Your business relies on selling products. If you have any intention of expanding your bottom line, you’ll need to take it online. The process of adding an ecommerce solution to your business doesn’t have to break your bank. In fact, there are plenty of open source tools you can use to make the process of selling online not just easy, but economical.
I want to open your eyes to five particular open source ecommerce solutions. Each of these tools is more than capable of delivering on their promise of helping you create an online shopping experience that is not only easy for your customers, but reliable, secure, and simple to manage for your business.
The one caveat to each of these solutions is that they are generally installed on top of a LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) server. Because of this, you might have to turn to either a software development outsource (such as BairesDev) to help get you started, or look for a hosting provider that offers turnkey LAMP servers.
Why Open Source?
You might be asking yourself, “Why bother with open source?” The primary reason is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a proprietary solution with the features found in these tools, for the price of $0.00. Not only that but because these are open source, third parties can easily develop for them. That equates to a lot of extensions and plugins to extend the feature set.
Finally, open source software tends to get updated and patched much faster than proprietary solutions. That means when a vulnerability is found, it’ll be fixed faster.
With that said, let’s see what’s available.
PrestaShop is currently being used by over 250,000 online stores. This particular solution is so popular because it is one of the easiest options available. Not only is the installation simple, but the management of purchasable items is easy.
Prestashop includes features like:
- Easy product creation
- Products can contain features and values
- Create groups (or packs) of products
- Sell customizable goods (with buyers able to upload files)
- Create/sell digital products
- File attachment support
- Minimum purchase quantity can be set
- Out of stock feature
- Categories and subcategories
- Inventory tracking
- Add suppliers and manufacturers
The one caveat to PrestaShop is that, because of its focus on simplicity, it’s not highly configurable. And the only way to expand PrestaShop is by way of purchasable, third-party extensions, themes, and templates.
If you’re a small business, without a lot of staff or support, OpenCart might be the ecommerce solution you need. It’s very easy to get OpenCart up and running. And, although the basic installation doesn’t include a lot of bells and whistles, the OpenCart Marketplace features over 13,000 modules and themes to help extend the feature set and make your online solution attractive.
Within the OpenCart Marketplace, you’ll find extensions for things like:
- Formilla Live Chat
- TLT Blog Pro
- Social Likes
- Language & Currency Auto Switch
- Order tracking
- Shipping Estimates
- Special Deals
- Bulk discount
- Customer information
- Webgility Accounting Automation
- Affiliate Reporting
Do note: some of the extensions you’ll find in the Marketplace do have an associated cost.
If you’re looking for a solution with the absolute best product management system, you will not find one better than Zen Cart. This solution is designed and built by a group of like-minded shop owners, programmers, designers, and consultants, so they know what drives ecommerce and what shops need for a successful online presence.
Zen Cart can be installed by anyone with basic website building skills, so you may or may not need to hire one or more software development companies to get the most out of your ecommerce deployment. However, regardless of how much time you have to spend on Zen Cart, it’s worth every second.
With this ecommerce software you’ll find features like:
- 100% customizable
- Easy payment gateway integration
- Works with any hosting company
- You can use your own domain name
- User access roles
- Detailed product descriptions
- Built-in ad support
- Discounts and group pricing
- Voucher code management
The one caveat to Zen Cart is that, out of the box, it’s really ugly. Because of this, you’ll spend a good amount of time looking online for various themes and templates to apply. Of course, if you don’t find a theme that works for you, you can always go back to your software development outsourcing company for help.
Spree Commerce is a modular platform with a very small learning curve. What makes Spree Commerce especially interesting is its flexibility and scalability. You can roll out this solution no matter how large your business is and it’ll grow with you. And since the majority of the Spree Commerce extensions are built “in house”, you can be sure they will work seamlessly and receive timely updates and patches.
The Spree Commerce feature list includes:
- Mobile-friendly storefront
- Easily customized
- Fast performance and search
- Suggested search results
- Product sorting and filtering
- Product recommendations
- Wish Lists
- Gift packaging
- Product personalization
- Accepts all major credit cards
- Country-specific payments
- Installment payments
- PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay support
- Refunds and exchanges
Spree Commerce is one of the fastest-growing ecommerce solutions on the market.
WooCommerce is the ecommerce solution for WordPress. If your company already uses WordPress, you won’t find an online shopping tool to more seamlessly integrate into your website. On top of that, WooCommerce is incredibly simple to use. WooCommerce is considered, bar none, the leading open source ecommerce platform for WordPress.
The WooCommerce feature set includes:
- Sell physical products, digital downloads, subscriptions, and content
- 100% customizable
- Extendable with over 400 official extensions
- Product categories, tags, and attributes
- Ratings and reviews
- Customize via location
- Product sorting and filtering
- Unlimited products, images, and galleries
- Affiliate products
- Unlimited product variations
- Built-in payment processing
- Shipping options/rates
- Geo-location support
- Tax options
No matter the size or needs of your business, there is an open source ecommerce solution for you. Once you get any one of these tools deployed, you’ll be selling products online like a champ. Expand your business and your bottom line, without having to pay out for costly ecommerce software.