8 minute read.

10 kick ass Open source E-commerce platforms reviewed

Paul Anthony / May 3, 2008

Posted in: Archive

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
  • E-commerce
  • featured
  • free
  • learning curve
  • online
  • reviewed
  • Reviews
  • shops
  • trade

139 responses to “10 kick ass Open source E-commerce platforms reviewed

  1. Paul,

    Tom (@ 70) may not have pointed it out very ‘politely’ but his comment about date does have a point. ‘Accuracy’ do get affected by dates. E.g. if I comment, “Magento has a lot of bugs & drains server resources” —– It would be ‘accurate’ if my comment date was Nov 2008. But, it would be ‘inaccurate’ if the comment date was Nov 2009 — because ver of Magneto that was released in June, 2009 has relatively very few bugs & loads faster than earlier versions.

    Your blog is very useful; it will be much more useful (in my opinion), if you add date feature.

    Commented on: 26 Nov, 2009 :-)

  2. add dates m8, stop crying, just add them.
    I tell at Mc Donalds I want without pickels, so get on with it

  3. it is January 2010 I have just finished testing the latest Magento on my Ubuntu Server ( dual core ) with 10 products load time is up to 1 minute through a 108 Mbps router. While Magento is extremely feature rich it’s load time is enough for me to say I am looking for something else while I wait for some code streamlining.

  4. Hi Everyone!

    I am looking for a platform for selling products from many users – so would need a multi-access system where by many accounts could be created with access only to upload listings – so much like a free mart style of site, but without any cost to the user for placing a listing.

    Is there anything out there that anyone knows about that I can take a look at?

    It will need a basic shopping cart, paypal accepted.

    If anyoe can help, I would much appreciate it.


  5. Excellent reviews as a pointer to where to begin looking.

    thank you to who ever put the dates on the posts as they make no contextual sense until you realize that they are relevant versions that are being referred to. You can’t use old versions of e-commerce sites as you may as well hang a sign out saying “fraudsters welcome – hack me please”.

    I’d love to see this article translated onto wikipedia (there is one but the comments and not the features listed are far more helpful IMHO and wikipedia in its impartiality only has features listed). Knowing that Magento is gods gift to oscommerce so long as you have a rolls royce computer dedicated to it lets me know that it is inappropriate for my needs and the descriptions of the skinning/templating are life savers (well they save me time as I hate smarty and know that I wouldn’t bother with a cms that used it again). .


    Great work…

    March 10 2010

  6. Hi Darren,

    yes there are 2-3 platforms i can thnk off which do exactly that.

    What price were you looking for.

    Jon from jonhos.com
    “Helping business with eCommerce Platform Selection”

  7. Jon,

    The concept is to start a free page site for a specialist niche and what I would like is anyone who wants to list to be able to upload and set a price for the item, and the page automatically set a paypal button in place to go to our account and not the seller.

    Once the item has been delivered and signed for, only then would the funds be released to the seller – this removing or attracting too much fraud.

    It focused on the “car, van and bike” industry.

    The shopping basket would not be an issue if the direct paypal button could be installed – which would obviously mean that maybe a basic php classified site with some script for the paypal auto generation.

    Only guessing here, but would it be fair to say that this would be a none standard script/template or would a standard one be easily modified for the small additional button?

    Thanks for coming back to me, and look forward to your thoughts.



  8. Forget Magento. I’ve been around computing for a long time, and worked with many hardware platforms, languages and database packages.

    The concept of Magento looks wonderful, and some of the sites that are selling templates and the like look good too. The problem comes with the detail. I had a client that loved one specific template, so they went for it. Then we discovered that it would not work with their current “stable” version. That’s a joke, it’s so darn stable it goes nowhere, as it’s almost impossible to install on a shared server.

    The documentation sucks, their chargeable user guide doesn’t match the version that was released around the same time

    Their web site is massively spammed with porn ads, medication ads and the like, and there’s almost no visible presence from the developers, so hundreds, literally, of questions are unanswered.

    The install routines don’t work cleanly on shared hosting.

    The checker programs that are supposed to indicate that the package will or will not work on a specific server are incomplete, so give wrong results.

    Many of the connect addon packages are not compatible with the most recent release of the community version, and in some cases, will not be upgraded.

    I spent a good few evenings over a 3 week period trying to get this monster to work, without any worthwhile success, and the client is not prepare to wait any longer for a demonstration on their products, and I can’t blame them, I’m sick of not getting any support, and all the other things I’ve mentioned above.

    Magento appears to have started well, but they’ve now gone down the road of becoming a very expensive enterprise solution supplier, and community open source seems to no longer be on their radar.


  9. Don’t forget http://www.oscmax.com – an excellent osCommerce derivative with all the best modules installed – makes it a breeze to setup – Up and running in no time.

    Excellent templating system, secure and fast with good documentation and forum support.

  10. If you like osCommerce then take a look at the I-Metrics CMS, an open source content management system based on the MS2.2 osC framework. It’s gnu/gpl available from sourceforge.net expanding the possibilities of the original framework into new areas.


    It is extremely light, very easy to learn and it is expandable, suitable for both novice and advanced web-developers. Additional functionality can be achieved from the plugins manager that operates separately from the main core. Only a handful of files control the layout of website front, making template integration trivial. Multi-site administration is integrated and the package can accommodate dynamically active scripting via the jQuery.

  11. A useful review.

    I want php, css, and linux. I need a middle of the road application that does 80% of possible features. I don’t need the 80% complexity to get the 20% extras. That rules out Magento and osCommerce types.

    I’ve narrowed my choice down to Virtuemart and Presto Shop. Some reviews say these are limited to about 200 items. I need about 500. Is anyone running these applications with 500+ items???

    It’s difficult to figure out whether Virtuemart is better than Prestoshop. I currently favour Virtuemart because it’s free.

  12. Hi!

    I would like to inform you that the new LiteCommerce v3 (right now it is in alpha) is free (OSL 3.0) and can be connected to Drupal. When connected, LC v3 transparently integrates its pages and storefront blocks into Drupal so that they look like other “regular” Drupal pages and blocks. You can see how it looks like on the LiteCommerce’s official website (it is build on Drupal integrated with LC v3).


    Vyacheslav Petrov
    LC3 team

  13. I used http://www.freewebstore.org, its free to 15 items, you get support free.
    I could recommend it to all complete beginners, you will have the shop in 2 min.
    unfortunately only english, but you can translate the whole store yourself within 20 min.
    very easy to use, I am quite content, 150 items you pay something like 15 $ a month
    takes paypal and other stuff, missing moneybooker for europe

  14. Nice collection, and i would like to share it on my social networks, such as Facebook, Linkedin and etc. It will be great, if these links can be provided.
    Thank you, Paul.

    BTW, I have followed you on twitter.(@cynthia30360)

  15. Hi,

    I am a java developer, i found Shopizer http://www.shopizer.com to be a great java based e-commerce framework to work with. It is built with recent java technologies. The software also does online invoicing.

  16. Shopify is not open source when it all resides on their server and you have to be hosted by them. They use Liquid which is open source but Shopify in NOT totally open source.

  17. Welcome, very interesting blog. I am also leading one’s and I know how hard it is. Your contents are great, although not always I agree with that waht your write, but in spite of that I will visit your blog more often. I wish you the success and the perseverance in running the site, Ann

  18. Pingback: eCommerce
  19. 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 …

  20. 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.

  21. Thank you for this.

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

    Thank you

  22. 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.

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