Online presence is vital if you want to stay competitive in today’s world. This is true both for small and medium-sized companies. However, before contacting an e-commerce agency, it is important to choose the right platform that will meet your business needs. Because all companies are of different sizes, processes and target audience.
In this article, we will review top eCommerce platforms you can choose from, including the open source eCommerce platforms comparison. Using this information, you will get a clear picture of modern eCommerce technologies.
To begin with, you should decide whether you need an open source eCommerce solution or another type of platform. Before choosing any platform, you should first answer these questions:
- Does my online shop have custom features?
- Do I have enough budget to hire a team of eCommerce developers?
- Is the custom web design essential for my business?
If your answer is “Yes” to all those questions, we can move further, because your option is an open source eСommerce website builder.
What is the best eCommerce platform 2021?
Today there are many types of open source eСommerce software for every business. Their main benefits are:
- Most of them are free.
- Platforms give business a customizability opportunity.
- You can scale your online shop anytime.
- Most platforms with open source have developed community support.
In this article, we are going to share the open-source eСommerce software comparison.
1. Magento Community Edition
Many online retailers think that Magneto is the best open source eСommerce platform. Why? Because currently, it holds about 26% of the e-commerce software market. That fact makes Magento an industry leader. However, it does not suit all companies. There are different plans on this platform. For instance, Magento Enterprise Edition, mostly used by big companies, costs about $16,000 a year. Nevertheless, Magento also has a solution for small and medium companies. With a Community Edition, online retailers can enjoy loads of features for free. The most notable features are of using different currencies and supporting languages, managing multiple stores, and customs modules.
Another benefit of using Magento is a wide range of plugins and add-ons. That way, this platform provides users with flexibility and infinite scalability.
At the same time, Magento has its drawbacks. First, since the community is very big, it could be a challenge to find the answer to your need in the forums. In most cases, even if an online retailer has knowledge in coding, he would rather hire an e-commerce agency to make all the necessary changes.
You should not pay for Magento Community Edition, but if you want some custom features or a beautiful design, you should buy extensions, plugins and templates at the marketplace.
If your business needs a platform simple in maintenance, osCommerce is a perfect choice. This “old reliable” solution is still popular among online retailers. To provide your online shop visitors with custom designs and functionality, you can use 7,000 extensions created by osCommerce developers.
osCommerce platform has developed a community that includes over 26,000 online retailers. In case of any problems with your website, you can use the support network.
If you think that osCommerce suits you the best, you should know about its disadvantages. The platform is quite old and not as powerful as modern e-commerce solutions. In this case, online shop scaling could be a challenge.
This platform suits perfectly to online retailers, who have a small business and are not technological persons. This solution is easy to set up. OpenCart has basic e-commerce functions that might be helpful to start your first online shop. However, this can also be a disadvantage if you plan to scale your business and launch marketing activities.
Meanwhile, in the first stages of setting up an OpenCart website, you need to hire an e-commerce agency to help you with some code. To add more functions and to make your online shop more flexible, you can use tons of different plugins.
OpenCart weak point is that some plugins do not always work together and have poor compatibility. Another drawback is updated that may never come. If you are not scared to put your business at the mercy of software developers, you can use this solution.
4. Spree Commerce
This online store platform was developed on Ruby on Rails. With many online business owners, Spree Commerce platform is growing very fast. Why is it so popular? Users say this platform is easy to learn and has rich functionality.
The platform also provides many ready-made extensions so users do not need to use a third party for improving feature list.
Spree Commerce has advantages of scalability and flexibility. Online retailers can add any custom feature to their website. Such advantages make this e-commerce solution one of the top eCommerce platforms in 2018.
This solution is very popular among online retailers. For this reason, we decided to add PrestaShop to this open source eCommerce platforms reviews.
PrestaShop has the intuitive admin panel. Users can easily install an e-commerce website. With this platform, you can determine the level of technical control since there are both self-hosted and fully hosted options. Moreover, both of them are free.
Nevertheless, PrestaShop also has its disadvantages. There are limited options for website customization. If you are looking for a platform that allows your business to create the bright design and many graphic elements, look for something else.
To customize the design on PrestaShop website, you can buy extra themes.
6. Zen Cart
Zen Cart platform has many users and a great supporting community. If you need a platform with developed product management features, this one will fit your business. This open source website builder has over 150,000 members in the support community.
What advantage will you get with Zen Cart? The main advantage as we said before, is great product management. Users are free to create sales, specials and control inventory.
However, pay attention that adding too many products may slow down the system. If your business offers many products, you should consider another open source eCommerce software.
When choosing Zen Cart as an open source e-commerce platform for your online retail business, you should be aware that this platform has a kind of unattractive design by default. To make an e-commerce website on Zen Cart attractive, you will need some help from developers. You can also buy templates to make your storefront look more attractive.
If you’re into WordPress and want to start an online business, we can offer you several options. However, in this part, we are going to tell you about the most popular WordPress plugin WooCommerce. This leading open source solution for e-commerce also has a great user community. One of its benefits is that you can set up and manage your online shop without any technical knowledge. User-friendly admin panel made WooCommerce very popular among many retailers.
This platform is mobile friendly. With this feature, your online shop visitors can make orders from their mobile devices or tablets. As a result, you increase your sales. Moreover, one of the add-ons even allows you to create a mobile app with your products.
Take into account that WooCommerce works only with WordPress websites, which is not suitable for some types of businesses. Nevertheless, if you are familiar with WordPress admin panel, WooCommerce will be a great option for your business. To get custom features out of this open source e-commerce solution, online retailers should pay for extensions and templates.
JigoShop is one more option for WordPress fans. Like WooCommerce, this solution is easy to set up. If you want to make your online shop effective and convenient, you should pay for additional themes, extensions and plugins.
The main disadvantage of Jigoshop, as for WooCommerce – you cannot link product variations with this platform. For instance, if a business sells products of different sizes and colors, the platform requires specifying a color option for every size. The process of creating so many pages may take plenty of time.
Default features of Jigoshop are very basic, but you can buy additional upgrades to satisfy your business needs.
9. Drupal Commerce
If you are familiar with Drupal admin panel and looking for an e-commerce solution, Drupal Commerce may be the right choice for you. This open source e-commerce solution is not only SEO-friendly but also flexible. Do not forget about clear administrator panel and advanced payment modules, even subscription-based.
As you understand, this solution works only with Drupal websites. From the beginning, Drupal Commerce has only basic features for e-commerce. To extend a website functional, you can buy “Commerce Kickstart” package. Consisting of the most popular add-ons, it will give the new online shop a nice start.
Consider this option if you are looking for an online shop with basic features, but you plan to expand it with third-party extensions.
VirtueMart is an e-commerce extension developed for websites on Joomla. It is extremely easy to set up and run an online shop with this solution. Especially if you want to sell overseas since it has multi-language capabilities.
This extension is popular for SEO friendly features, allowing online shop owners to get more traffic that is organic. VirtueMart provides users with not only inventory management but also invoicing.
How to choose the Best Platform for your online business?
Since you now know about the most popular open source eCommerce solutions, you can make the right decision for your business. In the table below, we share additional information about most platforms solutions and maintenance prices.
|The number of online shops||216,548||396,171||179,100||80,141||13,989|
|% share of top 100,000 eCommerce websites using open source technologies||58.2||Data not valid||6.0||11.1||7.2|
|Number of add-ons, extensions and plugins available||High||High||Medium||Medium||Medium|
|Availability of expertise for development and maintenance||Very easily available||Very easily available||Suitable expertise is difficult to find||Suitable expertise is difficult to find||Very easily available|
|Overall development and maintenance cost||Low||Low||High||High||Medium|
In this table, we share the comparison of Pros and Cons of the top e-commerce open-source platforms.
|E-commerce platform||Price from (per month)||Pros “+”||Cons “-“|
|Shopify||$9||Ease of use, wide range of features, extendable, mobile-friendly, great support||Advanced customization difficult, expensive, no blogging capabilities|
|BigCommerce||$29.95||Easy to use, feature-rich, great design options, SEO and marketing, payment options, customer support||Confusing plans, expensive, lack of ownership|
|Magento||$5||Feature-rich, third-party integrations, customizable, scalable, marketing-friendly, well-supported||Unsuitable for beginners, can be hard to find a developer, can be costly for the enterprise|
|WooCommerce||$0||Cost-effective, easy to setup and use, feature-rich, customizable, well-supported, SEO and marketing, full ownership||Advanced customization skills required, dependent on WordPress, true costs difficult to calculate|
Shopify just made a $2 billion windfall on Affirm IPO, six months after their partnership.
The two companies forged a partnership in July for online lender Affirm to become the exclusive provider or point-of-sale financing for Shop Pay, Shopify’s checkout service. As part of the deal, Shopify was granted warrants to buy up to 20.3 million shares in Affirm.
Without knowing your business size, specific and needs, it is impossible to say which platform is the best.
If you are looking for an online shop with basic features, you do not need to pay for advanced modules and extensions. Yet conversely, if you want to surprise website visitors with a bright design, custom features and you have enough budget, high-performance platforms suit your business more.
We hope that our open source eCommerce software review was helpful to you.
The Reasons To Upgrade To Magento 2
Magento 1 will cease to be supported at the end of June 2020, so Magento store owners should make the tough call of whether they should continue operating their ecommerce websites on Magento 1 or upgrade to Magento 2.
Magento 2 was released to address many of the drawbacks, malfunctions, and bugs of Magento 1 and turned out to be a significant upgrade in terms of performance and usability compared to the former.
Magento 1 vs Magento 2: Key Differences
Magento 1 was originally developed as a flexible ecommerce solution. However, the platform lacked some vital features (performance optimization and mobile-friendliness) that were found on many rival ecommerce platforms. Therefore, many merchants were complaining about the slow performance of their Magento 1 stores leading to lost customers and decreased revenue.
Magento 2 has come to resolve all of the problems encountered in Magento 1. Moreover, Magento 2 includes even more benefits compared to Magento 1. Let’s highlight the top differences between Magento 1 vs Magento 2 features. Some of these key improvements are:
The Magento development team has modified the stack by adding different new technologies – Apache, NGINX, Varnish, Composer, Symfony, Redis, and more. The architecture now supports the PHP7 version, which essentially means even better chances for optimization and customization.
Magento 1 vs 2 technology stack:
|Magento 1||Magento 2|
|Apache 2.x||Apache 2.2./2.4.|
|Nginx 1.7 or greater|
|PHP 5.2.x – 5.5.x||PHP 5.6.x/ 7.0.2 / 7.0.6|
|MySQL||MySQL/MySQL Percona 5.6.x or greater|
|Solr (Only for EE)||Solr 4x|
|Varnish 3.x / 4.x|
|Redis 2.x / 3.x or Memcached 1.4.x|
|JQuery (in latest themes)||JQuery|
|RequireJS / Knockout.js|
|PSR – 0 / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4|
|Zend Framework 1||Zend Framework 1 / 2|
Once your business expands, you will get more traffic and require a solution to be able to cope with a large flow of visitors. If we’re talking about Magento 2 vs Magento 1 performance, Magento 2 is faster all around: on the product, category, and home pages. As mentioned above, many new technologies were added to Magento 2 that helped to optimize pages for fast delivery, reduce the server response time for site activities, and make backend operations more effective.
The average loading time is now below two seconds (50% faster than Magento 1), which means there is a much smaller probability that your customers will leave a website because of slow page loads. This is all possible due to full-page caching technologies such as Varnish and NGINX.
According to Benchmark Testing, now Magento 2 can operate around two million more page views and process up to 39% more orders hourly compared to Magento 1. Add to cart server response is now 66% faster, and an end-to-end checkout is also 51% faster.
Even though Magento 2 offers fast performance by default, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to optimize your site speed. In general, slow interface and loading time issues are caused by a lack of knowledge in optimizing the website. Slow load times hurt crawl efficiency and lead to fewer pages being indexed, so make sure you do everything possible to speed up Magento 2.
The admin panel in Magento 2 is customer-friendly, easy in navigation and intuitive. Thus, you can find info effortlessly, navigate all elements of the admin panel smoothly, and operate your ecommerce store more effectively.
An advanced dashboard is what Magento 1 was missing. Magento 2 admin dashboard displays last, new, and average orders; lifetime retail sales, top search keywords; income tax, bestsellers; the number of products; and amount of shipping that helps to determine the progress of your ecommerce business. In addition, with Magento 2 you can create configurable products and customize data grids.
Maintaining security is crucial when operating an ecommerce website. Magento 2 supports advanced built-in security options. One of them is SHA-256 (Secure Hash Algorithm 256) for passwords, which makes it less possible for a dictionary attack to succeed.
Magento 2 also comes with the fraud protection system Signifyd. Signifyd is embedded in the latest release of Magento 2, allowing the platform to determine and reject orders that seem to be scams and deliver 100% chargeback protection. The cost of Signifyd depends on the number of orders your store processes.
The good thing is that if you’re running your store on Magento 1 and you’re worried about security protection, you can add security modules to your ecommerce website through extensions. The bad news is that there’s a bigger possible cybersecurity threat due to the fact that Magento will stop supporting security updates and patches in June 2020.
With Magento 2, you can integrate and make modifications to new extensions less expensively and with no hassle. The process of installing extensions and updating features became simpler because of the new technologies (HTML5, CSS3, Require.js) integrated into Magento 2.
There are numerous third-party extensions available in the market for Magento 1. However, there could occur conflicts when two or more extensions attempt to rewrite the same functionality. Magento 2 introduced a change that enabled third-party plugins to overlap the core code, rather than overriding it.
One of the major Magento 1 vs 2 functionality differences is the introduction of Ajax Add-To-Cart to Magento 2. In Magento 1, when a product is added to the cart, the system reloads the page, leading to deteriorated performance. With Magento 2, by adding Ajax Add-To-Cart, the new system doesn’t need to reload the page when a new product is added to the cart.
Checkout functionality has also been simplified and now it’s easy for customers to navigate. Magento 2 automatically recognizes inputted card types of registered customers. This feature is not available in Magento 1.
Magento 2 takes this further and also provides advanced reporting and marketing automation. Magento 2 offers crucial business metrics, allowing you to track 20 online store reports right from the admin panel.
When it comes to marketing, Magento 2 has introduced Dotmailer e-mail marketing automation. With Dotmailer, you can create automated marketing campaigns for Push, SMS, e-mail, and other channels.
Last but not least, one of the most important changes in Magento 2 is the dependency injection. In Magento 1 class files are often large, so it’s difficult to determine what their core functionality is. Magento 2 solved this problem with dependency injection, a design pattern that abstracts out the dependencies of a class to make the process quicker and easier. Dependency injection is an excellent way to diminish tight coupling between application codebase.
The end of Magento 1 support is coming soon. At the end of June 2020, Magento will stop releasing and updating security patches and important fixes on their part. Evidently there will be no more innovations, new features or enhancements for Magento 1.
At the same time, Magento 2 has integrated new features like page builder, PWA (Progressive Web Applications) and is expected to realize even more functionality to deliver robust e-commerce solution with better speed, security, and performance.
When Magento 1 was launched in 2005, it lacked significant functionalities for SEO. Magento 2 has introduced many enhancements in search engine optimization. For instance, Schema.org is aimed to boost the search engine rankings of your store. Also, rich snippets on the Magento 2 catalog pages make your product data much easier to crawl by search engines.
This could be the only aspect where Magento 1 wins the battle, as the Magento 1 license is cheaper than Magento 2. With so many updates, new functionalities, and the latest features, it’s obvious why the Magento 2 license costs a pretty penny.
Community Editions: Magento 1 and Magento 2 are free of charge
Enterprise Editions: Magento 1 EE license cost (starts at): $18,000 per year
Magento 2 EE license cost (starts at): $22,000 per year
How often do you come across a situation where the clients don’t have a clear understanding of what exactly they want? The situation where they describe only the main concept of the future product and its basic functionality?
Well, let’s be honest this is a common scenario. While some clients prefer to conduct their own independent research on which language and framework are better for the product, most of them leave it to the software company to choose.
Still, the language for a new project should be chosen only after a series of negotiations with the client. There are a lot of factors that will affect your final choice — the platform, budget, deadlines, etc. To make the right decision when building a development strategy, you must also consider the expert opinion of the developers, technicians, engineers — all those involved in the process.
This is not as simple as it seems. There is a large number of different languages created for various tasks, and it is hardly possible to choose the only right option. How not to make a mistake and pick the tool that fits both the development company and the client?
Choosing the right platform
The choice of a platform depends on the customer needs — the client may need a cross-platform application or a native mobile version, a website or a desktop app. In some cases the choice is obvious. For example, a taxi service provider may not need its own website and, especially, a desktop application. Instead, an easy-to-use mobile app may be the best option for them. However, less specific products usually require both a mobile and a web application. And this is where the client should make a decision based on the budget.
For mobile development, it is recommended to consider Java for Android apps, and Objective-C or Swift — for iOS apps. However, a rare mobile app is designed exclusively for a single segment of the mobile market.
Most businesses aim to cover both operating systems when developing the app. If the company has a limited budget, but still wants their product to be available to both Android and iOS users, Facebook’s React Native might be a good choice. React Native will allow you to create a product for both operating systems, significantly reducing the costs and engineering efforts.
As for website development, the list of languages isn’t just huge, it is almost endless. You should, therefore, focus on the specifics of the project and the market that it will cover. You should clearly understand the vastness of the product’s functionality, capabilities, and complexity.
This point is very important, and for a reason. Both the client and the development company must understand when the product will be ready for release, and when the product’s maintenance stage will start off. The faster you start the project, the more time you will have for further improvements.
The choice of a programming language here is absolutely not obvious since everything depends on the essence of the project. However, you can use pre-built applications to reduce development time. You can conduct a code review and make the necessary changes.
You might think that this is a less significant aspect when choosing a programming language for the project. But this is not true. In fact, a large community can provide you with support at all stages of the project development. They can introduce you to a huge number of solutions and problems that you will definitely encounter in the future. So you won’t need to spend a lot of time searching for a single resolution to your problem.
Mind, however, that the choice isn’t always about the features, it is also about the social aspect. In addition to the tech ecosystem of the language, elements like community vastness and the developers’ accessibility are worth your notice.