add more features in your online store.
  • International Support – Customize your online store with available languages and currencies for your international customers. Localization comes easy for purchase and shipping transactions with this key feature in the platform.
  • Huge Collection of Built-in Ecommerce Features – Support multi-site and multi-domain setup for your website stores. But, you need more time to fully grasp the ins and outs of the platform with this huge collection.
  • Modular Architecture – You can take full control of your back-end and front-end systems such as layouts, templates, grids, rewriting codes, event, observer, etc.
  • Expert Consulting Group – If you need more support to maximize your business experience and bring out the best to your website store, Magento offers a paid professional consulting group. Professional trainings are also offered and certifications are given.

The only downside of this platform is also its biggest advantage against other platforms. Because of Magento’s big platform with a huge selection of functions, it is a beast to navigate through. This could mean that you need to be a tech savvy person and spend more time going through all the elements in order to bring the best that this platform has to offer. While it is good to have as many functions as possible, if you’re not up for the task, hiring a developer would be the best option.

Note: Magento uses PHP in its architecture.

Popular Ecommerce Stores that are using Magento:

  • Bonobos – Popular eCommerce store for men’s clothing and accessories.
  • Brewshop – Originally based in New Zealand, this eCommerce store offers a wide variety of home brew beer supplies.
  • HU2 – UK-based eCommerce store that offers a huge collection of design pieces, artistic home decorations, and various handcrafted items.
  • Blik – Los Angeles based design studio and website store that offers artistic interior design such as paintings, wall graphics, pattern wall tiles, clocks, pillows, and many more interior ornamentals.
  • Like Magento, PrestaShop uses PHP in its architecture. This open source shopping cart platform boasts a collection of over 310 integrated features along with over 3,500 templates and modules for your eCommerce needs. This platform has more than 600,000 community members spread across over 63 languages and an estimated 250,000 online stores are using this platform. This open source shopping cart is also free.

Key Features:

  • Ease of Use – Installation and customization are both easy to manage and comes with an intuitive navigation. You can decide how much technical work to put into, either a fully-hosted platform or a self-hosted solution.
  • Marketing – This open source shopping cart also comes with a very useful SEO tool along with other marketing tools to boost the online presence of your eCommerce store.
  • Analytics and Reporting – Understanding how well your eCommerce site is performing is the key to improving your profit. Data on customer engagement, sales tracking, and product performance are among the few that you can expect in the reports.
  • International Support – Comes in many languages. Taxes and localization for your eCommerce store are also included.

The only downside of PrestaShop is its limited customization. If you like tinkering Magento’s overwhelming customization for templates, and graphics, you might not be satisfied with PrestaShop. You will have to separately purchases graphic elements if you want more of PrestaShop.

Popular ECommerce Stores that are using PrestaShop:

  • Zippo – A manufacturing company based in Bradford, Pennsylvania that offers outdoor supplies, knives, lighters, and other gifts and accessories for adventurers.
  • Timefy – Ecommerce store that offers a wide collection of French branded watches and other design and urban watches.
  • Fashion Stork – An eCommerce store for clothing and accessories that offer monthly subscription fees for its customer base.
  • Eleven Paris – A Parisian eCommerce store for prêt-à-porter brands.
  • OpenCart. If you’re just starting out a small eCommerce store and don’t want to get your hands dirty on a lot of technical programming and coding on your website, OpenCart would be the best fit for your needs.

Key Features:

  • Simplicity – Because of its simplicity, the platform won’t drag too much load on your server. If you need a faster shopping cart solution, this feature perfectly fits the bill.
  • Sales Reporting – Includes sales report, product views, and products purchased. Sales report includes daily, weekly and monthly sales.
  • Guest Checkout – Customers do not need to sign-up for an account when making a purchase on your website store.
  • B2B Support – This feature includes organizing your customer groups, prices displays for logged in customers, and quantity discounts. With this feature, you can set a default setting for defining customer groups as either retail or wholesale. You can then set a different price rate for each defined group.
  • View best ecommerce solution

Don’t Forget – Points to Ponder!

While many of the open source shopping cart platforms are not included here, the above three (3) platforms should give you an idea on what particular type of solutions are currently available and what to look for in each platform. Aside from the pile of information mentioned above and to help you narrow down the list, consider the following for your open source shopping cart:

  • Entry Cost – This is a big factor that you must consider if you are just starting out your first eCommerce site – the cost of capital versus the potential return of investment from the available features and functions that are offered by your open source shopping cart platform. You would not want an extensive and fully blown customized eCommerce store if your product inventory is not that much yet.
  • Customization – Consider the investment of time, staff resources, and capital in achieving the optimum customization of your online store. More might not be good for an online store that is just starting out, while a bigger eCommerce store would surely need as many customizations as possible.
  • PA-DSS Compliance – Payment Application Data Security Standard Compliance is a requirement for all eCommerce site. To protect your customer’s sensitive credit card information, choose an open source shopping cart that has complied with the set of regulations and standards to be a PA-DSS certified platform. This does not come cheap for eCommerce platforms. Many free open source shopping cart platforms still do not have this certification so double check your selection.
  • Mobile Management – If you’re always on the go, chances are, you need to check your online store every now and then from a remote connection. You would not want to be tied to a single computer, monitoring your business all day long. Look for an eCommerce solution that provides you with a mobile access to monitor your online store.
  • Cart Abandonment – Almost all online store suffers from this problem every now and then. Open source shopping cart platforms usually include solutions for this type of problem. You don’t want to be missing on an opportunity to increase your profit margin.
  • Sale Limitation – Have you checked if your chosen open source shopping cart offers unlimited sales? If you’re the type of entrepreneur that has big dreams, you would surely want your sales to soar high and increase your profit goal on a daily, weekly monthly, or yearly basis. Problem is, if you reach a certain ceiling point for your sales, some shopping cart would bump you into the next plan tier that requires additional payment.
  • Click and Mortar – If you have both a physical store and an online store, look for a shopping cart that offers integration for you to sell conveniently in both stores. You can check if the open source shopping cart solution offers POS that can be integrated in both stores.Shopify

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