What exactly is open source? Open source is software that is freely distributed. It also means that you have access to the source code which allows anyone to inspect, modify, and enhance the software.
Open source e-Commerce platforms are a small business owners dream come true. Gone are the days of having to splash hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds to have your very own online store.
In this post, we have listed the top 5 open source e-Commerce platforms in the hope that it makes choosing the best one that will work most effectively for you.
If you’re a fan of WordPress, WooCommerce is a no-brainer. With more than 20 million downloads, WooCommerce is by far the most popular e-commerce plugin around, powering over 28% of all online stores. If you have used WordPress before, you’ll find it really easy to install and get your shop running quickly.
- It offers hundreds of plugins and themes (free and commercial).
- There is a large and active community forum for help.
- One click integration with WordPress.
- It’s relatively easy to scale.
- It’s very easy to use.
- No need to have a separate blog.
- It is built to only work with WordPress.
- You may need to add various plugins which may result in having a slow website. We recommend you seek a well optimised WordPress hosting service to avoid this.
OpenCart is the perfect choice for a small business. If you’re one of those people who panic at the word “tech support”, this may be the solution for you. If you’re really looking for a simple solution that is easy to set up, this is it.
- It’s really simple to get up and running.
- It doesn’t require much technical know-how.
- It runs quickly, your server will love it.
- Large selection of free and commercial themes and modules available.
- It heavily depends on third-party modules, which can create conflicts at times.
- You may need to hire a developer to install or modify certain modules.
- It has basic features. It has fallen behind compared to other platforms.
#3: Magento Community Edition
Magento is used by the big boys. Companies such as Samsung, Nike, Coca-Cola, Burger King splash out an enormous amount: $16,000 per year to use their Enterprise Edition.
Magento’s Community Edition is free and has loads of features, and used by thousands of customers.
- It has the ability to manage multiple stores.
- It includes support for multiple languages.
- It has a host of additional plugins and extensions created by the community.
- It offers extreme scalability and flexibility.
- Magento doesn’t offer any technical support for the community edition, meaning you’ll need to sort out problems on your own or by hiring Magento experts.
- You may need some advanced technical ability. If that scares you, you may want someone to help you.
osCommerce is the perfect choice if you’re looking for something simple to get you off the ground. It is one of the old dogs and yet still has a lot to offer. osCommerce is like the veteran on a football team. Maybe not quite as flashy as the others, but still a great option.
- It’s relatively simple to use, meaning it’s relatively easy to get up and running.
- There are a variety of plugins available, allowing you to customize your e-commerce store.
- There’s a large support community.
- It’s older, meaning it doesn’t have as many options as the newer platforms.
- You’ll probably need help from a developer if you want to really customize your store.
PrestaShop is a PHP-based platform based on the Smarty engine, and it comes with loads of integrated features. If that sounds like gibberish to you, don’t worry. It’s easy to download and install, allowing you to get your ecommerce store up and running quickly. It’s also widely used, allowing you to have confidence that it’s trusted by lots of people.
- It has thousands of modules and templates to add on to the core functionality.
- It allows for cross-selling.
- It allows you to sell downloadable products (think digital books, music, etc.)
- It supports one-page checkout.
- It supports shipping discounts.
- It offers full backend support to allow you to manage inventory, shipping, customers, etc.
- You can’t do a lot of customisation with PrestaShop. If you want to customize every little feature, you may want to look elsewhere.
- You’ll need to either purchase add-ons or hire a developer to do any custom work in your shop.
So what platform will work best for you?
You have a multitude of choices when it comes to free, open source e-commerce platforms. So how do you choose the right one?
When deciding, ask yourself these 5 questions:
- Am I willing to pay for additional extensions?
- How much technical work am I willing to do?
- Do I want it to be specific to a platform like WordPress?
- How many features do I want?
- Do I need a big support community?
By answering these questions, you can significantly narrow down your choices. Once you’ve done that, take a bit of time to do some research and read user reviews.