Open an online store: The top 10 free eCommerce platforms

How to open an online store? Which eCommerce platform to choose?

Opening an online store is an essential activity for any company. The incessant growth of the e-commerce phenomenon, in fact, knows no limits with a net + 15% in the last two years.

The data recorded by the latest Nielsen research leaves no room for doubt: consumers prefer online purchases. 95% of users active on the web have made at least one online purchase. The eCommerce market playing in billions. What are the reasons for this development? Simple: ultra-fast shipments, 24-hour purchase options and excellent payment authentication systems. Opening an online store is therefore an inevitable step for any successful business.

But how can you open an online store? There are two different methods that require different financial resources …

Create an eCommerce customized with a programmer or a web agency

It is possible to create a totally personalized e-commerce site designed specifically for your business, but it is also very expensive. To process an eCommerce of this type it is, in fact, necessary to contact a computer programmer or a web-agency. These professionals will be able to create tailor-made web pages that perfectly meet the merchant’s requests. A job of this type undoubtedly requires a considerable economic expenditure. Established company brands or already well-positioned online businesses can afford to choose this type of route without any problem. Smaller and more novice companies with the online world need other cheaper solutions.

Choose an open source online platform

For small businesses or companies still outside the eCommerce world, the ideal solution to open an online store is simple: use an open source platform. In fact, there are many online platforms with free registration used to create online stores. These softwares allow you to design eCommerce immediately from operational in a simple and intuitive way, without the need to contact third parties. The unique feature of open source platforms is the public use license. In other words, anyone who downloads this software will have the opportunity to view and modify the source code in a free and simplified way. The open source platform allows the merchant to independently create his eCommerce, most of the time with the help of a qualified support team 24/7.

Open an online store: The 10 best open source eCommerce platforms

Open source platforms are the cheapest and easiest way to start an eCommerce store, let’s find out which are the top 10 online:

1) WooCommerce – WordPress

WooCommerce is one of the most used eCommerce platforms and is a plug-in of the well-known WordPress CMS. To install WooCommerce it will therefore be necessary to use WordPress and use the appropriate free plug-in. This platform is great for small / medium sized businesses. The use is intuitive and simple: in about half a day it is possible to learn to use the software in a discreet and complete way. WooCommerce is also excellent for SEO purposes. With the “Yoast” feature of WordPress, it will be possible to optimize all the contents of your site for search engines. The extreme simplicity of WooCommerce could constitute a limit: the graphics and templates are not very elaborate. A unique feature of this software is the ability to have a blog integrated into your online store. WooCommerce is able to easily connect to all payment gateways. PayPal is provided as the primary payment method while all payments are accepted e-wallets such as Amazon Pay or Apple Pay. A final winning feature of this platform is the enormous availability of the support team. Opening an online store with WooCommerce is therefore recommended for novice businesses with e-commerce that are already using WordPress.

2) Shopify

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the market: there are currently around 200,000 online stores that use Shopify. This platform is simple and intuitive, excellent for novice stores. Shopify provides many free templates with excellent graphics and a wide range of customization options. Shopify technical assistance is among the most prepared in the sector and is available 24 hours a day with email and direct chat. The platform has several plug-ins – free or paid – that can optimize your online store. Through plug-ins it is possible to create a dual language store, optimize the quality of the images and still manage the contents from a SEO perspective. Another particularly positive feature of Shopify concerns the level of security. All check-out and payment procedures are previously set according to high standards of online security. Shopify is undoubtedly one of the most recommended solutions for every reality that faces the ecommerce world.

3) Magento

Magento is the most complete open source platform available online, but not the simplest. A detailed and sometimes complex software, able to professionally manage any eCommerce. If Shopify or WooCommerce are limited platforms, but easy to use, Magento is the exact opposite. This platform works like a CMS and has countless advanced features. Magento is perfectly integrated with eBay and PayPal and has its own multilingual system, perfect for franchised stores. Magento is a mobile friendly platform able to manage catalog, warehouse and sales process in an optimal way also from mobile. With Magento you can manage orders quickly and easily, create automated reports, use effective marketing tools and share promotions and coupons with your customers. This is a platform suitable for already “expert” web and eCommerce personalities: its use is not immediate and often may require the help of an IT expert. Magento is therefore recommended for established companies that want to optimize their online store with professional features. For small shops that interact for the first time with the online world, simpler and more intuitive platforms are recommended.

4) Squarespace

Squarespace is a simple and intuitive open source platform, known for its potential in terms of design. This is an economic software in terms of hosting, but it has less functionality than the already mentioned Shopify and Magento. Just like the other platforms, Squarespace is also mobile friendly and responsive. The strong point of this eCommerce software is undoubtedly the graphics. The editing and design potential of Squarespace is not matched by any other open source resource. For online stores that rely heavily on visual impression, this platform is the right one! If the priorities are functionality and practicality, Shopify or WooCommerce are the best choices.

5) PrestaShop

PrestaShop is the young French platform that is developing a significant increase in membership in the last two years. There are about 150,000 online stores that currently use this software. Using PrestaShop is intuitive and simple compared to the more complex Magento with a user-friendly interface. With this software it will be possible to automate the management of your online store, customize it and connect it to the best Market Place. Among the most developed features of PrestaShop are sales management, recovery of abandoned carts and automatic newsletter planning. Another positive feature of PrestaShop is the presence of countless diametrically different themes and templates. Even the installation of plug-ins is simple and intuitive with PrestaShop. This platform, like Shopify, can be the ideal solution for small companies wishing to open an online store. For more established and established entities, more elaborate platforms such as Magento are recommended.

6) BigCommerce

BigCommerce is another popular platform for selling online. This program is very similar to Shopify for functionality and plug-ins, although many users prefer the latter in terms of performance. Over 50 thousand online stores are active on BigCommerce. The platform offers over 65 different payment methods and more than 100 different graphic templates. BigCommerce is mobile friendly, but, unlike other software such as Magento, it is not multilingual. This solution is also ideal for small and novice realities with the eCommerce world.

7) OpenCart

OpenCart is one of the youngest open source platforms in the online market. Opening an online store with OpenCart is quick and easy. Just like Shopify and BigCommerce, also OpenCart is particularly intuitive with regards to use. The features are not different from those of other platforms: list of unlimited products, enabling different payment gateways and SEO optimization for search engines. The OpenCart templates are simple and functional and there will be no need for special additional plug-ins to create a unique site. Even OpenCart, like most open source platforms, provides a single interface to manage multiple online stores. Using this platform users will be able to enable comments. OpenCart,

8) Volusion

Volusion is a platform of American origin and is one of the best software on the market to open an online store. Firstly it is simple to use, has an excellent security system and is perfectly integrated with the best Amazon and eBay Market Place. Volusion is mobile friendly and has more than 80 completely free templates to create a unique and innovative online store. This platform is perfectly connected to the Facebook social network. Another particularly positive feature of this platform is customer service: telephone and online assistance available 24 hours a day. Volusion is a platform suitable both for novice realities and for already established online stores.

9) osCommerce

Opening an online store with osCommerce is simple: it is famous for its ease of use and is one of the first eCommerce solutions launched on the market. This online cart is very similar to WordPress. It is intuitive and has multiple plug-ins to improve its performance. Unfortunately osCommerce is not updated enough to keep up with the times and this makes its features often less effective than those of other platforms. The most well-known Shopify and PrestaShop are therefore preferred to osCommerce, similar in setting, but more modern in terms of functionality. However, this software remains a valid open source solution for start-ups and small businesses.

10) JigoShop

JigoShop is a platform very similar to WooCommerce in that it is aimed at sites that use WordPress. Just like WooCommerce it is simple to install and completely free. JigoShop is also very easy to use and allows you to manage every aspect of the eCommerce website from a single dashboard. JigoShop offers the customer the possibility to test all the free templates in demo version, to check which one is actually the best for their products. Unlike Shopify or WooCommerce, however, this platform does not have a customer service via chat or by phone. All information requested by customers can only be found within the forum or community. JigoShop and WooCommerce are an excellent ecommerce solution for WordPress users.

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