Choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business can be tough. Many of the products on the market today offer similar features and can be costly or challenging to use.
Especially if you’re a startup or small business, an open-source solution can help keep your costs low. We gathered reviews of the most popular open-source ecommerce products and ranked the top four by their TR scores. The products we’ve chosen have over ten reviews apiece with at least one review published in the past year.
Important Features to Consider
There are four main features to look for when selecting a complete ecommerce solution:
A website builder is a tool that lets you design and build your online store from scratch. Website builders range from simple, coding-free, WYSIWYG editors to fully customizable development environments.
Customizable Product Catalog
A product catalog makes it easy to add, remove, and categorize items. Categorizing your products will make it easier for customers to find what they need, increasing sales and loyalty.
A shopping cart is a piece of software on a merchant website that allows customers to track the items they want to buy. The shopping cart may accept the customer’s payment information and can distribute the purchase details to you and the payment processor.
Secure Checkout and Payment Gateway
With online shopping on the rise, it is important that your payment gateway gives your customers peace of mind during checkout. The ecommerce platform you choose should offer security features that allow your customers to safely enter their payment information. It should also integrate with a number of different payment options (e.g. PayPal, Apple Pay, credit/debit cards, etc).
Some types of ecommerce software do not offer a complete solution, but still allow you to create an ecommerce website. These include plugins and integrations that can turn existing websites into ecommerce stores. Certain products can also add additional functionality to existing online stores.
Top 4 Ecommerce Products Compared
Some of the free ecommerce platforms we will discuss are full-fledged ecommerce platforms that include the 4 main capabilities listed above, while others are plugins that may not have full functionality, but still work well for many individuals and businesses.
WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress that allows users to turn their WP website into an ecommerce store. WooCommerce is built on top of the WordPress content management system. WordPress takes the place of a native WooCommerce web builder. WooCommerce is regularly audited by Sucuri, which protects this product’s codebase from exploits. Here are some benefits to using WooCommerce:
- Use With WordPress: If you love WordPress, you’re in luck. Since WordPress powers WooCommerce, you already know the basics of building with this platform. WooCommerce adds ecommerce features to your existing website, enabling you to keep using the plugins you’re used to.
- More than 400 official extensions: WooCommerce extensions allow you to customize and manage every part of the sales process, from payments and shipping to marketing and accounting.
- Built-in payment processing: WooCommerce extensions allow you to take payments via Stripe and PayPal. You can also set up a payment gateway to accept major credit cards, direct bank transfer, checks or cash on delivery.
- Customer accounts and guest checkout: Allow frequent customers to register with usernames or passwords or let guests check out without logging in.
“WooCommerce is a great platform to create an inexpensive if not free online store if you have the time to learn about it and configure it well. It is especially a great online store platform if you already are experienced using WordPress since it incorporates so well into it. There are also many great plugins to help you integrate parts of your store into your other content pieces on your WordPress website.“— Seth P. | Web & Media Developer | Religious Institution
Drupal is an open-source content management system (CMS) and website builder. About 2.3% of all websites, including corporate and government sites, run on Drupal. Although this product is primarily used for site building, its modules can be leveraged to create an ecommerce website.
- Build to Suit: Precisely model your content and product data, including robust search interfaces and pages for each product.
- Ready-to-go: Drupal helps increase team productivity as projects increase in size. Drupal offers one-of-a-kind customer experiences and handles complex checkout flows. In-depth integrations into payment and fulfillment vendors are all accessible for online stores of any scale.
- Security: Drupal’s dedicated Security Team has a 15-year proven track record of identifying and mitigating potential vulnerabilities, keeping the codebase secure.
- Performance & Scaling: Drupal offers built-in features that keep performance high by supercharging databases, balancing load, and caching. This scalability means Drupal delivers consistently across platforms.
“This is what makes Drupal great. It has the power to do as little or as much as you need it. In my opinion, Drupal is best suited for:— Kelly L. | Web Developer | IT & Services Company
– Corporate websites
– Multi-site setups
Similar to Drupal, Joomla is an open-source CMS and website builder. It can be used to create ecommerce websites using a wide variety of extensions. Joomla is built on a model–view–controller web application framework that can be used independently of the CMS to build powerful online applications. Here is a list of some of Joomla’s top features:
- Search Engine Optimization: Joomla has powerful SEO tools ready to use, allowing you to manage metadata and keywords. It also supports mod_rewrite for URL customization and redirects. Joomla’s menu creation tools are built with the idea of making clear, consistent sitemaps.
- Easy core update: Keep your Joomla! up to date with 1 click. If an update is available there will be a message indicating this and a button to press.
- Integrated ACL: An ACL (Access Control List), lets you define granular access rights for different types of users. You can control what each type of user can see and do by creating your access levels and categories.
- Developer-Friendly: Through the documented API and strong code base, you can produce quality solutions that last and are extendable in the future. You can expect a stable development environment thanks to modern techniques and minimum requirements like PHP 7.x (required as of Joomla 4).
“Joomla is an excellent CMS for building simple to complex websites. I’ve used Joomla for everything from small business websites, to real estate portals, to ecommerce websites, to social networks. The possibilities with Joomla and the many extensions and community members behind it makes it one of my top choices for web development.“— Jen G. | Owner – Web Designer | Internet Company
Magento Open Source
Magento is the free, developer version of Magento Commerce, now owned by Adobe. Magento was originally an open-source platform and still has an open-source version available for download. There are also paid on-premise and cloud-based versions of Magento Commerce available on the vendor’s website. Some benefits of using Magento Open Source include:
- Instant Purchase Checkout: Boost sales by giving returning customers a fast checkout experience by using previously-stored payment and shipping details to skip checkout steps.
- Mobile-Friendly Commerce: Online sales via mobile devices are increasing rapidly. Magento Open Source helps you prepare for the future via responsive themes, Progressive Web Applications (PWAs), and mobile-friendly checkout options.
- App Marketplace: Extend functionality by adding ready-to-use connectors and capabilities from the affordable Extensions Marketplace.
- Site Search: Deliver high-quality search results to your customers via ElasticSearch and boost conversion rates.
“If you do a high volume of online sales, this platform is for you, as there is plenty of room for growth and you can start out on the Community platform as you rise towards Amazon and Walmart levels of sales.“— Vin C. | IT Director | Retail Company
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