What Is the Best Open Source Ecommerce CMS?

An e-commerce CMS allows you to manage an online store with ease. The best open source e-commerce system provides the following functionality:

  • Managing inventory
  • Creating product listings
  • Powering an online cart and checkout 
  • Allowing users to add items to a wish list
  • Accepting payments

We’ll review what open source is, why it’s beneficial and which systems to evaluate for your online sales.

What Is the Best Open Source Ecommerce Software?

Open source e-commerce software is a platform where the source code is available for modifications and additions. Anyone can make things like extensions or addons for this type of software. 

Open source software allows developers to see the blueprint of the software for adaptations and use.

In contrast, proprietary e-commerce software is copyrighted source code. With proprietary software, you’ll generally get more personalized support plans. Open source software has so many developers, it’s challenging for the originating company to support all addons available since they didn’t create them. 

What Are the Benefits of an Open Source Ecommerce?

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of an open source e-commerce platform vs. proprietary platforms, here’s a look at some of the benefits of open source.

Customization

You can tailor open-source software to meet your needs. And because other developers are also adding to the platform regularly, you’ll likely have more options for customizing the experience. Programmers can adapt the open source coding to meet your needs. 

Lower upfront costs

To get started with an online store, open source is generally cheaper. You can still spend a lot of money on open source software if you aren’t careful because customization takes development time for some functions.

But the cost of opening your online store is significantly lower than purchasing intellectual property from proprietary companies.

Large Offering of Extensions/Addons

Because the software code is available to anyone, you’ll find it much simpler to find extensions or addons to integrate your other software programs. For example, integrating your CRM with the CMS will help you understand your customers and serve them better. 

You’ll also have more options for payment gateways to negotiate the best rates while accepting the most common credit card types.

What Factors Make a Good Open Source Ecommerce?

Before evaluating the best open source e-commerce platform, you’ll need to make a list of criteria that meets your business needs. Here are the most important considerations many look for when searching for the right platform. 

Content Management Capabilities

You shouldn’t need to hire a developer to edit your e-commerce website’s content. Content management from product listings to adding a new blog should be simple and easy for people of all experience levels to manage. Content management should be as simple as using a word processor.

Dashboard

When you log in to your e-commerce platform, the dashboard should help you understand the status of your website at a glance. If you need to update the software or extensions, you should see a summary there.

Or you should be able to get to new customer comments or reviews quickly to respond. The dashboard should also show you important analytics to track the success of your website while helping you manage its elements.

An Easy-To-Use Checkout

The checkout process is one of the most important elements of an e-commerce website. If the checkout process is too complicated, customers will abandon their carts and look elsewhere for what they need. Likewise, content managers need to be able to edit the checkout process with ease.

Search Engine Optimized Code

Some systems are better than others at managing SEO. Access to customize your page titles, meta descriptions, Alt image tags and more will make it simpler to manage your SEO.

Search engine optimized code is light, meaning it won’t slow down your website speed with unnecessary code. But it also puts the information about various aspects of your website in places search engines expect to find them. 

Integrated Blog

Blogs are great for adding value to your website and generating traffic. According to OptinMonster, websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages than websites that don’t have a blog. An e-commerce CMS with an integrated blog makes it easier to manage your blog and maximize its SEO value for your website.

The 6 Best Open Source Ecommerce CMS

There are many open source e-commerce platforms on the market today. Here’s a look at some of the top options and what you can expect from each.

OpenCart

Best For: Companies looking for open source with dedicated support

OpenCart is not necessarily the most modern or robust free e-commerce website available. But one great feature that the company offers is dedicated support. This is great for companies that want to save on the cost of subscription for an e-commerce CMS but still want technical support they can get in touch with when something goes wrong. 

Pricing: OpenCart is free to download and use for your website. However, the dedicated support costs extra. For a one-time fix it’s $99 and guarantees 30 days of follow-up support as needed. Or you can get ongoing support at $99 a month per website that you host on OpenCart.

PrestaShop

Best For: e-commerce companies with in-house IT resources

PrestaShop is not for beginners or solopreneurs setting up their first-ever website. Instead, this open source option is better for larger companies with in-house IT resources. PrestaShop is highly customizable and feature-rich. But with that comes the requirement for some technical know-how. 

Pricing: PrestaShop is free to download. However, many website hosting services don’t have PrestaShop as a one-click download to get started. You might need some technical resources. Additionally, many addons cost extra, which means the more integrations and website functionality you’re looking for, the pricier PrestaShop will get. 

WooCommerce

Best For: Beginners building their first website

WooCommerce is the WordPress plugin/extension that makes e-commerce possible. Because WordPress is so widely used, there are tons of resources out there for using it and it’s easy to hire a developer for small projects when you need it. You’ll find templates for just about every type of business and many plugins to help customize your website experience.

Pricing: WooCommerce is free to download and many web hosts provide managed services to make things simple. You can purchase premium templates and plugins to power your e-commerce site, but there are also many free options.

Magento

Best For: Enterprises looking for robust customization

Magento offers an open source version of its product. They do have a paid version called Magento Commerce. With the open source version you’ll get all the standard benefits of an open source e-commerce platform, including access to a library of extensions to enhance your website. Magento is a powerful tool that many enterprises turn to for their large online stores. It’s not the easiest platform to work with for beginners but you’ll have many customizable tools at your fingertips.

Pricing: Magento Open Source is free to download. You can upgrade your site with paid services and extensions.

VirtueMart

Best For: Multi-language e-commerce websites

VirtueMart is an extension for the popular CMS Joomla. One of the best features of VirtueMart is the ability to set up product descriptions in various languages for selling across multiple countries. The platform is also great for SEO so that you can drive organic traffic to your store. You’ll get built-in inventory management and invoicing to accommodate a variety of product types and sales tactics.

Pricing: VirtueMart is free, but like other open source platforms, you can purchase extensions to enhance your online experience.

Drupal Commerce

Best For: Subscription-based sales

Handling subscriptions can be complex, but Drupal Commerce makes it simple. You can accept many payment models including recurring subscription payments. The company offers a “commerce kickstart package” that downloads the most popular addons to make your store more powerful. Or you can create your experience how you like it by downloading each addon individually. 

Pricing: Drupal Commerce is free, though you can purchase addons that extend the functionality of your site.

Where to Go From Here

Taking your business online is easier than ever thanks to open source e-commerce software. The best platform for your business will depend on the type of shop you’re opening and the payment forms you’ll need to accept. 

Review some online demos of the options listed above to find the platform that’s best suited for you.

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