When you open an online shop, one of the most important decisions you must make is which platform (or CMS) you’re going to choose to design it.
To make the right choice, you must make sure that it:
- Can be set up easily.
- Can be updated conveniently.
- Is inexpensive.
In today’s article, we discuss 7 free Open Source CMSs that fulfill these requirements so you can start creating your e-commerce right away.
Ready? Here we go.
👉 Which Open Source CMS should I use for my e-commerce?
Luckily, due to the development of the Internet, there’s been an upsurge of tools that allow you to create your online shop easily: Open Source CMSs.
Are you not familiar with this concept? We’ll put it simply in a way that computer engineers may not quite appreciate ;)
CMS stands for Content Management System: software for creating and managing websites.
It’s an assistant that enables any user (without needing to know much about computers or programming) to manage the content of their website.
Open Source refers to free software that users and programmers can modify to customize it according to their specific needs.
This post already went over the most popular Open Source CMS content managers (WordPress, Shopify, Magento, Prestashop, etc.). This time, we put the spotlight on some free alternative Open Source CMSs to set up your online shop.
Grab a pen.
👉 1. OsCommerce
This is one of the first Open Source CMSs created as well as one of the best known on a global scale, so you can be assured it comes with complete technical support. Additionally, its developers are continually updating its functionalities.
Its main characteristics are:
- It features a range of languages, currencies and payment methods.
- It has plenty of backend functionalities (for the internal management of the shop).
- It can be adjusted easily, even by inexperienced users.
If your catalog isn’t too lengthy, OsCommerece is perfect for you since you can quickly and easily launch a full online shop.
Although tech support costs €49, a single payment grants you lifetime access.
There are also some cons: The user interface looks kind of old-fashioned, which doesn’t make it too visually appealing. If you know some coding, though, you can change it to match your tastes (or have a professional do it for you).
👉 2. OpenCart
This CMS was created specifically to set up online stores and has loads of interesting options:
- It offers over 2,700 themes to design your website and 13,000 modules to help you develop your shop.
- Its settings allow you to choose from different currencies and languages, more than 20 payment methods, and 10 shipping options.
- It has an active and participative community that provides constant and free support.
This is the option used by the Red Cross in the UK:
If you don’t want to overcomplicate things while setting up your shop and don’t need more than the basic settings (which are perfectly adequate for a small e-commerce), this is the perfect CMS for you.
Cons: It doesn’t offer much in terms of SEO options.
👉 3. ZenCart
Installing this CMS is quite simple. It’s based on the OsCommerce code, although it’s even easier to set up and operate.
The focus here is clearly on customer experience, so its usability is the most remarkable aspect.
Apart from that:
- It includes a number of marketing tools ranging from news bulletins to user reviews.
- It features different currencies, languages, and payment methods.
- It lets you set permissions for authorized users and limitations for others so that they can check the catalog without seeing the prices.
The Shannon Fabrics e-commerce was created using ZenCart:
If you need to launch your store immediately, ZenCart is your CMS.
Cons: It also has a slightly old-fashioned look.
👉 4. Drupal Commerce
Despite not being specifically designed for e-commerce, it’s one of the most complete Open Source CMSs, fully equipped to be combined with third-party applications.
Apart from accepting different languages and currencies, it lets you:
- Manage subscriptions and subscription-based products.
- Set fixed, percentage, code, and user-specific discounts.
- Create your own marketplace to host shops of other users.
This is Cartier’s website that was made using Drupal:
This CMS should interest you if you need to integrate your e-commerce into another CRM, ERP, analytical engine, or similar.
Cons: You have to pay to access some of its functionalities.
👉 5. CubeCart
The best thing about this British CMS is how intuitive it is and that all the templates are responsive and automatically switch to mobile navigation, which saves you time when designing the mobile version of your e-commerce.
- There is no set limit on the number of products in your catalog.
- It can be combined with the most popular applications (for example, Mailchimp).
- It has online support and queries are dealt with promptly.
One of its users is Harris Organic Wines in Australia:
If you have a small business that doesn’t require a lot of custom settings and you don’t want to spend too many hours creating your online shop, choose this CMS.
👉 6. Spree Commerce
This CMS continues to grow in popularity across the globe. In fact, in just a few years, it has reached the top 50 on the list of most widely used Open Source CMSs in the world.
Developed in Ruby on Rails (a simpler and more accessible programming language than Java or PHP), it’s constantly improving because of its more than 500 active collaborators.
Of course, this multi-device CMS gives you the chance to choose from a range of languages and currencies, but apart from that:
- There are lots of free extensions that enhance the initially available settings.
- All the functions that you need to set up for your e-commerce (items, orders, shipments, SEO, etc.) are documented in meticulously detailed guides.
- Pretty much everything can be customized given that it was born 100% open source and the contributions by its collaborators are in that spirit.
Have a look at Urban Ladder’s e-commerce from India:
Without a doubt, this is the perfect CMS for entrepreneurs that want to stand out and take full control of the design and management of their online shop.
Cons: The learning curve is a bit higher than other CMSs, but it’s worth it.
👉 7. X-Cart
This is a slightly more complex alternative, particularly useful for bigger businesses.
It’s a powerful, safe, and flexible CMS, but you need to know a little about coding and programming. If that doesn’t scare you off, you’ll find out the options are practically infinite:
- It’s entirely customizable, both frontend (that is, the interface) and backend (more internally).
- You can install hundreds of free or paid extensions to enhance the functions you need.
- It can easily be combined with social media, payment methods, marketing tools – anything and everything you may need.
Here’s an example of an e-commerce created with X-Cart: Brighter Blooms, in the US:
Something to bear in mind: X-Cart advertises 24/7 tech support, but that’s a paid service. Fortunately, they also have a forum with many participants and an assistance service where you can find plenty of articles, videos, and tutorials.
In short, if you have a rather big business, this is a good CMS so as not to fall short.
👉 A final tip when choosing a CMS
You may be considering some sort of free web platform such as Wix, Webnode, or the like just to “try” opening your own shop and, if everything goes well, to step up to a more professional platform.
Be careful with that since these “free” online tools aren’t usually very reliable.
The options they offer are quite limited and extending them is usually more costly than a CMS for e-commerce both in terms of time and money.
It’s better to invest your time in a CMS specifically designed for e-commerce.
👉 Which CMS suits your business best?
As you’ve seen, the field of e-commerce offers many alternatives to WooCommerce, PrestaShop, and Magento. However, this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.
Research, compare, and, especially, figure out what your needs are. That’s the key to choosing the best Open Source CMS for you.
Can we leave you one more interesting tidbit?
So don’t worry about that ;)