5 Best Open Source E-Commerce Platforms for Your Online Business

If you want to build a successful e-commerce business to sell your goods online, you will inevitably be confronted with a huge selection of shop systems. Shop software for rent, for sale, or open-source? How much capital do I have available? Can my shop grow with me? What are the advantages and disadvantages of individual web shops?

The decision for ‘the right’ shop system is not easy. In e-commerce is open source shop systems are set by getting stronger. Therefore, with this article, we would like to give you an overview of the most common open-source shop systems. The advantages of open source applications are that they offer high flexibility with comparatively little use. With intensive training and a good technical understanding or the help of a programmer, you have great freedom of design and maximum functionality.

The basic shop systems are free of charge and can be expanded to meet the respective requirements. Another advantage is the large community of excellent developers who are constantly developing and improving open source systems.

Which open source shop systems are recommended? There is no perfect open source shop system. Each system fulfills different needs. Based on our experience, we can recommend the following two as by far the most convenient and friendly systems:

  • PrestaShop (many extensions available, is especially suitable for smaller shops, very clear backend).
  • WooCommerce (very easy condition, many free extensions/plugins and themes available).

However, below we have given a complete list of the 5 best open source e-commerce platforms for your business.

What Does Open-Source Mean?

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‘Open Source’ describes software whose source code is public. This source code can be viewed, used, and changed by third parties. The source code is not only free of charge, it can also be freely used and modified to develop new functionalities and modules.

With an open-source shop, you get individually adaptable codes for your web shop.

Open Source Shop Systems – Who Can Do What?

E-commerce, i.e. electronic commerce, has seen high growth for years, with some double-digit annual growth rates. Since online trading is booming, it’s no wonder that shop systems are springing up like mushrooms.

So that you can keep track and find the perfect shop system for you, you can benefit from our experience with these 5 open-source shop systems.

1. Magento

Magento is probably the best-known shop system. It exists in two versions: The Free Community Version and the Paid Enterprise Edition. Both versions are essentially the same, apart from a few out of the box functions, but there are also differences.

Extensions: There are numerous extensions for both versions. With the help of extensions, the online shop can be expanded with numerous functions. For the Enterprise Edition, you only get certified and tested extensions, while those of the community can also contain errors. You should inform yourself well before installing the community extensions and read reviews from other users to minimize the potential for failure.

Warranty/Guarantee: If the failure or error in the software results in loss of sales or damage, Magento is only liable in the Enterprise Edition. You use the community version at your own risk.

Support: Users of the community version can get help from the Magento community or the agency they have hired if they have any questions or problems. Enterprise Edition users receive direct support from Magento itself.

The usability of Magento increases with newer versions. Many things such as customer data, product information, or transaction data can easily be maintained by yourself after some very laborious training. For more complex adaptations and customizations, however, most operators resort to a programmer, as the system is partly opaque and overwhelms many users – this often causes the total costs to skyrocket.


  • Big community.
  • Numerous extensions are available.
  • Easy to integrate.


  • Programming skills required.
  • Extensions z. T. chargeable.

2. WooCommerce

WooCommerce can be integrated into existing WordPress websites and is one of the best-known open-source shop systems. There is only a free version, a multi-channel strategy like most other providers does not exist here. However, you should first compare your requirements with the services of WooCommerce, because many plugins and functions are chargeable.

Depending on the WordPress development template chosen, WooCommerce is easy to integrate, visually appealing, and responsive. WooCommerce is an inexpensive and user-friendly alternative for small online shops or the sale of downloads (e.g. e-books). However, WooCommerce is not or multi-shop capable and is not so easy to use for more complex processes.

The difference between multi-shop and multi-tenant capability is that, for example, with multi-tenant capability, the multi shops in the backend can be separated from each other by default.


  • Can be easily integrated into WordPress sites.
  • Very user friendly.
  • The plugin is available for adaptation to multiple national laws.
  • Almost all important plugins are available for free.


  • Limited functionality.
  • Not multishop capable.

3. PrestaShop

PrestaShop is aimed primarily at beginners who are looking for a cheap e-commerce solution. The platform, developed in France, indicates that PrestaShop is used by more than 270,000 retailers in almost 200 countries. Small to medium-sized shops should be well supplied with the range of functions – but the system is quickly overwhelmed with large, complex shops. Newcomers with shop experience should be able to use the back office quite well, as it is very clearly structured. If you are ready to familiarize yourself thoroughly and have a good technical understanding, you can set up your online shop without the help of developers or agencies. Otherwise, you are better served with the help of professionals.

Around 300 extensions and plugins included as standard make it possible to adapt your online shop to your requirements. The layout is completely responsive, there are numerous interfaces to payment providers and also a function for selling digital products. Further features are the multi-shop capability, an integrated merchandise management system with warehouse management, and a well-thought-out returns system. About 3,000 additional extensions and stylish templates can be obtained from the “PrestaShop Add-Ons Marketplace” – but these are associated with additional costs. With PrestaShop, too, it makes sense to compare your requirements with the offer in advance and compare the total costs with those of other providers. In the PrestaShop demo shop, the frontend, backend, and even the view can be tested on various devices.


  • Many plugins and features are included.
  • Multi-shop capable.
  • Clear backend.


  • Templates and extensions e.g. T. costly.
  • Not recommended for large and complex online shops.

4. OpenCart

OpenCart is an open-source shop system that can either be operated free of charge or optionally supplemented with various chargeable support solutions. Both the functions and the design of the shop can be freely designed – of course, technical understanding provided.

With 13,000 modules (some of which are chargeable), the software can be adapted and expanded as required – thus, for example, payment methods such as PayPal can be integrated into the transaction process. More modern payment methods such as Amazon Payments are also supported. OpenCart comes from the factory in English, but there are around 30 other language packages that are easy to install – the entire system (license, installation, and backend, among other things) has meanwhile been translated into multiple languages.


  • Many design options.
  • Numerous extensions.
  • Active community.


  • Programming skills required.
  • Many plugins require a fee.

5. Zen Cart

Zen Cart was originally developed for the US market and is based on osCommerce V3. However, there is a version that has been specially adapted to the needs of multiple online shop operators. This version not only contains a language package but has also been adapted to the legal conditions and already contains the most common extensions. This version, including additional modules, is free and financed through donations. The active community is constantly developing the system and is happy to help with questions or problems.

Zen Cart shines above all with a high level of integration: whether Lexware or TriData – the list of ERP interfaces is impressive. The number of items listed in the shop is unlimited, the system provides good performance – ideal conditions for a scalable online shop!

However, programming skills are required to make adjustments to the layout or configuration. If these are not available, a service provider or an agency must be used. The themes are modern, the prices for plugins and extensions are moderate – with a capable programmer you can create a good and scalable online shop here. In the Zen Cart demo shop, the front end, the back end, and various layouts and themes can be tested.


  • The version available can be adapted to different national laws.
  • High level of integration.
  • Active community.


  • Programming skills required.
  • Many plugins require a fee.

Conclusion: The Best Shop System for Your Shop

There is no such thing as the ultimate best solution. Depending on your knowledge, your budget and the requirements of your shop, there is sure to be the best individual solution for you.

When choosing the shop system, you should make sure that it meets your requirements today, but also those in one or two years, and that it can grow with you. The next point is your budget. Think carefully about which functions you need and compare them with what the systems offer. If you choose a free system, but then have to invest several thousand euros in templates and extensions, you won’t have won anything in the end. On the other hand, it can of course be the case that you can do without an expensive system, as there is also a free e-commerce solution that meets your requirements.

On the last point you have to be honest with yourself: How much know-how do you have? What can you do yourself? If you have to commission an agency for every small adjustment in the system, you will quickly come to the price you would have to pay for solutions that are easier to implement – or even higher.

The best thing to do is to make a checklist of the features you need today and those you may need in a few months or years. You compare them with the functions and features of the shops and get the perfect solution for you. Code Creators Inc., is well-reputed within the industry for providing reliable and affordable e-commerce development services to its clients from diverse industries.

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