The Best Open Source Platforms for eCommerce Compared

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This is a guest post by Henry Rise. If you’d like to contribute to our blog, feel free to get in touch with us.

Looking for the best ecommerce platform for your store? You’re not alone.

As per InternetLiveStats, in 2017 the number of websites doubled as compared to 2016. Wonder how many online stores are there among these numbers? To get these stats we’ll have to refer to BuiltWith to find data about all CMS and website engines for statistical or outreach purposes. When you do a quick search for e-commerce you’ll notice the big players in the open source e-commerce platforms genres are Magento, WooCommerce, PrestaShop, and OpenCart.


In case you’re trying to figure out which eCommerce engine will be the best for your store, it’s likely you will not find the best one, simply because there isn’t one which is “the best”. Each eCommerce engine is best on its own, each one plays well for every store, product, or use case. It’s the subtle differences which matter.

If you want to understand which eCommerce CMS you need, first of all, you need to think ahead what your store will be like in a year or two. If it’s something seasonal I’m pretty sure you don’t need CMS at all, some SAAS solution like Shopify will be your perfect choice, 3-4 hours of work and store is ready to accept payments.

But if you need something robust, a store that can be easily transformed into a marketplace than you need to look closer at open source eCommerce platforms I’m going to talk about in this blog.

The Contenders

Luckily for you, there’s a number of open source eCommerce platforms that are either free or have an attractive price tag, with the majority being free. Each of these engines offers great customizability and scalability, as well as community support that isn’t always found in enterprise solutions.

Opting for a free open source eCommerce platform to sell your goodies online might be the easiest option for you. However, choosing the best open source e-commerce platform may not be as easy.

To make this a bit better, we have a list of 4 of the best open source eCommerce platforms which stand out in terms of popularity and utility. As a proof popularity statement, here’s a graph from Google Trends.


If you change the time frame you will see that long before September 2015 Joomla was a lot more popular than other engines, but due to some circumstances, other engines outperformed it.

Now let’s have a closer look at each of these, on their strengths and weaknesses.

#1 WooCommerce

The first example is WooCommerce, I’ve placed it on top of this list because a WooCommerce-based store is the easiest solution you can opt for. If you have a WordPress website you can transform it into a store by downloading and installing the WooCommerce plugin.


After the installation, you will get several new sections (WooCommerce, Products) in your WordPress dashboard where you can create new products, manage orders, finetune your store by adding payment methods, shipping options, currencies, and so on.

With WooCommerce you can sell both digital and physical products without having to install additional plugins for digital downloads.

Here you can refer to the WooCommerce documentation to find more about WooCommerce store setup.

How Easy is it to Use WooCommerce?

For installation, I can give 5 points, for managing and maintenance 5 points, for sales reporting 3 points. Among all the rest items this eCommerce platform will help you build any store in a short timeframe.

When combined with a powerful WooCommerce theme that can be edited with a page builder like WP Bakery, you will save lots of time and efforts customizing your store.

If there’s a category where a WooCommerce store will be an undisputed winner, it’s the design. As you may know, the number of WordPress themes available today is really astonishing, and most of them are WooCommerce compatible meaning that you can get any WordPress theme and build a store on its basis. For example, here’s how a WooCommerce store would look with the popular theme Ozisti.

P.S. I’m not getting into the design capabilities of other eCommerce platforms because they will lose immediately unless they are Shopify.

Installation – 5 points.

Managing & maintenance – 4 points.

Sales reporting – 3 points.

#2 Magento

Launching an online store with Magento CMS can be a little bit more complicated. Luckily for you, the CPanel (in any hosting provider) has a 1-click engine installation. This option will remove all the headache you may have had while installing Magento.


Just for laughs, I’ve Googled “how to install Magento 2 cms”, and most results had a remark “without errors”. That’s because Magento installation can be a bit tricky.

If you visit the official Magento website you’ll notice that there’re two versions of this engine Magento Commerce and Magento Open Source. The first one is an enterprise level engine that will cost you 2K+ per month, the second one is free and this is the option to go for.

I won’t recommend installing this engine manually because I’ve never met a living human being who was able to install Magento manually in the first try (Magento developers not included). After installing Magento engine you will get access to its admin panel which is a lot clearer than installation process.

All CMS features are neatly organized and can be easily accessed.

How Easy is it to Use Magento?

Compared to WooCommerce, Magento engine installation is easy when it’s automated. In terms of admin functionalities, Magento is tuned to giving you all eCommerce features possible letting you decide how of them you need. The sales reporting tool is super awesome, it’s insanely detailed that even WooCommerce stats + Google Analytics will hardly give you as much data.

Installation – 3 points.

Managing & maintenance – 4 points.

Sales reporting – 5 points.

#3 Prestashop

When you’re using a 1-click installation you won’t face any difficulties handling the PrestaShop engine. And once it’s installed you will get access to a handy admin panel.


All store elements and features are placed where you may expect to find them, which implies, navigation is easy.

Using this handy menu you’ll be able to configure product features, create product packs, product variations, sell digital products without using third-party extensions, and so on.

The Stats section will give you access to extensive reporting data, which is a lot more comprehensive than one WooCommerce will provide you with.

But there’s a thing you might find a little bit strange. If you want to have a blog on your store you will have to install an additional module to make this happen.

How Easy is it to Use PrestaShop?

Unlike WooCommerce, PrestaShop is a lot more comprehensive and powerful in terms of features. Somehow it resembles Magento, especially in sales reports. Overall PrestaShop deserves the following points:

Installation – 5 points.

Managing & maintenance – 4 points.

Sales reporting – 5 points.

#4 OpenCart


Unlike previous contestant you won’t be able to find OpenCart in the quick installation in your CPanel, you need to go to download the archive, upload it to your host and install it.

Unfortunately, OpenCart doesn’t have as many details in sales reports as previous two contestants but still, you can get a lot of information about your clients. In case you want to have a blog on your store you will have to install an additional module to turn it on.

How Easy is it to Use OpenCart?

Unlike Magento, you can install OpenCart in a few clicks with the help of a semi-automatic installation. The admin panel is quite intuitive you won’t find it difficult creating and managing products. Still, OpenCart deserves the following points:

Installation – 3 points.

Managing & maintenance – 4 points.

Sales reporting – 4 points.

Features Comparison





Website integration type Part of your WordPress website Self-sufficient eCommerce engine Self-sufficient eCommerce engine Self-sufficient eCommerce engine
Order management + + + +
Payment gateways support + + + +
Customer management + + + +
Themes / Designs 1000’s of themes 1000’s of themes 1000’s of themes 1000’s of themes
Sales reports Good reports on sales and store activity. Advanced and in-depth reports on sales and store activity. Advanced and in-depth reports Great analytics module, with reports, purchase funnels, abandoned carts stats, and much more.
Discounts, gift cards, and coupon codes. + + + +
Plugins / Extensions + + + +
Multilingual Built-in Built-in multilingual support Built-in multilingual support Built-in multilingual support
Multi-Currency support Via third-party plugin Built-in multicurrency support Via third-party module Via third-party extension
Pricing Free Free/Paid Free Free
Handling Easy Hard Moderate Easy


Overall Points





Installation 5 3 5 3
Managing & maintenance 5 4 4 4
Sales reporting 3 5 5 4
Average 4.3 4 4.3 3.6


Final Words

Now, it’s entirely up to you which platform you want to use. Each of them is perfect for selling online, but they all have their strong and weak sides.

All in all, if you already have a website, which I’m pretty sure is WordPress, it’s best for you to build a store on its basis. This will save you a lot of time and will give a lot more freedom in terms of customization. But if you’re starting from scratch or want to have something more scalable, I advise you to opt for PrestaShop. For an enterprise business, Magento is the definite choice. 

Rock your store with the perfect design and you’re all set. What are your thoughts about these ecommerce platforms? We’d like to know.

Author Bio

Henry Rise is the CEO of ThemeRex, and a ThemeForest Power Elite Author. He loves to help people build their business online. Every business begins with the right choice of a micro-niche WP Theme.



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