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Pick your E-commerce Platform

What makes an e-commerce site different from the other types of web development? Apart from a scripting language and a database alone, it is the utilization of e-commerce platforms or shopping carts to fulfill the e-commerce web development purpose. Maybe this sounds easy. But the hardest decision for you as an e-commerce website owner or developer is picking the right e-commerce platform for the site.

We will make things a little bit easier for you by means of listing the benefits and challenges of our three recommended open source e-commerce solutions. Why open source? Simply, it is cost-effective. It is free to install and download, but at the same time its source codes are available for the community to modify and meet a site’s needs.

If you are a web development guru, amateur or an online business aficionado plus have a small maybe large, starting, fully-operated or well-established e-commerce site, definitely you can spot here what is appropriate for your goals. The three open source e-commerce solutions that we’ve isolated from numerous tools transcend across any size of e-commerce website and the experience level of the developer or website owner.

osCommerce, previously known as The Exchange Project, is founded in Germany by Harald Ponce de Leon in March 2000. This open source commerce is compatible in any server that has PHP and MySQL, and it is workable in shared web hosting account. Likewise, it is recognized by GNU General Public License as free software.

• It facilitates a multilingual e-commerce site as this platform is popular for multicurrency and Multilanguage features.
• osCommerce allows the use of Secure Socket Layer encryption.
• This tool is easy to install and cost-effective compare to other emerging competitors. Communities, forums, and tutorials are readily available because osCommerce has been present for many years.

• There is no inbuilt procedures to password protect its administration area.
• osCommerce is not template driven.
• There is a limitation of large product catalogues. This may require modules for data input and management for products with frequent changing of information.


Magento was launched last 31 March 2008 by Varien or currently known as Magento Inc. It runs on Apache, MySQL, and PHP. However, it needs dedicated and reliable server from a particular hosting provider.

• Magento offers unique and driven add-on modules from shipping estimator, coupons, meta-tags to product comparison, SEO URLSs, and abandoned shopping cart reporting.
• There is an array of template that you can choose from.
• It has modular design. E-commerce review sites emphasize that Magento is the features mishmash of all open source e-commerce software.

• There is a big learning curve in using Magento. The more features, the more time you have to allot in deciphering its system.
• Since it is modular and feature-rich, you have to consider every bit and piece during the web development process. This might lead you to “longer development time, the more expensive” situation.
• Oftentimes you will encounter bugs because Magneto is relatively new to the market and continuous enhancement is at place.


Developed by Daniel Kerr, OpenCart is an open source shopping cart system that can be used on web server that runs PHP and MySQL. It is free software as stated in the GNU General Public Licence released in 2009. Reviews noted that OpenCart is very easy to install and use.

• It has features to let your online store functions as a B2B application. Some of these are setting different customer groups, displaying of prices only to customers who are logged in, and setting discounts depending on the number of orders.
• OpenCart has tools for backup and restore. Guest checkout for faster sales transaction can also be established.
• Behind the fact that installation and customization are very comprehensible compare to other open source e-commerce tools, OpenCart still imbibes the important features such as unlimited categories, templatable, multilanguage, multicurrency, shipping weight calculation, and transaction reports (sales, product viewed, product purchased) among others.

• Admin navigation can be confusing.
• It cannot manage multiple stores simultaneously.
• Customers are not allowed to compare products.


Summary and Conclusion

osCommerce is a good choice for any size of e-commerce site and if you want a less complicated way of modifying the codes. Magento tops the list if your site is large, robust and you are comfortable in playing with complex codes. OpenCart, right away, answers the grievances of your small e-commerce site and then you need a simpler and easier code modification.

As Kerry Watson of Practical E-commerce once said that osCommerce is the “grand daddy” of open source e-commerce programs [a way of saying that it is established and respected] while OpenCart will make its own path this 2013. Of course, Magento will not allow to be left behind since it is owned by eBay Inc.

You can now pick your choice. But before that, weave it with your limitations and goals. E-commerce site will not become an “e-commerce site” if you shortfall in pointing the appropriate shopping cart.

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