Open Source Software offer an unparallel advantage as a platform in ecommerce world. Most medium and big businesses require customizations in their ecommerce platform which is not offered by typical hosted or cookie cutter software package. Open source ecommerce software comes with an open view of source code that can be altered or tailored to any needs. The only down side to customization is the upfront development cost and some ongoing maintenance cost, to upgrade the code and fix any bugs. These costs are generally outweighed by productivity improvements provided by customizations. Here is a list of open source ecommerce projects that are available for use. It is important to note that open source doesn’t mean free. Some of these software packages require licensing fee.
Shopping carts form the heart of any ecommerce eco system. They the primary tool that put e in commerce. Without a solid shopping cart platform e-business can’t survive.
Magento is one of the new shopping carts on the open source block. It is build by Magento Inc. using PHP basement framework Zend using Model View Controller (MVC) and Entity Value Attribute (EVA) models. The framework and model design makes Magento very flexible and customizable. New module that can extend Magento’s capability can be easily added to automatically check transactions against fraud or to calculate sales tax during the check. These strengths however make Magento extremely memory hungry on the server and it tends to slow down on shared servers. Magento’s web site has a comprehensive list of features
Key Strengths of Magento include:
- A structured product and shop layout. That allows sharing products between multiple web stores.
- Built in SEO support and Google Analytics for visitor reporting.
- Mobile ecommerce support.
- Rich set of checkout features which include payment methods choices, shipping calculation and more.
OsCommerce is the granddaddy in shopping cart world. It was first released for general use in the year 2000, which is a long time ago in the internet world. It has a large developer base and its user base is bigger than most other shopping carts. It is a light weight, shared hosting friendly shopping cart. You can install it on shared server and it will work fine. It does have a few serious down sides to it however. Its user front end is not easy to modify, most websites built in OsCommerce come out looking the same. It also lacks a second layer of defense against security flaws. Any security issues can easily be exploited by anyone familiar with them.
Zen Cart (not to be confused with Zend Framework)
Zen cart started out as a fork of OsCommerce but soon became a totally independent project on its own. It is much better managed as a project but has a smaller user base. Zen Cart offers easier changes to the user end of interface. It offers the flexibility of extending its functionality via plug-ins. It is agile and can easily be installed on a shared hosting server just like OsCommerce.
X-Cart is another open source cart. It however differs from others because you need to pay for license to use it. Its license comes in two levels, the pro license and the gold license. Each license allow you different level of functionality and features. A major plus point of X-Cart is that it is PCI-DSS compliant. Which is required on any cart that accepts payments using Visa credit card. X-Cart also offers hosting plans, specially built for X-Cart.
Those looking for a Shopping cart not based on PHP or Linux should take a closer look at DashCommerce. This is one of the few open source carts that are available on ASP.NET platform. DashCommerce has a paid license which costs around $100 per domain. The down side to DashCommerce is that it offers very little online documentation and support for its software. Its integration with different payment systems is also limited. These issues might make it undesirable for most ecommerce sites.
VirtueMart team realized that most shopping cart available in the market lack an important feature – a content management system. In the online world where content is attracts new customers and getting the information out to customers on time is crucial VirtueMart might be the perfect choice. VirtueMart is built as a plugin for Joomla – a popular content management system. Its features include a good backend management system, product and merchandising management, payment integration with popular checkout systems include 2Checkout, paypal among others.
LiteCommerce is a free scaled down edition of X-Cart. While X-Cart prides itself in security and robust feature set, its developer realize the need for an entry level shopping cart, which is available for free and can be used in early phase of website setup. While scaled down, LiteCommerce maintains a wide range of support for payment gateways. It also offers a front end template design engine, which makes it easy to customize the look and feel of the cart.
TomatoCart is another fork of OsCommerce. It contains the legacy feature set and agility of OsCommerce but also contains several enhancements. Such as roles for accessibility. This feature can be important if you have multiple users who access your shopping cart for different uses. You can limit the users for instance working on product catalogue from peaking in to customer orders or customer credit card numbers. Similarly you can stop the sales staff from tinkering with sales prices. It also allows customized product types – out of which four come pre defined. It comes with robust set of SEO features and a basic CMS system.
PrestaShop is a robust shopping cart with a very strong template system built displaying products. It comes with a strong catalogue management that allows control over thousands of products. Its catalogue management feature include bulk import and export of products. Products export to eBay, strong cross and up selling features.
UbertCart is an extension for Drupal CMS system. It offers the content management system features included in Drupal but brings along the basic ecommerce functionality needed in a shopping cart. Over all it is a good cart for existing Drupal website.