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10 open source shopping carts to run your ecommerce business

Vangie Beal | Jan. 19, 2012
For businesses that rely on online transactions, open source shopping carts are a good alternative to proprietary ecommerce software: They are a fraction of the cost and are supported by large communities of users and developers.

The Broadleaf Commerce community provides an online forum for discussion and contributions, articles, development guides, and project API documentation. Broadleaf Commerce uses the Apache license.

3. Commerce.CGI: A Free Perl Shopping Cart

Commerce.CGI's claim to fame is being the first free Perl shopping cart on the web. First released in 1998, it is a fully featured shopping cart for Unix-based servers, although it can run on Windows NT with minor code adjustment. Commerce.CGI can be an add-on to an existing web site or installed and configured to manage a new product website.

Commerce.CGI offers the standard shopping cart features you would expect -- it's template-driven and provides tools to configure email management, product search and payment methods. It supports sales tax, multiple shipping options, discount calculations and other options for customer check out.

Commerce.CGI is free and supported through the Commerce.CGI mailing list or BBS. Paid member features ($49.99) include wish lists, product reviews, coupon support and other customizable shopping cart enhancements. The Commerce.CGI site offers user-contributed modifications that are freely distributed. The current version, V.4.6.1, is available in zip or tar formats.

4. Loaded Commerce: A Highly Customizable Cart

Loaded Commerce is the 6.5 release of the software developed by the CRE Loaded team. Loaded Commerce, based on the popular CRE Loaded program, includes security modifications. The Loaded Commerce Community Edition (CE) is a shopping cart designed for the small office, home office (SOHO) storeowner who wants to add transaction capabilities to an existing website.

This ecommerce solution offers a number of features for product, customer, order and content management. It is highly customizable so you can change your site design choosing from hundreds of templates, edit customer information, orders, invoices and more.

The CE is the free edition of the ecommerce shopping cart software and supported by the Loaded Commerce community. A customer account is required to download Loaded Commerce.

5. Magento: Hosted or Deployed Solutions for Small to Enterprise Businesses

Magento offers an enterprise-class ecommerce platform, supported by a global ecosystem of solution partners and third-party developers. Acquired by eBay in 2011, Magento is part of eBay's X.commerce business unit.

Magento ecommerce gives merchants scalability and features for presentation, content and functionality. The platform offers marketing tools, search engine optimization, product catalog management and browsing, one-page checkout and a number of standard tools such as those used to manage shipping, tax and customer service.

The latest stable release of Magento Community Edition (version was released on October 19, 2011. This free version is available under the open source OSL 3.0 license. Merchants looking for a more mission-critical ecommerce platform can upgrade the Enterprise Edition.


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