As a small business owner, you will no doubt be looking for ways to increase your revenue. One obvious way is to sell your products and services online. After all; setting up an ecommerce store is a cost-effective way of reaching a wider audience. In effect, you have a shop open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It’s likely that you’ll have given serious thought to setting up an ecommerce store on your site. Trouble is; where do you begin? There are plenty of open-source platforms that you can use. If you’re not sure which one to choose, here’s a brief review of the main players on the market:
One open-source ecommerce platform growing in popularity is OpenCart. Written in the PHP programming language, it’s backed by a loyal and active community.
OpenCart is a scalable ecommerce system that can get installed on most Web hosts. It allows you to add unlimited products and categories. You also have the ability to add static Web pages, such as an “About Us” page for example.
It supports hundreds of payment gateways like PayPal, SagePay and WorldPay. It also provides support for customisable shipping modules. That means it can calculate shipping rates for customer orders on the fly.
A French open-source solution, PrestaShop has been around since 2005. It boasts over 250,000 online stores worldwide and is available in scores of languages. PrestaShop comes with a basic but responsive theme as standard, but it can get changed as needed.
In fact, one can select from over 2,000 different themes! As with OpenCart, PrestaShop is scalable and offers a plethora of card processing modules.
You also have the choice of around 3,500 add-on modules – both free and premium. Using any of those add-ons enables you to build a more bespoke online store.
Although Magento is available as a premium product, there is the free “Community Edition.”
It is just as powerful in features as its bigger brother and gets used on over 250,000 ecommerce sites each day. Because it’s open-source, one can “tweak” the code to integrate it with existing websites. Magento Community Edition is a product that is robust and offers an array of features for small firms.
If you need help using Magento, there is a fantastic online community that can assist you. In fact, chances are you’ll find the answers to your questions in just a few clicks!
One of the oldest and best-used ecommerce platforms is osCommerce. The original project started back in 2000 and has grown in popularity ever since. As it is an established product in the market, support for osCommerce is strong. That means you’re likely to solve any problems sooner rather than later.
osCommerce is both a powerful and flexible ecommerce system. You can customise its look and feel, and you can enhance its features using “extensions.”
The brilliant thing about osCommerce is that many popular extensions are also open-source. There are no limits to the amount of products you can have in any osCommerce-powered store.
If you’ve heard of osCommerce before, it’s likely you’ll have come across Zen Cart too. In fact, Zen Cart is a “fork” of osCommerce. That means it uses some of the underlying code.
One advantage that Zen Cart has over osCommerce is that it is template-based. That means it’s easier to change the look and feel of the store using a ready-made template. Of course, one can also design and code their own bespoke theme too.
Zen Cart has similar functionality to osCommerce. It also boasts an impressive online community.
It’s likely that you’ll have come across a website powered by Drupal in the past. If you haven’t, Drupal is a content management system like WordPress.
One of the main selling points of Drupal is its flexibility. It’s possible to adapt the platform for a variety of uses, one of which is ecommerce. Drupal Commerce uses the underlying code to offer a powerful system. It support many languages, currencies, and offers an array of add-on features.
If you used Drupal in the past, and you liked it, you will love using Drupal Commerce for your online store needs.
Sometimes there is a need to use a “lightweight” ecommerce system on an existing website. For example, you may already have an attractive site and wish to sell a few products on there.
If that’s the case, a full ecommerce system may be overkill for your needs. For those scenarios, one can consider simpleCart. As the name suggests, it’s a simple to use and easy to set up system.
Do you have a website powered by WordPress? If so, WooCommerce is for you! As you might have gathered, WooCommerce is an ecommerce platform that works with WordPress. In fact, it’s a plugin-based system that is both powerful and easy to manage.
WooCommerce has a strong user following and boasts more than 4.5 million downloads. The WooCommerce platform is open-source, but one can buy themes and add-ons for it.
It’s possible to extend the features using add-ons from WooThemes and CodeCanyon, for example. As you’d expect, there is a strong online community that can help you with any issues. Also, it’s possible to buy technical support direct from WooThemes.
Those are just some of the reasons why it remains the most popular option for WordPress sites.
Of course, WooCommerce isn’t the only WordPress ecommerce solution out there. Another attractive option is WP e-Commerce. It too is open-source and is available as a free download from the WordPress repository.
It offers everything you need to start selling direct from your WordPress-based site. For example, its main features include tax management, secure payment and shipping modules.
WP e-Commerce also offers an intelligent reporting system. That means you can find out which products sell the most on your site.