The virtual world of Internet has quickly grown into a commercial medium which has opened the doors for endless business opportunities on the web. Customers prefer to buy products/services sitting on their couch in their living rooms with just a click of the mouse, or (in-line to the changing browsing trends) a touch of the finger. Yes, technology has ruined us, but it surely has made our shopping a lot easier.
If you have a brick and mortar business, and are confused about getting an e-commerce website up, then there is a solid chance that you might be missing out on a lot of revenue from the web. The basic prerequisite of making money online is getting the right Shopping Cart set-up on your website.
These online shopping carts do quite a lot more than the regular Wall-mart shopping carts in which we carry our products to the cash-counter. In addition to doing the same, online shopping cart solutions also offer a bunch of other functionalities such as product display, inventory management, payment gateway integration, sale reporting system, shipping details, social network marketing and a lot more. Hence, choosing the right Shopping Cart solution is a crucial step while entering the e-commerce world.
Here is our run-down of the best Shopping Cart Solutions available today to help you go in the right direction.
Magento – The Powerful Knight:
Magento is a PHP language driven open-source Content Management System (CMS) which is used for e-commerce websites. It is very powerful and is undoubtedly the most feature rich shopping cart that’s out there right now. Along with power, Magento also provides flexibility and scalability; you can customize your Magento store anyway you want.
From a simple online shoe store to a complete multi-vendor solution like eBay or even managing multiple online stores with unlimited number of products or categories, this powerhouse of a cart will allow you to do it all. Magento is also great for merchants who use an online inventory management system and need multiple logins for their partners, as it allows you to do it all from the CMS itself.
It doesn’t matter if you are a local designer in London or a big boy like Nike, Magento can suit the needs of businesses of different sizes, requirements and budgets.
Overall it is a very secure, robust and a SEO friendly shopping cart which can be molded and used as per the requirements. If you need more detailed insight on how Magento works, checkout this another blogpost that we did earlier this week.
Magento’s got 3 words for you: Powerhouse, Flexible, Beast
Open Cart – The Lightweight Champion:
Opencart is a comparatively lighter open source shopping cart which is also built in PHP Technology.
While opencart might not have all the heavy features that are offered by default in Magento, it is well equipped to run an efficient and simple e-commerce store. What it may lack in features it more than makes up for in design. There are a lot of shopping carts which look and feel very tired and outdated, opencart on the other hand is prolific in the design front with very neat, crisp and modern user interface.
It is a robust e-commerce solution which is quite rich in features and is very search engine friendly. Along with that, open cart is quite easy to use as compared to other shopping carts due to its user-friendly interface.
What separates Opencart from the rest of the available carts is its ability to support a lot of payment gateways by default. Payment gateway integration can be a tedious task to do, and opencart simplifies that task.
Opencart’s got 3 words for you: User-friendly, clean, simple
OSCommerce – The Original Warrior:
When talking about the open source PHP/MySQL powered e-commerce family, osCommerce is the “original” member of the family. OsCommerce has been around for a long, long time (2000 to be precise) and since then has been used to create thousands of online stores. It is one of those shopping cart solutions which relies heavily on its official communities for support and updates, which are quite active and effective to be honest.
Being an old ecommerce solution, osCommerce does not have as many built-in features and functionalities when compared to the newer ecommerce platforms. The platform relies on customizations to look more modern, and lacks some important out-of-the box functionalities.
But being an original, it has its advantages too.
OsCommerce has a lot (and by lot, we mean more than 7500 of them) of fully functional third party integrations available in the market to choose from, which make this platform easy to mould and customize as per individual requirements. These also include a good number of payment gateways and shipping add-ons to choose from.
In addition to the above points, it also has a very good search feature to work with.
OsCommerce’s got 3 words for you: Original, experience, support
ZenCart – The Legendary Successor:
Zen cart is a member which branched out from the original family, i.e., OsCommerce. In 2003, Zen cart was born from OsCommerce with some additional bells and whistles. These additions make it a better out-of-the-box featured solution and it’s easier to change the store design as it provides CSS based templates.
Like OsCommerce, Zen cart too has a lot of third party add-ons to choose from to extend the built-in capabilities of the store. It also has a good community for support, regular add-ons and updates.
An intuitive admin dashboard allows you to easily change the configurations, set up themes and maintain & manage the products and categories at peace.
ZenCart’s got 3 words for you : Optimized, Adaptable, Improved
There are a lot of other factors that need to be considered while choosing a shopping cart solution. Check out the attached comparison sheet for a more detailed insight.
So this is a basic run-down of just some of the best open source e-commerce solutions in PHP Technology that are available today.
Yes, they all serve the same basic purpose, but the difference is between the specific requirements as per your business needs. One cart might be good for a complete multi-vendor e-commerce portal while another might be good for a local business which just needs a light, clean and flexible shopping cart.
What About The Self-Hosted Shopping Carts?
I guess it’s too late to mention that there are a lot of third party run and managed shopping cart solutions which are available too. The reason why we chose to skip them was simple; they cannot be considered among the best available open source solutions that exist in PHP technology.
Why? The reason for this would require another blogpost, but let me put it in a few points:
1. Paid monthly fees or commissions
2. No access to the source code
3. Limited SEO functionality
4. Costs more to maintain.
5. Less Scalability.
We hope that we were able to send you in the right direction with the above information. Write back to us if you have some points to add or have more questions about a specific shopping cart. Your comments will be appreciated.
Until next time, keep selling!