eCommerce – Open Source online Shopping Carts
If you need a shopping cart online, there are many options. It’s no easy task to decide on an eCommerce solution for your business. Cost is the most obvious factor, while considering the solution and Open Source Software is a strong contender when compared on price with proprietary solutions available in market. “Open Source” means, the source of the program is free for anybody to modify or customize to your requirements. Proprietary software requires a huge investment and special expertise resulting in additional cost to be incurred by you.
We have reviewed some of the most popular Open Source Shopping Cart solutions available. Here is a quick summary:
Full-fledged CMS add-on shopping carts:
Drupal Commerce is built on the Drupal content management system, and is highly configurable, which is recommended if you choose to grow your business in the future. With 300+ contributed modules available for free, it can be customized fully without much coding, saving you valuable time.
Ubercart had once been a preferred choice while developing sites using Drupal. The default version of the software, however, lacks standard features of shopping carts available today, demanding installation of modules offered by Drupal. Developers and site owners are shifting their preference to use bundled-up Drupal Commerce over the less featured Ubercart.
VirtueMart is a plug-in for CMS called Joomla. It’s been around for a long time, but is slowly losing its ground, with so many simpler and quicker platforms available. It can be used for a mid to large scale shop, if you are ready to pay an experienced Joomla developer to not only launch, but also maintain it in the long run. The back-end can be confusing for the first time user. Also, many high-end features like social media integration and mobile compatibility are absent. Despite being an Open Source, the cost could become an issue, as a dedicated developer and numerous extensions will be required to get this solution to work for you.
WooCommerce is not a standalone platform, but a plug-in for the most popular CMS WordPress. Launched in 2011, it has already captured a huge market share. A great option for starters, from small to medium sized, it is high on usability and largely customizable. On the downside, it works best in conjunction with WordPress themes, involving a cost of approximately 100 USD and limiting your options. WooCommerce does not enjoy great community support.
WP e-Commerce is another e-commerce plug-in of CMS WordPress. Though still quite popular, Developers and Site Owners are increasingly selecting WooCommerce over it. The default download is bundled up with lots of features. To access high-end functions, you need to upgrade to “Gold version”, which makes it an expensive deal. Similar to WooCommerce, WP e-Commerce has also been blamed for poor community support and being bug-ridden.
Pure Play Shopping Carts:
PrestaShop is one of the most popular and trusted Open Source shopping cart solutions. Based on a popular template called “Smarty”, the solution has been developed using PHP. It can be easily administered and is not high on server demand, making it a favorable option for start-ups. PrestaShop is backed by a strong community network and has a wide collection of modules.
OpenCart is also a PHP-based e-commerce solution. It can be easily installed and provides immense scope for customization. You can bundle up a host of add-ons to it and it can match the likes of Magento or Prestashop. A perfect choice for a newbie on the web, you get active support from the Technical Community and if needed, professional help can also be availed easily. 
Zen Cart has successfully branched out from osCommerce, one of the pioneers in the Open Source software solutions. Like the above, Zen Cart is based on PHP with capabilities for customization to your needs. It boasts of active community support. The major drawback for Zen Cart has been its issue of custom coding being lost after upgrading the website and it is also rated low on SEO performance. 
osCommerce also known as “open source Commerce” is one of the pioneers in Open Source e-commerce solutions. It has a large customer base and is an affordable option. The basic default download is very basic. It requires lots of add-ons and a developer to tailor it to your needs. To save time, it is advised to go ahead with another solution, as many of the standard features found in other options are missing in osCommerce, for example – templates. Also osCommerce has increasingly been accused of being vulnerable to security threats.
The Loaded Commerce Community Edition (CE) is basically osCommerce with a lot of extensions packaged with it. The best part is that it includes numerous functionalities that were missing in osCommerce. With an easy-to-use user interface, it should be a good choice for small businesses. With “security” and “difficult to code source” having been concerns in the past, it is believed that the new version has been improved.
Magento is a favorite among the large enterprises. It was acquired by eBay in 2011. Based on a highly developed platform, it is equipped with numerous functionalities. The default version comes with plentiful functionality. The drawback with Magento has been the level of complexity involved which requires expertise to ensure efficiency and carry out modifications. It is also one of the most expensive Open Source solutions and needs a dedicated server along with an expert developer.
AgoraCart is one of the early Open Source shopping carts solutions. It was based on PERL language and is also being written in Ruby and PHP. It is favorable for easier installation, run capability, and customization. It enjoys a loyal fan base as a token of appreciation for the community support that it comes with. Packaged with lots of features and numerous add-ons, it is a relatively a low cost solution.
Need help deciding on which shopping cart is best for you. Talk to us – we will be happy to help. Is your favorite cart is missing from the list? Comment below with the info and we will happy to add it.