There are numerous options available when it comes to choosing right e-commerce software for creating your online shop. From free shopping cart solutions to those who charge you a bill of thousands dollars for keeping your shop online, there are actually hundred of shopping solutions available out there. In this article we will dig deep in to the world of some most famous e-commerce solutions. Let’s get started.
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We can divide the whole section in three parts. First we will cover free and open source options and then we will cover pre hosted and paid options. We will also take a look on e-commerce modules available for extending your CMS to e-commerce website.
Open Source & Free E-Commerce Softwares
osCommerce is an award winning e-commerce shopping cart solution which has more than 200000 community members. osCommerce is released under GPL which means its open source and any one can modify its code adhering to the license under which it is released. You can download it for free and can create your shop online without paying a single penny to the developers of osCommerce.
The last update (3.0 Alpha 5) in osCommerce was in March 2009 so there are rumors that the project is dead. There are 5600 different modules available on their official repository which shows that community of osCommerce is really supportive.
Magento is the second big guy in the world of e-commerce solutions. Like osCommerce, Magento is also released under GPL and you can download it for free. With a very active development schedule, it got the latest update (1.4.1) on 19 February 2010. There is a big list of features which you can read there. But the biggest problem with Magento is that it’s heavy software and needs a huge amount of resources to work efficiently.
This is my personal choice and I use it for my client works. The community of Magento is still growing as it is new in the game. Recently the official extensions repository crossed the number of 2000 extensions. Varien, the company behind Magento also offers an enterprise version of Magento starting from only 8999$$$/year. The have previously worked with osCommerce and now they have developed their own solution.
Zen Cart is a forked version of osCommerce, licensed under GPL and free for every one. The major difference between osCommerce and Zen Cart is the templating engine and some additional features which are not available in its superior. Templating engine of Zen cart makes it very easy to create custom themes for your online shop as compared to Magento and osCommerce. There are more than 1000 free addons available in their plugin repository.
PrestaShop is also open source and free solution for creating your online store. It has a big community with more than 50000 community members. The best thing in PrestaShop is its light weight and fast speed. If you compare PrestaShop with Magento in terms of speed and size, it’s a lot better. One thing for sure, you will love its back end design. It’s really awesome, simple and easy to use. Even a beginner can set up an online store. We published a beginner’s guide for prestashop. You can check it out here.
Pre hosted and Paid Solutions
Shopify is a pre hosted e-commerce solution which charges you for keeping your store online. You don’t need to set up anything technical. All you have to do is just adding your products. SSL, payment gateways and all the security measures are the responsibility of Shopify Team. You can setup your custom domain and you can also create custom themes.
Each shop owner can change the html/css of his store to customize the look of his store. All you have to do is just to pay their bills/month which depends upon your sales and the package plan you take. If you are totally scratch and want to make things easier for yourself then I will suggest you to go for it.
FoxyCart is also a pre hosted version of e-commerce solutions but it’s a bit different from Shopify. Actually Foxy Cart is only a shopping cart (not a cms) which integrates in to your already existing website. You can customize the look of your shopping cart by changing the html and css of your shopping cart. Just take the code, put it into your website and you are done. At the end, you will have to pay them a monthly fee for all their efforts.
E-Commerce Modules for your CMS
Ubercart is an e-commerce module for people who want to create an e-commerce store on the top of Drupal. It’s a fact that Ubercart is an almost complete solution for anyone who wants to create an e-commerce store but I will not recommend it those people who don’t have experience with Drupal.
WP e-Commerce is the most trusted and complete solution for people who want to include e-commerce functionality in their WordPress blog or website. We have already covered it out. You can check the detailed explanation here.
Virtue Mart is an addon for creating online store using Joomla. There are 2 other plugins out there for same functionality but Virtue Mart is the oldest one and most comprehensive solution for creating e-commerce websites with Joomla. My personal opinion about Joomla is not good as I think a newbie will get puzzled with dozens of premium modules which have same functionally.
E-Commerce is an enormous subject to cover and each option has its own pros and cons. I have tried my best to write those options which are trusted ones and mostly people are happy with those options. There is always chance for improvement. Let me know if I have missed your favorite option and I will be happy to discuss it with you.:)