Top Five Open Source E-commerce

By Shane Paulsen 06 June 2017

Open source e-commerce platforms are mainly for small-to-medium-sized businesses, establishing an online presence to sell products or services is an absolute must to stay competitive in today’s (and tomorrow’s) marketplace.

Your premium e-commerce platforms come at a price and can run up to thousands of rands a year. Although there is the option to some of the open source platforms that have paid edition to their platforms.

Of course, opting to use a free open source e-commerce platform to manage online transactions might be an easy decision for your business as you look to get your feet wet in the online marketplace. Choosing the best open source e-commerce platform, however, will prove to be far more difficult. After all, they all have their various strengths and weaknesses.

In this article, we will be talking about the top ten open source platforms for your business all in terms of popularity, utility, and features.

 No 1. Magento Community Edition

Who’s Magento best suited for? 

Magento is a great platform for a shop that you know will do well. If you’re an ultra-small business making your first move into e-commerce, there may well be less heavyweight solutions that can do the job. But if you have an established model, the funding to back it up, and the time to mold and sculpt Magento to fit your needs, it may well prove the perfect platform for your online store.

Magento is also optimized to work with thousands of products, tons of traffic, and a big number of sales. In other words, it’s for the bigger e-commerce stores out there.

You may have heard of Magento’s Enterprise Edition – their flagship e-commerce platform that’s used by the likes of Nike and Samsung, and costs about R226 000 a year. Well, if you’d like a lot of the same features, but at no cost, they also offer the Magento Community Edition.

The great thing about the Magento Community Edition is that it has tons of features, many of which aren’t available on other open source platforms. For example, you can manage multiple stores, choose from a variety of languages, and offer different currencies.

They’re also one of the most popular platforms, and they have lots of users constantly designing new plugins and extensions. This also helps to make their platform extremely flexible and infinitely scalable, which is one of the reasons why Magento is often considered by many to be the premier e-commerce platform.

The biggest downside to Magento is actually an inverse to one of its features: because the community is so big, it’s a beast to navigate. This could mean that you spend a lot of time learning the ins and outs of the platform, and you may need to be a tech wizard to do everything you want to do.

Also, while the Community Edition is free, there are lots of plugins and extensions you can purchase, so you could still end up spending a pretty penny on this software.

Features in Magento

Here are the most important features of Magento:

  • Inventory management.
  • Handling shipping charges.
  • Coupon management.
  • Multiple payment gateway options.
  • API for web services.
  • 5,000+ extensions available.
  • Built-in multilingual support.
  • Optimized for mobiles and tablets.
  • SEO features built-in.
  • Customer groups.
  • Product bundles.
  • Newsletter management.
  • Marketing tools.
  • Site management features.
  • Order processing.
  • Customer service.
  • Gifts.
  • Analytics and Reporting.


Review conclusion – Magento online store platform

Pros of Magento

User-Friendly: As a starting point, Magento is a user-friendly solution for those without the technical expertise to code a unique solution off their own back. The admin area is designed to be accessible to those without extensive knowledge or experience, so you should find it easy to piece together the basics of your online store yourself.

Scalability: One of the biggest advantages of Magento is that it’s a perfectly scalable system, so you can switch up your game from 10 products to 100,000. Magento is built with scalability in mind, so you can expect to find it easy to ratchet things up when the time comes.

Feature-Intensive: Because Magento has the capacity to be such a huge product, it can get pretty feature intensive. This is good, in the respect that you can make Magento do pretty much whatever you need it to do. However, be aware that this can increase the complexity of the system, which can make it difficult should you need to draft in the help of a Magento developer.

Cons of Magento

Development, Support and Maintenance Costs: Magento is expensive on the tech support side for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a complex system in the background, and this means it often takes even experienced Magento developers time to learn how to do what you need them to do. If you want to go for the enterprise option, which includes support directly from Magento, you are looking at around $15,000 / year (with the most expensive Premium Enterprise package clocking in at a staggering $50,000 / year.

Hosting: Due to the complexity and scalable design, you pretty much need to host a Magento store on its own dedicated server. This means additional expense to get things started, and an extra online monthly cost to boot.

Time-Intensive: Because the learning curve is so much longer for developing in Magento than in other applications, it can be a time-consuming process trying to get modifications made, or otherwise relying on input from a Magento developer. This means it’s less nimble than certain other solutions and less speedy to get it where you need it to be.

No 2. PrestaShop

Who’s PrestaShop best suited for?


With over 250,000 stores using the e-commerce platform, PrestaShop is very popular due to its ease of use.

It is easy to both install and customizes the software, and everything is very intuitive. How much work you’ll put into creating a store using PrestaShop is up to you: you can either download a fully-hosted or self-hosted version, so you can determine your own level of technical control (both are free).

That leads us into the biggest downside of PrestaShop: there’s not a lot of customizing that you can do. If you like tinkering with a bunch of graphics, you’ll likely be disappointed, as you’re not given a lot of leeway with graphic elements.

If you are entirely new to e-commerce, PrestaShop will be a lot to take on at once. For those with the knowledge or resources to make full use of PrestaShop, there are clear benefits. Your store will be totally customizable. Any tool or function can be added to a third party integration.

If you want to really customize your site, you’ll have to purchase additional themes and templates or delve into the code.


Features in Prest