No other website project demands the amount of research and forethought that e-commerce sites doand for good reason. Just like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, online stores have a lot at stake, driving their developers and proprietors to search high-and-low for a platform with the highest level of compatibility with their needs. But with so many platforms available, it's a bit overwhelming to choose. To make that process a little easier, here are 4 popular open-source solutions for various e-commerce needs:
Best for: lightweight sites that don't require intense customization
Framework: PHP /MySQL
This out of the box e-commerce platform gets major brownie points for its clean and lightweight code in comparison to other online shopping carts. Users enjoy the appealing default template, but some complain that the software architecture makes it more complicated to customize.
The product comes SEO-ready with 11 modules including Google Analytics, Best Sellers, and Featured.
Additional payment gateways, shipping methods, and order total options (including discount tools) are offered as either paid or free extensions. If you have international clients, you'll appreciate the multi-language and multiple tax rate features. Finally, keep track of products viewed, products purchased, and overall sales using OpenCart's sales reports feature.
Best for: the adventurous developer; heavy-duty websites with dedicated servers
Framework: PHP /MySQL
Want to have something in common with big-name e-stores like Samsung, The North Face, and K-Swiss? Put Magneto to use, and you'll be sharing the same e-Commerce platform with them. While this platform offers complete hosting solutions for a premium price, they also offer a free community edition that developers can customize.
The cart itself is very robust with dizzying array of features and options for customization. Because Magento is fairly complex and unsupported in its free edition, it's best for more experienced developers who are willing to take on a challenge. Once the beast is tamed, Magento rewards with a powerful platform that will take on more demanding commerce sites. It's also a bit of a resource hog, so be sure to secure dedicated hosting if you plan to use this solution.
Best for: sites that aren't commerce-focused, but need a simple cart
For such a simple cart (no pun intended), this open source tool still packs some of the features you would expect from a more complex platform. Multiple currencies, tax rates, and cart editing features can all be tweaked to your liking using HTML. Helpful guides help direct users step-by-step through installation and customization in the SimpleCart Wiki, so even novice users can navigate the code.
Best for: sites requiring easy customization
Framework: Ruby on Rails
Unlike more robust e-commerce solutions like Magento, many of Spree's features get added in later via extensionsbut this was intentional, so users can easily swap and adjust features as needed. Magento, on the other hand, gives developers a more difficult time because everything is already fully integrated. Users can start with a minimal, semantic HTML themes that are great bases for creating custom styles, or users can write their own themes.