Choosing the Best Free eCommerce Platform: Here Are Top 5 Choices!
2019 April 11th at 2:29
Everybody knows - if you want to make money, you have to spend money. It’s common knowledge that the most popular eCommerce platforms available do not come without a price tag.
Or...Maybe they do? There are actually plenty of great free eCommerce options you can choose from. You've just got to know where to look.
In order to find them, I've done plenty of research and loads of testing so you don't have to. I’ve chosen these solutions because they offer the most creative control over the design of your store and many of them come with the opportunity to add plugins to further scale your business. And, of course, they’re all free!
Here's my list of the top 5 free eCommerce platforms for you to check out:
- WordPress with WooCommerce (For use with WordPress)
- Magento Community Edition (Best for creating a fully customized online store)
- OpenCart (Best for startups and small business owners)
- X-Cart (Best for online businesses with a diverse international audience)
- PrestaShop (Best solution to get started quickly)
Recommended for: users with WordPress websites
Top of the list is WooCommerce. This popular open-source eCommerce platform offers free plugins for use with WordPress (open source).
With the plugin, you can automatically turn your WordPress site into an online shop with product pages and inventory management.
Better yet, the free WooCommerce plugin automatically connects to all major payment gateways including Stripe and Paypal. Plus, you can embed Amazon Pay into your WooCommerce store, meaning your customers never have to leave your site to make a purchase!
Want to get to know your audience? Well, WooCommerce allows you to do exactly that by integrating your store with Google Analytics. From there, you can tailor your online shop to meet your customers needs and, over time, increase your revenue.
And if all the above isn't enough, you can also fulfill all your orders by printing all your shipping labels at a discount without leaving your dashboard. Whether you want to sell physical products, digital downloads, or content, you can do it from WooCommerce!
While the platform is great for small, mid-sized, and large businesses, if you want more complex features for your online store, they do come at a cost. WooCommerce has countless themes (premium and free) to choose from and you can edit any part of your suite to meet your design requirements. As for WooCommerce extensions - the library contains free as well as paid ones.
Furthermore, if you want to increase your reach and get some new leads, you can use the platform's built-in blogging feature which will help you boost your SEO.
And, WooCommerce allows you to upload unlimited images, galleries, and products so the only restriction you’ll ever face is your inventory!
- Unlimited product listings
- Built-in blogging feature
- Comprehensive dashboard to manage your store from one place
- Fully customizable
- Only works with WordPress
- You have to acquire your own domain name
- Many advanced features come at an added cost
Recommended for: users with more complex design projects.
Looking for an eCommerce platform that can meet your needs even when tackling a more complex project? Magento may be your best bet.
Magento is another open-source platform that allows you to create a free eCommerce website with the user interface you want. But, you’ll need to find someone with some coding knowledge as the solution isn’t as intuitive as other hosted platforms.
From marketing to creating membership plans, making recurring payments, and offering customers seasonal discounts, you name it - Magento can do it.
With Magento, you’ll have complete control of all checkouts, payments, and orders. The open source solution also offers customers a mobile-optimized shopping experience so they can search for their favorite projects even when on the go.
Furthermore, you don’t have to limit yourself to your home country as Magento allows you to sell products on a global scale, thus allowing you to grow your business internationally.
Magento offers catalog management in the form of a dashboard where you can get a 360-degree view of your business. And, if all the above isn’t enough, the platform allows customers to perform site searches to find the products they’re looking for more quickly.
Be warned, while Magento is free to use and comes packed with features, it can be challenging to wrap your head around it if you’re not tech-savvy!
- Large list of features meaning you may never need to upgrade
- Integrated mobile optimization
- Fully customizable
- Coding knowledge required
- You have to acquire your own domain name & hosting
Recommended for: users starting their first online business.
Third on my list is OpenCart. This no-thrills open source platform allows you to create a free online store without any hassle. But, what I like most about OpenCart is that you don’t need any coding knowledge to get started.
Moreover, the platform comes with a selection of free themes for you to choose from as well as an administrator dashboard that gives you all the information you need in one place. At a glimpse, you’ll be able to see sales, orders, customer details, and your basic analytics, giving you complete control of your store.
Something that makes OpenCart stand out is that it's perfect for teams. With this platform, you can set user privileges and grant separate user access depending on your administrative needs.
But the platform's real wow factor is that you can manage multiple stores from one admin interface. Better yet, these stores can be completely different. You can set different themes for each as well as sell a completely different product catalog.
OpenCart allows you to create an affiliate system so that you can reach the right audience for your store. Through this system, you can choose affiliates, set their income based on a percentage, and offer different payment options.
And, if you want to stay competitive in your industry, you can easily set coupons, discounts, and seasonal promotions.
Plus, you can set backups and restore your online shop so that you never lose anything!
- No coding knowledge required
- Cohesive admin dashboard
- Manage multiple stores from one dashboard
- Integrated affiliate system
- Fewer customization options
- Not a good option for experienced developers
- Advanced features come at an added cost
Recommended for: users with an international audience due to the many payment gateways.
X-Cart’s free plan is great for small newcomers looking to start their first online store. While it doesn’t have the same features as the paid ones, the free plan comes with 0% transaction fees so you’ll keep every cent you earn.
Better yet, you’ll benefit from unlimited product listings and orders, and you can create as many admin and staff accounts as you like - an important feature if you’re running your online store as part of a team.
The open source platform comes with a 100% SEO and mobile-friendly design as well as a drag-and-drop layout editor, a key reason why I recommend it for startups or those of you who aren’t as confident on a computer. Additionally, X-Cart offers one step or multiple step checkout depending on your preferences. And if you're concerned about attracting a more global audience, worry not! The platform integrates with more than 120 payment gateways and you can accept all main credit card types.
Best of all, the free version of X-Cart comes with various marketing opportunities, some of which include adding social buttons to your site, creating newsletters, telling customers about featured products, and integrating your site with MailChimp among other platforms.
Last but not least, when it comes to security, you can sit back and relax. Your site will have HTTPS/SSL certification and will be 100% PCI-compliant. You’ll also have lifetime access to bug fixes.
- Unlimited product listings, orders, and admin accounts
- SEO and mobile-friendly
- Drag-and-drop layout editor
- Integrates with all major payment gateways
- Fully managed hosting is expensive
- No technical support on the free plan
- No order returns or reports on the free plan
Recommended for: users who want to get their store online quickly.
PrestaShop is a relatively new open-source eCommerce platform that launched back in 2008. What I like about this solution is that it’s easy to get started with as you can download it free of charge with just a few clicks.With it, you can create personalized physical and digital product listings and upload them to your online store. You can also add images, files, and other information to give customers a sneak preview of what they're buying from you.
And, if that’s not enough, you can create personalized “out of stock” messages to keep your audience checking back for your next shipment.
PrestaShop offers users a cohesive dashboard which allows you to track the inventory of each product in your catalog. From that dashboard, you can create individual supplier profiles and associate them with individual products. And, if you truly want to keep your affairs in order, you can even get an overview of suppliers and manufacturers with filters and sorting orders.
With PrestaShop, your store is completely customizable. From the display of the products to how they’re organized in your store, the checkout page - you name it, PrestaShop lets you customize it.Furthermore, the open source eCommerce platform allows you to enable SSL giving your customers peace of mind that they’re shopping on a safe website.
You’ll also be able to configure the shipping methods and apply shipping carriers by running geographical delivery zones.
Despite all these amazing features, PrestaShop isn’t as robust as other solutions meaning you may have to pay for additional plugins and extensions if your business continues to grow according to plan.
While this isn’t a problem with most platforms, many of PrestaShop’s extensions cost in excess of $100 each!
- Easy to download
- Fully customizable
- Websites have SSL certification
- Not as robust as other solutions
- Add-ons and extensions are expensive
So, Which of These Is The Best Free eCommerce Platform?
When it comes to choosing best free eCommerce frameworks, you have to keep your own unique business goals in mind. Here’s my verdict:
- WooCommerce offers the most free and user-friendly features.
- Magento Community Edition is the best solution for scaling your online store.
- OpenCart is the best platform if you’re new to starting an online business.
- X-Cart has the most user-friendly interface for personalizing your store.
- PrestaShop allows you to get started in minutes without much tech knowledge.
The main consideration to make when creating your online store is your tech knowledge. All these platforms are open source and, while some are easier-to-use than others, they all require you accustom yourself to their interface.
If you have another platform you feel should be in this list, why not drop me a line in the comment box below? I’d love to know your thoughts.