E-commerce or online shopping platform has become a necessity in the modern world where everything thing is on the internet. It doesn’t matter whether you have a big selling business or you are running a small retail shop in your city, you definitely need to go online soon. Some of you might have enough money to hire third-party vendors, who can build an e-commerce website but many of us are either starting our business to sell something or just want to go online with our existing business model to improve our sells.

In this article, we have listed out few open source and free e-commerce platforms and given a detailed description and setup of the best one among them, with which you can easily build your own online shopping cart without coding.

List of open source online shopping cart platforms:

1. OpenCart

Designed feature rich, easy to use, search engine friendly and with a visually appealing interface. It is a robust e-commerce solution for internet merchants with the ability to create their own online business. OpenCart has a very intuitive admin interface that allows you to have complete control over your shopping store.

2. AgoraCart 

Customizable and secure open source e-commerce shopping cart that you can install on an existing website. With AgoraCart, you can expect the typical features such as customizable templates for setting up your store, support for different product categories, options for different tax rates in addition to back-end store management tools. On the upscale side of e-commerce, AgoraCart is PA-DSS Complaint (PCI-DSS) and supports more than 10 payment gateways.

3. Magento –

Used by more than 240,000 merchants worldwide. Magento’s eCommerce platform gives you the tools you need to attract more prospects, sell more products, and make more money. It is supported by a global ecosystem of solution partners and third-party developers. Acquired by eBay in 2011, Magento is part of eBay’s X.commerce business unit. Magento e-commerce gives merchants scalability and features for presentation, content and functionality. The platform offers marketing tools, search engine optimization, product catalog management and browsing, one-page checkout and a number of standard tools such as those used to manage shipping, tax and customer service.

4. osCommerce –

A free offering that comes with features and tools to help store owners manage the front-end catalog and back-end administration. Provides a basic template layout structure to customize the catalog front-end. The Administration Tool lets merchants configure the online store, insert products for sale, manage customers and process orders. There is a large community of more than 256,000 store owners, developers, service providers and enthusiasts contributing to the help, support and development of osCommerce.

5. PrestaShop –

A customizable, PCI-DSS compliant, e-commerce solution that will handle everything from Web store set-up to managing customers and orders. Store owners can create and manage the front-end catalog and marketing, customize orders and change shipping options and localization to suit their business. It is available in multiple languages.

 6. Zeus Cart –

An incredibly stable & richly-interfaced, open source shopping cart and it’s a simple E-commerce software package which allows, even a non-technical person to open an online store on the Internet, with minimal efforts. The cart is primarily for small and medium store owners and offers inventory management, attribute-driven product catalog, category management, a built-in CMS and SEO-friendly URLs. Standard features such as discounts, taxation, shipping options, integration with multiple payment gateways and email templates are also included.

You see there are plenty of open source and ready to use solution available for you to get started selling your product online. As we always do, we pick up the best one from the list and help you set that up. From the above-given list, the best one according to us, based on various degree (User Experience, Management, Features) of analysis is OpenCart. Rest of the article will now help you setup openCart for your store which will be ready to go live. Let’s begin –

Step-by-step guide to building eCommerce website:

1. Setting up Development Environment

OpenCart needs a PHP development environment with MySQL as its back-end. Follow this post to set up the required environment: How to Build Your Own Social Networking Website.

2. Installing OpenCart

Download the latest OpenCart software from here. Extract the downloaded zip file.

When opening the zip file, the following files will be visible:

  • “upload” folder
  • “license.txt” file
  • “readme.txt” file

The “upload” folder contains all the files needed to upload OpenCart to a web server. The “license.txt” file contains the license agreement regarding the use of OpenCart on your site. The “readme.text” file provides links to the current install and upgrade instructions on the OpenCart website.

Extracted folder
Extracted folder

Go to your XAMPP/htdocs directory and create a folder, name it to your desired shopping cart e.g. myawesomecart and move all “upload” folder contents here.

my awesome cart

Now go to your browser and type http://localhost/myawesomecart, you will see following page –

license page
license page

Step 1: License –

Accept the license and click continue.

Step 2: Pre-Installation –

Check your server is set-up correctly. You will something similar to following

pre-installation
pre-installation

You will see that there are 2 files which it says are missing. These files are present in the upload folder but the names are not as per installation requirement. Rename these files in myawesomecart root folder and admin folder.

rename config file
rename config file

Refresh the browser windows and you will see everything is fine. Click on continue.

4. OpenCart Configuration –

In this step, we will step you will setup your database and administration details. If you have followed the above video for setting up PHP development environment you would have already done your MySQL setup. Now go to phpMyAdmin console and create a database for your shopping cart –

database setup
database setup

Enter the database name you just created and database credentials in database connection details. Also fill up the administration user details, you will need this to login to OpenCart admin panel –

database and administration setup
database and administration setup

Installation complete –

If everything went fine, you will see following screen. Well done! you are ready to sell your product 🙂

Installation Complete
Installation Complete

you will see a red bar on the top saying “Don’t forget to delete your installation directory!” Go to your “myawesomecart” folder and delete installation directory –

delete installation directory
delete installation directory

Installation is complete, you are ready to add products and features to your shopping cart and start selling.

5. Shopping Cart Administration

You will see two options on completion page “GO TO YOUR ONLINE SHOP” and “LOGIN TO YOUR ADMINISTRATION”.  The first option will take you to the front-end store and the second one will take you to the administration panel.

6. Manage Product detail page and Store Front-End

This is the front-end of your shopping site where people can browse, add items to cart and purchase them.

store front-end
store front-end
product detail page
product detail page

 

7. Take a look at Site Administration –

You will a need way to manage your shopping cart which includes-  customise design and layout, managing product, categories, cart, customers, orders, modules etc.  You can login to admin panel using http://localhost/myawesomecart/admin and entering the credential of admin you created in installation step

front-end store
administration

Administration is very powerful and provides extension based features which you can easily plug to your cart. Complete guide on administering OpenCart is out of scope of this article  but here are some useful resources that will help you build your shopping cart even further and in a very powerful way-

8. Refer to Learning Resources:

Official Documentation

Recommended Books:

OpenCart 1.4 Beginner’s Guide

Instant E-commerce with OpenCart

After you have built your shopping cart website completely and you are ready to go online follow: How to Build a Website and Go Online.

Are you building your shopping cart? Tell us in comments. Also, let us know if you need any help.