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
- 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.
- Ultra Cart
- Zencart & osCommerce - Built from the same architecture, these two carts are becoming outdated and are being replaced by much better options, like OpenCart.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.
- 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