10 kick ass Open source E-commerce platforms reviewed

May 3, 2008139 Comments

With e-commerce webdesign really starting to take off, its never been more important to choose a platform which suits you as a developer (i.e. one that you can support) and one that will provide your clients with the features that they need to run a successful online shop.

There are a number of ways of getting a shop online, and we’ve focused primarily on open source e-commerce platforms here.



oscommerce-63750-1.pngOsCommerce has a number of store owners on its books, notable customers include TruffleShuffle and LinuxUk.

So what features do you get with OsCommerce? There are multiple payment Gateway’s to choose from including (but not limited to) – 2Checkout.com, Authorize.Net, ChronoPay, iPayment, PayNova, Paypal, PSIGate, SecPay and TrustCommerce.

As expected from a platform such as this its jam-packed with features

Notable Features

  • Supports unlimited products and categories
  • Multicurrency support
  • Support for physical (shippable) and virtual (downloadable) products
  • Object oriented PHP backend
  • Web Browser Install and Plugin support

Problems – front end of OsCommerce is not developed using CSS, therefore skinning and reskinning is a bit of a nightmare, that said installation is a breeze – and if you are more comfortable with tables then OsCommerce is probably for you.

You can however always add on one of the popular template systems plugins and save some time -but its not supported out of the box. The code base is also overly complex which makes extending more difficult.

OsCommerce is widely popular and thus has a larger support base, and forum if you need help.



Zencart’s website doesn’t do justice to the professionalism of the end product, and although it doesn’t not offer as many payment processing options as OsCommerce and other e-commerce platforms it is a more mature product, with OsCommerce often taking quite a long time to release fixes for important issues such as security. ZenCart is a fork of OsCommerce so you can expect very similar sorts of features, its also easier for the newbie developer to get into than Osc. Payment gateways include LinkPoint, Authorize.Net and Paypal.

Notable Features

  • User frontend is validated to XHTML 1.0 Transitional
  • Any PHP coding changes can be protected during upgrades by using the built-in override protection system
  • Integrate with phpBB
  • Meta Tags keywords and descriptions can be controlled at the per-product level



update-item-test-product_1209830856828.pngVirtueMart is an Open Source E-Commerce solution designed to be used with Joomla! (but also works with Mambo). Joomla and VirtueMart are written in PHP and made for easy use in a PHP / MySQL environment.

Notable Features

  • Stock Level Control for Products and Item
  • Ajax-powered Product Overview allows to quickly add Products to the cart
  • Product Attributes (like Size or Color) can be added to Product
  • Manage different Currencies, Countries & States
  • Product Availability: show how fast a Customer can expect delivery

Payment Gateways supported include Authorize.net, PayPal, 2Checkout, eWay, Worldpay, PayMate and NoChex. If you have an existing Joomla based site, integration is particularly easy <5 minutes (if you have a working installation of Joomla, <10 minutes otherwise. Virtuemart uses Joomla’s admin interface for store administration, and because it is implemented inside an already rich CMS, administration will come very easily to Joomla users. Given that Joomla is (probably) one of the best CMS systems out there, it may easily give OsCommerce and others a run for their money.



magento.jpgVarien, a Los Angeles web development firm is the brainchild behind Magento, and my what a fantastic job they have done on this product. It’s by far one of the more exciting e-commerce platforms available for free on the market today. Dripping with features, they really have thought of everything. Wishlists, shop by price and category, item comparison – all the things we’ve come to expect from professional web stores. Its software as good as this that really keeps licensed software on their toes..

Just some of the features, for a full list download the pdf

Notable Features

  • Integrated with Google Analytics
  • Multiple Images with Zoom
  • Add to Wishlist
  • Send to a Friend
  • Batch Import and Export of Catalog
  • One Page Checkout
  • Multi Lingual



dash.JPGIf you are a advocate of all things Microsoft this wont be the first time you’ve come a cropper with finding open source software. One of the only Open source .NET e-commerce platforms on the market we could lay claim to was Dashcommerce (formerly the Microsoft Commerce Starter Kit) at its present status can only provide us with Paypal support for payment integration, and its lead developer has recently announced that the Roadmap for the product appears to be going in a more commerce route. If you need one of the other payment vendors listed above, you are going to have to rip the source code apart and tackle it yourself. Some sites which have been built using Dash include Grossi Wines and GoWheelChair.

Notable Features

  • Single Page Checkout
  • Partial Refunds
  • Configurable Shipping Rates
  • Drop-In Themes / Skinning



cc4_admin.jpgCubecart have released two different versions of their product. Cubecart 3 is their free version, Cubecart 4 is their inexpensive commercial version. The pricing structure for Cubecart can been seen below.

Copyright Removal Key (Optional) $89.95 $89.95
Installation Service (Optional) $59.95 $59.95
Upgrade Eligibility All Releases of v3 All Releases of v4

One of Cubecart’s main strength’s lies with its variety of different payment merchant vendor, including but not limited to the following for the free version:

2Checkout, AsianPay, Authorize AIM / SIM , BluePay, ccAvenue, ccNow, ChronoPay, PayPal Pro Direct Payment (US), PayPal Express Checkout, HSBC (API), Linkpoint Connect, Mals-E, Moneybookers, Nochex (Basic & APC), PayJunction, PayMate, PayOffline, PayPal Standard & IPN, Print Order Form, Protx (VPS Form), psiGate, SECPay, Verisign, WorldPay Junior

Notable Features

  • Professionally Security Audited
  • 100% Template Driven
  • Customer Order History
  • Multi Currency Support
  • Tell a Friend



product-autoresponders-for-x-cart-24211.pngWhilst not free, X-Cart costs $229.00 for the Gold version (see features here) and $575.00 for the professional version (see features here). X-Cart is well thought of piece of software amongst the developer community. X-Cart is an easy-to-use cart, although many customers say that its learning curve is too difficult for beginners. A knowledge of the templating engine that it uses (Smarty) would be a major advantage if you do decide to use it, and would make the learning curve that bit easier. X-Cart has a relative ease of self-maintenance, and your clients will find it easier to use than LiteCommerce.

Notable Features

  • Unlimited product options
  • Variety of payment gateways
  • Import/export all types of X-Cart
  • Real-time USPS, FedEx and UPS shipping calculation
  • Support for E-goods
  • Membership levels and membership-based pricing
  • Add-To-Cart buttons for existing websites



template_editor2.gifLiteCommerce is developed by the same people as X-Cart, and is a cut down version of the product. It really lends itself towards smaller stores, and if you are needing a quick version, with easier code maintainance that works then LiteCommerce is for you. It also has a few features such as the bulk shopping add on option which X-Cart doesn’t have. LiteCommerce has 97% of its source code open – whilst X-Cart has 100%, but for some developers this stipulation wont factor much. LiteCommerce also uses the FLEXY template engine, whereas X-Cart uses Smarty.

Notable Features

  • 27 Payment Gateways
  • Gentler learning curve than X-Cart
  • FLEXY template Engine
  • No programming required to Setup -Windows Program
  • Control Panel for Windows

But if you clients budget doesn’t stretch that far, and you would be happy to integrate a shop with a hosted solution you wont go far wrong with Shopify, see below:



tour-products.jpgShopify – built on Ruby on Rails technology is a full-stack hosted e-commerce package, which basically means everything you need is right there at your fingertips. You shop will be Standards-compliant, fully customizable and requires very little technical skill to get going. Best of all setting up a store is free Creating a store is free. Shopify takes a 3.75% commission on all sales, which can take the fear of setting a shop up away for some clients who want to test the water.

Notable Features

  • Faster and Easier to setup than any other solution
  • SEO Build in! Shopify has been designed by SEO experts and every default theme is carefully crafted with SEO in mind
  • Discount codes with fine-grained options
  • XML Sitemap automatically generated for search engine indexing
  • A full featured Asset system which lets you use and re-use your stock photography, logos or product pdf’s wherever you need them.
  • New order notifications via email, RSS, and on your mobile phone with SMS messaging



TomatoCart is an innovative open source ecommerce solution, branched from osCommerce. Aiming at creating the best online shopping platform, TomatoCart is devoted to blending all flexible functionalities for users even with the basic software knowledge. Notably, innovation can be found in our admin panel, which is based on Rich Internet Applications combined with Ajax, contributing to our creative web desktop, one of central means by which we provide easy management of your store and intuitive interface. Various payment processing options are available, including Authorize. Net, Ogone, PayPal, Saferpay, Wire Card and Google Checkout.

Notable Features

  • RIA based Administration Pane
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Web Analytics (Piwik)
  • Lightweight Framework
  • Content Management System
  • Email System

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  1. Terry says:

    Thanks for sharing Mangeto and TomatoCart V1.1.1 is available now. And I think it is much powerful.

  2. Giles says:

    You missed osCmax.com off your list … probably one of the best osCommerce based products. Truely open source as well … They are about to launch v2.5 … Release candidate is out now …

  3. steph says:

    How about the ecommerce plug-ins for wordpress or joomla? are they any good? I use OS commerce though, but I would love another alternative from either WP or joomla.

  4. Toto says:

    Thank you for this.

    Is there a shop system for selling only services (no merchandise) in Europe and the USA?

    Thank you

  5. I have moved to Joomla VM from oscommerce. I think VM is almost perfect ;-)

  6. Great post, informative even though its from 2008, I’m writing a post similar to this, but with specific focus on how well they these e-commerce platforms match up to the needs of wholesalers.

  7. Ben says:

    I really admire the simplistic approach ZenCart uses to establish themselves in the online market.

  8. d76 says:

    try Bigfish (http://bigfish.salmonllc.com) – Open Source Java eCommerce framework

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