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There are so many off-the-shelf web solutions out there, many website owners are asking: Why should I bother building it myself? When thinking about their eCommerce platform, a site owner faces three key choices: the Software as a Service hosted solution, download and install an open source or purchased solution, or just build it yourself.
There are also many hosted eCommerce solutions available such as Shopify, BigCartel or Vendr which may offer a quicker and easier setup, but perhaps don’t offer the same ownership of content as downloadable, open-source software.
The software reviewed below is by no means a complete list of all eCommerce solutions, but many eCommerce sites have chosen these platforms based on their feature requirements, scalability, or compatibility with their existing website platform. The selected options are open-source software, (GPL/GNU or OSL 3.0) and require a knowledge of PHP/MySQL technologies or the services of a professional web developer.
Costs for these can vary, mostly depending on the amount of support needed from software developers and the level of customisation required for your shop. For example, an off-the-shelf template-driven GetShopped WordPress site (ideal for some products) could set you back, whereas a totally customised Magento Commerce site could be in the region of US$10 000 — and offer total scalability and peace of mind as your store grows.
Magento is currently by far the most popular open-source eCommerce system in use today. With $25-billion so far in transactions and over two million downloads, it is truly the most feature-rich and customisable eCommerce platform available. The platform offers complete control over your store front-end, functionality, and order management. The powerful back-end facility controls search marketing, catalogue management, customer administration, and is also backed by a well-supported Magento Connect community. Magento is suitable for meduim to large businesses who need software that has unlimited potential for growth.
Download Magento Commerce here.
Follow Magento on Twitter
This plugin for WordPress is probably the simplest to integrate, provided your website is built in WordPress of course. It is ideal for shop owners with a small budget who do not require extensive front-end features. Activate the plugin in your WordPress backend, customise a couple of theme pages, update your settings and you are good to go.
Take a look at the feature list, documentation, and site showcase on www.getshopped.org
Follow GetShopped on Twitter
Take a look at: www.shopplugin.net
VirtueMart is one of the the most popular Joomla extensions available, and comes with the advantage of extensive support via their community. It is also highly customisable and well-known as the best eCommerce solution for a Joomla-based website.
View the extension website here: www.virtuemart.net
Follow on Twitter here
osCommerce launched in 2003 and was the platform of choice for its time, but due to limited customisation and add-ons as well as some security flaws, it has been mostly out-classed by other software that is currently on the market. osCommerce, despite its limitations, has 12,700 live stores, 6,000 add-ons and 234,000 community members.
Visit osCommerce on the web at www.oscommerce.com
5+1. Zen Cart
It is an off-shoot from osCommerce but offers more front-end customisations through the use of templates. Zen Cart also has quite an impressive array of features and a well-supported community of software add-ons.
View the full feature list at www.zen-cart.com