Did you know there are open source e-commerce solutions? They do exist, and that’s what we’re going to talk about now.

What does the term “open source” mean? It means that the source code of the software or script is open to the public. Almost all open source products are free. However, it’s important to note that some of the free open source software does have paid versions. For example, you probably know that WordPress is a free and open source.

You may be surprised to know that WordPress offers hosting and other paid services for its software. Technically the software is free, but they offer several other services that aren’t. You will find that most of the free e-commerce solutions here also offer paid versions or services that cost money.

WooCommerce:

WooCommerce is by far the most popular solution out there. You’ve probably heard about people talking about using WooCommerce. You should know that it is 100% free, but there is a learning curve involved. If you’re new to starting an online store, you may want to go the route of using one of their paid services.

The benefit of going that route is that you get customer support. The only way they’ll answer your questions is if you’re a paying customer. Which, isn’t all too uncommon with all of these solutions. Almost all of them will offer some paid alternative to the free version they’re offering.

Why should you go with WooCommerce? It’s by far the most usable of the bunch. By that we mean it’s highly flexible. If you do go the paid route, then you’re supporting the team that creates WordPress. Yes, the same people who’re behind WordPress are also the creators of WooCommerce.

You are indirectly supporting open source efforts by upgrading to one of their paid solutions. If you think about all the good WordPress and the Automatic team has done for the internet, it’s the least we can do to show our appreciation.

PrestaShop:

You’ve probably heard of PrestaShop. It’s said that 250,000 online stores use PrestaShop. The platform has been translated into 65 languages. There are also over 800,000 registered members in their forum. Why should you go with PrestaShop?

A significant reason is that there’s so much free help on the internet. Sure, like the other freemium solutions, there are also paid versions as well. But, there are enough users here that can help you if you need it. Though, if you’re an absolute beginner, it’s always best to go with the paid version unless you’re a quick learner. You don’t want to go bald from pulling hour hair out in frustration.

OpenCart:

OpenCart is an excellent choice for those who are seeking flexibility. OpenCart boasts of having more than 2,700 themes and modules to help you customize your store.

The user base is slightly smaller for OpenCart, but you won’t have any problems connecting with others if you experience issues down the line. There is a learning curve with OpenCart, and you should fully expect that it will take some time before you get the swing of things. Anything as flexible as OpenCart will require you to learn a little about it.

WP eCommerce:

WP eCommerce is a WordPress plugin. It boasts over 3 million downloads. The advantage of using this is that it works with WordPress. Your current site probably uses WordPress, and that means you’re familiar with it. That is the advantage of using WP eCommerce as that you’re already familiar with the CMS. You might consider setting up a dummy site that way you can practice using this plugin. Actually, it’s a good idea to do that with any addition you choose to use with WordPress.

You can buy a cheap domain that’s on sale at any registrar and put a blank site there. The web host you use more than likely allows you to host more than one domain on your account. There is no risk to your other sites if you have another one with the intent of just fooling around with it. Just make sure that if anyone visits your test site that they know nothing on it is for sale.

VirtueMart:

VirtueMart is a solution for all of you who use Joomla. You know who you are. Joomla has a devoted following, and it’s growing every day. Those who use this excellent open source CMS can give VirtueMart a try if you’re looking for an e-commerce solution. You should be aware that there are plugins that can cost an arm and a leg.

If you want to add quite a bit of functionality to your e-commerce site, then it’ll cost you. But, the price may offset the fact that you love using this platform so much. Give the free solution a shot and then go the paid route if you feel it’s something worth investing in.

Drupal Commerce:

Those who use Drupal tend to love the CMS. It’s not for everyone, and you’ll understand that if you ever fool around with it. It’s much like black licorice, you either love or hate Drupal. There’s no in between when it comes to it. Drupal Commerce is the solution built upon the open source solution.

There are some die-hard fans out there who swear by Drupal Commerce. Marketing professionals make it for marketing professionals. You’ll have all the tools at your fingertips needed to build a successful e-commerce site. That doesn’t mean using those tools will be easy, but rarely the path to success is easy.

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Let’s talk about why it’s important to go the open source route

We eluded to a few things above about why it’s important to use open source software. The first reason why it’s important to use open source software is that it offers a level playing field for all of those who are trying to enter the world of internet commerce. A free CMS such as WordPress enables businesses from all over the world to have their presence on the internet. They can do so for free of charge, and this is important as it allows people to succeed even if they live in a third world country.

The internet is a place where everyone should have the opportunity to succeed regardless of where they’re from. If a person is willing to work hard, they should be able to get ahead and live a decent life when working online. Those open source ecommerce solutions that we talked about above are making this a reality for many people. That’s why it’s important to support what they’re doing. You don’t have to buy anything from them. Merely telling others about their existence is enough to ensure that opportunity awaits those who seek it out.

There’s plenty of free help if you need it

The free help offered by the community of open source products is a two-way street. You have the people who know what they’re talking about and are more than willing to help someone in need. Then, there are those who feel like they’re experts but don’t know anything at all. This is the main problem when you’re going the totally free route and in need of support.

You’ll have to weed through the people who know what they’re talking about and the ones who don’t. You also may stumble upon language barrier issues and that can also be a big hassle. But, generally speaking, the free help offered by the community of users is relatively good. If you feel that you need more one on one support, there’s almost always a paid version where you’ll have access to trained professionals.

Support the community by paying for extras

Many people who use things like WordPress are always wondering how they can support the community. Well, one of the ways that you can do it is by taking advantage of all the paid features of WooCommerce. The same thing could be said about using Drupal Commerce. Sure, you don’t need to use the paid versions of either of these platforms. But, you are helping a good cause, and none of these platforms are free to maintain. Your support will go a long way in ensuring that others will have the same access to e-commerce software that will propel their success into the future.

The internet has given us all hope that tomorrow can be better than today. It has paved the way to create millionaires and billionaires in sectors that didn’t even exist a decade or two ago. It’s crucial to the furthering of humankind that open source platforms exist where all of this and so much more is still possible. That sounds pretty heavy, and it may even appear to be a little over the top, but it’s true.

WordPress has changed the internet as we know it and nothing has had the impact like it. If you’re considering going the paid route, then you should check out the available open source upgrades that will support the community. Those upgrades will do more than just help you make money; people all over the world will benefit from them.

The future lies in open source software because the community gets to go through it with a fine tooth comb. There’s no way for most companies to spot problems with their software before it’s too late. There are professional and amateur coders who go through WordPress searching for issues with the software.

Their efforts ensure that it’s always up to date with all of the safety precautions a site needs. It takes a worldwide team to pull off what all of these open source gurus do, and they should be shown the highest appreciation possible.