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The Best Shopping Cart Software Solution

Are you right about to launch your online store, but don’t know what to start with? This is actually a notable decision as you will avail multiple online-only advantages from your eCommerce website. Apart from the increased number of web surfing shoppers (which is a benefit in itself), you will watch the growth of your web store reputation and the boost of sales volume. This is not to mention the fact that you will be able to compete with other retailers, who focus on the same niche you do.

Suppose, you have realized the importance of launching your own eCommerce website. What’s next? How should you get started to increase your chances for success? Actually, there are three popular shopping cart software solutions you can make use of.

These are out-of-the-box systems that require installation (paid and open source services that allow creating full-featured web stores from scratch), CMS extensions (they are installed on the ready made websites) and website builders. Each option is used to solve a particular set of tasks. Those that work well for one online store may not be a decent solution for another project. It’s high time to find out more about each option in details and explore the best samples of shopping cart software.

  • Offline shopping cart software is designed to become an indispensable tool for creating outstanding, visually-appealing websites with excellent performance and minimum investment of effort and time.
    These are downloadable programs, which are subdivided into free and open source solutions. They allow organizing and handling all business processes and tasks (online sales, shipping and tax settings, transactions and inventory management etc.). Most systems of this type are easy-to-manage and maintain, but this may require extra coding skills and experience.
  • eCommerce website builders are the simplest tools used to launch and manage online stores. These systems are designed with the needs and skills of all user categories in mind and, thus, are the best choice even for newbies. They allow creating, designing and customizing small-to-large online stores, offering a broad range of tools (integrated design features, domain names, hosting, marketing and promotion tools, payment options etc.). Most website builders offer pre-designed templates of high quality and affordable pricing plans to fit any budget and eCommerce needs.
  • Shopping cart CMS extensions are installed on the websites designed in CMS and offer integrated eCommerce feature sets. There are specific eCommerce plugins compatible with different CMS, which allow adding online stores that have been created with this or that CMS. Installation of add-ons, however, may require extra skills and web design experience, which may somewhat complicate the task, especially for non-techies.

Best Online Shopping Cart Software

Online website builders are SaaS platforms, which prove to be the simplest solutions for users, who have no web design experience at all as well as for those, who are involved in the development of multiple client projects. The systems are easy-to-use and intuitive, which allows creating a full-featured online store in a couple of hours.

Just choose one of eCommerce templates that fit your business niche and customize it by using web design tools the system offers. Many website builders come with powerful customer support centers and informative tutorials that contain answers to all the possible questions, which simplifies the web design process.

1. Shopify

Shopify is a great solution in case you need to build a lightweight, simple and elegant e-store. Creating a webstore with this platform is just a piece of cake, even for completely HTML-illiterate users. Simplicity is definitely one of their strengths. Now let’s take a closer look at their Basic Shopify package:

  • It costs $29/mo. But before start your subscription you can try its’ functional for 14 days.
  • Ability to sell unlimited number of products.
  • Unlimited storage and free SSL-certificate.
  • Full-featured website and blog.

Surely, the list of all features isn’t jaw-dropping, yet it enables you to build a decent, personalized e-store in mere minutes. Thus, if at the moment you can’t afford building a powerful e-shop with wide functionality, but you are eager to launch the website right now – you can always test it within Shopify’s trial period. Over time, when you decide to invest into online business, you can select the plan, which suits the best, in order to get more advanced website building tools.

What It Takes to Build an E-Store with Shopify?

Setting up an e-store with Shopify is breeze. All you need is to take the following steps:

  • Sign up to the platform with just a few clicks.

  • Confirm your registration and start customizing your store.

  • Add product descriptions.

Shopify - Add Product

  • Set up your design. You can select between free or premium themes. A pretty good feature – you can download your own Shopify Theme!

Shopify - Free Themes

  • Create discount codes, if needed the system can generate a random combination of promo-code.

Shopify - Discount Code

  • Adjust basic settings (sitename, currency, payment options, etc.).

Shopify - Adjust Payments

  • Go live and spread the word about your e-shop!

Congratulations, you’re a happy owner of an e-store :). In case you’re interested in setting up a webstore with this lightweight shopping cart, you may want to read a full Shopify review or take a look at functioning Shopify website examples from Howard Steele.

2. Wix

Wix is a universal website builder and, yes, it is also a nice eCommerce solution. The system allows launching small/medium web stores with 100-150 products offered for sale, which provide a set of eCommerce tools.

Wix Store

Thus, you can create product cards, track order details, subdivide products into categories based on their characteristics, adjust shipping and tax settings, set up payment and order parameters etc. Among the major Wix eCommerce features, the following ones should be the first to mention:

  • Appealing show window;
  • Collection of niche-specific eCommerce templates;
  • Convenient shopping cart;
  • Abundance of free and paid eCommerce applications available in the AppMarket that notably enhance your web store functionality;
  • Product galleries with detailed characteristics and full-size images.

If you own a small collection of products and wish to create a marketplace for them, then Wix is the top choice. For quite an affordable cost, you’ll get a nice platform for your web store promotion. The system has two plans that work well for this purpose. These are eCommerce and VIP Plans.

Do you intend to test the system features prior to using it for your web store building needs? Then take your time to explore the system with its free plan. This is convenient and super easy.

What It Takes to Build an E-Store with Wix?

Launching a web store with Wix is simple, quick and effective. These are the steps to be followed:

  1. Register with the system with a few clicks;
  2. Select the subscription based on your eCommerce needs and available budget;
  3. Choose a template and start customizing it;
  4. Create product cards and their descriptions (you’ll have to do that manually as Wix currently doesn’t have an automatic file export/import option);
  5. Choose eCommerce apps to be integrated into your web store;
  6. Adjust shipping and tax settings;
  7. Publish your web store and watch the way it grows!

The entire process of building an eCommerce website with Wix will take a few hours and almost no effort at all. This is one of the reasons that make the system stand out from the crowd.

3. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a specialized website builder, which is worth the attention, when it comes to launching professional and functional websites oriented on the shopping needs of the target audience. This is a powerful tool to launch large online stores with an extensive product catalogue.

The website builder is a bit complicated for non-techies, but mastering it is worth your effort and time, if you intend to create a full-featured eCommerce website. These are the major merits of the system:

  • Intuitive and logically-structured dashboard with powerful settings;
  • High quality templates (7 free and dozens of paid ones);
  • Opportunity to trade at different platforms (Beso, eBay, Shopzilla, PriceGrabber etc.) and via Facebook;
  • Automated email marketing options;
  • Abandoned shopping cart recovery;
  • Powerful inventory management tools;
  • Flexible product return/change system;
  • Gift certificates and discounts;
  • Bulky product export from CSV files;
  • Nice SEO characteristics, which is a huge benefit for any web store.

If you are going to use BigCommerce, you may test the system for 14 days at no cost at all to see its most obvious pros and cons. However, you won’t be able to keep using the system without choosing the subscription. Currently, the system has 4 plans (Standard, Plus, Pro and Enterprise), but there is also a yearly monthly profit applicable to any plan you will go for. Check out the subscription terms prior to getting it.

What It Takes to Build an E-Store with BigCommerce?

Building a web store with BigCommerce will take you around a couple of hours. The main steps you’ll need to complete are as follows:

  1. Sign up for the website builder (you can activate a free 15-day trial to test the service and explore its major eCommerce features)
  2. Fill out your contact details, submit information about your web store and activate it (this will take around 2-3 minutes)
  3. Open your online store and start customizing it
  4. BigCommerce Products

  5. Set up SEO settings
  6. Select the template and website logo
  7. BigCommerce Themes

  8. Add product pages and complete product details (descriptions, photos, prices)
  9. BigCommerce Add a Product

  10. Set up shipping details, payments and taxes
  11. Launch your online store

That’s it! You can start trading now. It is high time to engage your customers and start working on your web store promotion.

Best Offline (Downloadable) Shopping Cart Software

Offline shopping cart software can become your trusted tool to set up and manage professional, appealing and full-featured web stores. The main distinction feature of these systems is that they require preliminary downloading and installation to be used to the advantage.

These services provide the top notch shopping cart functionality and powerful eCommerce features to ensure outstanding online business performance. By using the software, you can organize and handle various business processes, including online sales and inventory management, tax and shipping settings, payment details settings, design development etc. Offline shopping cart software may be either free or open source. Let’s find out more about the most popular options now.

Free (Open Source) Offline Shopping Cart Software

1. OpenCart

OpenCart is a free open source PHP-based offline shopping cart software. Mastering it may be complicated for non-techies as the process implies at least the basic knowledge of coding skills.

Opencart dashboard

However, the system allows creating powerful online stores in quite a short period of time. Mind that to build an eCommerce website with OpenCart, you may have to additionally install the required extensions and add-ons.

The core out-of-the-box features of the software include multi-currency and multi-language support, creation of reports and unlimited listings (products, manufacturers, categories, etc.), availability of multiple storefront management options, discount coupon system, shipping calculator and more. Unlike many other shopping cart software solutions, OpenCart doesn’t have its own template collection. Instead, you can find and use the themes designed by the third-party developers (like Theme Forest or Template Monster, for example). To customize the themes, however, you won’t go without coding skills as well. Fortunately, the support plan the system offers for only $99/mo will help you complete the task on time.

2. Magento

Magento is another powerful open source eCommerce software, which comes with a broad array of advanced design customization tools and features. The system is characterized by flexibility of the web design process, abundance of professional features and superior eCommerce functionality. Whatever online-based business you run, you’ll be able to do that with Magento.

Magento Admin Panel

The platform provides users with advanced analytics, extended customer management options, convenient product catalogue browser, a set of marketing promotion and reporting tools, intuitive interface and powerful customer support service. The platform is owned by eBay and, thus, has deep integration with the marketplace. It allows adjusting and controlling your website SEO characteristics to boost your web store performance and its visibility in the search engines.

3. osCommerce

osCommerce is a decent alternative to other open source eCommerce platforms, which has been around for over 18 years already and has won recognition of millions of customers worldwide. The system allows creating the unlimited number of products and their categories. It also comes with SSL encryption support and allows selling both physical and digital products.

The major eCommerce features of the system include multi-language and multi-currency support, advanced search options, database backup, bestseller set up, convenient order management options, multiple image uploads, newsletters, set up of shipping, payment and tax rates, social media sharing options and more. If you wish to avail superior functionality when using osCommerce, you can integrate multiple add-ons based on your current eCommerce needs.

4. PrestaShop

PrestaShop is an international shopping cart software, which is currently one of the most powerful eCommerce solutions available nowadays. The system is free and allows building a functional web store in around 15-20 minutes. The platform is available in several languages to be applied by users from different countries of the world.

PrestaShop

Mind, however, that the platform requires coding skills and, thus, it works better for professional web developers. To create and manage a web store with PrestaShop, you’ll have to set up and edit different modules and complete lots of extra technical issues. As of today, the platform offers over 600 tools and features, which cover the prevailing amount of customer needs.

The most significant of them are inventory list management, an option allowing to sell physical and digital products as well as to create the unlimited product listings, import/export of products from CSV files, advanced SEO options, various payment options, real-time website analytics, customized product promotions, abandoned shopping cart recovery etc. PrestaShop doesn’t have any templates, but offers thousands of high quality paid responsive website templates designed by third-party web developers.

5. Zen Cart

Zen Cart is a popular open source shopping cart software, which was created in 2003 and has gained popularity with users worldwide. The platform allows building powerful and functional online stores with the unlimited number of products and categories. It also ensures reliable website protection, supporting SSL encryption.

Zen Cart

Among the features that make the system stand out from the crowd, the following ones should be initially mentioned: creation of product categories and subcategories, setting minimum and maximum order limits, web store layout customization, discounts and coupons, gift certificates, phpBB integration, multiple image uploads, advanced search options, multi-language and multi-currency support, set up of tax and shipping rates, product reviews, rich choice of payment methods and shipping options etc. Zen Cart allows installation of extra plugins to boost your web store performance.

Conclusion

Open source shopping cart solutions are really numerous and provide a high degree of web store customization. eCommerce websites designed with them look appealing and provide rich feature sets, which results in creation of powerful and profitable online stores. The prevailing amount of open source eCommerce platforms is free to download and install, but this generally concerns the basic feature set. To launch a full-featured online store, you’ll need to install extra plugins or modules, which require additional financial investments.

Shopping Cart CMS Extensions

1. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a shopping cart WordPress extension, which is free to download and install. Advanced web store management features, however, are available for extra cost. With WooCommerce, it is possible to effectively launch and manage small and medium web stores, but this may require the awareness of coding basics.

WooCommerce

The core feature set of the extension includes the ability to create mobile-optimized websites and sell both physical and digital products, geolocation support, inventory management, SEO features, convenient product list organization, product reviews, variety of checkout and shipping options, integrated shipping calculator and other features. Even though, the system is free, you’ll have to buy hosting, domain name and some paid tools to effectively launch a website with it.

2. Drupal Commerce

Drupal is another reputable open source eCommerce software extension, which is free to download and install. By using the plugin, you can effectively launch, edit, publish and manage advanced small-to-large online stores. What’s interesting, the service has an extensive user community, the members of which effectively contribute to its functionality by improving the codes, creating templates, writing support documents etc.

Drupal Commerce

The features that make Drupal popular with the customers include a broad range of design and content editing tools, control over the product update and management, setting up access to the features and content of a web store, adding and managing product listings and categories, creating web store layouts, adjusting payment and shipping options etc.

3. EShop for Joomla

EShop is a decent and powerful Joomla shopping cart extension, which comes with a variety of features and web design tools, user-friendly interface and flexible design customization options. What you need to make use of the system and start accepting the orders is to install the extension, add products, activate integrated modules, set up shipping and payment options.

Joomla eShop

EShop features are multiple and versatile. The most significant of them include an opportunity to add the unlimited amount of products, their categories, images and wishlists, a broad range of shopping cart options (one page checkout, mini cart module with live updates, discounts/coupons and gift certificates support, multiple geo zones, downloadable product support, multiple currencies and languages, over 60 payment gateways, support of watermarks for photos, more than 10 shipping methods), compatibility with Joomla templates, support of multiple themes, email notifications, Joomla users integration, the ability to display videos from Vimeo, YouTube and other channels etc.).

Can I create a website with a shopping cart for free?

Before answer this question let’s try to imagine whether we want to open a shop in a real world. Where can you find a free place for building your store or does somebody agree to give you any inventories for free only if he isn’t a fraudster? Of course, this is a ridiculous situation.

The same is over Internet – all proposals of creating free online shop or connecting free shopping cart are mostly marketing tricks. So the answer for this question is no – free shopping cart could be used just for testing during trial period, no more.

Bottom Line

What eCommerce web building solution currently works best? The answer to this question depends on multiple issues, including the budget you plan to invest, your web design level, available time etc. In most cases, though, the choice of the shopping cart software depends upon the goals you intend to achieve.

As of today, there are three types of eCommerce web design solutions, namely downloadable offline shopping cart software, CMS extensions and website builders. If you are a skilled web designer with years of experience, then you won’t face problems, when using any of these software types.

Newbies, however, may find many of these programs too complicated. That’s why, website builders are the best alternative for this category of users. These systems are designed with the needs of non-techies in mind and provide a broad range of options needed to complete any eCommerce building tasks.

If you are currently in the market looking for a decent eCommerce website builder, then Shopify is the first platform that should come to your mind. This is the best eCommerce website builder, which always ensures decent result and, thus, is worth the investment.

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