Read on to find out what are the benefits of running your business with open source ecommerce. Looking for a perfect open source ecommerce platform? In this article, we reviewed the 10 best of them.
WooCommerce, Magento, OpenCart, PrestaShop, Drupal, Joomla… There is a great variety of open source ecommerce solutions. Which is the best open source ecommerce software for your business? Choosing a suitable open source ecommerce platform is a rather complicated and even challenging task. Modern user-friendly platforms enable retailers even without tech experience run their business properly. However, selecting open source software, you should take into account the main features, pros and cons, benefits and opportunities.
So, in this article we will find out the main features of an open source platform and discover its advantages and benefits for ecommerce. In addition, we will consider top 10 open source ecommerce platforms and outline their main pros and cons. As a result, you will be able to determine the best open source solution for a successful and profitable business.
Table of contents:
What is an open source platform?
What is open source software? What opportunities for ecommerce business does it offer? An open-source platform means that its source code is available for its users. They can work this code, change it, and distribute as many versions as they want. There are no licensing fees or other limits on the open source software. So, it is possible to use it for any goal. Some examples of open-source software are Firefox, Linux, Android, etc. The opposite of open-source software is closed-source one (example – Microsoft Windows), having a license that limits users and keeps the source code from them.
What is the difference between open source and free software?
Open source software is freely available. It is concentrated on more pragmatic reasons and the practical benefits making it more suitable for businesses. However, free software is concentrated on ethics and morals and may be controlled and changed by the user. Otherwise, it focuses on user freedoms. So, both open-source and free software has the same software type but different messages.
There is a great number of licenses used by open-source platforms. The main license types are: popular and widely-used or with strong communities, international, special purpose, non-reusable, superseded, uncategorized licenses, etc.
Why choose open source eCommerce platforms?
First of all, open source platforms are flexible in design and functionality. Their source code is freely available. So, open source software is cheap, reliable and easy to set up.
For any function or design, you can easily install open source software on your own or with the developer help. Moreover, open source platforms have better SEO.
Open source ecommerce advantages
What are the main advantages of open source software? Let us explore them in detail.
- Community. Open source ecommerce platforms often have successful communities that support and advance the software.
- The community power. The collective power of a community offers new ideas for solving various problems.
- Transparency. Open source code means that you can see the code base, how the community develops features and addresses bugs. So, you’re protected against lock-in risks.
- Reliability. The open source code reliability is excellent. With a worldwide community supporting a code base, the code is developed on online forums and guided by experts.
- Advanced security. The code has a higher level of security because it is analyzed and examined by the community.
- Merit-based. With open source code, the goal is to make the best and most useful product. Selecting technology for your business, ensure its agenda meets your interests.
- Faster time to market. Being available for free, open source platforms enable to consider options and get solutions really fast.
- Cost-effective. Open source software needs no licensing fees, therefore using them low-cost.
- Freedom from lock-in. It is essential for enterprises to use valid open source software.
- Becoming popular. Lots of large enterprises choosing open source platforms to strengthen communities and support open source solutions.
With the help of supportive communities which are constantly improving, open source software remains advanced technology that meets businesses’ needs and requirements.
10 best open source ecommerce platforms
There is a great variety of ecommerce platforms. All of them have various benefits, pros and cons for your business. Let us describe top 10 open source ecommerce platforms and compare their main features.
What open source ecommerce should you choose? Let’s find out the best solution for you.
Wix is a famous cloud-based ecommerce platform. It offers intuitive drag-and-drop website builder to design a site without coding. The free plan is perfect for beginners providing powerful tools for building and hosting a site. Wix has simple SEO and free email marketing features, free applications, various site themes and templates on the Wix App Market. Wix offers multiple payment gateways and secure payment support. In addition, you get secure web hosting, 24/7 customer support, automatic mobile optimization. However, there are some drawbacks. The free plan comes with ads making your web pages messy. Moreover, powerful site functionalities are provided by Wix eCommerce plan for $16.50 a month. In addition, it’s impossible to set up a fully-provisioned free ecommerce website. You can start selling after you’ve upgraded to the plan at $16.50. Moreover, Wix doesn’t provide access to its underlying code and offers few opportunities for advanced customization.
Magento is a popular open source platform with a large developers community. Being a free solution, it offers a paid version to upgrade your business. Magento has in-built SEO features, allowing integration with Google Analytics and Checkout. Moreover, you will have total control over your website design and functionality. With Magento advanced customization options, you can improve your store with various Magento modules and themes choosing them at the Magento marketplace. Also, there are multiple marketing features (coupons, discounts, sitemaps) and conversion tools (one-page checkout and order tracking). It is possible to make separate multi-lingual sites. Magento facilitates maintenance, modification, and integration into the third-party systems. However, Magento is a rather advanced ecommerce platform and requires good developer skills for running a webstore properly. Finally, you may have to pay extra costs for Magento themes and extensions, if you wish to customize your store.
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WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. It is free to download and set up. In addition, various payment options and multiple opportunities to customize your store are available. You can also find a suitable theme at the official WooCommerce store or on a third party website, like Themeforest. Moreover, it has multiple marketing features (coupons and discounts) and integrated user-based reviewing system. Its geolocation option allows flexible shipping and accurate taxes calculation. Also, WooCommerce may be integrated into WordPress, enabling CMS opportunities and eCommerce functionality. Finally, WooCommerce has great customer support. However, there are some drawbacks. Despite being free to install, WooCommerce has some additional costs: a WooCommerce theme, extensions, hosting, domain name, etc. Also, this platform is complicated: setting up, security, SEO, hosting, etc. Without tech experience, you need costly professional help to advance your website. Finally, WooCommerce doesn’t update as often as WordPress.
PrestaShop is a user-friendly platform with many ecommerce opportunities. It is easy to install the plugin and create your webstore. It is possible to use PrestaShop’s live demo before registration. It has a user-friendly interface with easy inventory management and store maintenance. Moreover, PrestaShop provides a beautiful interface for creating websites and offers multi currency and multilingual opportunities (75 languages). Being lightweight, PrestaShop won’t slow down your site. In addition, there are multiple PrestaShop themes (around 6,000), add-ons and templates to customize your store and get professional website design. Over 3,000 PrestaShop modules enable you to advance your store, increase traffic, improve conversions and build customer loyalty. Finally, PrestaShop allows you to run multiple stores. Yet, PrestaShop offers limited scalability opportunities, which makes it more suitable for small or medium businesses. In addition, PrestaShop extensions may be rather costly.
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OpenCart is a free, open source ecommerce platform without any fees for upgrades or maintenance. It is free to download and has low startup costs. Being user-friendly, OpenCart is perfect for startups, enabling cost-effective and easy store setup. OpenCart marketplace offers multiple themes and extensions for product feeds, shipping, and payment gateways. This platform offers multiple features and large catalog functionality for order processing. In addition, OpenCart supports many payment ways and multi-store functionality. However, OpenCart offers not as many features as Magento. Moreover, to run your store properly, you require many costly OpenCart add-ons. OpenCart offers fewer customization possibilities. In addition, you need PHP skills and other programming languages. So, beginners may have difficulty creating and scaling a website. OpenCart is an open source, self-hosted platform. However, you have to solve many issues yourself, like finding your own hosting and managing your website. Finally, OpenCart doesn’t offer great customer support.
Drupal is one of the most common e-solutions to design any type of website and for scaling up. It has a large community and offers useful forums, social pages, and blogs for support. There is an extensive help guide on Drupal’s website and a video library. Created for developers, this platform is really powerful. Drupal website has strict development standards to provide high quality. In addition, it has built-in caching, enabling advanced speed and performance. Also, it has its own security system and is often updated. There are multiple Drupal modules for payment, shipping & fulfillment, analytics and reporting, marketing, order management, product customization, etc. However, there are some cons. It is a rather complicated platform with a steep learning curve. Also, it has a sophisticated interface and limited development guidelines. So, you may need costly professional help to run your store. Finally, Drupal hosting (VPS or dedicated) is rather expensive.
osCommerce is a popular e-platform with a large developer community and great online support. Over 7,000 free features make osCommerce one of the most cost-effective e-solutions. The main features are compatibility with all PHP 4 versions, technical support and customer service, payment processing, extensive integrations, etc. osCommerce plugins and add-ons (over 8,000), both free and paid can help customize your store. There are various osCommerce templates for best webstore design. Although the theme choice is restricted within its official site, additional themes are available at third-party marketplaces like ThemeForest. However, there are some disadvantages. OsCommerce offers few opportunities for scalability and is not perfect for large businesses. In addition, it needs more maintenance compared to other e-solutions. So, you’ll need more time for updates, improving SEO and maintaining security. Finally, the code in osCommerce may be addicted to errors and breakages. So, it’s essential to hire a developer to protect your site.
Ubercart is the most popular ecommerce platform. It is a developer-friendly e-solution. Being user-friendly for small stores, it offers opportunities for expanding. Ubercart provides a customized support forum and useful tutorials to solve the most common problems. It offers various payment gateways (CyberSource, PayPal, etc) and shipping options (UPS, FedEx, etc). However, there are some downsides. For full functionality, Ubercart depends on a Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 modules which must be installed before Ubercart setting up. The customization controls are less powerful in Ubercart than in Drupal, making it beneficial only for less experienced developers. Although with Ubercart you can scale up, Drupal Commerce is more suitable for a large webstore. Also, it may be complicated to make shipping calculations. Finally, Ubercart hasn’t been updated since February 2018.
VirtueMart was created as an open source e-solution for Joomla CMS. There are 2 VirtueMart forms: a shopping cart and a catalog for showcasing products. Virtuemart has multiple benefits. It is easy to post and view product reviews. Moreover, you can provide customers with any product info. And VirtueMart enables an unlimited number of product categories and items in your webstore. Also, VirtueMart has a supportive community to solve any problems. However, there are some cons. Users need to set up paid add-ons and plugins after upgrading. Moreover, without tech experience, you may have difficulty adding new plugins and products to your store. In addition, there are a few VirtueMart themes which can decrease your website’s functionality. Despite being free to download and set up, VirtueMart useful functions are available only as paid add-ons, most of which are rather expensive. Also, payment processing is rather difficult and special plugins are needed.
Joomla is the second-most popular CMS solution after WordPress. The main benefits include great scalability and multiple customization possibilities, supported by a robust and secure code base and a helpful global community. Also, there is a wide collection of Joomla extensions and templates (8,000 extensions) at the official marketplace. In addition to this, Joomla offers multilingual opportunities (76 languages). Also, Joomla maintains and improves its users’ security. However, there are some disadvantages. Joomla has few functionalities for e-commerce, like product or inventory management. In addition, Joomla has no great SEO capabilities. However, to advance SEO of your store, there are many SEO & Metadata Joomla extensions at the official marketplace. Despite Joomla download and set up is free, you should pay for domain and hosting.
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Wrapping it up
All in all, open source ecommerce platforms offer multiple opportunities for a successful business. They are available for free and have useful features and benefits for running a webstore. Their developer communities can provide great support. In addition, open source software offers multiple customization possibilities, various extensions and templates to advance your webstore. Also, you are able to control hosting, plugins and themes for your store. But, be prepared to face certain challenges. Open source ecommerce platforms need more developer skills and knowledge. In addition, you have to choose a suitable hosting and take care of site maintenance, security, and SEO. Finally, there is no dedicated support in case of tech problems. But in any case, if you need qualified support, you can always find an expert Magento agency to assist your business. Turn to BelVG, and we will provide you our helping hand!