Best Shopping Carts & eCommerce Software

This page includes my recommendations for the best shopping cart/eCommerce software, as well as a directory of different shopping carts in a category. I’m very aware that this is an incomplete list, and I plan on doing further research and posting eCommerce shopping cart reviews in the future. Until then, I hope this limited information helps send you in the right direction.

 

Self-Hosted Open Source Carts

These carts are standalone programs that will need to be installed and hosted using your own host like HostGator or Blue Host. All of them are free.

  • Magento  - For established merchants, this is my #1 recommendation.  It’s very powerful, has a rich feature set and is quickly becoming one of the most popular carts online.  However, I don’t recommend it for new merchants or those with limited technical abilities (or without a budget to obtain them), as it is fairly complex and resource-intensive.  I use this cart on a number of my own eCommerce stores.
  • Open Cart – For those who want the customization and control of a self-hosted cart but aren’t ready to tackle Magento, I recommend Open Cart.  It has a very clean interface, light design and good feature set.
  • PrestaShop
  • Ultra Cart
  • Ubercart
  • VirtueMart
  • Zencart & osCommerce - Built from the same architecture, these two carts are becoming outdated and are being replaced by much better options, like OpenCart.  I used Zencart to build my first eCommerce store. While it was a great option at the time, I wouldn’t recommend it as a top choice today.

Nearly all of the above carts are written in PHP.  If you’re a programmer in a different language, here are some non-PHP based options:

Hosted Shopping Carts

These shopping carts are a fully hosted service, meaning you don’t need to worry about maintaining software or servers.  However, that does come at a price, as all these options will require a monthly subscription.

  • Shopify – Shopify is my top recommendation if you want to get an online store launched quickly, especially if you lack technical skills.  It’s well known for its easy-to-use interface and free coaching, and is a leader in the eCommerce space.  I don’t believe the feature set is as rich as other self-hosted carts – or even some hosted ones – but if/when your business grows and merits an upgrade, you can always switch to another cart.  Additionally, in the interim, Shopify does offer a number of add-ons, both free and for sale. (Affiliate link)
  • MagentoGo
  • BigCommerce (aff link)
  • 3DCart
  • Volusion
  • UltraCart
  • Pinnacle Cart

 

WordPress Shopping Carts

If you’re starting an eCommerce store from scratch, I wouldn’t recommend using WordPress as your platform.  But I do understand that there are times when existing WordPress owners need to add a shopping cart to their existing blog/site/community.  I don’t have experience with any of these solutions, but wanted to include them as a reference.

 

Photo by iBoy Daniel