30May 2018

Free E-Commerce Platforms

A number of businesses are starting to find a new life online these days. E-commerce sites are increasing in number every other day. Thanks to people’s interests in shopping online – due to the new technology and smart devices that are available. So startups and middle-tier businesses mostly want to develop e-commerce websites at a cheaper rate rather than spending a lot of money. There are a number of free e-commerce platforms that are available, but often, there is a confusion on which one to choose for our needs.

But we will give you a list of choices out of which you can choose the one for your needs.

Since many of the e-commerce platforms are available for free today, people are looking ways for infusing in new strategies to attract and create new prospect for sales. These online store systems, as you know, are free of cost and this attracts people to try new ideas and techniques.

But before you go ahead and make a choice among these e-commerce frameworks, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration.

We will take you through these:

  • Are you planning self-hosting or are you capable of paying the required amount for hosting along with the e-commerce features that are available?
  • You need to consider whether you are looking for open source e-commerce platforms or would you prefer to use a system which involves a fee, but reduces your effort as it provides ready-made features.

E-Commerce

If you are in lack of resources, it is recommended that you choose an open source e-commerce framework as it is available for free.

One of the reasons is that open source e-commerce frameworks are available for free. You have a lot of power over the design aspects and other control functionalities. The solutions that follow open source frameworks are combined with features that are evolving with the new versions being launched. You always have control over aspects, such as the themes, hosting, and plugins, which will be the major part of your store.

But you will always have to think about the other side when choosing an open source framework. Some of these include:

Your developer or coder should be proficient with the open source platform that you have chosen. It would be your responsibility to find out or hunt for the server where you would be hosting if you are managing this part by yourself. You will yourself have to take care of functionalities that include security, maintenance, and speed optimization, etc. for your site.

The sad part is that unfortunately, no dedicated support is available – if you are expecting a support executive to turn up to your doorstep then definitely, open source is not your thing.

Now that you know what are the positives and drawbacks of an open source system and have decided to move further ahead with these, we will take you through some of the most interesting e-commerce platforms that are available for free:

Woocommerce

One of the popular WordPress plugins – Woocommerce – with this, you will have to install WordPress on your host and then install WooCommerce plugin on your site. The Woocommerce plugin transforms a WordPress site into an excellent online store along with features, such as coupons, inventory management, and product pages.

Woocommerce

Why should you choose Woocommerce?

  • You can download it for free. There are no installation charges – moreover, your website would be complete with just the plugin.
  • You do not have to add any extra functionalities – but just the content.
  • With Woocommerce, you can connect to all the popular payment gateways.
  • Offering coupons and discounts is easier as it comes with multiple features, coming from the extension library, that can be added to make your store a superstar.

When should you think of an option apart from Woocommerce?

So, we have already seen that Woocommerce comes with a lot of functionalities within the themes, but there are others that might be critical to the functioning of a store. Woocommerce comes with moving parts – which includes hosting, WordPress and the Woocommerce plugin. It could be a tedious task to manage the hosting, caching and optimization for search engines if you are new to this. Though Woocommerce blends in well with all the themes from WordPress, it is not practical unless it applies only for Woocommerce.

X-Cart

X-Cart is one of the preferred choices of developers when they set out to create an online store. Research says that around 35,000 online stores have already been set up around the world and there will be more coming. Some of the reasons why this is preferred are that it is the self-hosted, free and mostly open source. Considered to be one of the fastest open source platforms available in the industry, you will find that it has numerous attractive characteristics that you always wanted. You can go with a free trial though there is a small one-time payment, charged at $495.

XCart

Some of the benefits include:

  • Very interestingly, this is the free and open source.
  • Based on the package that you choose, you can enjoy multilingually and a currency support, applicable to multiple geographic locations.
  • It is easy to manage and work on this, and if you are already proficient in X-cart, this is one of the best choices for you.
  • It is possible to connect your shopping cart with some of the best payment gateways available to date.
  • It is completely secure and in compliance with PCI.

Why wouldn’t we recommend X-cart?

If you do not pay the extra fee, you will not have access to the customer support in case of an emergency. When you choose a paid plan, you will be required to pay for the hosting. The payment plan is $495, which is not a small amount if you are already tight on your budget. You have to be good at coding when setting up your store for the first time. Now, you know when you can choose X-cart and when you cannot be based on the features and the drawbacks listed here.

Zen Cart

Someone said that people who love to be in the designing and development career without an academic backup for these can always work on Zen Cart because they know more, in fact, they are very much into it. Maybe, with little knowledge of coding, you can easily build an online empire using Zen Cart. As you are aware, Zen Cart is user-friendly, but not recommended if you are looking for advanced skills.

Why is Zen Cart recommended?

  • Zen Cart is one of the secure software that safeguards and protects your site along with the customer information.
  • Zen Cart helps in setting up a store completely with the wide range of characteristics and features that it launches
  • With Zen Cart, you have the liberty to send emails via your website.

While these are the positives of Zen Cart, let us find out the drawbacks:

Drawbacks of Zen Cart

Zen Cart doesn’t provide a dedicated support. With Zen Cart, it becomes tedious to upgrade your software. It might be that the templates from zen cart lacks luster, but could be upgraded with some essential features. You might not find a lot of extensions or add-ons with Zen Cart.

Magento open source

This is one of the most widely preferred and used open source platforms from e-commerce. A wide platform is opened up to you with this to reach out to your people. Marketing and other aspects, including discounts, membership plans, and recurring payments are made easier with this. With Magento Open Source, you have complete power over the design and similar functionality of your site. You have the liberty to choose from a variety of e-commerce platforms just like using WordPress.

Advantages of Magento:

Though this is available for free, you can always upgrade to a paid version if you are looking for more features. A number of extensions are available as part of Magento, so you never reach a state where there is short of options. Automated marketing is a possible feature as you can always send out notifications to your consumer base. Based on the target audiences’ location, you can always aim to develop multilingual sites, which they can view from their location. You can always customize the user interface as you wish.

Some of the drawbacks are that you will find it difficult to accommodate all the ideas and strategies well as there might be lack of expertise. This would be a better call for bigger companies as they need some money investment when hiring resources to work on this.

Open Cart

Very easy to use and lightweight, OpenCart is one of the most recommended open source platforms. Also, you can always expect an excellent support from a great community out there, which you can utilize as and when needed. It is easy to customize these websites from the scratch so it is recommended for startups. Also, the overall cost required for setting up a store is always less when using the open cart.

OpenCart

Why do we recommend Open Cart?

  • It is easy to develop and design a start-up store using OpenCart. You do not need a battalion of proficient and expert developers to design a store using open cart.
  • The costs of setting up a startup are considerably low.
  • A long list of functionalities is included in an open cart, which will make the process easy.

Drawbacks:

  • Compared with the other e-commerce platforms, the Open cart doesn’t exhibit a lot of features, but lesser.
  • The performance side is weaker – so you will always have to implement an extra plugin.
  • There are lesser customization options.

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