The World of Ecommerce Solutions: Simplified For Your Business

By Kapil Gupta
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Selecting a good hosted ecommerce solution for a business is not easy. There are three categories in which these solutions could be stratified: open source, pre-hosted and paid solutions, and ecommerce modules for CMS.

Open-source Ecommerce Solutions

A. osCommerce

The principles on which osCommerce is based are the same as those being used by Zen Cart® and CRE Loaded. Users may find osCommerce easy to use and a lot simpler than Zen Cart® and CRE Loaded. The operation is smooth too, and it could be used as only a basic shopping cart. An advantage of opting for osCommerce is the availability of a large number of contributions and upgrades. There is also a decent security measure, on par with MySQL 5 and PHP 5. The overall expenditure may inflate if a great deal of contribution is sought. The absence of graphic templates, however, may create problems in adopting a new design. The cost factor in maintaining an osCommerce shopping cart solution is really well balanced against the benefits, and could be maintained at very low levels. It would be ideal for those startups that have just launched, and are working towards garnering a name for themselves.

The SEO services provided by osCommerce are reasonable, but no such features are available for the basic version of osCommerce. Even the long URLs used in the basic version of osCommerce tend to be unreasonable for SEO, which would bother a merchant sooner or later.

B. Magento and Magento Go

Magento today holds a dominant position in the ecommerce solutions category. Magento is also established under an open-source lisense, like osCommerce. The purpose of using an open-source lisense is that anyone can modify and edit the source code, but will have to comply with the guidelines that are stated in the license. Downloading and using Magento is free, but Magento Go could be purchased after paying a fee. The development schedule adopted by Magento is also impressive and could prove to be an asset. Lots of customization is available on the Magento platform, but using all of them is not easy. Many users with ordinary systems complain about their systems becoming unresponsive when they access this solution.

Magento development is one of the preferred solutions in the ecommerce industry these days, and the number of Magento users is expanding too. The growth in the Magento community is partly because it is relatively newer than other ecommerce solutions. Almost 2000 merchants are using the platform now, which speaks of its popularity among its users. Magento is a solution from Varien that was using osCommerce earlier before being developed as its own solution. The real-time shopping cart in Magento Go is a really useful feature through which the materials management process can also be entrusted, saving further capital for startups.

C. Zen Cart®

Zen Cart® has evolved from the osCommerce platform itself. The solution is licensed under GPL, which makes it free for everyone to obtain. Templates, and some other features, are the only differences between osCommerce and Zen Cart®. Creating and customizing templates to make them unique is relatively easy compared to osCommerce and Magento.

In the plugin section of Zen Cart®, about 1000 free additions are available to be used by consumers. To save customers from being befuddled, however, these extra options could disregarded. This is only to suggest that being overwhelmed with a lot of offers made by these ecommerce solutions may tempt you to pick an average solution.

The skin templates are befitting, but a plethora of options chokes the user interface, and easily confuses recent visitors to the ecommerce enabled website. The forum of Zen Cart® is good, but the ability to take criticism constructively seems to be missing. People who run this forum may not handle scathing well, but except for that, the performance has been optimal.

Paid Solutions

D. Shopify

The Shopify ecommerce solution is a paid solution. Merchants who own a Shopify ecommerce site need not to do anything technical. “Pay first and deliver later” is the process through which it works. All issues concerning the secure service layer, payment gateway, and security enhancements are managed by the team at Shopify only. You can begin by selecting their customized domain.

The access to Google Analytics provided by them plays a critical role for businesses that are going to adopt this ecommerce platform. Google analytics is among the most deep reaching analytical systems, which helps realize the potential of a business idea. Shopify integrates this into its ecommerce platforms and gives the administrator peace of mind by being easy to use.

E. FoxyCart

FoxyCart is also a paid solution. The major difference between Shopify and FoxyCart is that FoxyCart can easily become a part of an existing website because it is not a CMS. The appearance of the shopping cart can be adjusted according to the consumer’s needs by making some changes in the HTML and CSS files of the solution.

Ecommerce solutions for CMS

F. Ubercart for Drupal

To create a shopping cart made over Drupal, Ubercart could come in handy. It can be integrated into existing websites only. This solution ranks really well for starting ecommerce software. Businesses that have not used Drupal till now are suggested to avoid trying their hand at it, unless they have had prior exposure to the platform. Along similar lines, Drupal Commerce has also arrived to the market for consideration. Ubercart offers a lot of contemporary features that may not be found with such ease on Drupal Commerce.

G. WordPress Ecommerce

WordPress ecommerce services are best suited to those who already own a website or blog and want an ecommerce solution to go along with it. Positive aspects of the WP e-Commerce plugin include it being open-source and available for free, so new developments and modifications could be sourced from others or done personally. For the WP e-Commerce solution, the team at WordPress works actively and addresses grievances in a very friendly stance. The feature of adding tags on the existing template is also provided, making it extremely easy for the users to optimize their websites for ecommerce.

Custom ecommerce plugins are also available for specific kinds of businesses. Dippsy, for instance, is a WordPress ecommerce plugin that could be used for downloadable products. This add-on is free and can be integrated with the PayPal payment gateway to assist in the trade of these goods. Another very impressive plugin available for WordPress users is eShop. It is a shopping cart add-on, and could be customized with a lot of features. Online user reviews suggest some of the WordPress plugins could be little tedious to configure, but overall the performance can deliver decent results for the effort applied.

The Shopp plugin for WordPress can also be used as an add-on, but keeping a tab on the bugs is inevitable with this plugin. While it may prove difficult to set up, once that is done the outcome is going to please you. Getting different payment gateways is possible, although the budget set by you may deviate towards the higher end. WP e-Commerce is a better proposition in terms of value and ease.

H. VirtueMart for Joomla

VirtueMart is a plugin that could be used by Joomla platform users to add the ecommerce facility to their website. Some other add-ons are also available for Joomla, but VirtueMart is the oldest and quite developed. Regarding the user friendliness of the platform, there are mixed reactions from its users. There are a lot of premium plugins for similar purposes that may prove disconcerting to the user. The VirtueMart may be able to compete with basic version of osCommerce, but the not with advanced versions of CRE Loaded, Zen Cart® and osCommerce.

The installation goes quite well with VirtueMart, and functions smoothly with Joomla. However, availability of only basic shopping cart features and scarcity of plugins may prove difficult to improve, and unresponsive to changes in the industry.

The template for VirtueMart could be rewritten according to the needs of specific businesses. The feature of merging Joomla plugins for payment, shipment, coupons etc. makes it easier for users to manage their online stores. Detailed product descriptions and other reviews can be shared using this platform, and adding SEO based Meta Tags is also possible.

Ecommerce solution providers basically offer web based systems where impressive shopping carts are integrated, helping end users select their preferred products and services instantly. The integrated payment gateways bring requital on par with industry standards. Developers need secure and scalable hosting, and marketing knowledge, to point out the needs of merchants and end buyers.

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  • Where is nopCommerce ( It’s more powerful than most of these carts.

  • Great article. I’ve also worked with Open Cart and Cashie Commerce as well. I will check out FoxyCart to see how it works. Thanks!

  • We prefer to use ours as applied into
    But it’s nice share, thank you.

  • I think that another great Open source solution is Prestashop, which isnt mentioned here. Prestashop is also a newcomer just like Magento and it is by far better then osCommerce and ZenCart combined together. Prestashop does have its quircks, but it works beatifully. Imho ZenCart is out of touch with features and osCommerce is less active than it could be. So in the world of open source E-commerce there are only 2 players that are good enough; Magento and Prestashop.

  • With development costs so high, it should be taken into account how easily you can upgrade and modify the site to get those sought after features that keep you relevant as an e-retailer.

    osC turns into a huge mess after adding in a handful of hefty contribs, and (unless things have changed in the last two years, doesn’t look like it) you have to hack them all together, being cognizant of the other contribs and factoring in the impact adding in yet another contrib will have on everything else. The bigger the feature, the more you will have to hack the core files, the more time you spend in the code, the more chances for things to go wrong, the more time spent testing, and after it all, does it even work as you had planned? Let’s hope so…

    I have switched over to Magento Community Edition as it’s much easier to handle plugs and mods. Being able to simply bolt on a new feature is great, especially when you would like to see how it works within your existing setup. If you don’t like it, just swap it out. osC, you’re spending hours repairing or backing out if something goes wrong. Just know that you will need to do a bit of optimizing if you plan on using the platform on a shared host, it is pretty resource heavy. Plus, there are countless e-tailer-focused features baked right in that you will actually use. And it is very much SEO-minded in every facet, another perk!

  • Nice post. I’d like to know how to solve those oscommerce disadvantages, such as the unfriendly URL’s.

    Also, I found some WP plugings for your oscommerce site, but they were not very popular. Do you know some good ones?


  • I have worked with Magento and it is a pretty good Ecommerce system, but I found it a bit of a pain to theme. I also have played with Prestashop(not listed above), it has a nice system to develop on, but the price of its add-ons deters me from using it more.
    I am a Drupal guy so I am very familiar with Ubercart and Drupal Commerce. If you have a Drupal 6 site, then Ubercart is what you will use, but if you just starting to build your site today do yourself a favor and go Drupal 7 and Drupal Commerce. It is a lot more flexible then Ubercart.
    I have also worked with WordPress Ecommerce and was pleased with its ease of use and install. I think it helped that I had a prepackaged Ecommerce Theme.

    When choosing an Ecommerce solution make sure you use the right tool/system for the job. If you have a blog, forum, questionnaires, etc and Ecommerce all in one site, then use something like Drupal. If it is strictly for selling product then go with a stand alone Ecommerce solution.

  • I think LemonStand deserves to considered in round ups like this, and ZenCart dropped.

  • Given the audience here it’s also worth pointing out that D. Shopify also has a partner program so that developers can get a small revenue share from clients’ sites (it’s a percentage of a percentage that doesn’t amount to very much for a single shop but can certainly add up if you have a portfolio of successful clients: — Do any of the others provide similar?

  • Ken

    For smaller business OpenSource may seem cheaper but is a nightmare to maintain after the initial setup – constant security patches and updates that clients are loath to for. Plugins & 3rd party payment gateways, shipping modules and other add-ons are also often required and do not keep pace with upgrades. Hosted is the way to go if you want to focus on your retail business rather than technical web issues, hosted solutions can also add the benefit of extra marketing exposure to your target audience. Case in point – for fashion niche brands you must consider hosted solution,

  • The most powerful Magento seems the way to Go :)

  • Great post. Although I’ve never really tried any of these. I’m used to using “1shoppingcart” and “FoxyCart”. I’ll keep these few you mentioned in mind for any future projects.

  • Kevin

    If you are a webdesigner, you might want to check out SolidShops (

    • Bram

      Totally agree, you can also design your facebook store the way you want.

  • Woocommerce is great solution for WordPress. So far the best that I have come a crossed. Tons of support, great themes, and inegrates into paypal easy. Drupal with ubercart will be my next project to tackle.

  • Ankit Chaudhary

    Hello professionals and corporates.

    All these solutions for PHP based technology stack. Post some other technology stack based e-commerce solutions as well.



  • Hi Kapil. Do you know if any of these solutions have the facility to pull in product and price info from a back office accounts system? (Maybe possible via an API)

    We have a number of clients who are interested in eCommerce, but have a lot of product and price info in an existing back office accounts system.

    Thanks, Rob

  • Ben

    OScommerce? Seriously? Maybe 5 years ago, but if you intend on diving into the code of OS commerce I have pity on you. It is a mess and does not play well once you start making changes to it!

    Another vote for nopCommerce! Although I haven’t used it I’ve considered it after having looked at their source.

  • Dave

    Redshop is another solution which is available for Joomla. There is a free version but paid subscriptions offer a number of additional plugins and modules. The support forum is pretty active and helpful too.

    The templating system is very flexible and I would suggest it is certainly worth a look


  • Eddie

    I concur that Prestashop was definitely one that should have been included. Magento is HUGE and not very easy to understand and the DB is essentially impossible to query. I have to work with Magento, currently, but am working hard to replace it with anything else. The 3rd party contractors that built the site I work on modified so much core code that it is impossible to upgrade from our current version, anyway.

    There are tons of open-source shopping solutions out there and this list is only scratching the surface.

  • I’m a PHP programmer and I’ve been running a Zen-Cart store since 2007. It is limited by it’s origin as a procedural script. It has served me well, but it is showing it’s age. I’ve done development work on VirtueMart. It’s a nightmare. It’s written completely outside of the traditional Joomla MVC model, and it has an incredibly weak shipping model. I’m in the process of moving to Magento. It appears to be the best solution available today, although there does seem to be a bit of a learning curve. I think the “intro to programming magento” is a 40 hour course.

  • Dave

    Redshop is also another option for Joomla. Free and paid subscriptions are available. The template system is very flexible, the forums are well supported too. No doubt we all have our preferences :-)

  • Dotline

    The best cms is drupal 7 commerce, ubercart is autdated

  • Peter

    I will mention IOS eshop, a paid ecommerce cart solution that is a component to Elxis.
    It includes a terrific template and as it is a cms with css template capability and simpler than joomla it is easier for non technical people to setup as well.

  • Having completed a couple of projects with Drupal Commerce recently, all I can say is that the future of online commerce technology has arrived! When the modules that are currently available for it mature, and new ones become available to better support business users, I’m sure that its rate of adoption will sky-rocket.