Whether you are about to open your first online shop or you are considering changing the ecommerce platform you are currently using, you will find all the information you need below.
We look at the 15 most popular eCommerce platforms, breaking each one down into its respective pros and cons. There is a wide choice available, so it is vital that you do your research before choosing which one is right for you. Most share a basic set of functions, but offer a couple of unique features on top.
As well as offering a diverse range of features, ecommerce platforms are offered for a diverse range of prices. Many are free, while others can cost tens of thousands per year. Very generally speaking, those which you have to pay for not only offer the best support, they require the least programming knowledge to install and run.
Look at the 15 below and select the one that is right for you, your business and your customers. Another great way to build an online shop is using Opencart templates for the popular Opencart e-commerse system – for some reason it did not get included in the list below, but make no mistake themes for Opencart can do a wonderful job!
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1. Magento (free)
With 30,000 merchants using Magento to deal with $25 billion of transactions, it’s the world’s fastest growing ecommerce platform. Built using an open source model, distinguished Magento shop owners include Samsung, Nespresso and The North Face.
Magento comes in two flavours: Enterprise Edition and Community Edition. The Enterprise Edition is packed full of powerful tools to boost sales, including store credits, gift cards (virtual and physical), members only sales, clubs, multi-store capability (retail & wholesale) and top-notch support. The Community Edition, free to download, is for expert developers and comes with no support, warranty or indemnification.
2. osCommerce (free)
Out-of-the-box, osCommerce is more than sufficient for setting up, running and managing an online store quickly, easily and cost-effectively. If you want to distinguish your osCommerce store from the 228,700 others out there, however, you’re going to need one or more of the 5,800 add-ons currently available, some of which you have to pay for.
osCommerce is an excellent piece of software, don’t get me wrong. It’s considered the benchmark to which all other free, open-source ecommerce platforms aspire. Modifying your stores design, however, is not quite as easy as it should be.
3. Zen Cart (free)
Free and straightforward, using Zen Cart falls within the capabilities of almost everyone. Besides the standard features you’d expect, Zen Cart offers a newsletter manager, discount coupons, quantity discounts, gift certificates and the ability to select exactly which cards you accept. There are tons of contributions to the software at your disposal with many from osCommerce preinstalled. This does make the admin interface a little cluttered for my liking though.
4. X-Cart ($115)
X-cart is a commercial package with open-source code, but unlike Magento, it falls within the budget of start-ups as well as established companies. Users get the professional support they’d expect when buying a three-figure piece of software as well as community support in X-Cart’s forums.
X-Cart is fast, W3C-compliant and search engine friendly. It uses the Smarty template system, which many programmers enjoy working with. On the flipside, although it’s cheap, you’re probably going to have to fork out for a few add-ons, which cost anywhere from $35 to $109 a piece. Technical support isn’t free either.
5. CubeCart (free)
CubeCart 3, the standard edition, is completely free to download and use. It comes complete with three different skins, customer order history, unlimited products, categories and images, multi-currency support, and product search. CubeCart 4, which costs over $100, comes with enhanced SEO, visitor skin selector, courier tracking URL, superior product search, and the ability to add and edit orders from the back-end.
Both integrate well with any site and are suitable for those already selling online or preparing to open a shop. If you’re not familiar with PHP and MySQL, however, you might find setting up CubeCart on your own quite a challenge.
6. VirtueMart (free)
VirtueMart can’t operate alone: it’s an ecommerce solution designed to be used alongside the Joomla! CMS (content management system). In terms of a cart, it offers the complete package and it’s great from the shoppers’ point of view. Shoppers can register for an account, add addresses and view their order history with a minimum of fuss.
VirtueMart supports multiple languages and currencies and you can add an unlimited number of products and product categories. Your products are searchable and can be rated by users. Despite its obvious strengths, it does have some minor weaknesses, including a somewhat poorly structured forum and some messy code here and there.
7. Ubercart (free)
Like VirtueMart, Ubercart must be integrated with a CMS, in this case, Drupal. As well as physical products, Ubercart specializes in the sale of file downloads, event registrations, access to members only websites and even event tickets.
There are loads of modules and themes for you to download and customize your shop with and numerous payment gateways to choose from. If you’re a Drupal user, Ubercart is likely to be the best option for you, but if you’ve never used Drupal before, you might find it rather confusing to get your head round at first.
8. PrestaShop (free)
Around 100.000 stores are currently doing business thanks to PrestaShop, which was launched in August 2007. It uses the popular Smarty template engine, combined with an Ajax heavy back-end. PrestaShop offers, amongst other things, “free shipping” offers, product image zoom, package tracking, PDF customer invoices and cross-selling.
The best thing about PrestaShop, however, is that it’s very attractive. Users can create stores that are slick and polished and it’s got a very active community for online support. Its major weakness is its speed: the backend is very slow to manage and maintain.
9. LiteCommerce ($109)
LiteCommerce is a commercial platform which anybody can manage, but you have to pay for this simplicity. It’s basically a slimmed down version of the popular X-Cart, with a Quick Start Wizard which guides you carefully through everything you need to do to get your shop up and running.
Installation is easy and set-up very logical. You can tweak your shop’s appearance through the admin interface or edit store templates in DreamWeaver etc. Expert users, however, might find some unique features of other platforms lacking here.
10. Spree (free)
Spree, an ecommerce platform based on Ruby on Rails, is constantly growing and improving thanks to its active development team. There are loads of great extensions on offer which you can use to tailor your site to your specific needs.
Spree lets you modify shipping, tax, discounts and coupons to suit your customers, who will themselves be more than satisfied with the single page checkout. It’s search engine friendly and has Google Analytics built in. It’s ideal for small and medium enterprises, but not the best choice for sites receiving the very highest levels of traffic.
11. Avactis (free basic version, otherwise $19.95 per month or $199)
Avactis, available as a free version or for a fee, integrates seamlessly with your existing website. Its web based help manual, video tutorials and setup wizard are sufficient for most people to install and manage without the help of expert developers. Advanced features include newsletter management, marketing and sales reports which you can export to Excel, multiple storefronts, numerous payment methods including Maestro, the ability to export accounting data to QuickBooks and support for tax systems around the world.
To make the most of every feature out-of-the-box, you’re going to have to pay $19.95 per month or a one-off payment of $199, which seems reasonable. There are additional charges, however, for hosting your cart, support, updates and installation (if you can’t do that yourself). The shopper experience is smooth, but a little drawn out, as customers must navigate through various pages before paying for their goods.
12. AgoraCart (free)
AgoraCart is not as popular as some of the other platforms reviewed here and we’re not quite sure why. It’s flexible and fully customisable, great for setting up simple stores or complex design concepts. Insofar as design goes, you can choose from one of the templates on offer or design your own using CSS. Layouts and product categories can be tweaked to your heart’s content. In some ways, AgoraCart seems to have been left behind by some of the newer PHP based platforms, so is perhaps best suited to hobbyist coders.
13. WordPress e-Commerce Plugin (free)
Many people forget that WordPress can be used as a CMS to run an ecommerce shop, provided you have the right plugins that is. WordPress e-Commerce Plugin is by far the most popular plugin of this type available, having been downloaded over half a million times (at time of writing). Also it works well with many WordPress ecommerce website templates and they make it easy to create an impressive shop online fast.
It does pretty much everything you’d expect from any other ecommerce platform, letting you customise your shop to suit your brand image. It’s integrated with PayPal and Google Checkout, which the vast majority of your customers will be familiar with. The downside: it lacks the functionality of some other ecommerce platforms and, of course, is only available to WordPress users.
14. OXID eShop (free)
Like Magento and CubeCart, there is more than one type of OXID eShop available. The Enterprise Edition and Professional Edition cost money, but the open source Community Edition is completely free.
This Community Edition comes with no support (other than from the community) or warranty, but otherwise offers exactly the same features as the Professional Edition. It has an integrated CMS, powerful SEO, clean code and is relatively easy to install for developers.
15. Digistore (free)
Digistore’s based on osCommerce, so will be instantly recognisable to anyone who’s ever used that ubiquitous ecommerce platform. It’s a full CMS, very quick and easy to install and can be operated by people with little or no coding knowledge. There are a number of free templates available to use, but if you like, you can buy a sleeker template or even have your own personal one created for a small fee. You can manager and alter colours, site width, layout and template from within the admin area and even run multiple adverts to promote your products.
Need more information like this?
E-commerce is a hot and interesting topic. Here at tripwire magazine we have decided to dedicate some of our time on covering trends, best practice etc. related to all aspects of doing business and selling products online. If you find this article useful and would like get more I highly recommend that you sign op for our new Next Generation E-commerce List. We are planning on providing valuable content to the list directly and exclusively so make sure you fill in your name and email below before browsing on.
Also consider taking a look at these articles.
- 14 Plugins to Extend WordPress for Making Money – Anyone trying to sell stuff online need to consider WordPress – unless of cause you’re planning to build a huge webshop with thousands of products. In that case pure play e-commerce suites may be a better choice. Let take look at how you can turn WordPress into a shop, auction or membersite.
- Showcase and Tips: How to Create Effective Landing Page Designs – Customers today can pick and choose, compare, analyze etc. your products and services against others making it essential to know your competitors well and more important to get a sale whenever you have the opportunity! This is where Landing Page Design becomes important and rally can make a great difference.
- 20 Excellent Web Site Front Pages Designed for High Conversion! – If your web site front page or landing pages does not convert (visitors take action before leaving the page) you may have lost the money you spent on advertising and the opportunity to get a new customer on board.
- Avoid Common Mistakes of E-Commerce Design and Strategy – So if you decide that you want to do business online – how do you become successful and avoid the typical mistakes and pit falls?
- If you are looking at themes and templates for an e-commerce site I recommend you look here as well – Excellent OpenCart Templates Your Customers Can’t Resist.
Tom works at CartridgeSave.co.uk, a supplier of printer cartridges based in the UK. Click here to read more of his work.
I am an experienced user of shopping cart software. I used to have Magento cart. I have two
online stores and I had a person who helped me to set up these stores. Now I use the AbanteCart and I manage all my stores myself! Everything work well!
Thanks for sharing such a crispy comparison. I would like to go with Magento. It has so many features and the number of users getting increased day by day. It the great witness that most of the ecommerce industry is preferring to move with Magento as it has loads of features. If there is no possibility to go with Magento I would rather choose osCommerce.
Checking out Spree now and as am more interested in knowing how easy to use is the CMS like how user friendly
I’m using Spree Commerce. Spree is an awesome 100% open source e-?commerce platform powered by Ruby on Rails that provides a lot of features out of the box: Product management, order management, shipping and gateway configuration. Like RefineryCMS, it is a flexible and highly customizable platform that will do what you need.
I would be interested in knowing your experiences with magento being very slow to load. The author mentioned this about prestashop being slow at the backend but didn’t speak about this for magento
A very comprehensive and nice article . I think you’ve covered most of the good ones. Another one is Sunshop which is from Turnkeywebtools. Now its 2013 and the major update here is that some of these open source ones are moving to the cloud such as both magento and x-cart. And the fight for supremacy appears to be between open cart, prestashop and magento. Lets see who wins.
There are Many available in Market but i like X-Cart because X-cart performance is one of the most important parts for a successful ecommerce site. It allows producing web income for ecommerce websites.
EasyStoreHosting is best Online E-Commerce Store creation software.
I have tried it, and its genuinely works.
The best thing is that provide “technical support service” free of cost.
So you have to do anything by yourself, just shoot a mail to them, they will do it for you.
The open source means free and when it’s free people always doubt for its quality. But, here it is all about a cart. I compare a cart to the heart of a Man. As human can not live without heart, an Ecommerce Store can’t run without a Shopping Cart . If I understand correctly, then discussed here are all the platforms offering the cart to improvise the performance of your shopping store. It’s an initial requirement of having a SEO friendly shopping cart followed by the features required to enhance it. Like Cross Selling, this is a feature that increases… Read more »
If your looking for an easy to use cart then OpenCart is one of the best free ones and here at http://www.EvoCart.co.uk we provide ongoing help and support for a low monthly fee.
Yep, there are lots of them, I have been using many of them. Canistro is a personal e-commerce for individuals it is free and better than that it is open source. You can also send requests with requirements for the team to so they can consider the implementation.
Bigfish is a open source Java based platform which extends OFBiz.
Bigfish was put into open-source community last year (much after this article was written).
I am sure this framework will be make it on top of the list.
Great comments and feedback – unfortunately there no clear winner. I am leaning towards prestashop or opencart. Main goal is that i am looking for a free os ecom program that has the ability and would allow batch and or bulk import of inventory from an excel file. Can anyone confirm either of these two do – and if it is easy?
AbanteCart is very interesting project to check. I like it for many features and cool UI.
So many project and yet is is imposible to pick a leader and best solution. I can say that Magento is slipped out project, but is the good? Relative. To make a decision on right platform, you need to spend time.
Well written and unbiased article with an excellent choise of participants. Thank you!
Magento Community Edition, is free but you have to figure it out how to install it , customize it , etc.
There are tons of tutorials out there 🙂
Great, post, I’m doing a comparison on e-commerce platforms but seeing how they each meet the needs of wholesalers and this listing was helpful, thank you.
I am a huge X-Cart fan but have a hard time figuring out what the future will bring regarding updates and new versions, unclear to say the least :-/
I agree with Harold. Not all of these are open source nor free. If you say they are open source then you should be able to find a free one and you should be able to get your hands on the source so you can customize it.
Why do they say these web sites are FREE when they are not? Can someone let me know is there really is a FREE web page that is easy to use? Any help would be appreciated.
Anyone have any suggestions for an ecommerce solution that does not require a database for inventory? I’m presently running a cart that feeds the item details to the shopping cart from any web page (no templates needed) and I need to upgrade to something that has a newer back end that supports more gateways and security.
Your comment is awaiting moderation. (sorry for the double post but I missed checking off the email follow up on the first one. You can remove the first one. Thank you, Sandy Hi all: Thanks very much for the article. Very informative. I am looking producing an ecommerce website myself to market a meal replacement shake for a direct marketing company I have recently become involved with. I am an charted accountant and have experience customizing excel spreadsheets that I use daily at work, but I have no previous web building experience. I would only be listing aprox 15 different… Read more »
Sandy you should consider checking out WordPress. For simple online shops it is excellent. There are many themes as well making it easy to get started. https://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2011/03/30-best-wordpress-e-commerce-themes.html
Hey there, I want to ask how do you feel about OpenCart? I heard that it has a better security than osCommerce. ..
First of all, great review. Can any one recommend a very flexible and expandable free OS e commerce for us out of all since we have complex retail product and categories. thank you
Thanks for this thorough comparison. I have come to love OSCommerce because it’s easy to use and customize. I would want to try Magento in the future though.
[…] Here there is a magnificient work listing all main ones written by Tom Walker in Tripwire Magazine […]
The best e-commerce platform on this planet is nopCommerce “this is best rated .net eCommerce platform” did you ever hear about it? or all of you are using this stupid carts on which you can’t make any changes in the code or whatever add custom plugins or easily create design manage seo etc…..
15 Open Source eCommerce Platforms
[…] 15 Open Source eCommerce Platforms […]
open cart is the best 🙂
wait the new release in agustus its more than a online store
Zen cart is not bad at all. But still megento is good for any comparisions.
You have missed off htpp://www.osCmax.com/
Active development, friendly forums, good functionality list, new v2.5 version to be released shortly.
Take a look – truely open source unlike quite a few listed here as “Free”.
Thanks for the tip Giles, gonna check it out
Is there a (fully free) list of top appointment scheduling open source in php and mysql? (i.e used for salons and doctors rooms)
Thank you so much, thanks to you we found Presta Shop. Does everything we need and more.
I have a designer thinking about using wordpress for ecommerce. This article mentions that there is a downside – “The downside: it lacks the functionality of some other ecommerce platforms…and, of course, is only available to wordpress users”
What functionality is it missing? Also do you have to pay to be a “wordpress user?”
Also once you use wordpress for the backend – is it easy to upgrade to a different system later? like magento?
yogi, You have quite a few central questions here. First of all I think it important to be clear on your requirements. If you are building a full size online shop I think you should go for a dedicated ecommerce platform and then consider using WordPress for a blog or product website to drive traffic to your shop. However if you’re going to sell a few information products like e-books I believe the shop plugins for WordPress has a good enough quality and your solution will be much simpler. Check out this post: https://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2010/07/18-wordpress-money-making-plugins-and-themes.html
[…] Laila Takeh, Magento is a great one to.You can make you own choices while consulting this site : https://www.tripwiremagazine.com/…Insert a dynamic date here BIU @ Edit Link Text […]
this is a great artcle, I have been considering to change the platform of our business and this is just great. I should have done my homework earlier.
In my opinion, this website has good information for anyone searching this topic. The info you have here can be used by everyone that doesn’t know about this.
Great list. While these are all open source packages one must install and customize, a smarter way to go is to use a hosted ecommerce platform like http://www.solidshops.com.
Very important post.All of these source of e-commerce site was helpful for me.
Thanks for providing such important resource.
[…] svenarsi per acquistare le prestazioni di un professionista del web, dato che sono molte le piattaforme online open source (sono necessarie, però, un minimo di conoscenze informatiche) per chi ha voglia di […]
[…] after we switched everything over to a new company. ah, there's a few good free cart systems 15 Open Source eCommerce Platforms – tripwire magazine but first I guess you just want to get your old site up and running some place. Have you gotten […]
Why is OFBiz missing here ??
[…] open sources d’e-commerce disponible sur le marché, nous vous invitons à consulter le magazine TripWire et le JournalDuNet. Ceux-ci regorgent d’informations pertinentes pour faire un survol global, mais […]
nice top 😀 10q very much
[…] 15 Open Source eCommerce Platforms – tripwire magazine […]
Which one of these would work if you are thinking of switching over a store with 100K products?
Been doing some research and need some advice.
Unfortunately CubeCart requires you to buy a license key just to be able to remove their copyright notices on your lovely designed web pages!
I think Opencart would have been well worth a mention.
Great solution and a great community behind it too!