The eCommerce boom of the last few years has ushered in a world of new possibilities for retailers, big and small. Unlike the limitation of maintaining a physical store, an online store negates that element and opens up a business’s clientele from a hyperlocal setting to a global one. eCommerce has virtually limitless possibilities as a platform and will be the norm in a few decades from now. Setting up an eCommerce platform is easy with the myriad of free open source eCommerce software applications available.
An eCommerce software is a specialised integrated tool which helps users set up a website, design categories & product pages, manage inventory, process payments, generate invoices & fulfill orders, among others. It’s an all-in-one solution, which allows business owners to effectively manage and run a successful eCommerce store.
If you’re someone who’s been looking to get into the eCommerce space but don’t have the means to purchase an eCommerce software, you’re not alone. Not everyone has the capability to purchase and maintain a paid eCommerce software solution, especially when you’re just starting out & can’t risk making a big investment.
List of Free Open Source eCommerce Software
- Spree Commerce
Magento is one of the most well-known free open source eCommerce software, which offers users all the basic tools needed to set up a successful online retail business. Specialised features are also offered, as a part of their paid version.
Using Magento, users can create and populate category & landing pages, handle shipping & order fulfilment, generate website & sales reports, etc. Developers are constantly adding plugins and extensions for users to add to their website and make it better. Some of the more specialised plugins are chargeable and it’s up to the user to decide, if they wish to pay for such services.
Magento Open Source allows users to create a fully functional website that’s suited to all types of retail businesses. However, users will have to separately purchase a domain name, payment processor and, security certificates, to get an online store successfully up and running.
Magento is a large community platform so finding information can be a little tough for new users. Because there are several developers and a multitude of updates & add-ons being added periodically, it’s best suited to those with some coding experience.
PrestaShop eCommerce software is a free, open-source solution which is easy to use and can be customised to individual need. It’s a highly intuitive tool that’s built on PHP, making it an easy fit for most websites.
With PrestaShop, users get over 1500 website templates, 500 of which are paid. Users can integrate common add-ons such as Google Merchant Centre and Amazon Marketplace, to manage listings across platforms. PrestaShop also supports multi-store management i.e. if you have two separate websites, you can manage them through a single dashboard.
PrestaShop can also generate reports, based on different factors such as stock levels, sales, merchant KPIs, sales forecast and more. To utilise PrestaShop to the best of its abilities, it’s recommended that users understand coding and know best tinkering practices to modify the source code.
OpenCart is a good starter free open source eCommerce software for small businesses & users with little to no coding experience. It’s a fairly simple solution and doesn’t have a lot of added features that other software offer.
This software is known for its well-designed admin dashboard, which is fairly intuitive and simple to use. Users can also visit OpenCart’s marketplace and purchase add-ons and extensions, for enhanced website functionality. There are built-in SEO tools to help you improve your website’s ranking on Google & other search aggregator platforms. The software might be a bit too basic for larger websites, but it’s perfectly suited to small business needs.
OpenCart’s design ensures that added plugins & extensions don’t drag down the server and reduce loading speed. Due to the software’s simplicity, you’ll end up adding a lot of plugins to run your eCommerce website successfully, which is where the above point comes into play.
osCommerce is one of the oldest free open source eCommerce software providers and have been helping companies since the last fifteen years. Due to its age, there have been tons of add-ons and plugins developed and added to the tool for users. With osCommerce, users get access to 7000 free community developed add-ons, which are been worked on and improved as you read. Such a wide range of add-ons ensures that the end user has a lot of customisation options available. You can design your website and product pages the way you please, using this tool.
osCommerce has an active user base of over 2,60,000 business owners and has a support forum that allows users to share ideas and solve problems. It’s a very active forum and if you face any problems while using the tool, you can be certain that someone in the forum will have a solution, having faced the same problem.
Because of its ‘age’, its appearance and some of its functionalities do not reflect modern sensibilities. Some users might face issues with certain plugins on modern systems, but don’t let that deter you from using this very reliable eCommerce software solution.
5. Spree Commerce
Spree Commerce is a free open source eCommerce software which is very unique. That’s because it has been developed on Ruby on Rails. If you’ve no experience with Ruby and are more comfortable using PHP, Spree might be a bit of a tough tool to utilise to its full potential.
What makes Spree Commerce a great tool is how lightweight it is. It reportedly runs quicker than most other tools & doesn’t utilise too many online resources. The flexibility & scalability that Spree offers makes it the perfect solution for small businesses that have expansion plans. The more they grow, Spree will adjust and customise to suit growing needs.
Extensions on this platform are supported by Spree, instead of independent developers, which means that any addon integrations you require are easily downloadable and usable.
Spree allows users to manage products, orders, process payments, and fulfil shipments easily. It’s a constantly developing solution, with new functions and features being added regularly.
WooCommerce is not an open source tool per se, but, rather a WordPress plugin. It can be used by businesses using a WordPress content management system to turn their website into a store.
It has a fast-growing user community, where common problems are addressed, and ideas can be exchanged. It also offers users the ability to design mobile compatible websites, for customers who shop on their phone or tablet.
WordPress users can easily integrate WooCommerce plugin into their website. There are a lot of resources offered by WordPress for users to get the most out of WooCommerce. There are added paid plugin options that you can add to improve your website’s functionality and make it more feature-rich.
Since WooCommerce can only be used by those with or using WordPress, it might not be an attractive choice for everyone. However, users with WordPress can access the full scalability that WooCommerce offers.
Jigoshop is another WordPress-based tool which is rising in popularity for its functionality and ease of use. It’s lightweight. It doesn’t consume too much server speed, and users can easily integrate addons, plugins and extensions with Jigoshop.
While Jigoshop & WooCommerce are both WordPress based, there’s one key differentiator between the two. Jigoshop cannot link variations. If you sell a shirt in different colours, you cannot simply mention ‘red’ as the colour for all sizes. You’ll have to create different options such as ‘red small’, ‘red medium’, ‘red large’ etc. This can be very time consuming and is one major problem with this tool.
Drupal’s reputation as free open source eCommerce software solution provider precedes most of the other names on this list. Drupal for eCommerce is a flexible, SEO friendly integrated tool which comes with an intuitive dashboard, admin system and, payment processing capabilities.
With Drupal, users get access to a highly customisable solution that’s also easy to use. Its simplicity makes it perfect for all kinds of users. Its reliability is unquestionable, as Drupal is a known brand with a reputation for excellent service.
Drupal for eCommerce can only be used by Drupal CMS users, which is a problem for non-Drupal users. Drupal comes with a “Commerce Kickstart” package, which gives users access to popular add-ons that will enhance their website functionality and streamline their eCommerce business.
What platform you choose to go for is ultimately your decision. But rest assured that each of the eight solutions listed above will be beneficial for your eCommerce business, one way or another. Depending on what features you require, identify the free open source eCommerce software best for you and go for it. You won’t regret it.