The internet has allowed anybody to run their own business with little more than a website and an understanding of the postal system. But to do it effectively you need an ecommerce platform to showcase your wares, process orders and take payments.
All this costs money, but thankfully the good folks of the Internet have created a number of open source packages, many of which can be used cheaply or for free (though admittedly with many offering premium upgrades). Here’s a selection of the best:
Built on the famous content management system, Drupal Commerce aims to provide a flexible framework so that different businesses can customise it to their needs. As well as providing a malleable code structure, the package comes with plenty of modules and themes ready to download from the website.
Alongside its professional offerings Magento has released an open source edition of its ecommerce platform, which can be instantly downloaded from its website. Supporting the release is a large community of developers and coders, many of whom offer their services for hire to interested merchants.
Based in Hong Kong, OpenCart is a wide-ranging ecommerce platform that boasts free lifetime support and updates. Alongside the fundamentals the suite also offers search engine optimisation (SEO), guest checkout services and catering for downloadable products, as well as an array of other features.
Available to install on your web server or operate from the cloud, PrestaShop is a more comprehensive ecommerce solution than many of the others on offer. As well as the usual payment and store building features you can also make use of an online marketing tool and numerous themes, with the entire system optimised for mobile.
osCommerce’s Online Merchant is an independent tool that can be installed directly through the web browser. Having run for over a decade osCommerce has a community numbering more than a quarter of a million, which perhaps explains the thousands of free addons available directly from the official website.
Spree’s Wombat software is focused on automating ecommerce throughout the entire payment process, from distribution to customer support, whilst the Storefront covers the frontend. Also included is an extensive analytics suite, as well as training, support, and all the usual features you would expect.
This PHP based shopping cart software places it focus on the user interface, which its developers observe is often lacking in open source projects. Catering more towards small and medium businesses rather than large ones, the suite covers all the basics as well as marketing and advanced order tools.
9. Zen Cart
Zen Cart is both a product and a community built around the open source shopping platform available for download from the site. As well as a basic package users can browse a range of plugins, access video tutorials to make the most of the software, or seek support from the official community.
Another package that integrates with Drupal, Ubercart is targeted towards communities that want to focus on selling premium content to their users. Unlike others on this list it is not aimed so much at coders, instead targeting users that do not want to mess around too much with source code.